Team Sprieser is all settled in at the Region 1 Finals, where we are 10 horses and 8 riders strong. It’s a great group of my die-hards, all of whom have been showing regularly since the beginning of the year, which means that by now, we’ve got it all down to a pretty good system.
They all know what to pack, what breeches they like and whether they should condition their saddles or just clean them the night before. They know their horses’ routines at the shows, whether they’re good to hand graze or not, if they should go for a morning lunge to get some bucks out without turnout, and, over time, through trial-and-error, what length of warmup they need and when, and what the best strategy is to peak a horse for a two- or three-day show.
But at this show, all bets are off. And that’s because we’re at this show for five long, Long, LONG days.
Almost all of my students arrived on Wednesday with us. Some of us have championship classes on Friday, which means we need to do a class Thursday just to knock the dust off, which means Wednesday arrival it had to be. But for those whose championship classes aren’t until Sunday, we had to make some strategic choices.
For little Kristin and Billy, we decided to focus on the thing that would set Billy off the most—the freestyle. We figured that entering him in his kur once a day both Thursday and Friday would let us get most of the nutty out, and we decided we could always scratch Friday if he was brilliant Thursday. (He did win his kur today on 68%, but it featured a bit more, um, enthusiasm than we’d like, so he gets to do it all again tomorrow.) Billy has two championship classes on Saturday and one on Sunday, and while he’d never admit it, he is actually old, so we’re proceeding with caution. But he must also behave, so that’s going to be the plan.
For big Kristin, though, the choice was different. Her young horse, Cappy, sometimes wants for enthusiasm. So she decided, with her Sunday championship class, to just hack around Wednesday and Thursday, school Friday and do her warmup class Saturday for maximum freshness on Sunday.
In the end, there’s no way to know without doing it, and there aren’t many five day long shows for us to practice at. So we learn by doing, and hope we got it right. Time will tell!
(And because I can’t think of a clever way to transition into today’s show results, here they are: I showed Jamie Hedges’ fabulous Friesian mare Windhorse Ysis to a 71% at first level, and Fender was an outright ROCKSTAR to win a third level warmup class on almost 72%. Big Kristin and homebred Lala were on 66% in a HUGE third level class, and Kathleen overcame a less-than-ideal warmup and rode her hair off, also on 66%. Wahoo!)