So we’ve been to three shows so far this year – more than all of last year combined (we did one lonely little CT). I’ve already discussed our little jumper show that went so well. Well, a couple weeks ago, I went with Mandy to a local hunter show for funsies. I went in knowing that, well, Ollie wouldn’t place well because, HELLO, his tailless, giant-headed drafty self is so not a hunter. Even though we used to be Bad Hunters. Emphasis on bad.
So I signed up for the 2’3″ and 2’6″ classes thinking I’d just la dee da my way through them and whatevsies, SUCK IT JUDGES.
Until we got there.
And when we got into the warmup ring, Ollie was all nervous and calling out to his imaginary friends and mentally losing his shit. And I was mentally losing my shit because OH, I DON’T KNOW, I AM JUST CRAZY LIKE THAT. So he was all tense, and my tension made him more tense, which made me more tense and…. well, you see how that works.
So Mandy saw me in my frantic state and said, “I’m gonna go find Maggie….” She had that look in her eye like when you find an injured person on the brink of dying, but you don’t want to say anything because you want them to stay calm. EVERYTHING IS COOL HERE. You know the look I’m talking about?
So they got me a bit change and collectively talked me down off the ledge because OMG IT IS A FRICKING HUNTER SCHOOLING SHOW AND GET OVER YOURSELF. Oh, did I mention that I had fallen off two days before when Ollie had a very-un-Ollie-like dirty stop? Yeah, that was messing with me big-time.
We went in to do our warmup round, and wouldn’t you know it, Ollie was awesome and relearned how to brain. We even got 4th-6th ribbons in our classes! Now, there were like 7 or 8 people in the class, but let’s not think about that. The point is, we didn’t come in last, and he even got a 4th on the flat. What?
We scratched the 2’6″ division, though, because honestly we were both exhausted and Ollie was frothing. You try carrying around that head, ya know? But we ended on a good note.
So the next weekend – last weekend – we went to a local CT to compete at BN. I had several awesome rides the few days before and was feeling uncharacteristically prepared. My goal for the show was to score under a 35 in dressage, as our best score to date had been a 37.5. Because Ollie. And because I lose my shit so easily.
Mandy was there with me again, and so was her friend Christine, who braided Olls for me. I don’t think he’s ever been braided before, and I must say he looked positively lovely. We Dressage Queened ourselves right up with matchy matchy pad and ear bonnet.
So we went into warmup, and Olls was being actually awesome and relaxed, and so was I. It was like someone had drugged me. OK, I had had one Twisted Tea before I got on, but who’s counting?
It came my time to go around to give my number, and as we went into the covered arena, Olls was suddenly all, “OMFG THIS IS DIFFERENT AND SOMEONE IS STORING FAKE FLOWERS IN THE CORNER, AND THIS DOES NOT GO WITH MY FENG SHUI PLAN.”
So we went from relaxed to a bit strong suddenly, and I had to mitigate. But DAMN if I didn’t make that centerline my super-straight bitch. For the first time ever, I might add.
Running through the test, we had a super sucky left-lead canter circle, and I felt like for sure I was not going to get an awesome score because Olls was being so strong. I chalked it up to a whatevsies and kept rolling.
After dressage, we pretty much immediately had to go change tack for stadium. The course had some iffy-looking turns, especially for a big lug-ass like Ollie (“on forehand…. needs balance…”) We took just two little warmup jumps and spent the rest of the time flatting. That is always a better idea for the two of us, as Olls really needs more help in the turning and balance department. If we get that and I sit up, the jumps take care of themselves.
We got in there, and despite there being some max jumps, I really wasn’t even feeling nervous. It was so…. uncharacteristic of me. We even cantered into the first jump rather than trotting! We did have to do some trotting between jumps, though, as we couldn’t always balance our turns properly. At one jump, he actually second-guessed me afterwards as he thought we were going somewhere else (which would have been the natural thought to do, honestly). I had to tell him, goddamnit, NO NOT THAT WAY, but as soon as he understood, he was all….oooooooh. Oh OK.”
So in warmup, Maggie specifically told me not to a certain jump at an angle as most might because, well, for Ollie that invites Shoulder Shenanigans™. So what did I do? Jumped it at an angle, of course. So because of that, that threw my turning plan off afterwards as I realized I ruined my planned track, and we got a stupid, stupid close spot to the last jump and had a bit of a heave and leap. But god bless Olls – despite his faults, he is usually so so honest.
We crossed the finish line without any time faults OR rails. Which I do believe is a first for us. A red-letter day indeed.
When we finally were able to get our dressage test, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
A 33.8. OMG. WTF. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?! I never thought we’d see a score like that. It just so happens that it was the same judge who gave us our last 37.5, so we certainly had shown improvement. Or maybe she just likes tailless ponies with giant heads. Hey, we all gotta have a type. I ain’t judgin’. (But she was! Har har har. Ba dum dum.)
So I was super happy to just get that score and could have gone home happy. But it turns out we also got third place in the CT, and a 5th for just dressage. That third place is our best BN ribbon to date, and I couldn’t have been happier.
And Olls had a little fan club going on. Lots of “OMG WHAT IS HE? HE IS SO CUTE.” Of course, he ate all that attention right up. He’s like a living stuffed animal. The Velveteen Horse. Or really, the hairy-as-fuck horse, but who’s counting?
When Mandy sent me the videos (you’ll hear her husband, daughter and friend Christine in the background in the jump video), I was amazed at how good everything looked compared to usual. It’s like somewhere along the line I actually, you know, LEARNED HOW TO RIDE.
Certainly lots to work on, but I feel so good about our progress. It takes a village to build a Wendy and Ollie, and I love my villagers. Mandy, Felicia, Angela, Maggie, and of course my original Wendy-builders Sarah and Nicky (and Hattie!). Thanks for not giving up on us. We may be taking the long road, but boy is it fun getting there to Ball Land.
Well, fun but sometimes not. But fun. Really. OK, mostly fun and 10% terrifying.
And videos for your tailless-horse-watching pleasure!