Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Horse Show of the Season

Our weather here on Saturday was windy, blustery, rain, sleet, hail, you name it.  We got to the barn about 5:00 and hitched up the trailer to get Stanley loaded between rain bursts.  He loaded like a dream (occasionally he likes to go halfway in and just stand there - not backing up, not going forward) and off we went to the fairgrounds where they'd had a 4-H show all day.  When we arrived the fairgrounds manager was waiting for us since we were the only ones staying over that hadn't been there for the 4-H show and told us about the disastrous day they'd had with power going out, horses getting loose, riders getting dumped in the mud, etc., etc.  I got really happy that I had to work so we couldn't do that show!!  Talk about miserable!

We got Stanley settled in with grain, hay, water and a THICK bed of shavings since it was a concrete floor barn, and then got the trailer parked and plugged in.  And I have to brag her for a second...I managed to BACK the trailer into a space about 25 feet wide between two barns!!!!!!! !!  And I was even fairly straight!!!! !  That big ol' battleship of a trailer and I are becoming better friends.  Equestrian Girl and I heated up some pot pies for dinner then went back in the barn to start banding Stanley and give him a quick shave.

We finished up about 9:30 then made sure all the horses had water since we were the only ones staying over and then traipsed out to lock the gate to the fairgrounds.  By 10 we were in bed, read our books for a few minutes and then lights out.  We were literally parked along side the barn where Stanley was stalled with a side door into the middle of the barn right behind the trailer.  It was nice knowing he was so close.  Temps went down to 33 but we were snuggled up under a couple of heavy sleeping bags and a big down comforter so we stayed warm.

The morning was cold but with a bright sun and NO wind!  We got Stanley fed and soon after the trailers started pulling in.   By the time Equestrian Girl got him out for a warm up ride, the place was getting crowed and it was only 7!  Last year when we did this show series and we showed up at 7 we were usually one of the first ones there so this was kind of surprising.  I went down to register at 7:30 and they were already pretty busy.  I found out later there were over 800 entries!!  This is more than some of our bigger Paint shows and that didn't include the speed people who come in much later in the day!!

First class of the day was Halter.  Stanley is sooo not a halter horse but at these open shows if he places it counts for PAC (Paint Alternative Competition) points so we usually do them.  He placed 4th out of about 15 horses!  

Next class was Showmanship.  Equestrian Girl looked awesome, Stanley looked awesome, but they started the pattern too close to the fence.  When it came time to do her 270 degree pivot, she about had to climb the fence to make it.  Everything else was perfect though and she got 3rd out of 22.  (I might have video of this - haven't downloaded it to see how it came out yet).

Next were MY two classes!!  First up was walk/trot Western Pleasure immediately followed by walk/trot Western Equitation.  For those of you that don't show, Pleasure is judged more on the horse and Equitation is judged more on the rider.  There were three others in the class - two of them good friends and parent of girls in our 4-H club.  One dad riding his daughter's Morgan gelding who can be totally perfect one minute and take off in a whirling frenzy the next minute, and the other a mom riding her Arab gelding who is drop dead gorgeous but can be a bit nutso too.  A fourth lady joined us at the last minute riding a QH wearing her daughter's show clothes and looking scared half to death.  We welcomed her warmly, and were all laughing by the time we went in.  

The judge was an older guy and VERY talkative and friendly and greeted each of us as we came past him at the entrance which helped - relaxed us all I'm sure.  So around we went at a walk, trot, reverse, walk trot, walk to the center.  Stanley was an absolute doll even though the wind had picked up dramatically and I was freezing and might have asked for a slow down a little teensy bit too much on one side more than the other which gave us a couple lope steps but I yelled NO! and he dropped back to a jog without the judge seeing!  We lined up for the placings and I got FIRST!!!  Then the judge sent us back out for equitation on the rail - NO PATTERN!!!!!  yeah!!!  More of the same thing except I had to keep my non-rein arm bent in equitation form and this time, I didn't goose Stanley into a canter though he really wanted to walk as fast as his Arab and Morgan friends.  When we lined up for the placings the judge had us each walk forward several steps, stop, and back 4 steps as our "pattern" for equitation.  We did that very well since Stanley will do all those with just voice commands so I don't have to move a muscle.  Then while waiting for the announcement the judge gave each of us feedback.  He told me my legs and heels looked great, my arm positions were good but that I was too stiff.  I told him it might have something to do with the fact that I was freezing and he laughed and told me that was no excuse and that my lipstick was covering up my blue lips so it didn't count.  My friend Kristin on the Arab got first and I got second.  Mark on the Morgan got 3rd and the terrified woman on the QH placed last.  We all came out laughing again and very exhilarated - and THIRSTY!!  I had no idea showing gives you such bad cotton mouth!

