Sunday morning, Kaela rode in the lesson with Bob Braswell again. Kate would have like to do the same, but Van Guard lost a shoe the night before and had to go to the farrier to have it put back on. Bob complimented Kaela for being more together today and said she was riding well. Again, I went early to the rings to ensure we would get our riders into the ring early, since everyone seemed to be entered for the final division of the day in their respective rings. Great. On the day we have to catch a flight. Thank goodness we booked the last flight of the day back to Dulles.

So we had a lot of time on our hands. We watched some Equitation and Junior Hunter classes. Once Kate’s horse returned from the farrier, I gave her a lesson using the same courses that Bob had had Kaela do earlier in the day. We shopped: Shannon bought a fantastic hat; we bought Tuning Element bracelets in an effort to be more balanced and healthy (and yes, the demonstrations worked!); we bought HITS Ocala souvenirs (shirts, saddle pads, hats). The vendors were great (Thank you to Robin from The Collection and Shirley from The Gifted Paddock).

Finally, it was time to show. We thought Shannon’s classes might go too late, and we’d have to skip them to catch our flight, but as luck would have it, her division was moved to another ring and she ended up showing before the other two riders. What great rides she had. Shannon went through an amazing transformation during the three days of showing. The jumping courses that had been anxiety-provoking were now cause for grinning and laughter (see picture below). Shannon placed in all three hunter rounds – a super job!

Between Shannons trips, I got word from Julia that Kate and Kaela would be trotting up to the ring, since they were up next (and quickly) in another ring. I waited for them and realized I was feeling quite calm, in spite of knowing we’d need to finish up in less than 20 minutes to get back to the barn, turn in our golf carts, pack up our equipment and get to the airport. Maybe it was my general feeling of knowing it would all work out, maybe it was the understanding gate staff or Mary and Julia’s great organization skills – maybe it was the Tuning Element bracelet. Whatever it was, the timing worked out perfectly.

I had Kaela and Kate each jump a jump before heading into the show ring. The horses had worked hard during the weekend and we didn’t want to leave our best jumps in the schooling ring. They looked great. Julia wiped off boots and Mary was there to add some extra encouragement and guidance for the courses. It was a blast. Kate and Kaela laid down the best trips of the weekend, and it was their first time showing over 3’3″! Excellent job!

They trotted back to the barn, while the rest of us raced back on the golf carts. Julia took the horses from us, we got our tack organized, we returned the carts (not without a small incident between Shannon’s rental car and a dually pick-up truck en route to the golf cart rental site) and drove the hour and a half to the Orlando Airport. Only to find out that our flight was delayed by an hour and a half more…. Oh well, it gave us a chance to sit down for dinner at Chili’s and enjoy some decent burgers.

The flight was uneventful and we arrived at Dulles Airport at 12:30am. I was back home by 1:15 and in bed by 2am. Wow – what a whirlwind! It was an amazing trip. Everyone had a great time and the riders all learned so much. Thanks again to Mary Babick and Julia Hogan, Bob Braswell, Don Stewart, and the kind and pleasant gate and office staff at HITS Ocala. It was a highlight of our show season and we look forward to doing it with more students (and even some of our own horses) next year!

Fantastic Hat!
Fantastic Hat!

A beaming Shannon over the final jump of the day
A beaming Shannon over the final jump of the day

Shopping!
Shopping!

Sunday in Ocala
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