This past weekend marked my first show of the 2014 season. It was just a casual schooling show at a local indoor complex, but I was looking forward towards it being my first experience with my horse in an indoor competition setting. After getting my horse last July, we attended one outdoor show on the grass in August before being relegated to indoor schooling for the long duration of a prairie winter. Now that the temperature has started to creep slowly but steadily upward, my thoughts are turning towards the new show season on the horizon. In two weeks, I will be attending the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon, Manitoba, about a three hour’s drive from my home outside of Winnipeg. The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair (alias “Brandon”) is one of the biggest competitions on our local calendar, attracting competitors from across the prairie provinces as well as the northern United States. It’s a long week inside a big indoor hockey complex, and the main arena is ringed with bleachers and vendors’ stands, making it a fairly eye-opening first indoor experience for a younger horse. With that in mind, I thought it might be beneficial to take Justinian out and see how he reacted to the atmosphere inside the tight quarters of a competition arena.
Our weekend started on Saturday with some warm-ups. Justinian was fairly impressed by the arena, but settled fairly quickly to put in a nice hack in the late afternoon. We hung around the warm-up area for a while, watching while horses worked over the fences in the main arena. My warm-up block wasn’t until 6:30, so Justinian had plenty of time to chill and observe his surroundings, and I got a chance to see some of my friends and local competitors whom I hadn’t seen in a few months. Some of the horses, like my own, were rocking full body clips (although Justinian’s is best observed at a fair distance…). Others were still pretty fuzzy, wisely mistrustful of Winnipeg’s false “spring” (and as well they should have been, considering the temperature plummeted to -28 C that night!)
The next morning the competition started off with some hunter rounds, which I watched from the comfort of the bleachers with a requisite cup of java in my hands. By 10:30, the last of the three foot hunters were finishing up and it was time to warm up Justinian, who was much more focused on his second day and warmed up very well.
Our first round I made an error in judgement in my pace to the first jump, causing him to look and stop; a second and more decisive approach and he jumped it well, and finished the course in the same vein. Our second round was good, and clear, though I got some funny chippy distances I didn’t like. On the third round I felt pretty decent about it, getting a consistent pace throughout. That was good enough for my coach to call it a day, and hopefully now I can keep Brandon squarely in my sights as I finish my preparation over the next few weeks before hitting the highway!