Written (and shown) by: Emma Knight
Saturday, June 17th, we took Beau to his second off-property schooling show. I’m not sure what his previous owners did with him, but it certainly feels as if it was his second ever, not just with us.
Here’s how the day went:
(Note: Times are estimated, show times get blurry. In addition, we found out that our bit was controversial the night before, so we showed him in a D-ring single joint snaffle, which I’d ridden him in for a ride or two a year ago, which did not end well. He loved it at the show, though, and I haven’t switched it back since!)
6:30AM: Leave home barn
7:30AM: Arrive at show property
8AM: I school Beau. This consisted of some hasty lunging in the show arena before being nicely kicked out so that riders could school under saddle. Beau definitely had plenty of energy and excitement, hopping around and half rearing and running and more.
8:30AM: I school Beau under saddle. He surprised me with his attention. We only had one small buck, and he went straight back to work. My trainer helped us by having us rate our gaits, which means using my post to go from a small, short trot to a long, strong trot. It seems to calm us and get our heads in the game. We also popped over a few verticals at 2′. We had one refusal, because I’m lame and didn’t commit, but I made sure that didn’t happen again.
9AM: I get off, Beau gets hay and water. I leave his saddle on to keep him in the “riding mindset” (which I’d end up half regretting later but hunter shows are all “hurry up and wait”).
9:30AM: My leaser arrives. Her first hunter show (above x-rails)!
11 to 12PM: I get on again. We school about a half hour before my classes. He is fantastic, soft and adjustable. I’m loving it!
1PM: My rounds! I do three 2′ hunter rounds, which are the best jumping rounds I’ve had on him ever. I don’t know what got to us, but we were on. We placed 1st in schooling, 2nd in the 2nd round, and 2nd in the third round. Our flat classes were okay, not bad but not fantastic either. It was super windy and hard to hear the announcer, plus there was a flapping tent that Beau wasn’t too happy about either. We placed 6th in under saddle (aka I have a giraffe for a horse) and 4th in equitation because I cannot freaking get my diagonals.
2PM: My leaser rides in the 2’3″ class. Beau is, again, perfectly amazing. I am now completely befuddled as to who this quiet, well-behaved horse is. She places well in all 5 of her classes, and is ecstatic to have shown so well in her first big class (her words, but I love it!). Beau is now super sweaty and tired.
3PM: My dad rides in the 2’6″ class. My concern is much higher for Beau than for my dad, as he is super tired and sweaty at this point. He still has plenty of energy though, and it doesn’t take much to get him to go. My dad has nearly flawless rounds, except leaving out some of the strides. He places in 4 of his 5 classes, and 2’6″ is definitely the most competitive division.
Enjoy my commentary, by the way!
4PM: Beau is super sweaty, huffing and puffing. Later, we realized that this is probably at least partially due to his medical condition. He has a normal secondary AV block in his heart. What this means is that when he’s not in hard work, part of his heart shuts off. It’s somewhat common in racehorses. I’d assume it’s even more common because he is a descendant of Secretariat, who is known for his huge heart. So, it’s logical that when his heart turns on, his breathing would increase.
As soon as my dad is off, his saddle is pulled off and I sponge him down with as much water as possible, sweat scraping as I go. I then squeeze plenty of liniment on his lower leg tendons. By the time his cooled off and eaten some grass, it’s time to go home.
We load up, and head out. I feed him and give him a dose of bute for good measure. He had a long, hard day. He gets the next day off and the day after is a quick, chill hack. My barn friend/caretaker informs me he’s slept most of the day inside (he goes out at night to avoid the heat).
Last notes: Two years ago, Beau was an underweight, undermuscled, super green horse who liked to go up and down more than forward (well, unless it was running forward). One year ago, at his first off-property, he spooked and ran and had all the wiggles. Two years ago, I never could have kept up with him. One year ago, I was nervous. This show, I was the most calm I’ve ever been. It wasn’t just that I was a better rider, it was that I knew we could do. I knew that we had become a team, a partnership. And once I realized that, there was no stopping us.
“Be My Beau” gave us fourteen ribbons. Like an old schoolmaster, he carted around three people for fifteen classes. And just like that, the student, my pride-and-joy project, became the master.