Saturday, August 20, 2011

All Amateur Arabian Horse Show (Saturday)

The alarm was set for 7am because the morning classes were Reining classes which are individual competitor type class where each horse and rider rides a pattern and takes about 5 minutes each.   I was showing in back to back classes, seven classes after the Reining classes were over and when we checked the program Friday night there were only a few horses registered in the reining classes so we figured we'd be showing around 10am.  (HA!)

I figured I had a bit of time to prep but wasn't sure exactly how much.  When I'd emailed the schedule to family weeks ago I'd said I'd show "after 9am" in case they wanted to plan a visit to watch.  It turns out I was right. It WAS after 9am.  LONG, LONG after 9am.

At 8:30am I was pulling Blu out of his stall to lunge him (I was already dressed for the my classes) and my In-Laws came around the corner of the barn!  Yippee!  I love my In-Laws, and to have them come all the way to Watsonville to watch me in my show was wonderful.

It's too bad it didn't go as well as yesterday (for me).

Since I was on my way to lunge Blu, Sharon showed Bob and Toni to the free coffee and the cafe.  Bob and Toni ate breakfast while I worked Blu.  I did the usual prep work on Blu and I put my cowboy hat on in prep for my class then when they came back to the barn we sat down and chatted for a bit.  It was probably 10am and the reining was still going strong.  When we checked the class number they were still on the SECOND class of the morning!  Yikes!  We were going to be a lot later than 10am.  I walked down to the gate steward and asked him about the progress of the reining and he said there were 30 – yes thirty – horses still to go.  At 5 minutes a horse that was two and a half hours, at least.  Oh boy.  I felt bad that Bob and Toni had gotten there as early as they did and it didn’t look like I’d ride until noon.  They were super understanding and joked that they’d told someone that I’d said “after 9am” and that it could mean 2pm.  They’ve watched countless baseball games in the coastal fog and were quite used to the weather and waiting.  Luckily.

So we waited.  I tied Blu up in his stall so he could hang out and relax a bit, drink water, etc. and I took my cowboy hat off to give my poor head some relief.  We sat and chatted, watched the reiners do their patterns and generally relaxed.

Time passed....  Lots of time.

I didn’t actually show until almost 2:30pm!  Wow – a prime example of “hurry up and wait” in the horse show world.

Even with all the time I didn’t do a lot of warm up work with Blu.  We were still following yesterday’s model of a couple circuits around the warm up arena and then going into the class.  Bob took a couple photos in the warm up arena. 

Warming up

That's Sue on Rocky on the right

I was entered in two classes today:

Class 124 – Western Pleasure Walk/Jog All Breeds 18 & over
Class 125 – HA/AA Western Pleasure AOTR (Amateur Owner To Ride)

Sue, riding her horse Rocky, was also competing in my first class so it was nice to have someone else from our barn in the same class.  We stood next to each other as we waited for them to announce our class.

Entering the arena today was similar to yesterday, Blu still didn’t want to jog into the arena, but he took up a very nice jog once inside the gate.  There was laughter at the gate when another rider entered.  He was dressed flamboyantly in a bright green shirt with “Pretty Boy” embroidered on the shoulders.  The audience threw out comments and jokes and he wise cracked along with them.  It was a fun class because the announcer got into the fun and even the judge made some comments.  I thought we had a really nice ride.  Blu’s jog was slow and fairly steady – better than yesterday I thought.  And his walk was great.  The class was a walk/jog class so there was no loping.  When they called for us to line up in the center of the arena we all did, facing the grandstands.  Everyone was still having fun.  I was lined up right next to Sue and when the judge asked us to back up, Blu did his backup nicely.  They called the winner – Sue!  Cool!

Sue's on the left, I'm in the middle

The woman on the right got second

Pretty Boy is hard to miss on the right

And yes, I’ll admit that after they called out the second place horse I was hoping that our number might be called for 3rd place.  I thought we’d had a really nice ride and didn’t know of any reason we might be bumped down.  It wasn’t called.  Nor was it called for 4th place.  Yep, I was very disappointed to realize I’d gotten LAST.

