Let the Cup Collection Begin!
The beginning of December signals the end of the semester. And before I (and everyone else) can enjoy the well-deserved winter break, finals need to be conquered first. Just like any other class, we have finals at the barn, too.
The barn finals aren’t like your typical written final exams (like the ones you’d have for most of your on-campus classes). Instead, finals at the barn are a horse show. The instructors bring in a judge to objectively judge and place the students in the class, while the instructors grade each of the students (separately from their class placings). It’s very exciting as this is the culmination of everyone’s hard work at the barn. Throughout the semester, we’ve worked on different units, and this is the chance to bring everything together and show how well we’ve mastered the skills that have been taught to us. For some of the freshmen, this could be their first ever horse show, and then there are others who have already been in the show pen multiple times.
Knowing your horse determines how you approach preparing your horse for finals. Freshmen get to request one of the freshman horses if they didn’t bring their own with them for the semester. As I brought Gwen with me, she’s the horse I’ll be showing in showmanship, horsemanship, ranch horse pleasure and hunt seat equitation. Some horses might require more preparation than others, and how you approach getting your horse ready is one way of showing what you’ve learned throughout the semester.
Being prepared is the key to having successful finals – no matter if it’s on-campus finals, or barn finals we’re talking about. At the barn, we have practice shows that give students the chance to enter classes and practice patterns in a show environment. Having entered one of these Friday night shows myself, I learned a lot about how to prepare Gwen, and the steps needed to make sure we’ll perform to the very best of our abilities. Instead of ribbons, the barn hands out cups for the class placings (maybe a little cheesy, but they are very useful!) And that is how the cup collection begins – hard work, dedication, and just a bit of luck during finals.