I’m not sure I’ll be able to top the memories collected at Carter and my first foray into USDF recognized events. Let me start by acknowledging that I may have been wrapped a little too tightly at the start of the three-day adventure. I didn’t think I was nervous and I still don’t think that was the emotion. I think it was more fear of the unknown, or some sort of control freak mechanism. By nature, I didn’t think I was a control freak… however, my desire to show perfection may prove me otherwise.
Anyway, I digress. The show.
Having showing at a number of schooling shows last year I thought a) I knew the ropes b) I knew how my horse responds c) I knew the plan. Well. Prove me wrong and call me Sally.
Knowing the Ropes.
For those of you following the story of Carter and I, you know that we’ve been with our new trainer since December. Getting us ready to show this early in the season has been a fete of epic proportions and the last two weeks has been lockdown, focused, training. I’ve never shown with this barn… I had no idea what to prepare for brining Carter to the show on Friday… last year, we trailered in the day of the show and showed only one day.
This year, I was in for trailering in the day before the show for schooling, showing on Day 1 and showing on Day 2. I had no idea. When do I bathe the beast? Where do I bathe the beast? When do we braid? Do I dress in show clothes in the a.m. if we weren’t riding until afternoon? (Have I mentioned that I was wrapped a little too tightly?) … Ummm… yeah. Maybe a little bit.
This was an early show in the schedule. I was anticipating a full roster and was surprised to see only 18 riders on the schedule. The majority of the roster were professionals. The majority of the roster I recognized as my judges from the schooling shows the year prior. Oh my goodness… what have I gotten myself into? Am I good enough? Are we ready enough? We don’t have a right lead canter to save our lives. What was I thinking?
If there is one thing I’m certain about, it’s that Carter LOVES to travel to shows. I know it sounds absurd, but truly he does. I think his perception of going somewhere to show is that he gets to look out a new stall (typically an outdoor stall) and he gets to eat nonstop. That is, I’m certain, his absolute attraction to this whole showing thing.
The grooming, the stalls… not really his favorite although he’s getting used to it. Schooling in the arena… “OMG! Who put that little house at the end of the arena??!!! And what about that one in the middle… and why are there golf carts… and don’t you humans know I am afraid of anything resembling a geranium?? I am a dressage horse! What are these other horses doing in this arena? Are we doing Pas de Deux… where is my friend Weber??” The list of scarier than scary things went on and on.
True to his four-year-old self, he did make me cry. I think he made my trainer cry. I think he made the ring steward cry when she was checking his bit for the second time… “Oh no, lady, you did that yesterday! Once is enough!” Goodness… my calm, sweet-mannered boy was showing that he’s another year older, stronger, wiser, and can be a pretty sizable butthead. Might I also mention that he doesn’t particularly fancy wind. Not a fan of it. And it was windy… gusty, windy.
Knowing the Plan
My trainer and I have strategized about this first rated show for a while now. We were going into it with the hopes of my making it around the arena four times in front of the judge. Count it a win if we finished the test. We weren’t looking to be overachievers… we weren’t looking for a Reserve Champion title. We were hopeful. I knew the tests. I knew the plan. We prepared for the show. We schooled Carter in the arena we would show in. It went fairly well, with the exception of the soggy footing… it went fairly well. He was forward. He was supple. He was only a little freakish at the wind, judges box, A, C, B, E, V… (later to become our nemesis) and all the other lovely objects of pure terror placed strategically throughout the area. Lots and lots of practice ahead of us for Day 1. Stay tuned…
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