Gallery Farm combined test recap

I know, I know, show recap posts are really only exciting for the person who’s writing them. But I wanted to let y’all know that a) Gina didn’t kill me and b) it went pretty well.

My ride times were pretty reasonable, with dressage at 11:20 AM and XC at 2:02 PM. This meant that while I did get up at 5 AM and get to the barn by 7 AM, it could have been much, much worse. Gallery Farm is near Oklahoma City, so it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from where the ponies live. We pulled out with Gina (who kept her socks super-white overnight) and Freddie (for company and experience) around 8 AM, and after many turns (and a couple of turn arounds), we arrived and parked next to our friends Rachael and Sarah.

Freddie about fell down getting out of the trailer, but recovered gamely and spent the next six hours standing tied to the trailer, eating hay and drinking/playing in the water buckets we had tied up for them.

Freddie’s happy place.

Gina (left) and Freddie (right) are unimpressed by shows.

Both mares seemed to get along reasonably well. Fred made a couple of ugly faces at Gina and also drank all of her water (while ignoring her own bucket), but was otherwise fine. No calling, no squealing, no kicking. Freddie is a champion at standing around. Maybe she’s missed her calling as a halter horse.

Anyway, dressage warm up went well- I kept Gina to a trot since it was a walk-trot test. Her gaits are plenty energetic, so I figured there was no need to canter. We stuck to figure-8s, circles, and serpentines and Princess Pony put on her best dressage face and we had a nice test. Our walk work was a little weird, as it seemed like Gina was less focused on me and more focused on what was happening outside the covered arena where the test was. All the trot work was very good and the judge was impressed by her “bold” and “forward” gaits. 
We scored a 29.3 on our test, which is something like the best score I have ever had in my adult life. (I think my best test was a 26 something when I was 12 doing walk-trot dressage.) We were in second to our friend Rachael, who scored a 25.3 on her super cute Percheron mare Venus, so I was definitely happy.
Walking the course made me feel good about my chances of getting Gina around. If you aren’t a long time reader, a little history: Gina has been a problematic jumper in the past. Occasionally, she’s excellent. Most of the time, she’s awful. Past antics have included rearing up and backing at ground poles, dirty refusals at a crossrails, and jumping 2’6 oxers fine for five minutes, then inexplicably pitching a fit.
The only jump I was mildly concerned about was a tire jump. The tires were tiny- lawnmower sized. But they were black, I’m almost certain Gina’s never jumped any tires before, and I immediately planned to keep my leg on and ride defensively.
I shouldn’t have worried. After an extremely short warm up (by which I mean we cantered both directions and jumped a crossrail twice), we headed out on course. I got Gina into a nice, forward canter; even though the jumps were tiny, I feel more comfortable jumping out of the canter and Gina’s canter is much more comfortable to 2-point than her trot. 
Rio 2016, amiright?
Gina was apparently gearing up for next year’s Rolex, because she attacked those tiny jumps. Like, rolling along at a good clip, taking good distances, not backing off anything. I could feel her lock on to each jump, which is certainly not something I’m used to feeling from her! She jumped like a champion over every single fence and cross the finish line prancing and snorting as if she’d just bounced around a 4-star.
What a fruitcake.
Draft power!
Rachael and Venus went clear too, maintaining first place, which meant Gina and I stayed in second.
Bonus pic of super cute Rambler & Sarah, who were 3rd in the Starter division.

I’m really pleased with how Gina behaved. I think she had a good time- I know I did. There’s an eventing derby in a couple of weeks- Fred is getting some time off, so maybe I’ll enter Gina. And maybe we’ll even move up a division (or two)!

What have I done?

I’ve officially entered myself and Baby Fred (proudly entered under her Jockey Club name of Expect Freedom) in a combined test at Gallery Farm next weekend. 
We’re entered in the Green as Grass division, where the dressage test is Intro B and the maximum XC height is 18″. I’m confident that Freddie will be just fine if I can keep myself from getting very nervous. It’s been years since I actually competed in any kind of show, and I’ll be riding a super greenie! 
Fred’s had a great week of work though, with a pretty calm trail ride, more cantering without bucking, and even a little baby cross-country jump. This show seems like the perfect, low-key opportunity to make a debut. 

Great Plains Dressage Show

On Saturday, I accompanied Richal, her sister H., and Audrey to a recognized dressage show hosted by the Great Plains Chapter of the Oklahoma Dressage Society. Richal and her sister were competed; Audrey and I were acting as grooms.

It was a fun time, especially since they had late ride times- that meant we got to leave the barn at 10 AM. That’s way better than the crack of dawn! The drive to the show grounds in Stillwater took about two hours; it was an uneventful trip except for H.’s horse Woody inexplicably falling down in the trailer. (How he did this, we don’t know, as he was tied up in a slant load.)

