Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our first show!

OK – technically it isn’t MY first show, nor is it Blu’s first show.  But TOGETHER it is OUR first show where I rode him in the classes.

It was pretty damned cool!

We went to Gilroy to Woodmyst Farms for an All Breed Open Schooling Show.  That meant it wasn’t just Arabians or Half-Arabians, there were all kinds of horses there from Percheron's to Ponies!  The Western Pleasure classes were scheduled to start after lunch so we didn’t have to get up TOO early to prepare.  That was nice.
Blu and Nazz - buddies

We (Todd) brought 5 horses.  Zoey (the above mentioned Percheron was actually in our trailer – and we happened to park next to a trailer with the teeniest Ponies – quite the juxtaposition) and James (a Warmblood) were at the show for exposure to new things.  Then there was Rocky – an Appaloosa (but not Bill’s Appaloosa named Rocky – it’s a different horse).  And, of course, Nazz and Blu.  Rocky, Nazz and Blu were the three that showed.  Todd rode Rocky, Sharon rode Nazz and –big surprise- I was on Blu.

When we pulled the horses out of the trailer I walked Blu around a bit to get the kinks out and let him check things out.  He did the usual snorting and had his head way up, looking around.  We circled back to the trailer and watched as Zoey was brought out and listened to all the comments about her size – especially from the pony owners next to us!  Then Blu and I went for another walk, this time to the main arena.  As I was walking up to the arena I spotted Kim, my wonderful Sister-in-Law walking towards me!!!  I was SO excited to see her.  She’d been up at my house Friday and Saturday with Tim and Ryan and I’d gotten to spend time with her Friday night – watching my lesson videos and talking horses.  I’d hoped she’d make it to the show, but wasn’t counting on it.  It is a long way to drive, I know!  So seeing her there made my day!

She got to check out Blu in person for the first time, and I’m happy to say that she likes him.  She also brought her camera which turns out to be great because I didn’t take ANY pictures at the show.  What’s with that?  So these photos and video are courtesy of Kim.

The show was a popular show.  I think a lot of the popularity had to do with the fact that months of shows were cancelled and people weren’t travelling with their horses due to the EHV-1 outbreak and this was one of the first opportunities to get back out into the show ring.  Regardless, it was low key for us (and everyone) and fun.  To ride in the show we buy one ticket per class and hand over the ticket as we ride into the arena for our choice of class.  This way we don’t have to sign up for specific classes and can pick a class at the last minute.  I’d bought 3 tickets figuring I’d ride in two Walk/Jog classes and one Walk/Jog/Lope class.    The classes I ended up riding were:

Class 28 was Western Pleasure – Maiden Horse – walk/jog only
Class 30 was Western Pleasure – Open – walk/jog only
Class 31 was Western Pleasure – Novice Horse – walk/jog/lope

Since I didn’t ride on Saturday – Sharon and I had spent the day getting ready for this show and Watsonville packing the trailer and washing the horses – and Todd had ridden him on the trails during the week (Blu’s first trail ride EVER!) he wanted to get on him first in the main arena during the lunch break.  Todd worked Blu through a couple exercises, got him comfortable with one spot where there was a red post on the rail that Blu didn’t like and then had me get on.  It was my first time on Blu in a week and it was heaven.  I just smile each time I get on him (and every time I think about it).  I only got one circuit around the main arena though before they said they were turning on the sprinklers so I moved over to the warm up arena.

In the warm up arena before my hat troubles

For this show I wore my full “show outfit” (show boots, chaps, show pants, bling top, cowboy hat) so I could have a trial run to make sure everything worked OK before I had found out the hard way at the Watsonville show.  I’m glad I did, too, because while I was in the warm up arena the one malfunction I had was with my hat.  It wouldn’t stay on in the breeze.  I had a bunch of bobby pins holding it on (or so I thought) but alas I had to reach up a couple times to keep it on.  Kim ended up running the hat back to the trailer and trading it off for my “bling” baseball cap.  Sigh – It doesn’t work for the “Western Pleasure Look” but better to find out now when I have time to try to come up with a solution (glue!?!) before the Watsonville show.

At the lope

I worked Blu  He wasn’t perfect, mind you, but he picked up the correct lead more times than not!  Yeah!

