A small group of die-hard event riders journeyed to the Berkshire Equestrian Center last weekend in Richmond, Massachusetts, where an indoor jumper show was taking place. This jumper show is part of the seriously awesome Gold Cooler Jumper Series that Ken Whelihan has thoughtfully put together.
Ken is an MA licensed riding instructor and trainer with a background in judging, competing and teaching. Interestingly, The Berkshire Equestrian Center was where this series originated, and 2014 will be the third season for this winter series at seven stables from Greenfield, Massachusetts, to Gales Ferry, Connecticut. The season usually consists of 14 shows ending with the final competition in March at the Mount Holyoke College.
Talk about shaking up a dull and uninspiring winter and transforming it into an exhilarating and anticipated season with this lively series. Honestly, if you have the time, money and desire to get in and out of the ring for a relatively inexpensive amount of money, why not participate, especially for event riders who seem to make up the minority at these shows?
Like I was saying, four event riders, including myself made the couple hour trip down to the land where grass is still visible and horses are comfortably being ridden outdoors. We were all relatively excited and anxious about the size of the jumps and the space in which you were given, but knew we came for a reason!
As event riders, many of us are spoiled at times and become accustomed to jumping in larger areas, where you have what seems like an inordinate amount of space and time to plan your next move. The amount of space at these indoor jumper shows is not unrealistic, nor is the area unfathomable to ride in, and yet, when you’re not used to riding within such confines, one can easily go off course, get flustered or totally blank! There’s no extra time to think or plan; you simply have to do in order to make it around.
We were at this show basically the entire afternoon. There were enough people present to put the pressure on, particularly when you could see all those unfamiliar faces sitting on the other side of the window where the heated viewing area was. Not to mention there was a very intimidating and booming loud speaker, so you and your horse immediately become known. In fact, if it were just Ken Whelihan standing alone at the in-gate, there would still be plenty of pressure riding and jumping in front of such an accomplished equestrian!
We all went in and rode better after each round. I was very anxious about the size of the jumps and how twisty the courses were. I knew that it would be incredibly easy to go off course and look like a sailor lost at sea. I managed to make it around three courses and could not have been more thrilled with the power and boldness that Vinnie continues to demonstrate. Of course, there will always be more homework and more studying to do, but that’s the name of the game, right?
These shows are absolutely super, and I am beyond thrilled that I heard about these shows through my trainer. I hope this series continues to gather support and draw in more riders. Having something like an indoor jumper show to look forward to and to practice for makes the winter go by considerably fast! Learning how to turn and roll back and ride in such small areas will absolutely benefit our riding abilities. As event riders, if we can jump those heights and make those kind of turns in an indoor, the rest seems pretty doable when you look at the broader picture!
Thank you everyone who helped me with the horse shuffling in Vermont, and thank you to Berkshire Equestrian Center for putting on an exciting and seamless show! We really appreciate the effort put into these shows! Till next time!