Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Show #1 of 2011

**I have most of the patterns from the clinic posted now if you'd like to go back and look at them. It seems the new thing is for shows to sell the pattern booklets for the shows for $1. I like the idea. Good, easy fundraiser and I get to add them to my pattern binder. The ones from the clinic were postcard size which made them easy to stash in the waistband of my show pants or in the pocket of my jeans, but since I can't find one of them are a lot easier to lose. :(**

Sunday morning I headed to the barn to move all of my show stuff to the barn entrance so when B arrived with the trailer we could load up and go. Zip loaded like a champ, but the trailer (2 horse straight) is the smallest trailer I've ever put Junior in and he wasn't convinced it was a good idea. He got half-way in and shot backwards, dragging me along and wrenching my lower back quite badly. I had felt it coming on before the yank, probably due to the time I spent last week with a broom over my head de-cobwebbing the barn. It's pain I've felt before so I knew I could continue with the day but that it would make it a little tougher. I'm a bit stubborn and I've shown through the flu, torticollis, and what I think might have been fly-spray poisoning... you are actually not supposed to use barn spray on your bare, wet legs, after all, but what did I know? B ended up getting him in for me and once he was in and found his morning grain he was just fine. He bumped his head on the way out of the trailer, but not badly. For only his 2nd show/event being tied to a trailer I thought he was good. He whinnied a lot, and pawed a little, but didn't fuss too much.

I was, of course, nervous and nauseous as I always am on Show days. I try to relax and breathe and get through it as best I can. Memorizing four patterns at once is difficult when you're also listening to how fast the show is progressing and thinking of all thing the little details to get ready. Where is my number? Did I remember to bring the electrical tape for his tail extension? Should I pee now or wait? I think part of that anxiety is that we do the Showmanship classes and then only have a few classes between that and our first riding class, so right after SMS he's got to get tacked and I've got to make small adjustments like taking my number off my back (there are numbers on either side of my pad) and putting on my spurs. More mileage for ME would help.

B was a great Show-Mom and it was really helpful with everything. Because it's been nothing but rain here, we were trailered on grass but Junior made it into a muddy grassy mess and every time we took him from the trailer his feet were covered with dinner plates of grassy mud and B had the illustrious task of cleaning them off. Because the arena is indoors and kind of dark I didn't bother spray painting his white legs or adding hoof polish. I sometimes wonder if this does knock me down in presentation points, but he HATES the spray and it just seems like a lot of futile work. I get jealous of the kids with show-moms who do all that stuff for them while the kids socialize and memorize their patterns. And memorizing FOUR patterns in one day is rough for me.

But anyway, back to the actual show. I realized as I grabbed his bridle for our first class that I had lost a curb hook and it was no where to be found. CRAP. So I would not have the leverage the Clinician said I should use and technically my bit was not legal, but since it was an open show maybe it wouldn't matter.

Adult English Showmanship.
There were 4 in the class and I got 3rd. The 4th horse was DQ'd for totally messing up the pattern. I actually remembered the pattern. He was yelling the whole time. We need to work on some things. Thank you all for your suggestions after the Clinic post. The snap and cadence are my next steps, along with the more deliberate movements during quartering. The judge commented that I need to take at least two steps each time I move to the other side of the horse. Here I thought I was being efficient. WRONG.

Adult Hunter Under Saddle. I worked him down a bit in the warm up arena and since I had very little bit to work with I had to be a bit demanding with him. In the class, however, Junior was lovely. We were 5th out of 9 so we got our first pink ribbon! Now we have a complete set! Consistency is still a problem, as well as anticipating the walk-to-canter transition that always comes soon after the "reverse and continue walking."

Adult Equitation.
B was amazing and found a tiny curtain hook that I kludged into a curb hook so I had some leverage for the class. It was a difficult pattern calling for a lead change and we're really not good at those. I was so shocked that he made the change I forgot to come back down to the posting trot and therefore got 5th out of 5. Such a shame because he was doing the best pattern we'd ever done until I screwed it up. Poo.

