This was because it was bucketing with rain, which is OK, but also like minus four gazillion degrees, which was less OK.
I don’t know how our friends in the Northern Hemisphere manage it. Hats off to you chaps, this weather sent us all running for cover. I pouted when the postponement was announced on Saturday afternoon. I rather revoked my pouting on Sunday morning when it was all of 7° and the rain came sluicing down in an icy deluge and instead of trying to dressage, I was in bed under three Jack Russels.
The weekend was not without its adventures. Vastrap did not take to being clipped in this weather very well. He was bundled up in a weatherproof rug but when we got to him on Saturday morning he was shaking like a leaf and could barely walk, so tied up was he.
So we brought him in and bundled him up and poked needles into him until he felt better, and thankfully, by Sunday morning he was OK again.
Only having two stables, though, this meant somebody would have to go out on their ear. This somebody was poor pampered little Ash,
who thoroughly enjoyed it and spent the night hanging out with Lady Erin quite contentedly. (How Lady E got in with Ash, nobody knows). We’re quite relieved because she’s fairly horrible to most other horses and we were all a little concerned she’d eat her young someday.
As you can see, we also had some amazing frost, so that’s the end of the bugs. Hallelujah! (Seriously.)
Now, onwards and upwards preparing for SANESA Q3. Glory to the King.
After SANESA and with the long weekend looming, everyone’s been in a bit of a holiday mood.
And around here, that means only one thing:
I think my kids must hate me because I’m still not so happy with cantering with kids on hacks, but this managed to be a lot of fun for all concerned, regardless.
We headed off in a bunch: L on Stardust, Sunè and her adorable kid, Liana and her kid, Vastrap and his kid and Lullaby bringing up the rear, peeved at having to pack my fat behind around.
Accompanied, as always, by the ever-faithful Ice. How he manages to keep up on those little legs, not to mention running after all the fieldmice and smells that catch his fancy, nobody knows. But I love that he’s always right beside us.
Sunè is just a superstar. Her kid is only eight and tends to get distracted and forget where he’s going, instead choosing to drop the reins and admire the view, but Sunè never minds being left behind and just ambles patiently along. Shouts of “Catch up, buddy!” spur the kiddo to flap his legs and Sunè happily canters to the middle of the ride and then flops back into walk without being asked.
Needless to say, spooking isn’t even in her vocabulary.
Isn’t creation amazing? It always awes me that God didn’t just make a world that was functional and complex and amazingly engineered down to its last atom, down to the deepest miracles of science. It would have been enough if the world was just incredible, if creation provided us as creatures only with nourishment and necessities. But because He’s a God of love, an Artist and a bit of a Poet sometimes, He didn’t just make the world good. He made it beautiful.
Dusty, of course, was her reliable little self – albeit pulling somewhat on the way home. The dentist saw her today and sorted out her bit seats so he said that’ll help but honestly I think she was just kinda excited.
Even Liana and Vastrap, traditionally hot on hacks, plopped along very happily and enjoyed the view.
It’s a beautiful thing to be a kid with a good chestnut mare and miles upon miles of open space at your disposal. I know because I was that kid. Nostalgia.
A good little bay mare will do fine, too.
Look at those little faces. If you want to make your kid happy, buy them a good Nooitie.
For this show I don’t have to apologise for lack of media, because Fine Photography was there and stunning photos will follow!
On Friday evening, I only got home at one in the morning. Despite being 20, this was not because I was out doing whatever it is that young people do in an attempt to forget/have fun/get themselves killed. Nope. I was playing tagalong to the real medics, my second ever volunteering shift. Isn’t it amazing how God sends us to do things we’d never ever dream of ourselves doing, and then we find a deep happiness in it? If you had told me a year ago that I’d be having the time of my life bundling people up in Emergency Rescue Blankets (looks like tinfoil) and sticking plasters on fingers, I would never have believed you.
Yet there I was. And there I was on Saturday morning, somewhat bleary-eyed and en route to a busy SANESA Q2. This was the qualifier where snot got real: you need three qualifying rounds (placings in the top eight) to go to Finals and with only four qualifiers, that turns up the heat from the second one onwards.
The ponies and riders, however, stepped up and delivered.
