Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5/21-22/2016 - Penn's First Recognized Show!

This is a long post (mostly because it has a ton of pictures and some video). Sorry!

Successful weekend!

Penn took his good old sweet time, but his abscess issue cleared up mid-week as he became sound on Wednesday. I decided to take him to the recognized show this weekend even though we hadn't practiced at all- if he didn't seem up to it, I could always scratch and he could just get a big whiff of a bigger horse show atmosphere. May as well get something for my money!

Plus, we had to pick up Guinness so we could meet and hang out with Austen all weekend! (which was completely awesome!)

Picking up Guinness!
I got to meet the magnificent duo of Austen & Guinness!

Friday's weather was perfect traveling weather. Sunshine and warm. I took Penn for a spin in the warm up ring where he proceeded to be an excellent and on task baby horse (he had a couple very baby horse moments going from stabling to warm up)! Too bad the wonderful weather and on task horse were not going to stay!

Settled in for the night. I love these stalls- they all have windows! Penn really liked that. I'll have to remember to request this barn (or any of the non-shedrow barns) next time we're back at this venue. For my future reference: Barn 4 is where we stayed.

It started raining Friday night, and I don't think it ever really quit all weekend. It was always at least misting, if not down pouring. To make matters worse, the temps stayed in the 50s all weekend.

I had a little free time Saturday morning, so I took Penn out for some grass so he'd settle in his stall.

Grazing Saturday morning in his new Mio sheet.

Grazing time ended when the rain stopped misting and started really coming down. I popped in some braids when we got back to his stall.

Freshly done braids.

1st Saturday Test: First 3, AA, GAIG Qualifying

Our first test of the weekend was 1-3, which threw me for a loop because I expected it to be 1-2. Penn was good in warm up- I made him go through all the puddles (which were everywhere) and he was very impressed by the footing- he was taking big slow suspended trot steps. I didn't warm him up like I should have- I was concerned about stressing him, worried about him slipping, and worried about tiring him out... so I let him get away with a lot and never found the right connection, which didn't help me in our test.

Leg yield and the start of the head tilt nonsense that plagued us all weekend.
Very up and down canter into the lengthening.
Loss of control of the shoulders as he gave F and/or a puddle a hard look.

I never got my head in the game for this test. I rode poorly. I forget that Penn is still a baby horse when it comes to the show ring, and he got off task and I never corrected him. There were so many distractions for me: the rain, it being my first time back in the USDF/USEF show ring since 2014, and my flipping coat tail is too long and I kept sitting on it which pulled my jacket around. My ring geometry was atrocious, our normally excellent leg yields had leading haunches, I couldn't find right bend or get Penn back on task to save my life. It was just bad. Penn had zero interest in the free walk or stretchy trot and we left a ton of points on the table.

58.971% - 5th out of 9 (originally 13, but there were 4 scratches), not a GAIG Championship qualifying score.

Totally deserved that score. Just have to chalk it up to both horse and rider being distracted.

We had about an hour between tests, so I took Penn back to the barn to decompress and to attempt to get my brain going again. Husband used the break as a chance to get some pictures of Penn with his head out of his stall:

I love this picture. Head resting, eyes closing.
Peeking out at the rain.

Eventually we made our way back down to the soppy warm up and show arena.

3 of the show rings in the misty rain. There was a 4th off to the right.

2nd Saturday Test: First 2, AA, CBLM Qualifying

I took Penn back down to warm up and attempted to get myself on task and working. It kind of worked and I had much better luck riding 1-2, which I think both Penn and I prefer.

I joined my local GMO group the week before this show when I found out Region 1 does a region specific championships- the Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships (CBLM Championships). In order to qualify at First Level, you have to be a member of your local GMO and score a 62%+ in 1-2 at a qualifying show. The percent differs for each level, just like GAIG Regional Championships. This championship further splits First Level riders- Section A riders cannot have shown at 3rd level or above at a recognized show. Section B riders are those that don't qualify for Section A. Oops, I guess I'm Section B. I'm still not clear if they lump AA and Open together, so I'm not looking forward to that if it's Section B, AA & Open competing together. I'm not sure I want to go to CBLM championships, but I paid dues to the local GMO so I can decide later (plus I only planned on riding in two classes that are qualifiers this summer, so I needed that membership ASAP to not miss out on a possible score!).

Canter across the diagonal to trot at X.
Yet another loss of control of the shoulders as he looks at a puddle. Or something. This is my life in canter once we get into the show ring.

Not many comments for this test, I was just happy it went better than the first! I think my dad had some technical issues because all of the right lead canter work is missing from the video and I had to piece the test back together from 3 different video segments.