Adult Western Showmanship.
He was much quieter by this time and set faster and stood better than he has before. Still need to work on cadence and snap. We got 3rd out of 4 and after watching the video I'm not sure why we didn't get 2nd, but oh well. I just wish I knew what the difference was. That's why the clinic on Saturday was so nice when she gave all of the reasons for placings. During inspection the judge asked me if I knew what I did wrong in the Equitation and I told him I realized it too late to fix it.

Adult Horsemanship.
The lope to extended trot transition wasn't very pretty but the rest was good (for us). I think he thought I missed the 90 at the end because I made eye contact and nodded and THEN turned away but he'd already begun walking away and wasn't watching me. It's those little things that can really screw you.

I got lots of compliments on my outfit, including from the guy who won our western showmanship class and also several comments on how good Junior looked. I also got a few "that's a gorgeous horse" comments and I gave my standard answer: "Thanks! He thinks so, too."

I opted not to do the Pleasure classes, but probably should have since he was being so good. They're just sooo late in the day and I was worn out and hurting. B and Zip got 3rd and 2nd out of 5 in their reining classes and I got a chance to visit with my friends from the old barn. It was nice to see them all. We left after the reining classes and Junior still didn't want to get on the trailer but B got him on safely. We got back to the barn at 7:30 and Junior unloaded easily. Max's awesome mom had his stall all clean for me so I only had to toss my stuff in the car/barn and be done.

Overall I'm pleased with his performance. I can see improvements in posture and obedience. We need to continue to refine in consistency, cadence and carriage. We need to work on keeping weight on the hind end so that stops are smoother and have better self-carriage. A lot of that is strength related. He's working much closer at shows to how he works at home and that's very helpful. I no longer worry that he's going to be crazy or disobedient and can concentrate on keeping him working correctly. He did have a moment before Horsemanship where he didn't want to go into the warm up arena but it was a half-hearted refusal I was able to adjust easily. As the Clinician said, he's still at a place where I need to keep riding him to keep him working correctly, but that's an improvement over not working correctly at all. It'll come with time.

My back is in pretty rough shape and yesterday was a long day with a candidate for a position we're hiring at school that ended with breakfast this morning. All of my stuff needs to be sorted and readied for the next show but until I can bend over without shooting pain it'll have to wait.

Here's footage of my patterns and some of the rail work in my classes.


  1. those are some serious challenging patterns, wowzers! the video proves that you guys are really improving, isn't that all we strive for - success dear! i'm jealous :)

  2. whew! those patters just make me go, "wow. how do they do it?" I do halter and showmanship classes - english, but this year i've done western too - and i have some tips if you want them.

    just make sure you keep your shoulders back and arms level, and in a showmanship class DON'T TOUCH YOUR HORSE PHYSICALLY. there's nothing that judges hate more than you pushing on your horses chest to back, or pushing its neck to make it turn, etc. that'll get you bumped down to last pretty quickly. In halter, when lined up on the rail or against the rail, stand still. move as the judge does, switching sides accordingly. but most importantly, don't keep turning your horse in circles to get it to stand still. if your horse doesn't stand still in th elineup, its not ready for halter/showmanship.

    hope this helped! good work and can't wait to hear more!

    with love,
    gabriella. :)

  3. I think you looked great in those videos! I might be biased, but I think you looked for consistent than some of the others especially in that HUS class. I hope you dont take this the wrong way, but I think that Junior would really be more suited for english riding - he just has that nice flowy trot compared to a shorter strided jog. He seems most happy when he can move out a little freer. Your outfit sure does look sharp! I really like that saddle blanket with it too. But overall, I think you did a great job! I look forward to more posts! :)

  4. I just love when blogger eats my REALLY LONG COMMENT! So here we go again...

    Sounds like you had a pretty good show! You and Junior both looked great and I think he looked pretty relaxed in his classes. I did notice he was crying a bit in that first showmanship class but it looked like he was paying attention to you at least.

