"What do you mean we're going to a horse show?" Photo by Justine

“What do you mean we’re going to a horse show?” Photo by Justine

Reggie and I have been so busy planning our spring schedule of horse shows and outings that I’ve completely forgotten to do a roundup of Reggie’s second show ever, which happened in mid-January. So here it goes!

I couldn’t be more proud of my little brown Hanoverian and how brave he’s been about all the new experiences I’ve thrown at him over the past four months. We started slow, taking our time doing walk-trot divisions at our first show, but  leading up to the new year, I was very impressed with how quickly Reggie was catching on to this whole “hunter thing” that I felt it was time we started cantering entire courses at shows, even if they were just little fences.

So we decided to turn it up a notch and attended a schooling hunter/jumper show at Fox Lea Farm, a very impressive show ground and one that hosts (probably) the most competitive A-circuits on the Gulf Coast of Florida, outside of the Winter Equestrian Festival’s end stint in Tampa. Fox Lea Farm also hosts breed and dressage shows, outside of the H/J world.

The facilities are beautiful – there’s a great grass ring with a fun bank used for the jumper classes and mostly grand prix courses, three big hunter rings and a covered arena. Even at the schooling shows, the level of riding and horsemanship is of the highest quality and is often a place where the top trainers and amateur riders come to school their younger horses before breaking into the bigger circuits.

So Reggie and I had to be on our A-game. We trailered the horses in late Friday night for the show. It was a little later than we had hoped (showing up at the show grounds after 10 p.m.) but getting Reggie in the trailer is always interesting, to put it politely. Sometimes he loads like a dream and other times he’s stubborn as hell. The more we practice the better he gets, so I’m hopeful that these baby horse issues will eventually be a thing of the past. Reggie buddied with Wilson, my barn manager’s OTTB, and together they are just two enormous goof balls. They settled in nicely Friday night and we were amped for the big show day come morning.

Reggie and I zipping around a hunter course like we’re real pros.

Reggie and I ventured out into the schooling arenas just before sunrise. Since we weren’t able to get in any schooling time the day before, I wanted him to see the sights before the madness of the show day began.

He was afraid of things, of course – he snorted at garbage cans and pawed at plastic signs that wavered in the wind. He whinnied for help to little hunter ponies and cried even louder when they rolled their eyes at him and moved along to the next ring. But once we started to get to work, Reggie was an absolute dream. He didn’t bat an eye at any of the fancy fences. We weren’t used to flower boxes this wide or jump standards that were designed to look like pine trees, but he hopped over everything without any issue.

When it came time to show, Reggie’s attitude had shifted to “where are we?!?” to “OK, when are we going home?” and he ended up being pretty lazy in his flat classes. That said, he managed to pin a second place in a division packed with many more well behaved, fancy horses, and I was pleased with his focus and ability to stand still (for the first time ever) in the middle of the ring as the judge called our placings.

Reggie and I in the Open Working Hunter division

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Over fences, Reggie was his usual self. When he felt unsure of his striding he bounded forward, always opting for the strained, longer distance, rather than listening to my aids to slow down and take an extra step before jumping out the line.

Some of our over fences work was sloppy and showed me that Reggie was still very green, but the better parts of it reminded me just how far he’s come, and how wonderful it is train this horse and learn along with him. By our last (sixth) round over fences, the little guy was tuckered out, but still managed to complete a solid course.

The judge rewarded our hard work with ribbons in every class.

Hurray for a successful, fun day! Photo by Justine.

Wilson (left) and Reggie (right) relaxing at home after a successful day of showing. Photo by Justine.

Wilson (left) and Reggie (right) relaxing at home after a successful day of showing. Photo by Justine.

I rewarded Reggie with a quick bath and lots of carrots. Overall, it was great second show outing for Reggie and I am excited to continue to move forward with him at shows. We’re looking to do some cross training in other disciplines next, and plan on trying to master a training level dressage test before the next local show and maybe even try a hunter pace before the spring season ends.

Stay tuned! Our next show is coming up soon!

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