62.500% - 3rd out of 11 (originally 13, but there were 2 scratches), a CBLM Championship qualifying score!

I was super happy to get my CBLM Championship qualifying score- no wasted time there!

At Saturday evening's night check, Penn and Guinness were watching Horse TV.

Saturday afternoon was for watching Austen's ride (which was exciting and she'll have to tell you about it), and then setting everything up for Sunday.

While it may have misted for most of the day Saturday, it poured all night long and kept pouring throughout the morning. Luckily, it slowed down to misting for my last ride of the weekend! (It was really Austen's magical raincoat that stopped the rain for my ride... but not hers... thanks!)

A ton of riders had scratched on Saturday, and the trend continued Sunday. The rings were even sloppier. Coming from event land, I didn't think too poorly of the footing- for as sloppy as it was, horses weren't slipping when they stepped on the surfaces, and it wasn't shoe sucking mud either. By the end of the day, the show organizers were trying to get riders to move up their ride times so everyone could get in the ring and get home because no one really wanted to play "day at the horse show" anymore!

Even sloppier warm up area. He had such nice suspension in here though!

Sunday Test: First 3, AA, GAIG Qualifying

I came to this test's warm up with my head on right and Stephen's warm up routine in mind. Establish the bend each direction using leg yields out, some figure 8's with trot/walk/trot transitions, run through a couple leg yields from 1-2, then the 1-3 zig zag a couple times. Work the trot/halt/trot a little. Canter became more of "keep cantering!" as Penn didn't want to continue cantering and I had to tap him with the whip to remind him to keep going. Penn started picking up the wrong lead just before we went into the ring. Eeek! I did the right to left simple change once.

I ran the idea of sitting the trot past Austen, who agreed it would probably be better (she noted after that I probably could have posted the lengthenings... oops). I also kept my whip so I could remind Penn about keeping the canter (I've only used the whip in the ring once or twice... I know I tapped Penn at least 3 times to keep moving). Off to the test!

Halt at X between 10m circle madness. Look how straight!!! Too bad this halt wasn't actually square!
He left his right hind behind...
... and brought it forward when I was being confusing (yet again!) as I asked for trot. (this shot is a video screenshot to prove square happened late)
More head tilting nonsense in the 10m circle left.
LOVELY one loop though. The judge didn't seem to agree as it only got a 6.5.
The second step of trot in the simple change. I just liked how the right hind stepped up.
Air time in the lengthening canter!
More lengthening canter.
The second shallow loop.
Lengthening trot.
Lengthening trot again.
Final halt of the weekend!

I kept my head in this test and had to really work for it. Penn just wasn't keen on the footing. He didn't like the splashing and wasn't sure of himself, so I ended up doing a lot more supporting than I've ever done for him in public. But we can chalk that up to him being a baby horse and me not giving him enough experience on poor footing.

I need to equally support Penn's hind legs in the trot-halt-trot. He's very capable of square halts and I gave away points in this test. He squared up after I added my leg back, then moved on to trot! I also have to stop the halt/salute mentality. I spent time fiddling with my reins again! I also completely forgot where I was going when I picked up the right lead canter. The 15m circle right at C was poorly placed because I simply forgot about it when I was trying to make Penn pick up the correct lead! I loved the canter one loops though- he really stood up and balanced.

62.206% - 4th out of 7 (originally 9, but there were 2 scratches), a GAIG Championship qualifying score!

Even though the 1-3 Saturday judge gave us a lower score (totally deserved), I much preferred her judging to the other judge I rode for (1-2 Saturday and 1-3 Sunday). The first judge varied her scores, where the second one became a 6'er. Almost everything was between a 6 and 7 in both of the tests I rode for her, and I thought the Sunday test went better than the Saturday. She wasn't nailing me as hard for mistakes I think, but she also wasn't giving the extra points. She comes to my area often for clinics, but I still don't really have any desire to lesson with her. Maybe I should since she's a judge.

Penn got some bling this weekend too:

PS of Sweden browband, passed from Emma to Austen to me- it fits my bridle and looks incredible on Penn!
Thanks Emma/Austen!
Edit: Thanks SB too! I didn't realize it started with you!

And I didn't bother cleaning my tack before my rides... I needed to clean it after so I could put it away!

The footing was a bit... sloppy.
Girth, boots, saddle, breeches (!!!!!), horse all looked like this. Penn even managed to get sand on his hindquarters and up my back! Also, I need help cleaning my white breeches... I've washed them 3 times now and they still have sand stains.

