Oct 5, 2016

Horse Show Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts for the Junior Rider

by Maggie Junkin

I'm thirteen years old and have been horse showing since I was four. I started doing the rated hunter shows when I was seven.  It hasn’t been that long, but long enough for me to have a few pet peeves. So here they are... my list of Do’s and Don’ts for the Junior Rider.

Do: Say please, thank you, and excuse me.

Don’t:  Be entitled; the world doesn’t owe you a thing.

Do: Be thoughtful and courteous to horse show personnel. Most work longer days than you do.

Don't: Forget to congratulate fellow competitors when they do well.

Do: Wish others Good Luck… and mean it.

Don’t: Critique others ringside for all to hear. 

Do: Pick up after yourself. No trashing the show grounds.

Don’t: Whine, scream or throw tantrums. No one wants to hear it.

Do: Thank your parents.

Don’t: Cry unless you are hurt or bleeding. (Disclaimer: Unless you have had the worst trip of your life, then sneak into the nearest porta potty and break out the tissues.)

Do: Show good sportsmanship.

Don’t: Show a temper.

Do: Be prepared. Get up early, stop by the ring and take photos of your courses and learn them. Be ready.

Don’t: Hold up the ring when after what felt like a 100 trips, they are finally ready to jog.

Do: Thank your trainer.

Don’t: Talk back to your trainer.

Do: Thank your siblings if they got dragged along.

Don’t: Gossip or spread rumors.

Do: Love your pony or horse even when things go wrong. I would like to see the big kiss or pat on the neck of an animal that missed a lead, knocked a rail, or spooked a little in the corner. Love them even when you don’t win!

Don’t: Create drama.

Do: Thank your parents, again.

Don’t: Obsess about your score or placing. Furthermore, don’t worry about your competitor’s scores either.

Do: Set personal goals and conquer them.

Don’t: Take your anger out on your horse.

Do: Be humble. Some of us look up to you!

Don’t: Blame your horse or pony for your mistakes.

Do: Be a positive role model.

Maggie Junkin competes in the Children’s Hunters with her horse, Tommy Bahama. She lives with her family, 5 dogs, and 3 cats in Jenkintown, Pa.

Sep 26, 2016

Things My Trainer Says

by Maggie Junkin

My trainer says the craziest things sometimes during my lessons.  I'm often thinking, "Did he just say that? It wasn’t that bad... was it?  And what did that even mean?"

To my trainer:  Thanks for keeping it real, keeping it fun, and expanding my vocabulary! Here are just a few of my favorite sayings and their definitions.  

You are sitting there like a lump on a log!
Well… I guess that’s self-explanatory.

More RPM!
What’s RPM? Is that short for "Rider Possible Meltdown?" Or is R.P.M. that 80’s rock band my dad liked? Definition: Revolutions per minute, a measure of speed. What? I don’t even drive yet!

Ah, go faster. I get it, another word for RPM.

What are you? A Kamikazi?
After looking up that definition (suicide pilot) my answer is definitely, “No, not intentionally.”

One, two, three, four, ONE!!
Usually I am off pace, again.

Steer the Boat.
I’m trying. My boat has his own ideas.

Thank your horse!
Translation: pat him, he saved your sorry butt.

You Donkey!
This is usually directed at my horse, not me. I score a “get-out-of-jail” pass this time.

Get out of the corner, get out of the corner, GET OUT of the CORNER!
Yeah, I sometimes get stuck in the corner.

Don’t Dillydally.
Dally diddle? Dilly Daddle? What on earth did he just say? Definition:  Dillydally: to move slowly or waste time. Okay, I’ll accept that.

Definition: Very good or pleasant.  Interpretation: “You actually maintained pace, found all 8 jumps, and didn’t mess it up.”  It’s a good day!

And finally my all time favorite...

Stop doing the Watusi up there!
A whata what? Defintion: A solo dance that was a popular dance craze in the 1960’s.
“No, Really? I didn’t really look like that? Did I?"

Maggie Junkin is a 13 year-old hunter rider.  After showing in the ponies, she has moved on to horses recently and is showing in the Children’s Hunter Horse Division on her horse, Tommy Bahama. She is committed to animal rescue. Her favorite rescue to support is Danny and Ron’s Rescue. Maggie trains with John Mastriano of Tustin Farm in NJ. She lives with her family, 5 dogs, and 3 cats in Jenkintown, Pa.

Sep 15, 2016

Before "Then"

By Maggie Dana

Night before show. Remind Mum about snacks. Tell Dad not to worry like he always does. Obsess over whether bits and stirrups are shiny enough after using all of Mum’s metal polish. Get knickers in a knot when you discover you’ve run out of saddle soap and have to use Neatsfoot oil on your saddle. Will stain your jods, for sure, but nothing to be done. No stores open after 5 o’clock and it’s now 9 p.m. Not that any of the local shops would carry saddle soap, anyway.

