She Rode, I Paid October 02 2010, 0 Comments

Kika and Samantha at the VHJA Finals

It’s Friday, a few days since the official end of my daughter’s show season. The dust has settled, although there’s still some laundry to do, both the horse and human kind, as well as a checkbook in serious need of some balancing and a massive infusion of cash. Equitation finals loom in the near future, but thankfully this year we’ll just be attending as spectators. I’m ready to regroup, recoup and enjoy the memories of an amazing season.

Last weekend’s Vermont Hunter Jumper (VHJA) Finals went very well. The weather held for the most part, with just a few passing showers. You could easily spot the numerous Vermont families that had competed at the Marshall & Sterling Finals the weekend before in Saugerties, N.Y. They looked tired! But they all seemed happy to be back home, competing on our small circuit among friends.

The VHJA Finals show was well run. The year-end ribbons, awards and trophies were dazzling. Beautiful monogrammed scrim sheets, gleaming perpetual trophies, bags of tasty horse treats, the hottest new designs in tall boot socks, beautiful engraved velvet-lined jewelry cases—wow!


Samantha and Mondavi competed in the 2’6”-2’9” open equitation division and the novice medal final on Sunday. Samantha was nervous, knowing that this was her last show of the year and wanting to do well. Mondavi’s owner was there to watch, which meant a lot to me and Samantha.

The flat class was first. I have to admit, in my completely unbiased view, that my girl looked beautiful. In just four months, her poise and confidence has blossomed. Perhaps it’s partly due to the new jacket I broke down and bought in Manchester giving her a boost, but her shoulders looked open, her upper body tall. She moved around the ring knowing just where she was going—a far cry from the kid on the pony last year who, oh, yes, did actually take out the judge in a bareback flat class. She has learned so much this year from Mondavi, a horse like no other, Samantha’s beloved friend and teacher.

As Samantha crossed the ring at the canter, the wing of hair popped out of her helmet. The wing makes its appearance at every horse show. Despite the fact that Mondavi’s owner is the inventor of the One Knot Hairnet, Samantha has not yet learned how to keep all of her hair inside her helmet for an entire horse show. She does not want to take lessons in this art from mother. SO, I am not going there. However, I do make loud noises of frustration when the wing appears. Another horse show mom was standing next to me when these noises involuntarily escaped my lips without my noticing and I think I scared her. Sorry, Chris!

Samantha won the flat class. Ok, yes, I did almost cry a little. When she went in for her over fences round, Michelle and I were huddled close together for warmth. When Michelle admitted to a slight case of nerves I balked. SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO BE NERVOUS! How can I be nervous if she is nervous? Somehow, we both made it through and Samantha and Mo had a beautiful trip. I do love how invested we both are in this kid and animal—we receive so much joy, from (as one Dad so beautifully put it) “watching kids ride a large farm animal in a big sand box jump over a bunch of sticks.”

The entire weekend was wonderful. With ten riders competing from our barn, there was always someone to watch, help and cheer for. I think our trainer Tara was exhausted by the end of it, but she would never admit it. Everyone returned back to the barn Sunday night exhausted, dirty and happy.

The atmosphere at the show was so positive—so many people worked hard together to put on a great event. There are a good number of our Vermont junior and adult riders preparing for additional finals—The Capital ChallengeHarrisburg and the New England Medal Finals. For those riders, the excitement is just beginning. The rest of us are ready to cheer them on.

We’re installing new flooring this weekend in the barn, amid flood-like conditions. I’ll be reporting back Monday with all the details…

This article first appeared on The Chronicle of the Horse website.