Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From the sidelines

The season that no one expected has come to a close.  Fiona took her junior rider around the Novice course at the Huntington Horse Trials for their final show of the season.  I was asked to come along by my trainer to give everyone a hand.  With eight horses showing in one day and a very tight set of ride times, she needed someone to hang out by the trailer and help keep the chaos to a minimum.

Yes, even on weekends where I don't show, I find myself slamming my alarm clock off at 3:15am after just one hour of sleep.  Yes, I do this of my own free will.  Yes, I should be institutionalized as soon as possible because I'm clearly not safe to be part of society.

The weather forecast called for a gorgeous, perfect day and we were all dressed for that.  Minor problem:  mornings in Vermont are chilly.  We had to improvise, as we did not pack clothes for temperatures in the 40's.

Coolers make great sarongs in a pinch.

Once the sun came up, the day was every bit as beautiful as promised.

I didn't see much of the actual show as I was sticking to the trailer.  I spent most of the day tacking, untacking, filling haynets, offering water, putting in studs, taking out studs, and providing moral support.  Oh, and keeping an eye on the dogs.

 It's an important job and so very challenging when they're all flopped out in the sun, napping.

When Fiona was in for stadium, I was too nervous to watch even with the ring right next to the parking.  Being a spectator is far worse than being a rider.  It was kind of fun to play support for her, though, and I really appreciated her ground manners when it came time to put in her studs.

Fiona in her Masked Avenger costume, waiting to make her grand entrance

It wasn't a perfect outing.  The princess had a stop on cross country at the one stride combination.  Her rider says that if she had come in more aggressively they would have been fine, but she wasn't determined enough and Fi just politely stopped in front of the jump to give it a good look.  They circled right around and jumped through it without a problem and still had 52 seconds to spare.  The stadium was exciting but clean, giving them an eighth place ribbon and a spot in the victory gallop.  The cross country was riding rough and there were a lot of stops, so that helped them slip into the ribbons.

And so an unexpected chapter in Fiona's life comes to a close.  Back in May, it was just a one-off catch ride.  Four months later and they had a real season together with three schooling shows and three sanctioned shows.  They managed to get a ribbon at each outing and they certainly had a lot of fun.  I've already told the junior rider that she can take Fiona out again next summer, even if she won't be a junior anymore.

I posted some pictures of Fi on Facebook with the junior rider tagged.  A rider that hadn't seen Fiona since our first winter together commented on it, completely shocked that this was the same horse.  She had ridden with us in one of our scary jumping lessons that seem so long ago now.  I guess we were pretty terrifying for someone new.  It's a good reminder on just how far we've all come.  Once upon a time, I couldn't pay people to jump my horse.

Now it's up to me to fix some of those little niggling issues so that the Princess is ready for her great move up to T/N in two weeks.  Good thing summer session for school is over, because I've got a lot of work to do.


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