And since I was in back to back classes I didn’t have time to talk to Todd about what went wrong when I left the arena.  I exited the arena, turned around, and jogged back in.  My brain was whirling.  But I had to concentrate on this class.  It was a lope class with six horses.

In our class

The first direction was faster than I’d have liked, but Blu got the correct lead so I was feeling pretty good.  We reversed at the walk and when they asked for the lope we struggled.  It took a bit to get Blu into the lope and I think he got the wrong lead.  I say I think because my brain has turned to mush and I can’t remember because I can only focus on what happened next.

We were loping in the second direction, Blu was going pretty fast and I was holding his reins too tightly.  It caused the bridle to lift up – with all the silver on it and the ear pieces it is really stiff – and his right ear piece came off and over his ear.  It was now flapping away behind his ear and he was not happy.  I wasn’t either.  Luckily I had the presence of mind to ask for a time out (probably because I’d seen Todd do it yesterday, it was fresh in my mind) and when the judge granted the time out, I rode into the middle of the arena and stopped.  I was shaky with nerves and reached up to put it over his ear.  The judge came over to me and asked if I wanted to tighten his headstall a notch and I froze.  I didn’t know what to do!  I'm such a beginner at this that I didn’t know if I would have to dismount to do it, or if the ring steward would help, or the judge.  I had no idea and I knew that I couldn’t mount Blu again in the arena with my chaps on (Blu is 15-3 hands tall and the chaps restrict my movement) so I looked at the judge and said “no thank you.  I’ll keep going.” And she replied that it was my choice.  Looking back, the whole episode probably only lasted 30 seconds, but I swear it felt like a year!

We resumed the lope and Blu picked up the correct lead immediately.  As a result of my fear of a repeat “wardrobe (bridle) malfunction” I was much looser with the reins.  I didn’t hold Blu as tightly and I actually had a more rhythmic motion and wouldn’t you know it, Blu slowed down and had a beautiful lope that second direction.  Who knew?!  Actually, Todd did.  He’d been coaching me from the rail to loosen up on Blu before the time out.  Now I was looser and voila.  Blu was smooth and slow!

We lined up at the end of the class and I resigned myself to last place again because of the horrible ride and time out fiasco.  But I didn’t get last.  I got 5th.

Two crummy finishes with my family watching.  Ah well.  I can't do perfectly every time and we're rank beginners, so I really can't/shouldn't complain.

When I got out of the arena after my second class I was able to talk to Todd a bit and he said he didn’t have any idea why I didn’t place higher in the first class and he said I did the right thing in the second class in regards to the time out.  The folks from the barn and others not from the barn were watching (from the same place I watched Blu’s first class yesterday) and afterwards I heard that they all didn’t understand why I didn’t place higher in the walk/jog class and even in the lope class.

Saturday and Sunday’s show was a different judge from Friday’s show, and obviously this one didn’t like Blu as much as Friday’s judge did.  The “joys” of competing in something that is subjective.

My In-Laws had spent the entire day at the show at this point.  And they were very supportive (I really was mostly embarrassed that I didn’t do well when they'd travelled so far to come see me).  I’m glad they came, and hope that next time they come to a show (IF they ever want to go through THAT again, that is!) I’ll do better.

The third to last class of the day was the one class that Sharon and Nazz were in.  Yesterday Nazz competed in three classes, two with Sharon riding and one with Todd.  The result: two third place ribbons (one was a championship class) and a fifth place.  And Sharon also showed Todd’s mare Easter in a halter class and got first place.  But today there was just the one class.  And boy was it a GOOD one!

Sharon and Nazz rode flawlessly and WON their class!!!  There were seven horses in the class and it was a tough competition.  I screamed and yelled when they announced her number.  And when she came out of the arena I took a picture and texted it to her husband so he could share in the excitement. 

What an awesome end to the day!

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