Lay out show clothes: cleanest shirt you can find, stain-free tie, buff jodhpurs with baggy thighs, brown paddock boots with buckles and straps (zippers are so much cooler). Sigh over tweed jacket and wish, yet again, you had a black or navy one like the rich kids did. Steam brown velvet hunt cap with kettle one more time. Set alarm for five o’clock.

Next morning: Surprise sleepy pony with grain and hay before dawn. Brush him like mad. Attempt checkerboard patterns on his rump that all fancy show ponies have. Give up. Pick out his feet, brush them with gucky stuff that gets all over your hands. Plait (braid) his mane and wish they didn’t look like the sausages you’d have eaten for breakfast if your stomach wasn’t already in a massive twist.

Check leather school satchel (1950s version of a knapsack). Load up with snacks (thanks, Mum), brushes (mine and his), show schedule, lead rope, and flashlight. It’s still dark. Race back into house, swap grubby togs for show clothes. Bang on parents’ door. “I’m off.”

Tack up more-or-less clean pony. Remember to put halter on top of bridle. Set off—alone. It’s a seven-mile hack to the show, but at least it’s not raining. Not too much traffic, thank goodness. Negotiate center of town. Bus drivers toot their horns and wave. Risk a brief canter on the A-40’s median strip with cars zooming past on both sides.

Eight-thirty. Show grounds ahead. Find secretary’s tent, get number, and meet up with best friend. She’s hacked in from the other direction. Compare snacks, then swap. Her pony eats my orange. Glare at riders with horse trailers, grooms, and spindly-legged ponies that look like miniature Thoroughbreds.

First class: Best Rider. We lose. Then comes Best Show Pony. Lose that one as well. Trot into ring for Best Turned Out Rider and Tack . . . and win it! Good grief. That Neatsfoot oil is amazing. Happily ignore stony looks of show pony riders and their grooms. Parents show up with lunch. Watch jumping, then mount up for gymkhana events (had no idea at this point that I’d end up in the States where gymkhana isn’t part of all horse shows).

Best friend places second in (pole) bending; we manage third in apple bobbing race. Not a bad haul. Red (first in England) and yellow ribbons. Pack up and head home. Another seven-mile trek. Dad worries, of course.

Ten o’clock that night. Light wavers in the distance. Dad is out there, worrying, in the middle of the road. Assure Dad you are okay. Untack pony and brush him off; feed hay and grain. Kiss wonderful pony, then stagger into house and remember you’ve forgotten to do your homework.

* * *

Maggie Dana was a British teenage Pony Clubber, circa mid-1950s. She's the author of the Timber Ridge Riders series for young readers who love horses.

Aug 31, 2016

Reasons We're Not Ready for Finals

by Kim Ablon Whitney

Yes, she has enough points!  She's all qualified and the horse is going well.  Summer's over and it's Finals time.  We're all so excited!

Wait, we are?

There are a few reasons for both riders and parents to dread Finals...

 1. The pressure.  It all comes down to this.  A year of training and showing, of developing as a rider, and all that matters is a few scant minutes in the ring.  It's not just yourself that you're riding for--there's all the time and effort your trainer and parents have invested in you.

2. The disappointment.  If it doesn't go the way you wanted, all that hard work feels like it's for nothing.  Only 10 people get ribbons.  And even some of those ribbon-winners will feel they fell short of their expectations.

3. The stress.  Break out the Tums and Pepcid AC.  Get ready for a few months of nail-biting, stomach-churning anxiety.  Try to act composed and relaxed when your insides are dying.

4.  The inflated prices.  If you thought your bills were high the rest of the year, buckle your seatbelt for September through November.  Extra lessons, extra pro rides, extra injections, extra everything.

5. The exhaustion. Endless travel, long car rides, late flights, early mornings, lack of sleep, missed school and work days, make-up assignments. Need we go on?

6. Going back to zero.  Ready to do it all over again?  Ready to count points and figure out just how you can get to that last level 2 Talent Search class without pounding your horse into the ground?  Those few weeks of "all qualified" were pretty nice.

7. It's the last time.  For those in their last junior year, it's over.  Yes, those junior years were intense, emotionally and financially draining, and downright crazy but they were also the most wonderful years of your life and you'll never do anything quite like it again.  For parents, you'll never again spend so much quality time with your child doing something she loves.

Kim Ablon Whitney's latest novel in the Show Circuit Series is Hunter Derby. Sign up for her mailing list to stay up to date on the series.

Aug 24, 2016

Top Things To Love About The Charleston Summer Classic!