Vastrap and his kiddo blazed through their accumulator class with the adrenaline pumping so high that kiddo clean forgot about fence number eight and blasted right past it. At the dismayed cries from the crowd, she went back and popped over without circling, still managing to finish in the top eight.
They turned and burned in their competition class and placed third in very good company. The little rider is super, but it has to be said that VT is one in a million.
Pennie and G had a fantastic show. They kicked it off by placing fourth in the accumulator. An unlucky pole in the competition landed them just out of the placings, but they came back to win their equitation and working hunter classes. Pennie didn’t stop even once, so apparently my rude bellows of “SMACK THE PONY” from outside the warmup arena were effective (albeit badly received by the general public).
A similar approach with Zorro also started to take effect. Poor Z-kid was nervous in the first class and got lost; a goodly pep-talk and much guts from her later, she handled Zorro’s cheekiness in the second class well, getting him around with eight penalties. By working hunter time he was being a model citizen and popped over everything without looking back, placing second. I am immeasurably proud of this young lady for getting herself up off the floor the way she did.
K was nervous for this show and Thunder reciprocated by being tense and shouty, but she kept it together and he was as honest as the day, plopping around his 60cm equitation class like a good chap for first place. Their dressage unfortunately was unnecessarily tense, possibly because they only arrived at the warm up ten minutes before their ride time and I was running around after the little kids and didn’t get much time to spend with them. Such is the lot of my teenagers, I’m afraid. Still, they had a very respectable 58% and 60%, scores that are already promising and can be hugely improved on.
(Oh, and that handsome chap in the photo? That’s my dad. Hands off.)
Liana was a bit hot on the day but was good to her kid and very obedient. There was a minor miscommunication between the kid and the pony regarding which way to turn after the last fence during the first class, resulting in the kid taking an unscheduled dismount. She had the discretion to do this after the finish flags, though, so they placed seventh anyway. She stuck on during the second class but got a little lost, circling for four penalties and landing just outside the placings.
Her prix caprilli test was superb – very accurate and focused – but they were eliminated for going in with boots. I cannot pretend to blame that mistake on sleep deprivation, and I’ll be kicking myself for it for a long, long time. It’s on me and I feel properly bad about it, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the kiddo rode awesomely.
Last but not least, little Midas was superb. We were late and missed his first jumping class, so I booted the poor boy into the indoor warmup arena with moments to spare before his second class and he just dealt with it and did his job. He popped around his course without turning a hair and finished second, 0.04 seconds behind the winner.
His dressage felt really steady and he got lots of “willing and obedient” comments, the best ones you get. He scored 62% and 64%, with which I am totally satisfied.
The weekend was a huge success, and all my kiddies learnt, rode well, worked together and have a chance of going to finals as a bonus, so it’s well worth the exhaustion looming over my head right now. Further up and further in: Jesus is taking us closer to Him with every step, tiring or not.
But a productive one, with things heading towards normal and settled as new working student L settles admirably into her role and we get used to operations being moved to the dressage.
Lady Erin will be weaned in the beginning of April. She’ll be a bit young at five months, but poor Milady has been struggling ever since she got strangles when Lady E was only five days old, so her body really needs a chance to recovered. Plopsie (she doesn’t quite fit into her real name yet) will be OK, but I’ve started her on balancer just to help. She is delighted to finally get food like the big horsies.
Faith and I started to talk about hosepipes and being bathed. She likes to walk in circles, but hasn’t been pushy or freaked out. Her beautiful flowy mane has been washed and conditioned with minimal drama and I did get to hose her whole body today.
Mom’s dog has a funny foot but she keeps smilin’.
The little kid that had the very bad nerves has graduated to riding around the dressage arena, a huge step. The usually ever-patient Lulu did attempt to take a chunk out of me while I was having him trot on lead, which I take to be a cue to hurry up and get him posting already.
Magic still doesn’t tie up with any degree of predictability, but he ground ties every time. It’s adorable. He’s over his nerves about the dressage arena and we’ve had a blast this week fooling around with poles.
Eagle is lunging well in three gaits with a saddle and bridle, no drama. He is such a willing and sensitive chap. I can’t wait for his owner to visit this weekend.