Hanging out with Todd and Sharon waiting for our class to be called.

For all the classes Todd decided that we needed to ride with the martingale – the thing around his neck that has the rings in it for the reins to go through.  Todd wanted to be sure that Blu knew to keep his head at the right level.  When he told me we were going to keep it on in the classes he said that we weren’t going to go for ribbons, just experience, because a horse with training equipment is judged below one without.  So I figured even if we did awesome we wouldn’t get any ribbons.  (Of course I had hoped that we might come home with something – because WHY do this if you’re not trying to win?)  But we’d get the experience we both needed.

When they called Class 28 I was ready.  And I wasn’t full of nerves.  Blu was calm, I was calm.  It was actually quite amazing because it was unlike any of my past shows with Cre.  I used to get jello knees as I was riding into the arena at the posting trot and worried I’d fall right out of my saddle with my nerves.  So to not have them for this show was pretty cool.  It’ll be interesting to see if that continues with other shows.

At the jog in our first class

The class was a walk/jog class for Maiden horses – that means horses that have never won a blue ribbon.  We certainly qualified!  I had a really enjoyable time in the class.  Blu did well, I think I did ok, too.  The judge came up to talk to me when I was in the line up after the class was over – on occasion in a schooling show a judge will let some riders know what they could do better, or what they liked.  In my case she let me know that I needed to sit back a bit and that it would help Blu slow down.  I know she’s right.  I’ve heard it before that I lean forward too much.  So for the rest of the show I tried to concentrate on my posture.  And I can tell I was a bit successful because Monday my core muscles were sore – proving I’d been working them!
Now the topper to the fun class was the fact that they called my number out for Fourth place!  I’m pretty sure there were at least 8 horses in the class.  I remember looking down the lineup and counting 8.  There we were in our first class, with training equipment, and we got a ribbon!  Awesome!

Receiving my first ribbon on Blu

I don't look TOO happy do I?

The next class I entered was another walk/jog class.  This one was an open class, so anyone could enter it.  Sharon, Todd and Teresa (yep, Teresa from our Deadwood trip!) joined me in this class.  Blu and I had another nice ride.  This class had a lot more horses in it, I remember the ring steward saying that we wouldn’t all fit on one side of the arena.  Blu and I didn’t win anything in this class but we did what we'd come to do - rode well and didn't have any problems.  I was very pleased. 

I’d originally thought I’d ride in class 33 an Arabian/Half-Arabian only class with Sharon but when I walked out of the arena after class 30 the very next class was a lope class for Novice horses – those who hadn’t won 3 blue ribbons.  Again – we certainly qualified.  And because I’d forgotten exactly what class I’d planned on, and I was feeling really good, I literally said “what the hell” and turned around and went right back in the arena.

I figure going right back in didn’t give me a chance to get nervous about being in a class where I’d have to strike the lope!  And I was right.  Of course, the work in the warm up arena helped too, knowing that I was able to get Blu into the lope, on the correct lead, and on the rail, not a corner.  So I put everything I’d learned from Todd into my brain and went for it!  We weren’t flawless, but we were WONDERFUL!  Blu got the correct lead BOTH directions, the first time!  The only problem I really had was when we were going the second direction (his bad direction) we were going a bit fast and I could feel myself tightening up a bit so I said (out loud, to myself) “breathe” and Blu promptly broke into the jog.  Doh!  But I learned from that.  NEVER, NEVER say anything out loud to him, unless I want him to slow down.  Luckily for us the judge didn’t see it and asked for the walk before I could get him back in the lope.  Phew!  Close call! 

I was beyond surprised to hear our number called out again in this class.  We were awarded 5th place!  In a loping class!  How cool is that?!?

Blu strikes the lope

When we were done with our classes it was time to chill out on the rail and watch Sharon ride her two remaining classes.  It was nice to watch Sharon and Nazz ride all cool and collected.  Even when the judge had them lope twice the same direction.  Normally a class is performing in each gate (walk, jog, lope) in both directions.  But for this class they did everything all the same direction then came and lined up.  The judge walked up to Sharon (I found out later) and talked to her bout that and when the judge realized what she’d done she had everyone leave the line up and go the other direction!  Sharon and Nazz handled it very well.  And got third place!  Yippee!

A GREAT first show for Blu and me.

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