Equestrian Girl's next classes were hunt seat so we had to do a quick tack change.    The class had 22 riders so they split it.  She was in the first split.  I watched the second split but didn't see anyone great.  Then the judge called back 10 riders for another go.  Equestrian Girl and Stanley had another amazing ride but the judge kept them cantering forever and....she got 1st place!  

Next was English Equitation with a tough pattern and...1st again!  We had a short breather and on to Western Pleasure for another 1st out of 18 riders.  

We quick ran over to do trail class where Equestrian Girl ended up with a second.  It was a super hard pattern and ALL poles and cones!!  Equestrian Girl did it first and then we had to do a quick swap for spurs and shorten stirrups for my turn.  We started out good and then I sort of lost my way and made up my own route!  I didn't get DQ'd since I didn't actually go off course but I skipped a few things I think!  But that judge was really nice too and we were all laughing. She hated the pattern and said hardly anyone did it correctly so she was having to score it just simply based on how many poles you ticked more than anything else.  Only Mark and Kristin did it from our Walk/Trot adult group.  Kristin and her Arab took the 1st because she actually did it correctly but ticked almost every pole.  Mark and his Morgan went completely off course and got DQ'd.  I got the 2nd.

Back over to the main arena for Equestrian Girl's Western Equitation class which was another tough pattern that included a figure 8 with a lead change.  I stood there with my friend who is a VERY experienced show mom and rider (husband to Mark on the Morgan) and thought Equestrian Girl's pattern was perfect as perfect could get.  When Equestrian Girl came out she asked if Stanley had switched leads because she didn't feel it.  Well apparently he didn't because she got 5th in that class even though neither of us saw anything wrong!  There were 18 in that class.

Equestrian Girl and I got high point for our respective "age" groups!!  Yeah us!!  We got packed up and Stanley decided to play his not loading game.  But we have a trick that has worked before and because we were trailering another horse home with us (slight detour to drop him off but she's a friend), I took advantage of that.  I had Rachel take her horse up to the escape door and let him eat the hay on the floor in front of Stanley's hay bag.  Gee he gets excited about that and has to go tell him to go away!!  LOL!  

We got this massive TB dropped off (I honestly wasn't sure he was going to fit in the trailer!) and then got Stanley home and tucked into his stall.  Equestrian Girl and I were both dragging butt but were starving since it was after 9:30 and we still hadn't had dinner.  We decided we had to do a quick stop at BK and mentally I pictured the parking lot figuring it would be close to empty so I'd be okay with the horse trailer.  What I didn't think about was the exit.  There is a sharp left turn after you pass the drive through and then a sharp right so you exit out the same nice wide drive that you enter.  Some great big giant parking blocks along the edge of the driveway prevent you from taking it wide and going on the grass.  Uh oh.  I couldn't make the first turn without taking out my trailer fenders.  Some frantic backing and maneuvering ensued and I had Equestrian Girl calling Scott ready to have him drive over there to back me out around the building (no way could I do that!!). Amazingly enough, I did it!! 

When we pulled into the driveway at home and stumbled out of the truck it was 10:00....and other than the few minutes I was in the saddle, I never sat down.  


OnTheBit said...

What a great day!!!! And I am so impressed that you are starting to get in on the showing thing yourself these days. To both win high point...that is just amazing! I have a bit of a favor...I know your daughter has done a TON of in hand classes. I am thinking I am going to drag Phoenix to a show on Sunday (got to make ever minute count right?) and there is a halter and showmanship class. I know I am not placing in any of these classes unless there is low turnout, but does your daughter have any tips for in hand classes? I have never done them. I know I am not supposed to ever have my back to the judge, but anything else?

PaintCrazy said...

OnTheBit - Thanks! We had a great time but boy oh boy was I tired!!

Halter is easy. After you trot past the judge you go to the line up where the ring steward tells you to go. Get your horse set up and try to keep him "froze" in position - all 4 legs square and ears forward. A crinkly candy wrapper is good for the ears! You can touch him to move his feet into position if needed but try to get that done before the judge gets to you. You don't really have to move yourself. Stand about a foot in front of Phoenix off to his left side a bit so no matter where the judge stands, he can see ALL of your horse. You may have to move to the right side if the judge asks to see back numbers but "new school" halter doesn't have you jumping back and forth any more.

For showmanship - I'd watch some videos on YouTube. There is a LOT more to showmanship than it appears but it's an awesome class to practice with your horse. You could do this with Gen! I think we have a few on YouTube - my account is MCF1222 if you want to search. Or search for Showmanship at Worlds, Congress, etc.

GOOD LUCK!! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

OnTheBit said...

Thank you so much for getting back to me. I will totally go on Youtube and check those videos out. I just want to go and do something fun this weekend. We have a clinic with a fancy grand prix dressage rider Saturday, so a Hunter show on Sunday close by just seemed silly and like something fun to do.