Exavior ran me over while I was trying to lunge him on Monday, but he hasn’t reared under the Mutterer all week. I’m thoroughly enjoying the whole owner thing. I get to watch my gorgeous horse trot around majestically, and all I have to do is play with him in a relatively safe manner.
Lullaby models a new bridle. Her head is just too pretty.
Sunè and working student K have started giving beginner lessons. Both are doing really really great and have exciting futures ahead of them.
Renè remains K’s heartthrob, for obvious reasons.
After working in the school for a year, Thunder has gotten bored out of his skull and started spooking just for something to do. With his half lease gone, I’ve sort of taken him back for a bit. He’s actually such a dream to ride and has become so strong over the past year that I’m really enjoying him. Maybe we’ll have some dressage shows to go to.
In an attempt to get Magic to hack out, we’ve started going walkies. He is currently the showjumper who won’t go to shows turned happy hack that doesn’t go on hacks, but maybe with enough walks he’ll eventually be good to hack. Or maybe not. I don’t know, but we both enjoy hanging out and walking around eating grass (him, not me), so it’s cool either way.
Lady Erin is learning to walk on a lead like a big horsie. Today was our first session without any tantrums, and we’ve made good progress. Although it did take me five minutes of shouting and shoving to convince the creature to get up from her nap so that we could get started. (It’s fairly bombproof).
Here’s a flowerpot full of kittens, because why not?
We also set up a very challenging, but equally fun, gymnastic exercise for the week. Four one-strides in a row, it’s all about tightening knees and quickening reflexes. Here’s video of Vastrap and his kid popping through in fine style.
In other news, we’re preparing for Nooitie Nationals next weekend. Everyone is pretty ready, it’s just that Arwie has a bit of a cold. Nothing serious, so we’ll just wait and see.
It’s a beautiful thing to be right where God put you. Glory to the King.
This past weekend was our first go at SANESA as a yard. I coached a teenager through it last year, but she keeps her horse at home and knows what she’s doing, so this was a whole other kettle of fish – and I was riding two sale ponies myself. So it was a little hectic.
Regrettably, I also have practically no pictures, so I’ll keep it short.
Vastrap and his kid were fabulous in the 60cm showjumping, their first jumping show since his kid’s injury last year. VT was his superb self for a pole in the first class and a very poised 5th in the second. Since I threatened his kid with no-stirrups until she was 80 unless she kept it quiet and controlled, I am happy. We can now move on to adding some speed.
Liana and her kid did not fare quite so well in the 50cm jumping. Ana herself was super, not having a single run-out all day, but they got a bit lost during the first class and then went beautifully in the second until the turn to the last fence, when the kid thought the pony would turn a bit sharper than she did and they parted ways. No harm was done (despite the best efforts of some less well-trained medics – I’m not the biggest fan of the venue where they had this qualifier), but it was a pity because I think they could have won it.
Zorro and Z-kid had their ups and downs. Zorro decided to be afraid of straw bales, the only thing that differentiated the working hunter course from the showjumping course, and got himself eliminated. They came back strong for a third in the jumping despite his napping towards the gate. These two will be a force to be reckoned with once Zorro pulls up his socks and behaves.
Outside lesson kid from last year on her fantastic mare Pennie had an unpromising start in the working hunter when Pennie threw in a stop; she had another stop and a pole in her first jumping class, but then got a hiding and started to make better life choices. Pennie jumped fabulously the second jumping class for an unlucky pole in the jump-off that landed them 4th, and then went on to win the equitation in fine style.
Working student K and Renè were fantastic despite poor K having the sniffles. They won both classes (performance riding and working riding) and Renè was her usual admirable self.
Sunè was also muchly admirable and won her working riding with a score of 81. This pony is amazing.
Sadly I didn’t make it to my performance riding because I was coaching. Or not sadly. I’ve had it to the eyeballs with show riding for this month, thanks. Midas still had dressage and showjumping to do so we were still busy. His dressage felt really good – he was shouting a bit but relaxed as long as he was moving, and had really great moments. I have no idea what we scored (see above re: not my favourite venue), but I liked how it felt.
His showjumping was great. I have a penchant for entering POG or 40cm for a pony’s first jumping class for the simple reason that I can make them walk over it if they stop, but something possessed me to do the 60cm on this chap and he didn’t bat an eye. I overrode every fence mightily and he jumped them all with enthusiasm and a slightly injured air (like, geez lady, I’m jumping, relaxed). He had a green pole in each class, but I’m perfectly happy.
