Thursday, August 13, 2015

August Ranch Show :(

Adam Black Photography
So yeah, the show on August 1st.

I've been avoiding posting about the show because I've needed some time to process and well, calm down.  The short version is that we had a terrible show.

I knew being gone for 7 weeks was going to create some problems.  I did not anticipate that the "problems" would manifest as they did.  I expected some crankiness, and I expected to need to take it easy on the days before the show and just work on re-establishing our working relationship.  His owners aren't as savvy with making him do his job correctly as I am, and he tends to try to get away with a lot of lazy behavior with them.  He just has that attitude, and when we've been in good consistent work he goes around with his ears forward and relaxed and goes out and does his job beautifully, as proven by the lovely blue ribbons we've earned this summer.

BUT, even though I took it easy (or at least thought I did) I think I asked too much of him and simply spent the four days before the show being very quiet and consistent.  Unfortunately, he responded with ruining three of my classes and losing a LOT of points towards the year-end buckle.

We moved the trail class to the grass field in hopes that it would make the show go faster (it didn't, btw and we were still showing the last class at midnight, but that's another matter). I discovered the morning of the show that Kevin was NOT willing to work on the grass.  WTF.  He would do the gate, log drag, and bridge just fine, but trotting the spoke became a battle for the ages and asking him to lope was like asking him to run into a burning building.  WTF.  I actually got to a point where I was afraid to continue schooling because he was threatening to buck or rear or something.  He's never been that bad for me.

I rode the trail class anyway and he had a fit during the poles, swinging his but out and trying his hardest to avoid going over them, then the lope-off turned into a rodeo of head tossing, lead swapping, and loss of all power steering.  I do not have it on video to anaylze, but the score was dreadful.  Minus 8 for the lope.... didn't even know that was possible.  (we also minused 1/2 on the dummy roping even though he stood perfectly still.... but that is also a whole other matter.)

Ranch Riding he was awesome!  The wack-job of a judge made us COUNTER-CANTER but didn't ask us to extend the jog.... WTF.  Kevin took the lead I asked for and took two corners without a hesitation.  I thought we were golden... but we weren't called back to the finals.... WTF.  Neither was another rider who also places in the top of this class consistently.  NOBODY liked this judge and nobody could figure out what his criteria was... he put people in the finals who were train-wrecks in the counter-canter.

Reining actually had some improvement again, but on the 2nd rundown stop and 1 1/2 turns he stopped after 180 and refused to turn any further.  I eventually got him turned, but he backed up enough steps that I was certainly DQ'd so after the class I took him into the indoor to try to figure out what the problem was.  We both ended up so frustrated (he was again threatening to do airs above ground) I got off and schooled him showmanship for a while trying to remind him he's PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF TURNING TO THE RIGHT!!!!!

Then they called the places and we tied for 4th.  WTF. I burst into tears when I heard the placing and felt horrible guilt for the angry schooling session I just did.

Horsemanship, usually one of our best classes, started just fine, but in the lope circle he became obstinate about bending/turning and suddenly threw his head up and took off with me.  I had to go two-handed (DQ) to get him back in control. WTF.  I have it on video and I've watched it 200 times.  I will not show you the video, but I will share two screenshots that give you the general idea... sadly the stills don't show his tail smacking around and his quick, choppy jumpy stride. A very humbling moment, though I will say I'm a bit proud that I rode it out and finished my pattern, though two-handed and had to add a few circles in the middle...
Kevin demonstrates how NOT to place in a Horsemanship class.
A few moments later in Horsemanship, this continued down the whole long side of the arena. 

Boxing was actually our best class of the day.  Our first cow tried to jump back over the fence several times so they gave me a new one, which was awesome because he wouldn't turn to the right on the first cow.  On the second cow he was actually really good.  He stopped and turned as I asked and there was only one time when the cow turned and ran faster than I could keep up with it.  We somehow managed to tie for 2nd.   WTF.

I felt all the feels that day.  My ego is bruised and my confidence in this horse is shaken.  B keeps reminding me that he's had ONE bad day in the almost-year I've been riding him.

The day after the show was a Fun Show so I decided to show and see what would happen... He was great.  WTF. We ended up winning Showmanship, Ranch Riding WT, Ranch Riding WTC, and Horsemanship (SAME PATTERN) and got 3rd in Trail.
Hey Human, do these four blues make up for yesterday?

Late night showing.

Saturday morning, just watching the cows. 

So clearly he's not broken, but now my mind is consumed with trying to figure out exactly WHY he go this cranky and HOW to never have it happen again.  I thought it was the grass until he pulled crap in the arena as well.  Do I put his front shoes back on before the September show?  I could not do trail and see if that helps his mood, but Horsemanship is also going to be on the grass at the next show and I have to do that class for the Buckle scores.  Is it his mouth?  Does he hurt somewhere?  But why was he just lovely on Sunday?!?!

I haven't seen the scores tabulated from the show yet, but I know some of the other Green competitors had good days.  We were in 1st after the first and second shows, and after the third show (which we didn't even show, we were only .5 behind the leader.  I'm sure we are now behind a few people, the question is by how much, and can we make that up with only one show to go?

I've been riding outside a little bit each ride to build his confidence or harden his feet, whichever is the problem.  I also set his correction bit aside for a while and have been working in a curved snaffle. I can actually show him in a snaffle at this show so I'm considering doing that so if he freaks out again I can at least have two hands to work with without an automatic DQ.

I'm most worried about having to do Horsemanship on the grass.  I only get one more chance to get our points back up.

23 days to go.....


  1. Just a bad day! I'm sure next time will be much better. We all have them :)

  2. There must be something in the air! I haven't written about my show yet, but it's coming soon. Lilly was just awful, so maybe they're in cahoots!

    Since he had such a good day for the fun show, I'm hoping it's just a bad day. It sucks that he may have put you outside the buckle, though. I'm hoping Lilly's day was the same... just a fluke.

    Here's hoping you clean up at the next one and win that buckle!

  3. I forgot to mention that we were blaming it on the Blue Moon at the time!

  4. Yeah, it sounds like just an off (really off) day. Who knows what perfect combination of random things caused it. It is a bummer that it cost you points, though.