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November 16, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some

(From left to right) Emma Hanson, Rebecca Graffy, Alex Uden and Cami Littlefield. Emma went on to win her advanced Walk-Trot-Canter class later that afternoon!

It’s hard to believe that TUEQ’s first-semester regular season is over, but it is. We have five shows under out belts, a lot to reflect on, and a lot to be happy about. 

First, I should catch you up on our most recent shows. The day after our Tufts show was the Boston University show hosted at Holly Hill Farm in Hanover, Mass.

Double-header weekends are always tough, especially when you host a show the day before.  I think I racked up a total of six hours of sleep between Friday and Saturday nights. (The fact that it was Halloween on Saturday may or may not have had anything to do with it.) Regardless, we were exhausted on Sunday.

I rode a big gray horse named Leo in my over fences class, and we placed second. The first jump came up nicely, but I was fairly surprised when I learned just how hard he landed. But as the course continued, I learn to stay in my half seat for just a half stride more after the fence.

My flat class was a bit of a disappointment. I’ve been working really hard all semester, and I was fresh off of a third-placed pin in a tough class the day before. But I placed fifth despite feeling like I had tried really hard. I didn’t let it get to me, though, because sometimes the judge sees things that you don’t think to correct automatically. 

I also, admittedly, don’t make the best first impression when I walk in the ring sometimes. Often, it will take me a lap or so around at the walk to really find my position and stretch up tall. The class was a quick one too as the judge seemed to have picked his favorites by the end of the trot in the first direction.  But oh well, what are you gonna do—you win some, you lose some!

We fared relatively well as a team, picking up 29 points and holding on to third place in the region behind Boston University and Endicott College who both keep turning out stellar show after stellar show.

Our show last weekend was hosted by Endicott College at Springtide Farm in Boxford, Mass., and ran very smoothly and efficiently.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes you get the short end of the horse-draw stick, and I unfortunately found myself in that position on Sunday. I drew a sturdy gray event horse who, although a total sweetheart and a major trier, seemed unsure about what to do with the little jumps in Springtide’s indoor ring.

I came out of the turn to the first jump with a beautiful distance all set up and apparently he saw it, too—and decided to run to get it! The rest of the course consisted of me trying to reel him in and keep him from getting too excited before the jumps.  We placed a rather respectable fourth, which I’ll take!

On the flat, I drew a FABULOUS little paint horse named Hilo (pronounced HEE-low… not High-low!) who, while a bit green, was such a wonderful ride.

In the downward transition from the canter to the walk to the left, however, I got a bit too confident about the horse’s awesomeness and forgot about his greenness, and we had a swap for one canter stride before the walk.  As luck would have it, this happened right in front of the judge, so I was bumped to sixth place. But you live, you learn, you apply your right leg more liberally and life goes on!

We didn’t do quite as well as a team as we had hoped to, though. Part of the difficulty of having so many new faces on the team is deciding whom to pick as the “point” rider for each class; that is, choosing whose points will count toward the team total at the end of the day.

Everybody on the team brings something to the table, but there are lots of things to take into consideration. Some judges prefer different styles of riders; some schools’ horses are more suited to one type of rider, etc.  Every coach and captain faces the same decisions when picking a point team; sometimes the riders you choose work out, other times they don’t.  We had a lot of wins on our card at Endicott but only two of them ended up counting.  But my mantra of the semester: life goes on!

As an aside, we decided to bring a grill to Endicott and take advantage of the lovely weather. Our senior triad, Emma Hanson, Rebecca Graffy, and Alex Uden, whipped up burgers and s’mores with the help of freshman Cami Littlefield.  I have to say, we were definitely the culinary envy of the entire show.  It was totally worth having my car smell like campfire the next week!