He also rode in a two-berth for the first time when we hitched a lift with the Z-kid’s family, and I kinda want to say he didn’t load well, but basically what happened was he stopped at the ramp and a ten-year-old girl went behind him and slapped him on the bum and he went in, so I don’t think that qualifies.
A busy show but our God went before us. Glory to the King.
Despite an ominous start on Friday evening, beginning with Exavior rearing repeatedly as I tried to bath him and ending at about 10:00pm after driving up and down and half the horses escaping their stables, Pre-HOY was amazing.
I suspect it was amazing because it started so badly that I immediately realised I was not going to cope and gave the heavy burden to Somebody strong enough to carry it: my Daddy God. And He obviously did what He always does – miracles.
It rained all day Friday, so bathing them all was rather a problem. Mercifully, the pintos scratched, and we had a two-hour window that afternoon that enabled us to bath Vastrap and Midas and do something about Exavior’s grubby socks. At that point, the bays, Liana and Arwen were just going to have to cope.
We boxed Midas, Exavior, Renè and Sunè up that evening. They behaved remarkably well and settled in nicely, so while we ran around sorting out our poor junior groom’s tent they were pretty much unobtrusive.
The next morning, their good behaviour had run out. Renè, Sunè and Exavior were busy trying to climb into the resident horses’ stables to steal their breakfast and harrassing the resident grooms while Junior Groom stood shellshocked and stared at them and Midas shrieked with indignation, abandoned by his buddies but unable to climb out because he was too short.
We stuffed them back inside and managed to keep them there while I scrubbed Sunè’s sock and got Xave plaited up. He behaved remarkably well and I began to think maybe my head wouldn’t be kicked in after all.
Shortly thereafter, Dad arrived with Arwen, Liana, and Vastrap. VT had been turned out in a muddy field all night but miraculously he was positively glowing with cleanliness. Small miracles.
And with the turnout more or less done and everybody behaving great, off we went to compete.
Exavior, despite my misgivings, was a superstar. I had a very long lead and a whip and a helmet and I didn’t need either of them because he didn’t even think of rearing. He was much too worried about his surroundings to sass his mother, so barring one huge spook, he was respectful and listened to what I said. Everything else in the class being like ten years old and fat, he came stone last, but I was just chuffed with how well behaved he was. Wherever this rollercoaster ride with him is headed, God is definitely steering.
Next there was chaos as the in-hand for the Nooities had been combined, to my great consternation. My kids were on the ball and all marched in perfectly turned out and right on time. I arrived late, red-faced, breathless and having scratched Midas, with Sunè very wide-eyed on the end of the lead, her mane sticking up in all directions.
I was a dishevelled mess. Sunè, however, was a trooper. She didn’t look at anything, she didn’t fidget, and she didn’t bat an eye at being shunted into a new arena with a panicking trainer. She was the youngest and most nondescript in the class so obviously the kids and their gorgeous ponies roundly kicked our butts, but I couldn’t be happier with her. Vastrap ended up coming second and going to supremes, with Liana and Renè third and fourth. (No, my mom is never going to let me hear the end of it).
We went back up for show riding in convoy; Liana and her kid, Renè and yard rat K, and Midas and I. I expected Midas to be nutty because he hadn’t had a class to do in-hand or even get out of his stable all day, but he was phenomenal. Even better than Bruno was at his first show. He remembered his training, he focused, he didn’t spook, and when he got looky he just dealt with it and carried on.
Liana’s kid was very nervous – real little perfectionist, so I sympathise – which made sensitive Liana very nervous too, but with the help of K’s mom they scraped it up off the floor and came a well-deserved second in the strong class. It takes a lot to pick yourself up like that. Renè and K were third, with Renè being completely relaxed and indifferent to everything despite it only being her second outing ever.
Midas remained awesome despite having to do his simple changes in the middle of a giant puddle and he won the class, being the only one in the partbreds. In the enormous Supremes class he was shouting for his girlfriend and got a little strong when all like 30 of us were cantering around and circling and overtaking, but the second I asked him down to trot I got it. I was endlessly happy with him. Couldn’t have asked for better at a first show.
