Monday, August 29, 2011

Spills and Thrills

So this weekend I took my dressage horses to a local show. That show was actually a county fair open type show. I haven’t shown a lot in the last year and it cost me $20 to show all day fifteen minutes from home. I figured that the pony would be able to handle it and this would be a good way to get her little pony feet wet in the showing world. Obviously I brought RC too… Just because it’s fun to show, and cheap if we blow it.
I had my fears about the show. Why? Because my pride took a serious hit on Saturday. I had a good training ride on Deli so I took her on a trailride. I’m not quite sure what happened, but one moment we were moseying through the long grass on a loose rein, the next minute she spun right out from under me. I didn’t have a prayer of staying with her and landed in a heap cushioned by the tall grass. As I sat up, Delight stopped and looked at me, reins dangling. As I stood and reached for those dangling reins, she took off in the nicest extended trot that I’ve seen out of her. All. The. Way. Home.
So I had an unplanned mile and a half hike through waist high grass in my tall boots back home, where I found Delight patiently standing by the front gate.
Stupid ponies. And surely a bad sign for the show on Sunday.

The day started fine, the carnival was not 100 feet from the horse arena but nothing was moving and there were no flashing lights, so both horses tucked happily into their hay bags at the trailer.
Pony went first in junior horse English pleasure and English equitation. She was focused and wonderful; over her back and pushing from behind. I could not have asked for more from her. She bobbled the extended trot transition, and that cost her the class. I’m still so proud of my little pony.
The equitation class was not as nice as her pleasure class. The pattern was trot across a diagonal, sitting the first half and posting the second half followed by a counter canter ¼ circle, change of lead, ¼ circle true canter, trot a short diagonal- sitting the first half and posting the second half. It was already a tad too difficult for my little pony but I thought we could at least pull it through (and it seemed unfair to put a horse schooling third level in the English equitation class). As it would turn out, the ‘talent’ show was starting in the tent up the hill. Delight’s turn was punctuated by an off key version of “Remember Me”. To her credit, she just tucked her butt instead of a spin bolt or buck. But it threw us enough off that we blew the counter canter depart. Oops. Poor Deli….
All in all, it was a very successful show for Delight. I was very very proud of her.
RC had senior horse English pleasure, senior rider English pleasure, western horsemanship and western riding. We blew the sr horse English pleasure because it was immediately following Deli’s class and so we didn’t have any warm up. His canter takes a little more prep time then that to be steller. He did well, but was just a little tight. The senior rider English pleasure went very well, in my opinion, but the judge objected to his dressage-y head position as opposed to the lower quarter horse HUS style. Oh well.
His western classes started after lunch. Guess what else started after lunch?
The carnival.
Screaming teenagers, swirling colors, flashing lights and creaking mechanics.
And the demolition derby. Crashing metal, roaring engines cheering crowds.
And RC didn’t. Mind. At. All.
Delight got quite wide eyed with a look that said: "My ad said for sale to a SHOW HOME ONLY! This is NOT what they meant! What kind of redneck hell did you bring me to!!!"
So I had to put Delight in the trailer where she resumed happily munching hay for the rest of the show.
He was “on”. Completely and totally on. I was a little worried since I’ve only ridden him in the curb bit three times, total, and neck reining can be iffy (especially since I never practice it). But he held his head at the vertical, with his neck all arched like the California style western pleasure horses from back in the day. He lifted his back and was very much on the seat. The horsemanship pattern was :
• Jog half way to second cone, pick up extended jog
• Extended jog around second cone
• Lope Left lead diagonal to first cone
• Walk around first cone
• Lope right lead half way to second cone
• Half and back two horse lengths

Not too bad. And RC nailed it. His canter-walk transition was a tad abrupt, but he sat on his butt and calmly walked on. He won it.
I didn’t really know what to expect of the western riding class, since there was already a horsemanship class, but I figured that as long as it wasn’t western pleasure, RC could do it. And he did. As it would turn out the western riding class is a much more involved pattern class, involving steering and finesse.
The pattern:

Again, RC nailed it. I hardly had to steer, or touch his mouth. All weight , seat and legs and his simple changes were spot on. Just perfect; not rushed or worried or tense. Perfect. It was my crowning achievement for the day. Too bad no one else ever sees these things….

All in all it was a spectacular show for both horses.

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