Tack Upgrade!!

So in April and May, my barn had several visits from the saddle company CWD.  My trainer was in the process of upgrading her saddle from and Antares to a CWD with the 2G technology and so were a lot of people at my barn.  Everyone was trying out new saddles!  At first I didn’t get on board with the movement.  First of all, a new custom, or even a used saddle that was found to fit both horse and rider, could cost as much, if not more than I actually paid for my pony!  However, once my friend upgraded her saddle to the 2G jumping saddle, I rode in it once just to see if there was really all that difference from my M. Toulouse I currently had.  WOW is all I could really think. There really IS a huge difference!  Even though her saddle was much too big for me (the seat and flap were too long)  I still felt like I had a much better feel of the horse underneath me, and the close contact feel was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before! The big push was how my pony responded.  Although my Toulouse had an adjustable tree and “fit” him, I could tell this saddle was more comfortable for him.  He really had freedom in his shoulders, and was much happier to round out his back and use his hind end more when I asked.

My “new” CWD Mademoiselle saddle!

After this experience, I decided to call out the CWD Rep myself to sit in and ride in a few of their different models.  So it took a few weeks, but he was able to come out and I tried about 4 saddles.  I wasn’t super impressed with the first few, as they didn’t have the flexible tree, and didn’t feel a whole lot different than my current saddle.  THEN I sat in one of their 2G models called the Mademoiselle! OMG I practically fell in love instantly.  This particular saddle is designed for women, and has a narrow twist and a VERY close contact feel. The model I tried was just slightly too large for me as the flap was one size too long and the seat about a half inch too large.  I definitely could have made do with that exact saddle, but when you are spending that kind of $$$ you want it to be exact!  I ideally needed a shorter flap called a 1L (2L is considered “standard) and a 16.5” seat.  The one I tried had a 17” seat and a 2L flap.  My rep called into the national data base in California to see if any saddles that had already been made matched what I needed with the 1L flap, an extra wide tree, and a 16.5” seat.  I was in luck!  There was a saddle that was used in the FL Winter Show Circuit earlier that year as a demo, that was now back in California, virtually unused at all.  The only problem was that it had bright red piping on the saddle trim.  In the Hunter ring, colors and “bling” are definitely frowned upon, if not unacceptable.  So they could change the piping out for me and ship it to me, it just had to go back to France to have it done.  I decided to take the plunge, justifying that it would be the last saddle I ever needed to buy (hopefully!) I wasn’t going to grow, and this saddle could fit virtually any horse, or be adjusted to fit if ever need be.  My lovely husband agreed that getting this saddle for us would be an investment in our riding and comfort for many many years to come.

My old saddle, in great condition, but with a flap too long for me, a twist too wide, and just a lot more bulky. Still a nice saddle though!

Let’s jump to early June, when the saddle finally came back from France with the brown piping and I put it to use immediately!  Lovely saddle, that I very much look forward to riding in for the upcoming shows!  

First ‘Real’ Grand Champion Win!

The show weekend at Silver Sands Bridle Club was a success for us!  Not only was Newton GREAT, we ended up with a Grand Champ in a division of 10!  He won the flat class in the intermediate Hunter division, and Placed 1st in one of our jumping rounds, and 2nd in the other.  We still didn’t have perfect rounds, and the competition didn’t suck, but we’ve definitely made progress.  We have been having some issues with our lead changes at home, maybe practiced them a bit too much and he had become squirmy and anticipating the changes down the diagonal lines especially and would start to try and swap up front in the middle of a line… yikes!  Luckily we started nipping this in the bud at home, stopped trying to get the flying change for a bit and just focused on getting our landing leads for now, and come back to the changes when he stopped anticipating so much.  He really livens up at shows and it definitely shows with an extra pep in his step.

Looking fancy on the flat class he won out of 10!  I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from him. He did everything I asked, and perfectly!  I was hoping to at least place, but winning the entire class with some other nice horses was a real surprise!

The next day on Sunday was and Equitation day in the same Intermediate Hunter division…  I wasn’t riding my best the 2nd day for sure and it did show a bit.  On the jumping rounds, they are not as simple at the regular hunter courses, so I kinds bulged some turns, tanked a few distances.  We placed with two 3rd places and a 4th place.  I’m not entirely sure how many actually competed in the equitation division, but it was less than 6 for sure… might have been 6 in the flat class and only 4 made it into the jumping rounds?  Can’t quote me on that one though as I’m not for sure.  But overall, I was so happy with Saturday and him that it was a great weekend.  What happened on Sunday was definitely my fault, and sometimes you just get outridden no matter how good you perform! Lol  There is always someone out there that can do better.  I have a tendancy to get my old pony ridding rear by the cute little kids lol.  But I guess that’s what I get for competing on this level with a bunch of kids young enough to be my own haha.   Looking forward to going back to practicing and fixing some stuff so we can do better at the next show in less than 2 months!

