This summer, for the first time in almost a decade, I did not attend a single horse show.
For almost as long as I can remember, my summer has revolved around my province’s horse show schedule. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. There was never a moment where I wished I was sitting on the beach working on my tan instead of baking in the heat under my show clothes. I have never regretted a single moment spent packing, cleaning, braiding, washing, wrapping, mucking, waiting, or riding. Truly, a horse show day never ends, but not once did I second guess my choice to be there. I regret developing a moderate-to-severe caffeine intolerance, but that’s another story.
Several events led me to decide that it was best to take a break from showing. I was feeling burnt out and thought a relaxing summer sounded appealing. However, “relax” is not a word too firmly ingrained in my mental dictionary. Instead, I set out to discover just what normal people do during the hot summer months we know as “show season”.
In the past, I would’ve been nervous to make any big changes to Aleva’s routine before a horse show. Without a timeline to adhere to, I felt comfortable switching things up. As many of you know, we gave Pharm Vet’s Vita- B1 a try, and the results were fantastic.
We also experimented with a few different snaffle bits for flatwork. Speaking of our flatwork, I’m very proud of how far it’s come! We are going to take a dressage lesson or two come fall- stay tuned!
Horse shows have a way of sucking up every ounce of your time and money. In my case, I never had enough of either to pursue any other adventures. I aimed to rectify this when I planned an exclusively tourist-oriented trip to Washington, D.C to visit family and friends.
Well…this did not go exactly as planned. As it turns out, horses follow me everywhere. I seriously debated with myself for several minutes about the colour of George Washington’s horses. (For the record, probably bay. Their breed? I have no idea.)
I also visited my friend and her horse in Charlottesville, VA. As a prairie kid, I was pretty pumped to visit a farm on top of an actual hill. It’s rumoured that this farm inspired the setting of the Heartland series, which is easy to believe. It is seriously gorgeous.
The hills! The scenery! The little ponies actually had to walk down a hill to come visit me! Horses were very quickly becoming the highlight of a trip meant to explore non-horse activities. Go figure.
I Went to Camp
I had the opportunity to teach two weeks of beginner camp! I was very nervous to be in charge of so many little ones for weeks at a time, but I realized they’re just kids who love horses, just like me! Ranging in age and experience, it was a privilege to coach such eager minds. Watching a camper post the trot flawlessly or hop their first fence made the long days so worth it.
Their enthusiasm and energy was contagious, their dedication to their new equine partners nothing short of admirable. The horses themselves were the most patient and loving teachers, much more so than me! Over all, the experience reminded me why I love horses so much to begin with.
I Learned Things
This isn’t horse related but just bear with me for a moment! I realized the importance of having well rounded skills when I was stuck at the barn with a flat tire. It was a beautiful sunny day and I knew what my dad would say if I called him for help… “Figure it out!” So I did. With the help of YouTube I also learned how to change the brakes on my car and change the oil. Life skills people!
I Traveled Again
This time, my mother and I planned exclusively horse themed trip. I have watched international show jumping at Spruce Meadows on TV since I was six years old, in awe of the incredible display of horsepower. We decided to travel to the Masters tournament on September 9-11. On Saturday, under beautiful skies, we watched Team Canada give a strong performance in the BMO Nation’s Cup. They finished third, and Switzerland narrowly beat Brazil in a very exciting jump off. In typical Calgary fashion the following day dawned frigid and drizzly- it was five degrees when the first horse stepped into the International Ring for the CN International.
To watch my idols performing at the absolute top of the sport, surrounded by a massive and electric crowd, was all the inspiration I needed to step back into the show ring next year!
Kara Chad rode for Team Canada in the Nation’s Cup, and was the travelling alternate to Rio earlier this summer. She’s only 20!
After all this, I still don’t know what non-horse people do during the summer! Horses follow me everywhere, this is a fact I cannot escape. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What did you guys get up to this summer?