Show classes done and dusted, we moved on to the working classes in typical Morning Star Stables fashion; wildly excited riders, Arwen bucking and snorting because she hadn’t had time to warm up, and K running up wailing because her numnah had gone AWOL at a critical moment. In between the madness, Arwen jumped her working hunter round. Well, let’s just say it would have been a good showjumping round. She galloped, sideways, at the fences snorting fire at them; I hung on somewhere in the clouds of smoke emanating from her nose, and she ate up every fence barring the down bank combination. There she had to stop and check how high it was before launching directly forward, almost leaving me behind. Our gallop was blinding but somehow I managed to get her down to a very quiet halt for the judges, who sat there and stared at us, aghast. We did not place well. I had the best time ever, and so did Arwen, who proceeded to merrily chomp on the grass beside the arena when I untacked her for the conformation.
Working riding wrapped up the day with Arwen, Vastrap and his kid, and K and Renè. The course was fairly challenging; beginning with fairly scary raised trot poles, then a line of gigantic white umbrellas we had to weave through, followed by a barrel with a truly scary giant pink cow on it. The cow had to be picked up and carried at a canter the five strides or so to the next barrel. Then there was a highly spooky brush lane with a black rubber mat in it and a small jump made of straw bales. Last, we had to halt and dismount onto a wall of black boxes before leading our horses away.
Renè was first of the Morning Star horses to go and did us very proud. There’s not a lot of horses that can do working riding at their second show, let alone with poise and composure. She turned up her nose at the poles, plopped happily around the umbrellas, and didn’t mind the lane, the jump or the wall. She did have a very good look at the scary pink cow, but K was patient and let her have a sniff and that was that. They didn’t manage to canter with the cow or I think they would have placed well.
Vastrap coped beautifully with the difficult course. He actually trotted the trot poles this time, had a little look at the lane and took a minute to stand still by the wall, but his kid was glowing when they finished and he took great care of her.
Arwen slept the whole time in the lineup, punctuating this by throwing her head and yawning massively. I was feeling my late night and in-hand classes, so I basically did the same, barely waking up enough to watch the kids go. When it was our turn I made a bleary effort to rouse Arwen for the trot poles, but she still clonked them roundly. Then we aimed for the umbrellas and suddenly she lit up. Dragons to kill! Certain she would spook, I kicked her; she broke to canter for half a stride and then I realised I had to basically just hang on and steer. So that’s what I did. It took all my effort to hold her down to trot for the lane and umbrellas because she was so excited and dragoning magnificently. The cow posed no problem; my steering did, and we overshot the barrel by half a stride, which we remedied by performing a perfect turn on the haunches. Of course, the jump and the wall did not pose any problem for this dragon. I’m not totally sure that working riding horses are supposed to get excited, but at least she wasn’t in the least spooky.
Apparently the judges enjoyed this new take on working riding, though, because beautiful Arwen was reserve interbreed champion in a strong class. I could almost pop. God so knows what He’s doing. I miss Nell, but she’s in a happy permanent home now. And now Arwen gets her chance to shine.
Today was spa day for six of the Horde. I’m very into having chiro done at least once a year where I can; it’s not always financially practical for broodmares and sale ponies, but the competing horses, schoolies or anything with a problem needs doing.
Today’s lineup started with Starlight. She has been girthy since she arrived in December and while I found back pain and put it down to that, the back pain is related to old pectoral muscle tears, not anything sinister like KS or something. Stardust has exactly the same thing so we’re good at managing it and it won’t get in her way. Her hip was also badly locked, something I’d noticed since she is always a little short on that leg. Hopefully we’ll see considerable improvement.
Vastrap was generally tight especially through his intercostal muscles, which I wasn’t in the least surprised by. This unfortunately is going to be strongly related to how hot and tense he is to ride, so it’s a slow fix. But we’ve already made progress.
Magic has some excellent news. He wasn’t out anywhere, just rather tight in his left hind hip, and best of all his bad wither is not worse – in fact, it’s better. The chiro’s exact words were “Don’t change anything because it’s working.” I’m so relieved that my magical beast is still OK. With his being a bit wacky lately I was half expecting that his back was hurting him again. The chiro also commented on how incredible our bond is, which made me feel so much better about our recent bad days.