By Maggie Junkin

The Charleston Summer Classic Horse Show runs over a two-week period in July. It’s held on Johns Island, South Carolina and is managed by Bob Bell of the Classic Company.  In typical Classic Company fashion it is a well run, exhibitor friendly horse show. 

It’s one of my all time favorites, but what makes this horse show different than others? It’s the horse show my entire family doesn’t want to miss. Here are the top reasons my family loves that The Charleston Summer Classic is on my summer show schedule.

 1. It’s a Showcation!
Management coined the term “Showcation” and for good reason. They run the show efficiently. The rings start promptly first thing in the morning and they keep things moving quickly. As competitors, we're able to horse show and move on by midday.
Pastel Adirondack chairs welcome spectators to the VIP tent.

2. Charleston
Just named the #1 city in the world by the readers of Travel and Leisure. Explore all that this southern city has to offer: fine dining, upscale shopping, rich cultural history, and pastel beauty.

 3. Beach House Rentals and First class Hotels
Most families rent homes or villas on nearby Kiawah or Seabrook Island. Both Islands offer plenty of quality rental properties close to beaches and pools. Kiawah offers several boutique hotels as well. Seabrook is our family’s favorite, but Kiawah certainly has its fan base as it was just voted the #2 Island in the Continental U.S. by the readers of Travel and Leisure.

Villas on Seabrook Island offer relaxation and down time.

4. Restaurants
Charleston and Johns Island offer some the finest dining experiences in the country. You could spend a month here and not hit them all.

Slightly North of Broad~ Nothing snobby about SNOB. Southern hospitality and great food!

 5. Fort Sumter
Take the ferry on a scenic cruise across the Charleston Harbor for a visit to the Fort Sumter National Monument. Tour the Fort and museum to learn more about that day--April 12th, 1861 when the Confederates fired the first shots of the Civil War.

6. Mullet Hall Equestrian Center
Offers an exhibitor friendly and spacious venue. There is plenty of parking. The stabling areas are well constructed and comfortable for our horses. There are camping hook-ups and 40 acres of grass fields. 

My favorite part of the show grounds is the trail system.  After an early morning schooling session I love to cool out my horse on a trail ride. Miles of trails are available to explore by horseback or on foot. Pass under the Live Oak trees draped in Spanish moss and enjoy the special beauty of the South.

7. Beachy Barn Setups

Tustin Farm setup

8. Charleston City Market
Spend some time scoping out the vendor stalls in the Charleston City Market.  From regional trinkets, to jewelry, to pottery, you can find a souvenir to take home.  Make sure to look for the sweetgrass baskets made by local artists. This is a unique craft passed down by generations.

9. King Street and Touring the College of Charleston
Cruise King Street by foot if fashion is your thing. Meander the boutiques and shop your favorite designers. While on King Street don’t miss a quick tour of the College of Charleston campus. With its beautiful city gardens, fountains and pastel colored buildings it’s not to be missed.

10. Bohicket Marina
A great place to go for a sunset dinner, the marina offers several restaurants to choose from.

11. The South Carolina Aquarium
This aquarium is a must do if you have younger equestrians. It’s easy to do in an hour or two.

Maggie Junkin with brother, Daniel, and family friend, Harrison.

12. The Angel Oak Park
The Angel Oak Tree is thought to be the oldest living tree in the U.S. The Angel Oak Park is free to visit and is located on Johns Island a short drive from the horse show grounds.

Photo by Maggie Junkin.

13. Fresh Fields Village
Shop, grab a bite to eat, or relax in this outdoor village located between Kiawah and Seabrook Island.

 Maggie getting ready to browse the Tommy Bahama store in honor of her horse “Tommy Bahama.”
14. Beaches
Enjoy private beaches if you are staying on Kiawah or Seabrook Islands.  Folly Beach and Isle of Palms offer public beaches, parking, shops and restaurants.

Seabrook Island beach 

15. The Hunter Derby Night
Spend a fun night with friends and family in the VIP tent watching the Derby.

16. Charleston Carriage Rides
Tour the historical city of Charleston by carriage ride.

17. Recreation
Both Kiawah and Seabrook offer tennis, golf, biking, kayaking, fishing and sailing. The Seabrook Equestrian Center even offers horseback riding on the beach. This is on my  “must do” list next summer! 

Maggie Junkin is a 13 year-old hunter rider.  After showing in the ponies, she has moved on to horses recently and is showing in the Children’s Hunter Horse Division on her horse, Tommy Bahama. She is committed to animal rescue. Her favorite rescue to support is Danny and Ron’s Rescue. Maggie trains with John Mastriano of Tustin Farm in NJ. She lives with her family, 5 dogs, and 3 cats in Jenkintown, Pa.

Maggie with Tommy Bahama. Photo by Alison Hartwell.