Tuesday, May 18, 2021

charlie goes to a hunter show!

A couple barn mates and I have recently been scheming about fun plans for getting out and about with our horses. When one friend had various family members coming into town this past weekend, we decided to make a whole big To-Do of it by going to a local h/j show. 

Transportation was a little challenging for four total horses arriving in three separate trailers, all of which had slightly varying arrival and departure times... But: we were adamant: this would be a FUN day with ponies!!

Complete with the first proper post-Covid (bc #vaccinations4lyfe, y'all) horse show tailgating party haha. Since one horse arrived in a suuuuuuuper early trailer, the rest of us decided we'd err on the side of early too (even tho our classes were the last of the day) just to enjoy the party scene. 

my unsuspecting victim dozing in his run-in
And guys -- it was great. It's been SO LONG haha. Like, normally we would save the tailgate until after the rides lol. But ya know. We figured, it was an h/j show. With one single ring. With upwards of 40 classes, starting with lead-line and groundpoles. We'd probably be there forever, ya know?

As it was, the Chucklebus arrived at 12:30pm, with a conservative estimated ride time of around 5pm lol. But we got to see a friend tackle the itty-bitty jumpers with her project pony. Plus got to see approximately one zillion hunter and jumper rounds (with schooling breaks between each height group, natch) slowly edge up in height. 

hello sir and good morning -- are you ready to go play?
The prize list was honestly bizarre in terms of height. Basically, at small local stuff like this the bread+butter entries are in the <2'6 classes. So we figured anything higher might be lighter. But actually even the class list was light on options too. 

They had a set of jumper classes where you could have a course set at 2'6-2'9 OR a course set at 3'-3'3. And otherwise there was a single hunter division where the prize list said you had an option to jump the course at 2'9. I talked it over with the secretary in advance of pre-entering the week prior, and decided to do the schooling hunter division at 2'9. 

pictured: a party!! omg we can tailgate again now that everyone is vaccinated!! 
This way, I figured I'd get a full course set at 2'9. The courses would presumably be fairly standard for hunterlandia, but honestly I'd rather that than trying to deal with whatever concoction of "jumper turns" they figured out for the same exact placement of jumps lol. 

So anyway. The horses stood around like absolute professionals at the trailer for basically hours before we finally dragged them off to the show ring. Which.... Naturally took them a little bit by surprise since they'd kinda figured they were just in a random field for the day LOL. 

Charlie bug-eyed around for a little while, but honestly was fine. We warmed up a couple laps in the indoor, including cantering some ground poles and crossrails etc, while I waited for our schooling round. Notably: every single division had gotten a dedicated 15min schooling session in the show ring. 

ponies party too!! tho, we actually did end up moving pony mare Tink's trailer forward a little bit to give her a bit more breathing room from the boys haha
Somehow, tho, even tho I had discussed my entry with the secretary in advance, even tho I pre-entered online, and even tho the gate steward had my name on her list -- they apparently had zero plan for this class where they offered 2'6 and 2'9 courses in the same division. 

The other two 2'6 entries had already done their two courses (while I waited at the gate), and were preparing to do the under saddle class. The secretary had said that even if we jumped the different height options, we'd still do the under saddle together. So I was there at the gate prepared to go in for that class. 

But... The in gate person didn't really seem to understand. I thought I could go in, do the under saddle with the division, then while they reset the course to 2'9 (for which I had, again, discussed with the secretary and pre-entered) - I could jump around as a schooling session. Naturally, my two other barn mates who were doing the 2'6-2'9 jumpers immediately following my class might also school then too. 
pictured: the boys lol
But the in gate person didn't agree with this, and the judge (who may have been a bit hot and tired after what was absolutely a very long day) said that there would be no more schooling rounds for this division. Even tho... ya know... There would be schooling immediately after for the next 2'6-2'9 jumper class. 

I also suggested I could go and do my jump rounds before the division's under saddle went if they had to go in a particular order, but I still thought I should be allowed to school the fences first like everyone else had done (and figured I could do this as they reset to 2'9). 

Really tho, it just wasn't clear if the gate person legit did not understand that I entered the 2'9, or just didn't feel like changing the fences or what. The judge was hassling her over the radio about closing the division, so they started the under saddle with me at the gate. And suggested I do an unjudged 2'6 round, or enter the 2'6 jumpers. Which... No... I entered the 2'9 class tho? 

d'aww look at you, sir!! if shows were won by pictures alone, your record would be flawless <3
Idk. It was bizarre. Even tho I was literally right there at the gate trying to go in for the under saddle, the gate person disagreed and let the judge start the class. So... I opted to just dismount and scratch rather than owe these lazy assholes literally a single cent in entry or office fees. The secretary emerged at this point to remind the gate person that the organizers sign the checks, not the judge... but I was already well beyond irritated. No thanks and so long, folks. 

It made no sense. I was not at all prepared to try to explain to this person, who had my name on a list, how the class was supposed to work. In my mind, I'd done all the necessary prep work: talking it over with the secretary and pre-entering. I literally did not comprehend that maybe the gate person or judge would be like, "Nah we're tired!

Maybe this sounds petty. And it kinda felt petty being the lone voice sitting there like, "But I pre-entered? You knew I was coming? Why didn't you have a plan for how to run this mixed height division that you yourself offered on the prize list?" But ya know. I'm a stranger to them. Guaranteed if I'd had a local trainer** at my side they would have just put the fences up and gotten it done. But I didn't. So neither did they.  (Nor did they raise a single fence for the 2'6-2'9 jumper classes either...). 

