I recently had a private riding lesson to go over my jumping before our Spring Schooling Show which was this weekend. First class: Intermediate Equitation over Fences. While the private lesson did help my confidence, I still was super nervous and a complete wreck. I wasn’t afraid I’d fall; I was just afraid I’d screw up and get a refusal. So that’s a bit of an improvement! Since it was an intermediate class, we had the option of doing the course at a canter, or at a trot. I was such a bunch of nerves, that I figured I’d just trot the whole thing so I wouldn’t just completely lose it. Marty was at the entrance to the arena admonishing me to make sure the horse would GO. I asked if I should canter or trot it, and she advised the canter, so I went for it!
I was on Merlin, and he was an absolute CHAMP. As I said, I was a mess. I couldn’t hold my two point, I completely forgot my crest releases, and I’m pretty sure I confused the hell out of the poor thing when I would bring him back to the trot to get him to change leads. But! He was awesome and despite a tiny hesitation before hopping over the first fence, he did the whole course with no issues at all! He was forward (for him) and there was no little hesitation on the rest of the fences, and he picked up the canter when I asked without me needing to resort to the whip. Alas, we didn’t place. There were some 12 people riding in the class! I’m thrilled though; this was a harder course than last show, and I’m getting more confident each time I jump!
Next up was Intermediate Equitation on the Flat. I was riding Murphy for this class. Murphy is my girl. I love her to bits, and cannot understand why no one else likes her. I’m glad they don’t, cause that means I always get to ride her in the shows! It’s amazing how different she is from Merlin; she is *SO* much more responsive to my aids, although she does have her stubborn moments. (Mares.) This is probably because she is mostly, if not completely blind in one eye so she has to trust her rider. Which means she trusts me, and that gives me the warm fuzzies!
In equitation classes, only the rider is judged. You are judged on things such as your posture, the position of your leg, where your hands are, etc. It is how well the rider rides. The judge put us through the normal gaits: walk, trot, sitting trot, canter from the walk and the trot and so on.
But THEN. She made us take our feet out of the stirrups and sit the trot with no stirrups. I hate no stirrup work. I know it’s really good for you, but I always feel like I’m going to bounce, land off-center, and go sliding right out of the saddle! And THEN she made us POST the trot with NO stirrups! In a way, it’s slightly easier, in that you get into a rhythm with the horse and don’t feel like you’re going to fall as much. On the other hand, it takes A LOT of inner thigh strength, and it’s just HARD!
But, Murphy is awesome, and there was no falling and we were finally able to put our feet back in our stirrups and finish off the class. The most nerve wracking part is the end; everyone lines up facing one direction, and the judge stands behind you, writing down notes. She does this because everyone is wearing numbers, and that way she can see who is who and write it down. So you’re standing in line, just waiting for the results. Murphy and I pinned second and got a red ribbon!
Finally was the Pleasure class. In this, the horse and rider are judged together. Basically the judge is looking for the rider who looks to be having fun, and a horse who doesn’t seem to hate what they are being put through. It is much of the same: walk, trot, canter, but without as much technical stuff, no no-stirrup work in this one. The key is to relax and just enjoy the ride!
And enjoy it we did, to the tune of pinning first and taking home the blue ribbon!