My Last Lesson on Merlin

I originally started riding Merlin to boost my confidence because riding and jumping Bunny in lessons wasn’t working out well for me due to how forward she was.  My first lesson with Merlin was December 20th, 2015.  At the time, I thought maybe I would just take a couple of lessons on Merlin – and meanwhile, Hannah was going to school Bunny for me.  I hoped that would solve both the problem of my confidence and the problem of Bunny’s forwardness.  Well, Hannah never got a chance to ride Bunny because we couldn’t get her trailered over to Harmony In Hooves.  But things did go so well with Merlin, that Misty and I decided I should keep taking lessons on him.

Merlin on the day of our first lesson together.

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AHJA October 2016 Show at Harmony In Hooves

The Arkansas Hunter Jumper Association October show is not just one of the six shows in our local show season, but it’s also a benefit show for Harmony In Hooves, the therapeutic riding program that Shana Rawlings runs.  In addition to the regular classes offered at all of the other AHJA shows (which also count towards AHJA year end points), there are two leadline classes at the beginning of the day for the therapy riders to show off their skills.  Because it’s also at the end of October, there is also a Halloween Costume fun class.

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AHJA September 2016 Show at Applewood Farm

The Arkansas Hunter Jumper Association hosts six one-day schooling/unrated shows a year – three in the spring and three in the fall.  The September show is the first fall show after the summer break, supposedly when the weather has started to cool off.  The September show this year was hosted at Applewood Farm, the barn where I board Bunny.  Although Applewood is my “home barn”, Merlin lives at Harmony In Hooves, so it wasn’t a home show for him.

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AHJA June 2016 Show at the State Fairgrounds

And here’s one final show recap from a pre-blog show – the June 4th, 2016 AHJA show at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.

The June show is the last spring show before AHJA takes the summer off.  Being in Arkansas, our summers are just too hot and humid to ride all day.  Although really, by June it was already pretty hot as well.  One advantage to riding in the Beginner Rider division was that it was the second division of the day, so still early enough in the morning that I didn’t have to show during the worst of the heat.  The June show was also held in a covered arena at the State Fairgrounds, which was good because not only did it provide some shade, but it provided shelter from the rain we had right before the show.

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AHJA May 2016 Show at Harmony In Hooves

Continuing on with show recaps from earlier in the year before I had this blog, the second AHJA show of the year was May 21st at Harmony In Hooves.  I went into this show feeling a lot more confident than the first show (although, that wasn’t really saying that much…), but it especially helped that it was a “home” show for me and Merlin.  We had set the jumps for the show’s courses a few weeks before the show date, and Misty (who was now recovered enough from knee surgery to resume teaching my lessons) had made us practice over the jumps and elements of what would be the show courses ever since.  Being able to show on your home turf really is a huge advantage – I was familiar with the jumps, and I was familiar with how to get good approaches to all of them.  The only thing that could set me back was show-day nerves and just general inexperience of course.

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