My Florida Takeaway
For the first time ever, my family and I packed our life up and moved to Ocala, Florida with our 2 horses, JT (show name Just Tornesch) and Floyd. We had fun in the show rings of HITS Ocala, soaked up some sun and visited the new World Equestrian Center Ocala. In today’s post, I’m going to share my complete and honest experience in Florida.
The first week we arrived, we started riding the horses on a Tuesday. If you have followed me for a while, you would know this is my horse, JT’s, first ever away show. It took JT quite a while to settle in and understand where he is. Floyd, my sister’s horse, is a 16-year-old pro. Wednesday was the first day we got to jump the horses; they were both great, a little spry, but nothing we weren’t expecting. I should mention that along with JT’s rides, I took him on several 30-minute walks around the show grounds to allow him to see the property and become more accustomed to the sights and sounds. I feel this truly helped JT get acclimated and led to a much happier, relaxed horse in the rings. By the weekend, it was time to show. Together with my trainer, we decided to enter JT into the Childrens Hunters and I believe Natalie showed in a 2’3” class. Though I did not place in these rounds, JT was confident, with only a handful of green moments, making me feel good about the weeks to come.
The second week, we entered JT in a 3ft class on Wednesday and a 3’3” class on Thursday in Ring 6. If you have been to Ring 6, I’m sure you will remember Rick at the in-gate. He plays the best ringside music and his commentary when announcing is always entertaining! Again, we had a few green moments, but we made some great improvement from the previous week. By Saturday, I was ready to take on another week of the Childrens hunters. The first day of the division did not go totally as planned, as JT was a little fresh. We decided to enter him into the Limit Equitation 3’3” to give him a little more show experience. It was so fun to be back into the equitation ring, and as a bonus, we picked up top 3 placing out of 10 in every class. The second day of the Children’s hunters was definitely a day I will not forget. Despite the previous day, JT went out and wowed the judges, placing first and second out of 30 to take home CHAMPION. This was a big win for this young horse. From that point on, my confidence was up and I was ready to take on the next few weeks.
I did a complete vlog on week 3. For a video play by play of this week check it out here. Tuesday, I schooled JT over some fences in hunter 2, where I would be showing later that week. After that, I lunged Floyd before he made his venture over to WEC Ocala, where we were getting the opportunity to show that week. We had expected Floyd to have some energy on both the lunge and in the ring, however he was probably the calmest horse there. Wednesday, I got to show him for the first time since MHC finals. Floyd is the type of horse everyone wants to ride. He’s smart, reliable, and adorable. I did two of the 2’6” over fences classes with him. Though we did not place, I was so happy with our rounds and forever grateful to Nat for letting me borrow her perfect boy. Competing at WEC was such an amazing experience. The indoor rings were absolutely stunning, the footing was top-notch, and the jumps were beautiful. Though it was mostly inside, we were stalled by big, open doors, allowing air-flow and a safer Covid-19 situation. Overall, it was a really fun experience to travel there for the two days, however I was excited to get back to JT and HITS. On Thursday, we were back at HITS to show JT in the 3ft hunters, where we ended up getting 7th out of a class made up entirely of trainers and professionals! Friday, we did the Modified Junior hunter 3’3”, where JT was so well behaved and confident. Saturday and Sunday we competed in the Children’s hunters, where we didn’t have perfect round, but I was proud of his confident and progressive rides. I got another chance to show Floyd in the schooling hunters in Ring 1 to help prep him for Nat. It was so fun to ride in a big ring with such a confident horse.
The fourth and final week we were there was world hunter week!! Due to my busy school schedule, we did not show or jump until Friday. We did some fun Mini Maclay and Medal classes to challenge JT’s brain and see how we would do with more intricate courses. Let me tell you, these courses were so difficult, but a blast to pilot around with JT. Our Children’s hunters rounds were probably our best rounds yet! Scoring an 83, 81.75, 79, 79, and 74! JT rounded out our HITS Ocala experience on a high note. Nat also killed it in her Classic round with an 88 on Floyd! It was an amazing end to the week!
My overall experience at HITS was extremely positive. Covid-wise, I felt extremely safe and everyone around me had a mask. The rings were never too far behind schedule, and the water-trucks and tractors kept all rings, showing and schooling, in good condition. HITS had a great balance of excitement around the showing rings, but peace and quiet for the horses back at the barn and in their paddocks. I was happy that JT kept his same turnout schedule and was able to go out all day and come in at night. I felt that HITS was a perfect first away show for JT and I can’t thank my barn or my parents enough for giving me the opportunity to show here.