Thursday, October 13, 2016

show time

Well, it could have been worse!

We certainly did not win any prizes, and there is much room for improvement, but we survived our foray back into the "show" world.

This was a very casual local show, and our portion was held on the trail behind the actual show arena. Major and his friend Friday (and my friend C) arrived a bit early so we could wander about. Major was pretty unconcerned about the surrounding, as was more interested in whatever C had thrown into the delicious hay bag. We were parked right next to the warmup ring, but even that was unimpressive. So far, so good!

(As an aside: we could immediately tell we were not at an endurance ride: these people could not park! So much space between trailers, they could have fit a lot more into the tight space without using the overflow, but I digress…)

This was the Western day of the show, English had been the day before. So there was pretty bling to be seen everywhere. My dressage saddle and helmet may have gotten some looks, but we warmed the horses up and practiced a bit, then headed over to the trail area to start our class.

waiting before the class

Here is an obstacle-by-obstacle re-enactment and my pretend scores (out of 10 per obstacle):

1. First judge takes our number and explains we need to go to the marker on the ground, and sidepass over to the gate. OK. Go to sidepass, stop, need to sidepass left, Major steps right INTO my leg. Argh. Only one step though, then we sidepass over to the gate.We did it but ugly: Score 4

2. Then we need to take the rope gate hanging on the tree, open it, walk through, close the gate. Rope gate? We hadn't practiced that, only real gates. Damn. The gate was an utter disaster. No excuses, but he was focused on everything except me, including the puppy and owner on the trail about 10 feet away, talking to a rider just standing there. But we did open and close it in the end. Score: 2

3. Walk horse between parallel poles about 10 inches apart (it is supposed to be a very narrow trail). Major at first thought it must be a sidepass, being so narrow. So he was a bit hesitant, but then did it ok, with a little knocking of poles. Score: 5

4. Dismount onto the mounting block, then trot horse about 20 feet, around pole, and back. This is a trick: you need to either unclip your reins and put them on the halter, or have a leadrope. I knew this an unclipped my reins, and Major and I did our endurance trot out. Pretty easy. Score: 8

5. Lead horse over to another mounting block, and get on without moving the block. Since we never move the block, and Major knows a cue "one step" to line up, no problem. The trick here: check your girth before getting on, judge will watch for that. I remembered! Score: 9

6. Ride horse down into creek, past the scary plastic bag, turn a complete circle in the creek, getting all four hooves wet. Major was a bit forward, thinking he was leaving his BFF Friday behind. He wanted to charge back up, but we walked, and I remembered to stand up in the stirrups and get out of the saddle coming up the hill. Score: 7

The next obstacles was a little way down the trail. And Major was fretting about Friday, and Friday was freaking out that Major was leaving. Sigh… and we had to wait awhile while the previous person finished, Major heard Friday calling to him, he called back, but just once. Arggh!

anxious Major, forced smile, gee, is this fun?

7. Finally our turn! Go up the the picnic table, pretend it's a rock. Dismount on the off side. Get down and check the horse's right front foot for a stone and clean it out. Tricky part: have your own hoof pick. Win for me! Got my folding hoof pick out of my saddle bag, done. Remount from the off side. But I forgot a key element: check the girth (every time you mount). Damn. Score: 6

8. In front of you is a half box with lines made of flour. From about 20 feet back, trot your horse and stop directly in the box. Yeah, we've got this! Perfect stop. Score: 10

9. Ride through three uneven cones, don't go outside the flour lines, about 30 inches apart. Walking forward, no problem. Backing, um, not so much. Obliterated the first cone, stepped outside the box, did the final cone OK. Judge (an old friend) said "Maybe if he was less anxious." Yeah, I think that too! Score: 4

Estimated final score: 55/90. Ugly.

finished, but distracted Major waiting for Friday (obstacle 9 on left)

Through this all poor C was dealing with Friday having a melt down, even when he could see Major. He probably would have been better to go to the show alone, but your unfortunately, you ride the horse you have that day! After we were done we did hang out for awhile and watch the kids ride adorable well-natured horses and ponies. Some putted around in too-slow western jog, but there were some cute pairs. And Major and Friday just stood there, watching everything calmly.

watching arena, my trimmer's daughter on her adorable pony!

relaxing after our bad rides
I'll await the real scores, hopefully I wasn't too nice to myself! And maybe next year more than a week of practice. But I'm glad I went, and to have the reminder that I need to do some arena work more often than never!


  1. So you have to check the girth every time you mount, but does it actually have to be tight? That could be a problem lol. Good effort!

    1. good point! But no, you just are supposed to show that you are checking your equipment, it can be however you like it. I always forget that trail trails have all sorts of rules that actual trail riders don't use all that much!