I watched Austen's rides Sunday afternoon (she totally rocked them and I'll let her tell you about it), and hung out with the best husky dogs ever, Sonka and Lyra. Husband liked them, and he's not a dog person. Mostly because these two are very cat like! I quote: "Huskies are my kind of dog. They're cat-dogs. I'd like one."

Taking Guinness home. I may have tried to take Sonka home with me after dropping Guinness off. I love him!

Even though I botched our first test of the weekend, we still got the qualifying scores for GAIG Championships and CBLM Championships that I came for. I couldn't have gotten two scores for GAIG at this show anyway, even if they were both qualifying scores (silly rules about how it has to be at 2 different shows). I'm super pleased with Penn- I've never ridden him in muck like that and he's never been at a show this big. He had baby horse moments, but seemed super proud of himself at the end of the day Sunday. We got some experience, so now we're going to work on making those scores a bit better for next time!


  1. No idea on the white breeches (my secret is buying stain resistant breeches lol), but I've ridden in muck and rain like that before and it is NOT easy. Kudos to you!

    1. Lol! The white breeches... I think if I can't get the stains out, I'll buy another pair of the same and have "rainy show day" and "sunny show day" breeches!

      This was probably the most ride-able muck I've ever had to ride in. For all the water, I never felt we were going to slip. But then again I didn't push Penn into the corners and get him stuck in a way that he might!

  2. You guys were so awesome! Penn was such a good baby horse. I saw a lot of much more experienced horses losing their brains, and he went out there and just did his job. Sure, his hind end slipped around a little, but that's so minor. You were always right there to help him back, too. So awesome to get to see. :)

    I did a post awhile back on getting whites white again. Definitely give that a look. I know you have the leather seats, but the detergent isn't a big part of this. Maybe you can make it work. Mine need one more washing to get the black spots out. That blue stone is really rather persistent!

    1. Aww thanks! He definitely needed hand holding this weekend, which I'm happy to give because he's green and unsure and I don't want either of us to fall down!

      I just checked out your white post- I've done oxiclean detergent in the wash and direct on the stains, resolve spray, and borax mixed in. I'm going to try the vinegar and washing soda next. I'm a little afraid to put my leather through a HOT HOT HOT cycle- I've been using warm though. Whenever I've had staining issues in the past, I've always bleached with Clorox Gentle Bleach. I'm REALLY nervous to do that to my FITS though!

      I know the blue stone is persistent in its staining, but it really made sloppy footing rideable.

    2. I would try making a paste with the washing soda. Or trying hydrogren peroxide, before the bleach. I really dislike bleach. It weakens your fabrics and makes things yellow. Hydrogen peroxide is going to be kinder to your leather, too.

  3. Replies
    1. It was a lot of fun! But my shoes are still wet... haha!

    2. Ugh. So are mine. I think my breeches are still wet, too...

    3. I figured you guys would be all wrinkled and waterlogged still

  4. Dude MAD RESPECT for riding in that weather! You guys look great! Good riding!

    1. Thanks! I'm really hoping for better weather next time out so we can showcase what we can do a bit better!

  5. Dude the fact you and Austen both came out to play I think is some major kudos for you both and you got those qualifying scores even when faced with weather adversity! Major pats on the back!

    1. Thanks! We both came to the show on a mission and we both were successful! Though we're both ex-eventers so this weather is nothing really!

  6. You guys look fantastic!!! Congrats on your first recognized with the (mighty handsome) baby! Seems like there were a lot of moments to be proud of, and a couple good takeaways for next time too. Also he looks FANTASTIC in that browband!!! Isabel would have worn that tiara if it had fit her, but alas. Twas not to be! Glad it's finally found the right head to grace!

    1. Actually - now that I think about it, that browband might be the equestrian blogger version of "six degrees of Kevin bacon" - or the sisterhood of the traveling browband haha. It's been on Courage, Isabel, Pig and now Penn. lolz

    2. Thanks!! He was such a good boy. My mom told me on the phone last night, "I can't believe he went through all those puddles!" I rode him last night and I think the weekend had an effect on him- he was notably more grown up feeling in the ring and past the scary pigs on our little trail ride! Or maybe he was still tired. I'm going with life experience.

      I love the browband! I was going to use it just for shows, but I really like seeing the bling on his head every day. I didn't realize it came all the way from Courage! I'll have to edit and thank Aimee too!

  7. You guys look amazing despite the nasty weather and green pony moments. You should be totally proud!

    1. Thanks! I think in the grand scheme of green pony moments, his weren't bad! I am super proud of him, and I'll sure as hell try not to leave him out in the cold again like I did in our first test.