Exavior was rather, um, interesting. The chiro went to touch his upper neck, which he’s always been touchy about, so he reared and tried to bite us. After a discussion about not biting nice ladies, he cut it out and started to actually enjoy having his bones all sorted out. His back was totally perfect, but his poll was very sore. The fall where he cut his leg open years ago – that catalysed the drama that led to his becoming mine – also damaged his nuchal ligament and it was extremely tight and sensitive. This explains why he’s always so uncomfortable about his head and also some of the rearing (although that can also be explained by his being a brat). It can be managed, thank God. I have to do a little stretch thingy with him to help, and I’ll look into getting him a poll relief bridle. He should be far more comfortable now.
Can we all just stop for a minute, though, and appreciate just how big God’s plan is for this horse? Most horses that fall and hit their polls there die on impact. Not Xave, though. He’s a survivor and God’s got something big in store for him. ❤
Renè had a bunch of lumbar vertebrae out and her hip and shoulder were really locked. I discussed some stiffness issues she had had early on in her training with the chiro, who thinks it’s possibly due to the type of heavy slow twitch muscle she has. Almost like a really mild variant of PSSM. Our stretches and gradual conditioning have practically eliminated it, though, and there’s no major problem so it’s all good.
Last up was little Lullaby, who hasn’t had any problems but is a lifelong school pony so there must be pain somewhere. Sure enough she had both thoracic and lumbar vertebrae out, so that should make her far more comfy. Lumbar vertebrae are typical school pony problems so we’ll just keep having her done regularly to keep those suckers in place.
In other news, Midas, Sunè, Arwen and Tara are all pretty much ready for Pre-HOY. Exavior is almost ready, I just want a practice run at plaiting him since he’s going to have to learn to deal with me standing on a box and pulling on his hair, which won’t be easy for him.
Faithy moved out to a small group field with Milady and Lady Erin. She’s stayed good to catch and super gorgeous.
My writing is as flat as my battery today, but here it is. Glory to the King.
I learned my lesson from the disastrously chaotic Nooitie shows last year: now we’re preparing early. Horse of the Year starts in a little over five weeks and we’re already in a flat spin trying to sort everything out for it. We’re going to be stuck there all week, competing every single day with nine horses and five handlers.
Liana, Vastrap and Renè are going with their respective kids. L and VT have done it all before and will be just fine; Renè is a good old Arop Nooitie mare, viz., she will also be just fine.
I also have fair amounts of confidence in Zara and Tara, since they’re just doing in-hand and were ready for it in the end of November (we were meant to do a coloured show, only it cancelled).
Arwen, obviously, has totally got this. Arwen has always got this.
No, my worries are the three babies that are just about to start their career with me, beginning with the Pre-HOY training show in a couple weeks.
Exavior is going to his first show ever. Just in-hand, obviously, but six months ago I couldn’t even get him out of his field without him trying to jump on my head. He’s been lovely to handle at home but I’m not totally sure if that will carry over to the show environment. So if you see a giant chestnut streak galloping about with a little flappy rag doll on the end of its lead, that’d be us.
Midas is inspiring more confidence than I’d expected; the poor little chap has had so little saddle time but he’s been entered in show riding at Pre-HOY and hopefully will do show hack at HOY itself, too. But despite my initial misgivings, he’s pretty much there. Three good paces, simple changes, starting to connect himself nicely. Quite good enough for a first show at novice methinks.
Sunè completes the lineup, and I do have some trepidation about her. Since I’m not able to ride two horses in one showing class she won’t be doing ridden at Pre-HOY, but I would really like her to be ridden at HOY so I can sell her easier. In-hand she’s also still very green and wobbly, but that at least should be OK. We’ll see what she’s ready for and take it at her speed.
Having ridden five clear rounds at 70cm on Magic (yes, five) I finally decided that it was time for him to jump graded. We picked a small and low-profile show nearby for this, which fortunately ran a training show as well, so I could haul some of the kids along too.