    I'm not sure if you want comments from the peanut gallery (me) or not, but I have a few observations. I'm hesitant to make comments because I know everyone is taught differently and show trends can even vary from place to place. Not only that, but I'm certainly no pro... that being said I'm going to go ahead and comment. I hope you find some of my gibberish helpful.

    When I'm doing a showmanship pattern and it says "at cone B trot", I'm trotting as soon as my horse's nose reaches the cone. I don't wait until we're past it or half-way past it, I'm trotting as soon as we get there. The only other thing I noticed from the hunt seat pattern was that Junior moved his pivot leg shortly after you set him up for inspection. I would have fixed that leg before asking him to do that last pivot. Speaking of pivots, though, they looked great!

    In the western showmanship class I have to get nit-picky to find something... I would say that it looked like you were a little late on that first crossover and Junior showed a bit of resistance during the back, but otherwise the pattern looked nice. The patterns with circles in them are always a challenge because it's difficult to make a nice, even circle, but I've been practicing those a lot here lately.

    Regarding the crossovers, I always take 3 steps. It's like 2 to get across and then a 3rd to get myself set back into place. I think it depends a lot on your leg, though. Some people with really long legs would look goofy doing 3 steps and some people with short legs look goofy doing 1 step. The important thing is to figure out how many steps it takes you to make a nice crossover and then make sure you do that same number every time you cross over.

    I think you two looked great and I can't wait to read about the next show! I hope you're back is feeling better soon too.

  5. @Milo - Yes, I agree. He's too tall and narrow for a true western horse. That's why we don't do the Western Pleasure classes much. We've never placed well in them so I only do them for fun and more mileage in the ring. In horsemanship they want a more forward and round horse so he's fine for that, at least at these small shows that I go to. I like having an All-Around horse, though, even if we don't place as well in the Western. We've been working almost solely on English since last fall so it's take us a while to get that flowier stride that's better in the English. Thanks for the compliment on the outfit. I'm pretty happy with it. Hopefully I won't feel the need to make yet another outfit for next year!

  6. It appears I can't spell... "Hope your back is feeling better soon." Sorry, the OCD in me had to correct that. I wanted to mentione one more thing anyway.

    I take a bunch of card stock with me to the shows. I pre-cut it to be show number size and also bring a big sharpie marker and number stencils (although sometimes I just wing it). Once I find out what my number is, I make enough numbers to put on whatever outfits/saddle pads I need for the day. That way, all my stuff already has a number attached to it.

    That might help eliminate a little bit of stress. :)

  7. It's taken me ages to finally catch up to your blog, but I finally did it! I found this a while ago and have been slowly reading all your old posts. First I want to say, as you know, Junior is so beautiful! I love his white face.

    Let me say...Those patterns just confuse me. I'm more of a speed event kind of person, so I've never had to do a pattern like that. It always amazes me how people can do them without messing up.

    Considering I just watched some of your early showmanship videos tonight, you two have really improved. You guys look great now!

  8. Wow... I have to say, I'm really impressed! First of all, because you get out there and DO it. I think that's terrific, no matter what the outcome. Showing gives you goals to work for, a bonding experience with your horse, and is worth all the effort, money and nerves if you enjoy yourself - and I think you did! :-) I miss it.

    Again, I am strictly a H-J person so don't know exactly what judges are looking for in some of your classes. BUT - I did do a tiny bit of showmanship in my 4-H days, just a few (koff, koff) years ago, so I remember what it feels like. And I only had to do a simple up and back! You guys looked great out there. Definite improvement since last video I watched.

    I thought you both looked competent, consistent and relaxed in your flat classes. Have no fear, you look like you know what you're doing and so does Junior. It really is wonderful to see you guys growing in your partnership.

    And P.S. - LOVE your new outfit! You're hired if I take up a Western career in my old age. :-)