Monday, May 4, 2009

First Show

I need a "Show Mom". And a mini-van.

I had forgotten how much work showing is, how stressful and exhausting it can be, and how much STUFF you have to haul around! It's pretty tough to do on your own! My mom used to do all that stuff for me at shows, get this, get that, wipe that off, find me something to drink...etc. I saw an ad on Craigslist last week, someone was offering themselves as a "show mom" for beginners or lone adults..... There wasn't a spare inch of space left in my car (Honda Civic 4-door) after I loaded out. I forgot that I took TWO loads to get there. If I had played Tetris more as a kid perhaps I would have been able to fit it in better? All those tack bags I bought were well worth the money. They kept everything safe during the jostling and I knew at a glance which bags were mine. I ended up taking FOUR saddles since I sold my old icky black English set (and some other stuff I had lying around) at the 4-H fundraiser tack sale (woo hoo!) so I actually MADE some $ this weekend. Neat. That money, of course will pay for horse things. Go figure.

Junior continued to be good but towards the end of the afternoon on show day he decided he'd had quite enough of this standing around stuff and started acting like a barrel horse at the in-gate. Now I know to take him back to his stall if we've go 5 classes in between our classes - I'm learning. He was pretty great in the show pen, it was just getting there and getting out of there that were problems.

I started out the day lunging him in the outdoor ring with DEEP sand. He was antsy before English Pleasure (probably because I was nervous as heck) so I rode him in the outdoor. He was a bit hot but not awful. We didn't place in the class (10 riders) which didn't surprise me because he kept breaking his walk and starting to jig. He took his leads really well and generally did a good job. Not a consistent frame, but decent. I've gotten some bit advice from readers so I'm going to have a conversation with KAT about it. I'm a big fan of using the least severe bit possible, but I'm also a fan of the horse responding to the bit so it looks like I need to try some new things.

I was a nervous wreck after EP. I'm sure the fact that I hadn't really eaten much and only had a little (bad gas station) coffee and only got about 5.5 hours of sleep had something to do with it. I think it was also the stress of doing it all alone. KAT had to stay by the show pen all morning because all the show kids were in classes. All the show moms were busy with their kids so I was kind of left in the barn alone to figure things out. There was a fake tail hanging on my stall (KAT's request) that I didn't know how to put in. I needed to chalk his face and I didn't know how, and I wasn't sure what to do about his hooves since they needed clear polish but the footing was sticky so I didn't understand the necessity. So after EP I lunged him for a bit and he was fine lunging and then as soon as I walked him through the waiting area he got all uppity again. I un tacked him and scratched my next class which was Open EP Walk/Trot. Thankfully I dropped it, there were FORTY entrants. Instead I ate some almonds, drank some water and tried to relax. Junior was content to hang out in his stall. My nerves got much better in the afternoon. I talked to KAT and she was going to ride him during the break right before the Western classes. I took him out and lunged him AGAIN until he was very tired and was begging my to let him stop. He was hot so I hosed of his legs and chest to help him cool down. I got him and me all ready and we were waiting for KAT when the break began. He rode well for her. We mounted and adjusted my chaps during the Lead-In class and then we were up for Horsemanship. We're not really ready for pattern work but the posted pattern was all stuff we'd worked on at home(walk, jog, pivot, lope circle left, change leads, halt, back) and I was pleased that he did reasonably well. Not a polished performance, but respectable. The pivot wasn't clean, but the lead change was decent. I asked for simple, luckily it was our bad-to-good leads which he does rather well. The back was a joke. I should have asked him slower. Instead of backing straight he turned himself a 180. Not cute. I placed 2nd...out of 3. The 3rd place horse bucked on the rail work...

The break between HMS and WP was too long so he got super agitated standing around, started acting like a game horse at the in-gate. Even starting crow hopping and tossing his head violently, backing up evasively and stomping. I should've just taken him back to his stall after HMS, but by the time he got annoyed it was too close to our next class (and I wanted to watch KAT's BF win both of the reining classes) so I'll know better next time. Again, my own Show Mom would've said "Okay, there are 5 classes before your next one, lets let him rest." He did decently in pleasure. Again, not polished, but fine. His lope was the slowest he's ever been for me, but I needed to keep him on a shorter-than-pleasure rein. We finished 4th....out of 4. I'm sure the fact that he was dancing so much in the in-gate that the steward let me in early wasn't helpful for the "pleasure" judging, but oh well. We did not place in the 16 horse WP Walk/Trot (big surprise) class but he was pretty good for the class. It took the class ages to exit the pen and he started hopping around so I just circled him back and walked him back and forth at the back of the pack so he didn't have to stand in the crowd.

So my anxiety about him being a total jerk is quelled. He even loaded really well for the ride home. Don't know if horses think this way or not, but it seemed he was more than ready to be done with this crap and go home. He unloaded beautifully and KAT said "Well, if nothing else it looks like his trailering issues are gone." Over all I feel pretty good. It would have been awesome if we had done better in our classes, but considering it was our first show together and I was a bit of a wreck, I think he did admirably. I received many compliments on how cute and beautiful he is and my barn mates all told me they just love to watch him work. He really is the "barn favorite" his previous owner said he was. Though I really miss showing with Cari, it was fun to have my little cheering section for the western classes. There are only 2 of us who ride western so everyone else was done showing by the time we were in Western. Luckily I had a few show moms ready to help me when I finished my last class. Junior was D-O-N-E DONE and I needed someone to hold him so I could get off. They un-tacked him while I settled up my tack swap account. And then I changed and started to load out with the much appreciated help of the show moms. I need to get me one of those....

I think our next show is going to be even better. I won't be as nervous and I'll know more about how to manage him: either move him around or put him in his stall. I will hopefully be more organized, too with how much stuff I need to bring and how to keep it easier to access. I ended up having to go to Target to buy a chair. Can't believe I didn't think of that.

Here's the one photo I got. The camera was dirty from being in the barn. EVERYTHING was covered in a fine mixture of dust from the aisles and shavings from the stalls. I promise all the black was clean! He looked so cute with his mane all banded like a Western Pleasure horse! And yes, I neglected to tuck the off-billet into it's keeper. I haven't watched the video yet, and I'm not sure if I even got a Western class because I gave the kids the camera and they came back and said "We're not sure it was do you know if it's recording?" Oh well, yet another reason why I need a Show Mom....


  1. Congrats on surviving your first show with Junior! It sounds like it was a great learning opportunity for the both of you. I'm soo glad my Mom is coming with me to my first Dressage show, I know I am going to be a nervous wreck!

    Ellie and Werther Blog

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! I have been waiting to read how you and Jr coped with the stress of your first show! Sounds like you both learnt a lot and will be blitzing the place by your next show!!!!!! Go JR!

  3. Congratulations on completing your first show with Junior! Hang in there because it should only get better the more of them you do!

  4. Awesome! We just did a show this weekend too! BUt I WAS THE SHOW MOM!
    I couldn't ride so I let a friend ride for me!

    It helps to make long detailed lists!

    I overly obsess about every little detail... :)

    Congrats on figuring out what works for you and Junior so next time will be easier on you both!

  5. Sounds like the show was a great success. Shows can be very stressful but I find that it helps to just focus and concentrate on my horse. Because Possum is used to shows he is pretty good. The only thing we really have trouble with is him rushing during our courses hahaha. Great pic. Keep up the good work!!!