I love the whole process of showing (except maybe unpacking all the stuff at the end of the day). Getting ready the evening before was a ton of fun, because everyone came out to braid together. We had six horses going and four girls showing, so there were lots of horses to braid. Husky was great for braiding. Sometimes he gets ansty but not this time. I had my fingers crossed that he would keep that attitude for show day…or I would have, if my fingers weren’t so tired from braiding.
As per usual, we were all up well before the sun. Because it was Daylight Savings Time overnight, we all got an extra hour of sleep. Still, 4:15 am is really early to get up. But I like being at the barn that early…partly because of scenes like these:
By 7am, we were at the show grounds and getting the stalls set up. I really like showing at the county fairgrounds. They’re great facilities. This show we were inside, which was new. Husky handled it really well…maybe because last time we were here was the county fair, where evil cows of death were everywhere just waiting to eat unwary horses.
I was surprised that there were so many people at the show. It was really big – there were between 5 and 9 people in my age division, even more in the junior level and probably 12-15 in each of the junior-junior classes.
My first class of the day was Senior Pleasure Walk/Trot, and we took second! Next was Senior Pleasure Walk/Trot/Canter and we got fourth. Husky picked up the wrong lead in one direction…right in front of the judge. Dang. I think I anticipated the call for the canter too soon and was trying a little too hard to get the right lead, so I didn’t ask him quite right. Interestingly, the Pleasure classes were “open” in the sense that any tack or style was accepted, and the winner of both Pleasure classes was a Western rider.
Next up was Equitation, and we took second again. I was already feeling pretty good about the day. After chatting with Leanne, though, I realized that I wasn’t asking much of Husky in the first equitation class. He was really relaxed but I didn’t make him collect and carry himself. To quote Leanne, he “just didn’t look good.” Fair enough.
So, in the Walk/Trot/Canter 50/50 class, I asked for a lot more from him. And he felt great. He started picking up the wrong lead again but I caught him quickly. I just hoped the judge didn’t see and finished the ride as if she didn’t. There were nine in the class so as they called the placings, I wasn’t sure if we were going to place…they called third, second…and then my number! We took first out of nine! I was thrilled. It was already a great day, and the best part hadn’t even happened yet.
Anyone who got a first or second in an equitation class was invited back for a championship round. Kimmie and Twinkle had done great in their flat classes, too, so she and I were both in the championship class. It’s always equally fun and intimidating to ride against Kimmie.
The championship class was walk/trot only, which was good because I was nervous enough without thinking about the wrong lead issue. My lower legs were burning from pushing my heels down as far as I could. I kept telling myself I could keep it up, because I can do anything for two minutes. Some other thoughts that went through my mind: “breathe into your upper chest, quiet hands. Relax. Quiet lower legs. Don’t press on your irons.” And then they called for the sitting trot. Thank goodness we’ve been working on sitting trot in lessons with Mr. K! I had already been practicing feeling the trot in my body as though Husky’s feet were my own. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m jogging, feel the jog, feel the jog, left, right, left right. Heels down. Quiet lower leg. Don’t hang in his mouth – no, don’t look down. Breathe.”
Then it was time for the ribbons. They started with Reserve Championship, and at that point my heart was pounding a mile a minute. I don’t know why it made me so nervous that they were only announcing Reserve and Grand Champion. I was half relieved and half scared when they didn’t call me for Reserve.
And then the announcer said, “And our Equitation Grand Champion today is…number 756!” That was me! I won!
Best. Feeling. Ever.
And the ribbon is pretty awesome, too.
It was extra special because my parents were there to watch the show. It was pretty cool that they got to see me win!
After that, I didn’t really care what happened the rest of the day. We had two jumping classes to do, and I was just looking forward to having fun going over the fences. For the Senior Hunter 2′-2’3″, Husky was a little sluggish, and he missed a lead. We ended up fifth. Between the trips, I took him out to perk up and move off my leg better. For Senior Equitation 2′-2’3″, I felt that our course was better. He was more forward, but still missed the lead. Regardless, we placed second!
And you know what? For both of our courses, Husky was super relaxed and consistent. He didn’t even look at any of the jumps. That is a big change from the beginning of the season when he was nervous and refused jumps right and left. It’s probably also a big change in me, too – I’m a lot more confident and that translates to Husky.
Overall, it was a fantastic day and I can’t think of a better way to end the show season.