Magic was nervous for exactly 5 minutes of his initial warm up, where I rode him around the training warmup with the kids to make sure everyone’s brains were on. After that he went straight to work, lolloping over the tiny crosses and looking faintly bored. He had one fairly dramatic spook, nearly landing on top of Vastrap and his lease kid, but got over it remarkably quickly. Then, to my dismay, I found the way to the graded warmup. It was terrifying. A twisty, windy little path leading past the Manure Heap of Death, traversing the Cursed Stable Yard, heading into the Dark Woods and then passing (gasp!) the Water Feature of Doom. Magic doesn’t even do hacks. This was a spooky trail of terror and I was pretty sure the entire show was about to go severely downhill. Resigning myself to our fate, I left the kiddies with the Mutterer and began the trek.
I needn’t have worried. Magic was, obviously, petrified. So was I, but we kept it together just fine. All he did was stop and stare at things, snort once, and then keep going when I asked. We made it to the warmup in one piece, whereupon my stomach did a nasty little flip; the edge of the warmup was a few trees and a fence away from the main road, down which trucks and motorbikes were roaring and screeching. Once again, I wrote off the show in my head, and once again, Magic was a pro. He sort of wiggled his ears at it and then went directly to work, the angel. He really is starting to grow up. We had a lovely warmup, with one random little stop at the oxer (we both just fluffed the stride; he came right around and popped over it again) before I quickly walked the course. It was lovely – a decent height, but going easy on the filler. The only really scary thing was the second element of the combination, which had quite dramatic wings and was an oxer, but it was a two-stride and I had a feeling Magic would be just fine. Wings aren’t generally an issue for him.
There were only two horses in the class, which kept things even more low-key. The first horse jumped an easy, powerful clear, and then we were cantering down to the start of our very first graded showjumping track ever. Magic locked onto the first fence and took me straight over and all was beautiful from there onwards, except for the first element of the scary combination. I didn’t see the distance and just looked up and hoped for the best; Magic squished in a tiny half stride and a bunny hop, reached the second element at the most ploddy canter ever, and flowed over it without further ado. The rest of the course just slipped by under him and we were into the jump-off. This was simple, over the first 6 fences without any funky turns, and we basically went straight back in and did it. The other horse had a very careful clear round. I asked Magic to go up a gear and he hit a really nice forward rhythm, which carried us beautifully around the course. With his better stride he jumped the combination without batting an eyelid and I knew he’d done well when we galloped through the finish.
Magic won the class by 11 seconds. He also won a scary bag of fly stuff, so we had a very dignified lap of honour at the working trot while I held the bag where he couldn’t see it and prayed that it wouldn’t make any noises. We hurried back down to the training arena just in time for Liana to cart me around the 30cm, a warmup round to ensure she didn’t overjump her kid off, and totally unnecessary. She was calm and ready from the get-go. The kids and ponies went on to be awesome and kick butt; they did the 40-60cm classes, with Vastrap and his kid winning the 40cm and Liana and her kid coming second in the 50cm. And Vastrap only ran away once, which in his defence his kid appeared to greatly enjoy. (The Mutterer, less so).
Then it was back up the Trail of Doom for Magic’s second class. This time he was very chilled about the whole thing. Towards the end of the warmup I could feel him flagging slightly, so we did as little cantering as we could. I did put the warmup fences up to about 80cm as the next class was an accumulator and the joker was about as high and wide as the Great Wall of China, except that the Great Wall of China doesn’t have huge wings or terrifying flower boxes. I deliberated jumping it, but decided that if Magic felt good we would try it – go big or go home, right?
And felt good he did. He walked into the show ring with floppy ears like an old hand and willingly charged at number one, flowing around the course at a steady pace. It had a few very tricky little turns in it, but I sat down on him and he made them all easily, even angling one of the jumps without a care in the world. We had a really unfortunate rail at number seven. We didn’t even hit it on a bad stride; I think I just didn’t give him enough juice for it and he was a little tired, so he tapped it with his right front toe and down it went. Then we came around the corner and the joker was sitting in front of us. I was absolutely wetting myself, but Magic had already locked onto it, so I rode him at it with a prayer in my (very dry) mouth and he jumped it perfectly.
And I mean perfectly.
Any show where Magic goes home with four functional legs and a stomach that works is a good one, and this was an awesome one. He was so mature, so steady, and jumped beautifully. All horses and riders involved had a blast and we even got a smile out of the Mutterer.
And glory and praise and thanks to our beloved, beloved King Jesus. ❤