Friday, September 21, 2012

Horse Shows and Chili

This week from Wednesday to Sunday, the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave is playing host to the Canadian International Show Jumping Tournament. World class riders from all over Canada, and a few from abroad compete in three consecutive grand prix shows, with ever increasing prizes. Some call it the triple crown of show jumping.
I found out about it yesterday, and since it was my day off and I had nothing more pressing to attend to... well, nothing I wanted to attend to anyways... I went online, found out the when and wheres, and was in the car by around noon. The public parking was abysmal... a low lying field WAAAAAAY in the far reaches of Narnia... or perhaps it was Oz? It rained on and off all day, so I was more than a little worried about parking my Altima on grass. The good part? I walked more than I have all week I'm sure, especially since I forgot my phone in the car, and then later went back for some business cards.
The rain wasn't too bad, and there was a covered porch area by the little cafe where one could watch the show in dry, and relative comfort. It wasn't overly crowded, I think everyone there had a personal affiliation with one of the horses or riders in the show. Apparently it will be busier on the weekend, but I didn't mind. I got a seat out of the rain. And, it was close to the action, center of the ring, with nothing in front but a few shrubs.
Those are my boots, and beyond, the arena. In fact, that white jump in the top right corner of the picture was the first jump on the course. Pretty good seats. And yes darlings, I wore my boots. Cowboy hat too. Not to mention a big wooly sweater and down filled vest. It was brisk out but I was dressed for it. When the chill got too much I'd wander into the trailers set up for Greenhawk, Richvale Saddlery, and the Running Fox, (all heated) and thaw out while I ran my reverent fingers over leather tack I want already for horses I don't even own yet. I also handed business cards to the staff. You gotta figure they hear of someone looking for equine massage therapists. 
I watched a couple of schooling shows, and then around 2:30 maybe? The big action started. I was sharing the patio with owners and trainers, and did a lot of listening and asked a few pertinent questions about conditioning, training, and learned a lot about correct horse and rider posture and conformation for show jumping, what it looks like, and what it looks like when it goes wrong. I was also able to get a bit of a feel for what people at that level are paying for equine massage. Good networking, that. It should count for CEU's.
The horses were incredible! I tried to catch photos of horses in different phases of jumping, so I get a visual reminder of what muscles are doing what and when, and what might be causing potential strains.
Above is a horse collecting itself to take off, and below is a stunning grey mid-jump. I took photos over other fences as well, but the white one closest to me turned out best because my iPhone camera goes grainy when zooming in low lighting. 
The athleticism of these horses is incredible. While carrying a rider on their back they launch themselves up into the air, sometimes over the height of their own shoulder. They have to have enough momentum to fling themselves across the width of the jump, and then land cleanly on their feet, get their head up and aim themselves at the next jump, all within the span of about a second. And the riders! I don't have a whole lot of riding experience, but in a nice, deep, western saddle I have a hard time staying on the horse at a jog. These men and women are perched on a flat pancake, and not only cantering (same as a jog), but smoothly weathering little bucks and shies, not to mention keeping their seat through jumps over a meter and a half high! Equine sports truly amaze me, each and every one of them. 
When all was said and done and it was time to go home, I was feeling rather nervous on the LONG walk back to my car. I had visions of my car sitting in a puddle of mud, sunk in up to the rims, but though the ground was feeling pretty spongy and marshy, my tires were right where I left them. I put my little baby in to reverse and slowly let her ease herself out of the spot. It worked like a charm. Three cheers for my "all-terrain" Altima!
It was already 5 by the time I left, and I was starting to get quite hungry! I was so grateful when I walked through the door and found a steaming pot of chili in the kitchen. My mother-in-law-to-be makes a heck of a chili. 
At the end of a brisk, breezy, damp day, boy was this ever the ticket. It was really a fabulous day all round! Andrew and I might go back on Sunday to catch the final show. Apparently there will be more public there, with an area set up for games, and falconry demonstrations... all kinds of good stuff. But you know me... I'm really just there for the horses!


small farm girl said...

Sounds like a good day! You need to come to KY. Then you will be right in the middle of horse country! Lol.

Sam Murray said...

lol!! maybe for a visit... drove through once, on the way to florida. The post card is in my collection somewhere