We unloaded at the show grounds and set up our area and got to work. Audrey’s an amazing braider and quickly started on Woody, who was throwing his head around like a total doofus.

Woody getting his hair did.

After braiding, it was off to warm up. It had rained most of the previous night and morning; the warm up was in a big outdoor arena that was absolutely flooded. Richal and H. warmed up in schooling pads and schooling breeches (in H.’s case, sweatpants over her white breeches). 

Woody and H. in the slop.
Richal and Diamante working that trot. 
Audrey and I spent half an hour scrubbing the horses’ legs, girths, and bridles clean while Richal and H. changed in to show gear. Then it was off for their First Level tests.

Woody knows how to halt at X. Good job, Woody!

Both horses (and riders) put in lovely tests with quiet transitions, soft acceptance of contact, and good lateral work. H. scored a very respectable 67% for a first place in the amateur division. I can’t recall Richal’s score, but it was good enough to merit a second place in the open division. 

We had a bit of a break until their Training Level tests, so we sat around and ate snacks and gossiped about who’s riding what and how that’s going. The show was running a little ahead of schedule (thank god for small mercies), so both Richal and H. were off their horses by 6 PM. 
Good trotting, Diamonte! 

On the Training Level test, Woody didn’t have much gas left in the tank (I guess it was falling down in the trailer, spazzing out while being braiding, and doing First Level) and didn’t score particularly well, but Diamante was excellent, scoring a 66% and winning the open division. 

We loaded up the horses, grabbed some Taco Bueno, and got back to the barn around 10 PM. I was exhausted (even though I didn’t feel like I’d done anything) and slept like the dead once I got home.
 Richal, H., and Audrey aren’t bad for a bunch of dressage queens, but I gotta say that dressage shows are way less exciting than the dressage phase of an event. I mean, I didn’t even see a horse jump out of the warm up ring once! Disappointing.

How much is too much?

Friday, I met up with the super nice, super fun author of No Hour Wasted. We had lunch, and chatted about all kinds of things: the horse scene in Tulsa, our dorky significant others, dressage biddies. I am always so thrilled to make new horse friends, and she was no exception. While we were lunching, she mentioned she was planning to go to a hunter/jumper schooling show in a couple of weeks to take pictures. The show is practically in my backyard, so I of course immediately agreed (invited myself?) to attend.

Certainly this wild OTTB (Carson) needs more experience toting children around

Then I had the thought to go to the schooling show and compete on one or both of the young Thoroughbreds  (Carson and Freddie) I’ve been riding lately. They could use the mileage and the show isn’t a long haul from where they’re stabled.

Freddie is practicing the ever-important “standing around”

I was pretty excited about this idea. Years ago, I used to take Moe to a series of hunter/jumper shows throughout the summer to keep him on his toes between events. I’d enter three or four jumper classes at about $15/class. My best friend would sometimes bring her mare and enter some hunter classes. We’d have a fun time in a fairly low-key environment and not spend a zillion dollars.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found the entry form for the Hunter Jumper Exhibitors of Oklahoma’s Summerfest Schooling Show. The fee breakdown is thus:

  • $30 office fee (only if you enter online; it’s $40 otherwise)
  • $14 medic fee
  • $40 haul-in fee (if you aren’t getting a stall; unclear if this is per horse)
So before you’ve even entered a class, you’ve spent at least $84 on fees! Classes are $25/each, so a person could easily spend a couple hundred dollars showing a horse or two over the weekend.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m completely out of touch with how much hunter/jumper schooling shows typically cost. I haven’t competed at one in several years, I didn’t go to them often anyway, and maybe they all cost this much. However, it seems like this show’s fees are excessive. I will definitely not be competing; the cost is way, way too much for me.
Out of curiosity, I checked out schooling show fees for different disciplines. 
For a recent Green Country Dressage schooling show, the fees were:
  • $10 office fee
  • $20/dressage test
For an upcoming schooling event derby sanctioned by the Oklahoma Combined Training Association, you’re looking at:
  • $50/derby division (consisting of a dressage test and mixed stadium/XC course)
  • $20/dressage test (if you’re only doing dressage)
You can see why I was shocked and appalled at the H/J show’s fees. 
I’ve always thought of schooling shows as opportunities for horses and riders to gain experience without the stresses of recognized events; part of those stresses are fees. If I fork over $250 for a USEA sanctioned event, I’d damn well better have a great show. I feel a lot less pressured to have the ride of my life if I paid $50.
What do y’all think? I know several of you are active on the hunter/jumper scene- are these fees in line with your expectations? How much is too much?