My Best Class Ever – Part One

by kpmautner

In response to a request to tell about the best class I ever had at a horse show, two classes came to mind.  This is the Cameo highlight.



Cameo was my gorgeous hunter mare.  She was a daughter of Bold Ruler, and technically should have been a stakes winner.  She made enough in two years on the track to pay for one month’s training fees …  So she ended up in a professional’s barn as an amateur-owner hunter.  But she was a bit much for the amateur.  And she wasn’t quite fancy enough for the professional (although she could and did handle the 4-foot courses like silk).  So, at the end of a long journey, she came to me.

She took excellent care of me, but kept trying to persuade me to leave her alone and let her get on with her job of jumping hunter courses.  Which, of course, I had problems with.  Jimmy Cantwell, my idol, once told me that the most difficult thing to do in riding is to do nothing well.

So there we were, at a AAA show.  The first class was a mess (they posted a jumping order – we were supposed to go first – which neither my trainer nor I realized until we wandered in halfway through the class … they let me go in, but wasn’t scored).  The second class was slightly better (big indoor ring) but nothing spectacular, as I was busy trying to count strides, etc.

Our third class over fences was at 7am the next morning.  They posted the order the night before (making sure that I realized that I was posted first in the order).  I got up about 3am to braid and bathe and etc.  There was no coffee anywhere nearby.  I was sound asleep (yes, I can braid nicely in my sleep).  My trainer tossed me up on Cameo and explained the course to Cameo.  Cameo went in the ring and put in the performance of her (and my) life.  My trainer was so excited he was jumping up and down when I came out.  He sent me back in for the last trip with “I don’t know what you were doing in there, but do exactly the same thing this time”.  Needless to say, I spent the entire trip fidgeting and annoying the heck out of Cameo.

The best hunter class I ever put in was one in which I sat quietly and let the poor mare do her job.  We ended up 6th in a class of 75 (the first five were pros on greenies).  I still cherish that ribbon more than any other.