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November 10, 2009

The Tufts Horse Show

Andy and I mentally prepared for open fences at the Tufts IHSA show.

Hosting a horse show, no matter how small or informal, is a massive undertaking.  It requires hours of preparation, an inhuman amount of patience, and several very supportive, flexible and understanding co-coordinators.  Oh, and a lot of cash.

The last requirement here is becoming more and more of an issue for our team. Because of some redistribution of funds within Tufts Athletics, we are receiving $800 less this year than we did last year, which essentially means that those $800 come out of our own pockets. Each team member is required to fundraise $100 a semester, and we rely on some parent donations to help us out, but at the end of the day those $800 put a bit of a hole in our bank account. But we soldier on like the resourceful Tufts students that we are!

My biggest responsibility in organizing our show was to assign horses to each class.  Let me just tell you, this is a misleadingly difficult task.  It’s kind of like a giant math problem—you have X amount of horses who can each do Y amount of classes, but only a subset of those X horses can do a subset of those Y classes, and some of those subsets can only do flat classes or over fences classes…if someone invented an algorithm to solve it, I think I would be the happiest person alive.  But alas, there is no algorithm and the list turned out just fine (after 14 versions…).

The August Farm horses ended up doing anywhere from four to 11 classes each.  The horse I drew for my over fences round, Andy, was one of the hardest workers of the day, and he was a complete and utter STAR! The course we had originally set for the Open class was deemed too tricky by the stewards and was ultimately changed, but I am sure Andy would have handled it with style either way.  I hadn’t ridden Andy yet this year, but we won our class and I was THRILLED!

We also ran into a bit of trouble when the stewards asked us to put wings on our fences.  IHSA rules state that the tops of the standards must be at least three feet higher than the rail being jumped, but its rules on wings are a bit fuzzy.  But it proved to be a non-issue after we grabbed some bales of hay and stacked them next to the plain standards…it actually looked pretty festive!

We began the day with my win in open fences on Andy. Our intermediate point rider ran into some issues over fences, but our non-point rider and lesson coordinator Kerry Sachs, won her intermediate fences class…also on Andy! Our novice fences point rider, Kennon Ulicny, also rode beautifully and came home with a blue ribbon, while I picked up a third place for us in open flat.  I was pretty psyched—every horse show seems to be an improvement on the flat, and while it’s still far from perfect, it’s a whooooole heck of a lot better than what it was last semester and even this summer. Thank you, Katie Schaaf.

We had some hot and cold moments in the other flat classes for the day—my co-captain Cecilia rocked it out in intermediate flat and earned second, while our novice flatter and my good friend Leigh Cooper picked up fourth.  Our walk-trot-canter and walk-trot riders ran into some trouble spots but rode very well and came away from the classes with new lessons learned and a heightened determination for the next show.

When you host your own show, however, the day doesn’t end with the last class. There were horses to be cooled out and groomed, legs to be wrapped and polos to be rolled. All of the horses were given carrots by various members of the team and were tucked into bed with a “thank you” and a pat on the neck.  August Farm has the best school horses EVER.