Can't really describe how frustrating that felt, to be honest. So.... Charlie's long awaited debut as a hunter was a bust. Tho, as a point of pride, the two crossrails we jumped in the indoor warm up were exceptional lol and I have full confidence he would have been lovely for our rounds <3 

Long story short, 0/10 would not recommend and won't return lol ugh. 

(**Petty Post Script Alert: The lines on course were all riding at fairly variable striding, so I kept asking people what they were set for. True fucking story: one woman who was 100% one of the 'big' hunter trainers there legit shrugged at me and told me she did not know. Which was also obviously 100% not true. Are hunters really such assholes that they won't tell someone outside their group what the distances are? Or was this just a bad sample from some dusty backwater barn?? Real questions here, folks, bc damn it was kinda stunning lol)


  1. That is sooo frustrating! Especially after you tried to cover all your bases. At least there was good tailgating??

  2. um, wow. That is legit not okay. I would have pitched a fit and gone into full on bitch mode. Which would have made my round shit so you were probably right. Clearly there is an organization challenge. I don't understand why the gate person did not contact the office but sometimes there are politics at play. There was a dressage show many many years ago where the whole committee got into a fight, quit and walked out. Someone there as a support person stepped in and got it done. Sometimes people at shows are nasty which, again, makes zero sense.

    I am glad that you had a good party though.

  3. OMG! What an incredibly disappointing day. What is so hard about putting the jumps up a couple holes???

    1. Also dying to know where you were, but understand why you didn't publicly identify the farm ;)

  4. As a hunter rider, I apologize. The show should have posted how many feet were in the lines on the course map. Or, you should have been given the opportunity to walk the course. And no, most hunter people aren't such dicks at to not tell you what the lines are supposed to be.

  5. Ugh, H/J shows drive me nuts. I appreciate set ride times and hate having to wait around forever. And the trainer politics are also super annoying. Luckily we have some really well run/fun ones close to me and most trainers are pretty nice and will help you out if you're by yourself. But seems like there's always at least one pushy/rude trainer.

    And yes, why offer a class on your prize list if you're not then going to set fences for it?? I would be super frustrated too.

  6. Yiiiikes.
    That sounds like an absolute cluster-fuck. I'm sorry you had such a frustrating time at the show - hopefully Charlie's next debut is smoother!

  7. That's ridiculous. I've been at the in-gate (and the judge's stand) at shows like this and how they treated you was NOT okay. I have literally judged entire divisions (including under saddle...) with 1 person so they could go, get their miles, and have a good experience. These people are awful. Don't go back! (I know you aren't)

  8. I like how you handled it, and agree with never returning or giving them a cent. You put in a lot of effort getting ready and a good part of your day there, it's not cool for them to just not feel like holding up their end of the bargain. There is a series semi local to me where I had an almost identical experience - it turned out there were only a couple of us entered at the height and rather than letting us know they weren't interested in setting jumps for the two of us, told us at the gate we should move up to the next class because they didn't have time for ours. When I requested to ride the height I'd entered, there was a snide comment or two from gate person/local trainer over the radio to the judge about pony and I needing a diet and not being able to move up. I left (and have never been back).

  9. Hahahaha I'm sorry to laugh because yeah, I would be fucking pissed if that was me trying to show, but this sounds EXACTLY like the majority of hunter shows around here. Even with BM whose a very well known trainer around here, it's still such a cluster fuck in hunter land - which is why BM is switching everyone to eventing now lol

  10. I just... I can't... Why... I've written four comments and deleted them all. This is pathetic. It's their mistake - there were literally dozens of solutions here and they had to flail around like idiots? Nope. It sucks you didn't get to jump around but I'm right there with ya, I wouldn't have given them a penny either.

    Thank goodness for glorious warmup cross rails and tailgates!

  11. That's awful. No excuse for that kind of behavior from people putting on a show of any kind. They offered the class. You signed up. They run the class for you.

  12. Dude, that's bullshit. I'm sorry you got dealt that! And also, I've never had a trainer or fellow exhibitor not tell me the strides if they knew. This place sounds awful. Please don't judge the rest of us by this experience!

  13. Reply to your postscript specifically - bad example of HJ people. Every show I've gone to if I asked someone has told me, if I watched and someone asked me I told them. If I saw a mistake on the posted course I ask the course designer/steward and then force them to fix it so everyone gets a chance. I'm sorry that you dealt with some fucking obnoxious people who were clearly not ready for rl lol

  14. Honestly, I've seen no greater train wreck than training jumper shows. Many of the big venues run them *perfectly*, but there are also ample venues who run absolute disasters of schooling shows. The eventing and dressage worlds are FAR more organized in terms of helping newbie riders get into the sport, in my opinion. Again, I'm speaking from what I've seen in South Africa, but from what I've read it's a general thing.
    All this to say - a HUGE shout-out to the many great venues who DO run amazing schooling jumper shows! They are the very foundation of the jumping sport!

  15. Wow... sorry you had such a horrible day, can't believe the show was run so poorly!


Thanks for leaving a comment! You may need to enable third party cookies in your browser settings if you have trouble using this form.