 

My 1st Grand Champion in a competitive division (Sorry, I couldn’t rotate the picture for some reason!)

 

 

Schooling Show Fun!

So, some time has gone by, and we’ve hadn’t had a lot to report on.  We’ve just been working and training as usual for the past several months! Our barn did have their own schooling show on April 7th though!  This was a fun time for us to go a little bit out of our comfort zone.  We again did the pony division, but this time there was legit 2’6″ jumps, many of them oxer spreads.  We don’t normally jump, or even school that high, but I had no doubts in his ability to do it.  Knowing it probably wasn’t going to be perfect lol.  He did kind of “look” at the bigger jumps, and with the flower boxes I think he made an extra effort to get over them clear! I also made an extra effort to “get out of his way” and my Equitation just went by the wayside as I just kind of threw myself in front of him… bad habit that I really need to work on!  The picture below pretty much sums that up… my EQ is awful, as my pony is taking a pretty good sized jump for what he’s used to

What a cute jump he has, if only I can get myself together! It’s almost embarrassing to show my horrible form here, but it’s an honest struggle I’m working on!

There were 3 ponies in my division this time, instead of just 2 like the last barn schooling show.  The additional pony is a seasoned jumper, and had an amazing adult rider, so as it was fun to have some real competition this time, it was humbling for sure!  We tanked the equitation jumping round, and only managed to get a few ribbons NOT by default.  The now 9 yr old little girl on her rockstar pony beat us all for Grand Champ, and I did not get reserve… so last place it was for us 🙁  But it was quite fun to go a little bigger and bolder than our comfort zone.  It served as a nice reminder that we are not ready to compete at 2’6″ with oxers in a real competitive show!  So with the HSITP show coming up off the property, I will enter into a division where we are a bit more comfortable and continue to work on getting better.

Looking forward to another show in just a few weeks!  We haven’t been off the property in almost a year, so no matter how we do, it will be a good experience to get some actual show experience.

Our First Horse Show

So my own barn does several Schooling Shows a year, and there was one on April 29th, 2017.  I’ve only had Newton for a little over a month, but what better place to try our talents than at our own barn, in a low pressure schooling show?  So we entered into the intermediate Hunter division. We did 2 flat classes (One Under Saddle and one Equitation) and 3 jumping rounds (2 regular over fences rounds, and one Equitation Over Fences round)  Plus we did a red/blue round for practice (Thank god for those practice rounds!)  Our division only had 5 or 6 entries, and only one of them had trailered in from a different barn, so I was mostly competing against all my lesson mates lol. (FYI the girl that trailered in was amazing! She had an amazing horse and she was a perfect rider and I’m pretty sure she won every class.  She obviously was an “A” Circuit rider, and wondered at first why she even bothered with a schooling show, but turns out that she was coming back from a collar bone break, and this was her first show before going back on the circuit. Sooo…. I forgive her for cleaning up and wiping her perfect little booty with us LOL)

That being said, Newton and I did OK.  I definitely need to improve on my Equitation over fences, and didn’t get any good jumping pictures.  The few that I DO have I’m too embarrassed to post! haha.  On the flat we did well and my Equitation has always been pretty decent on the flat.  I was proud to come in 2nd in the division on the flat equitation class, next to Miss Perfect!  Seriously, she and her horse were flawless! So, I really couldn’t have asked for a better outcome than that.  So our placings in 5 classes were 2nd, two 3rds, a 4th and a 5th.  I can’t even remember exactly what classes were which, except my 2nd place, but we made it over all the fences and never went off course, so that was something at least lol. The jumps were pretty low, I think the actual height was prob 18 inches, so my pony didn’t put in much effort getting over them.  He actually jumps better when he has to jump at least 2’3′ because then he actually has to try and really does have nice form when he lifts his knees and uses his rear end underneath him.  It might not have shown off his or my skills completely but we still have a lot to work on. We did end up Reserve Champ, and I’m still convinced the judge might have made a mistake on that one.  But my pony is very cute and of hunter “type” so maybe that’s why she pinned us that when I felt that other people got better placings overall than we did.  It was an introduction for us into showing at least, so I could at least get a feel for it.  I’ve really only ever done a handful of schooling shows in my youth, with some fun shows and maybe an open show or two thrown in there my whole life.  I’ve never even been to a rated show!

Got Reserve Champ in a division of 5 or 6 riders. (Don’t mind my saddle pad slipping, it was a live and learn lesson to ditch the gel pad we didn’t really need anyways)

So that was our first show… a simple and small schooling show on home turf after only having him a little over a month.  In the time that I bought him and the show, I did at least get a better saddle that fit both of us better than what I had before, and was able to get some other tack of my own instead of just borrowing everyone else’s 🙂  One down and hopefully many more to go!  At my age and level, and my busy lifestyle with kids, I’ll never get to show as much as I’d like to, but want to get better, and show as much as I’m able to with my lifestyle.  I’ve missed my “glory days” and will do what I can, when I can and savor every minute! 🙂