We kicked off the show season a week ago with a schooling show at the lovely Silverwood Farm, and it was a great start to the season! All the riders did really well, and we took home a bunch of ribbons, but today I want to focus on one in particular.
Some of you that have been reading for a while will remember a thoroughbred mare named Cava that I owned for a while. She now belongs to a student of mine, Hanna. This was their second show, and I must admit, I love watching them together! They are a perfect match for each other, both in size and talent. I know Hanna has worked really hard to learn to ride a horse that was a big step up from most of the school horses she’d previously ridden, and there were probably times when she wondered what she’d gotten into (the canter did come apart for a little bit, the poor mare was trying to figure out if she was supposed to be lengthening or collecting or doing changes, and poor Hanna just wanted Cava to canter a circle so she could get her seat more stable!), but with time and patience they are becoming a real partnership, and I think they are both bringing out the best in each other, and making me so proud!!
This show was also a big step forward for them, and I think a big confidence boost as well! The first show they did last fall, they rode tests Intro A and B, both walk and trot only. This time they did tests B and C, and in test C there is a canter circle in both directions. At home, they’ve been getting beautiful canter work lately, but I know Hanna was a little nervous about cantering in the big, busy warm up ring, and then in the test as well, where there are no “do-over’s”. Then, before Hanna’s warm up, a huge thunderstorm rolled through, causing a 2 hour rain delay, and dumping a ton of water everywhere, leaving the arenas squishy and puddle-filled.
We found a smaller, quiet arena for Hanna to ride in for a few minutes to see how they would handle all the puddles. It only took her a minute to realize that Cava was totally relaxed and didn’t think twice about splashing through the arena! They trotted around, making circles both ways, and then did a few lovely canter circles. That was all Hanna needed, she knew they’d be fine. She went to the big warm up ring and practiced some of the figures from her test (our arena at home is more square than rectangular so riding a letter-perfect test feels very different in a dressage size ring), and then splashed her way over to the show ring and rode a steady, accurate test.
They ended the day with a 63% and a 65%, a first and a second place.
So this post is a total brag about and congratulations to an awesome horse and my wonderful student, but I can’t leave out the part about OTTB’s. Cava, a grand-daughter of the great Secretariat, started her life at the track. That scares a lot of people. But if you think about this show as a perfect example, being a track horse, Cava has been ridden outdoors in busy environments, sometimes in sunny weather with dry footing, but also sometimes in the rain on sloppy footing. Either way, she was expected to do her job in a professional manner. This work ethic has stayed with her, and at this show that early start at the track sure was a real benefit. This ex-racehorse was a shining example of how great a thoroughbred can be, even with a young rider aboard. Now that they have their first show ring canter out of the way, I think the plan is to move up to Training level, with an eye on qualifying for some year end awards, and maybe even a trip to Kentucky Horse Park for the Regional Championship! I can’t wait to watch this pair this summer!