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Back into the show ring

After spending March of 2006 through February of 2017 doing almost all my jumping and all my showing on a big chestnut thoroughbred with back issues it’s definitely been a bit of a strange experience working with Maestro. I love Stampede and he has taught me such an insane amount of things in the saddle and out but he never made showing easy and often it wasn’t particularly fun either. It was a delicate balance trying to keep him happy and comfortable in the show ring.

A few weeks ago I had to finally decide on a show name for Maestro and get him registered with my local association if I wanted to get the discount rate so I went with my first idea and he is now Virtuoso. Then talk turned to an upcoming local member show at my barn. Local member means it’s mostly a schooling show but they have the rated medal qualifying classes too. I thought about doing it but just felt so unprepared. How can I be ready to do this after only having this horse for less than 6 months and he’s young and green? I thought of all the excuses – I had been on vacation, came back and became sick and still am not 100% so I hadn’t jumped him much, he doesn’t have perfect lead changes, I worry about getting the strides, etc. Eventually I just decided to wait and see and worst case I’d just do some flat classes.

Someone was such a star in our lesson tonight. #maestro #thenewguy #notachestnut

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The last two lessons before the show went really well – I got the strides the entire lesson, Maestro was relaxed but responsive, and while our changes weren’t perfect they are improving. I felt a bit better (plus my friends are pushy!) and signed up for the classes my trainer suggested. Schooling day kind of snuck up on me fast due to tax season overtime and I was definitely a bit nervous going into the indoor to school. Maestro as usual took things in stride. The jumps move along the walls for shows so it’s more cramped for warming up, plus I was in there with probably 6 of my barn mates and 3 people from another barn. We all flatted together in the tight space then my barn moved on to do some jumping. Other than being a bit confused that the outside lines weren’t on the quarter line Maestro couldn’t have cared less and jumped right around although he was a bit distracted by the atmosphere. I did the add stride because he was distracted and I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of horses everywhere too. Trainer and I planned to do the adds in the warm up class then go from there.

Show day dawned and I got up in time to get my home barn chores done before heading out. Maestro got his usual morning turnout then I got him cleaned up and put him back in his stall to hangout for a bit. Finally it was time to get on and warm up the horses. I kid you not there were over 20 horses in this little indoor with the jumps along the walls warming up together. Maestro happily trotted around then we were split in half for cantering which he didn’t mind either. Our warm up was the one outside line then we all lined up in the barn aisle to start our classes.

Here’s most of the video from my warm up class.

So the course was going well as I did the adds and I’m coming around the back and I have just one single fence left and Maestro is struggling with his lead change and I’m trying to fix it without circling and totally failed to maintain the leg I needed. Should have just circled! After the video ends we get our canter back and finish nicely. This horse guys, he just stepped right up!

Our second course was similar starting on the other outside line first. I kept with the adds just to try to improve our corners and changes. He got a bit crooked to the in of one line, I think expecting the jump on the quarter line, but still jumped it and continued on just fine. I would say not as good of a round as my warm up besides that I didn’t bungle up the lead change.

After the second course we had a break until the low adult medal. I wondered how he would be coming back out cold but other than the canter starting out a bit slow he moved right up. The course had a rollback first which he did very nicely, followed by a line where I got us close in to keep the add step, then three singles including a skinny which he was great for. Out of 10 people we were in third after our round and thus had to come back to test with the top 4. Maestro of course had never done anything like this and honestly most of his work with me has been hunter stuff as well so I really had no expectations. We had to canter left directly after entering the ring, head to the out of outside line, go around to the out of the diagonal line, halt, then sitting trot out. My halt was not the cleanest because Maestro was trying to move up for an anticipated lead change but he listened well and I was so happy with him. We ended up staying in third.

Lastly we had an equitation on the flat to do. There were 10 people in the flat class so it was definitely crowded. Maestro was good of course but grew concerned when a horse was cantering up on him (we rarely get passed normally) and broke to the trot at one point. Oops!

I’m so glad I did the show. My confidence in my horse really grew and I got a chance to see what habits I’m bringing to the show ring that I need to lose. Stampede showing left me with a tendency to be a bit too handsy and I anticipate anger when I screw up. Maestro doesn’t need me to do anything but support and direct him and he doesn’t hold a grudge at all when I do something dumb like bury him to a fence.

😍 #maestro #thenewguy #notachestnut

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