The Red Hots Go To A Horse Show

Jul 12, 2009 - 10:00 PM

I wanted to take horses to Dressage at Lexington for a couple of reasons. I LOVE the Virginia Horse Center; it’s got great stabling, a bajillion arenas, lots of hotels close by, and is a really well-run facility. The organizing committee is excellent. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the show.

Mostly, I figured the best BIG show to take my two young, red, hotter-than-two-dollar-pistols out would be in central Virginia in mid-July. “It’ll be so hot and humid they’ll have to keep their feet on the ground!” I thought.

Oh, no.

We arrived on Friday and I took Midgey out to school. And I couldn’t put my leg on without getting a BIG forward leap, which is not uncommon when he’s tight. So I school him. And I school him. And I school him. And about an hour later I still couldn’t really put my leg on, but I needed to get him into one of the two indoor arenas he’d be showing in, so we went in there, and nearly trampled some poor woman on a very sweet and (thankfully) tolerant palomino. We even did our Hi-Ho Silver, Away! impression, which would have been funny, except it was not.

I eventually got him semi-rideable, only to take him over to the other indoor he’d be showing in, the BIG coliseum, for those who know Lexington. Same deal—tight, short, strong and at speed. I felt like I was taking my victory lap at the Red Mile.

Ella was much more obedient, but pretty darn tight as well. By the end I could walk her around on the buckle, but she has a GIGANTIC walk that, when tight in the back, gets lateral easily.

Saturday, I had a student ride almost every hour, so I only got to sneak in a quick early-AM ride on Midge, which went slightly better than Friday’s wear-out session, but not a lot better. Fortunately, all my students did a GREAT job, especially student Wendy and a sale horse she’s riding, who got a 71 percent at second level, test 4 and a WHOPPER 74 percent at third level, test 1. Wow!

I’m also SUPER proud of my mom, who in spite of being a Big Tough Corporate Woman, is a total weenie at horse shows. Her Andalusian stallion is always perfect, but she lets the Boogie Man in her head get her down. Saturday, though, she hit the accelerator and got a 64 percent at first 1, including a 7 for impulsion. Huzzah!

First of my horses was Ella, in her very first real Prix St. Georges. We’d done a USEF Developing Test earlier in the year, which is very similar to the PSG, and shown in a shadbelly, but this was our first real FEI test. She made no mistakes, but was just SO tight and nervous I couldn’t get much past 8, and while there were a LOT of 7s, there were also a lot of 4s and 5s for the walk, including some big coefficients. Bummer. I was pretty pleased with the 8 on rider for being tactful and handling her as well as I can. She got a 63 percent and placed just out of the ribbons, but in a class of 30, that’s a pretty big deal!

Midge was, to no one’s surprise, a holy terror. We did stay in the ring and execute almost every movement, but the judge gets the Understatement of the Year award by politely writing on the bottom of our test, “Neck sometimes too short.” Had it been any shorter it would have flipped inside out!

Sunday, fortunately, the good horses I know and love showed up. (Either that, or they were so tired they gave up the ghost. Whatev.) Midgey won his first-ever Musical Freestyle with a 71 percent, which included a BIG bolt out of my first halt because we halted right underneath the speakers, and then a failed attempt to repeat the first movement, which I bungled. Next time. The music was a BIG hit with judge and audience alike, so yay!

My student Jessica also rocked out in her freestyle, taking second in her division with a 68 percent. Her horse can be a wee bit tricky, but he was on his best form, and she just blew it out of the park. I am SO proud!

Ella was a superstar. Walk still showed some tension, and I probably ought to learn how to ride shoulder-in at some point, but she just owned fourth 3, which is a foul and wicked test, with a 70 percent, including 8s on both our lines of tempi changes and on her transitions in and out of extended trot, something I’ve slaved over. And, if I may pat myself on the back one more time, another 8 on rider. Whoopee!

So: my clients are rockstars, my red horses can be brilliant when they keep four on the floor, and a good time was had by all. Maybe with global warming it’ll be hot enough next year to slow my Red Hots down!
Sprieser Sporthorse


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