What a great weekend Lilly and I had at our very first APHA show!
And first and foremost, HUGE kudos to my friend, Alex! She came out to the show on Saturday, braved the heat, and took over 500 pictures! Thank you so much, Alex!
It was in Huntersville, NC which is very near to Charlotte, so it took us about 3 hours to get there. I made a few mental notes as I was driving along... like don't take this route again! When I'm towing the trailer, highway is MUCH better than back country. Stop, go... stop, go... sounds like a Penzoil commercial.
I really hate going places for the first time. I had no idea where I was supposed to park, where my campsite was (it was assigned), and what stall Lilly was in. Finally, after I turned around twice in the back parking lot, and very nice guy came to help. Campsite 12, barn A, stall 38. Next time, I'm calling ahead to see what site I have and what stall Lilly is in! And I'm bringing my own shavings. (More mental notes...)
Once she and I got settled in I put my new carts to good use! They worked out great!! Although, at this particular show, everyone was driving around in golf carts, on Gators, or on little scooters. They zoomed past me as I pushed my cart up the hill... think I can muster up some more sympathy and someone will buy me a scooter for the next show? Yeah, probably not.
And dogs... dogs everywhere!! And not one of them was on a leash. I saw a lot of people wandering around calling out various dog names looking for their wandering pooch. And I think a Boxer was the biggest breed I saw. Lots of Corgis and other assorted rats. Lilly isn't a big fan of dogs, but she was on her best behavior.
I took her out to the arena to practice and get her used to things and she was really good. She wasn't spooky and went right to work. I did let her do a lot of looking outside the arena... heck, even I wanted to look around. I've never seen so many Paints all in one place!
I saw a lot of rough riding... I saw a lot of draw reins with shank bits, I saw a lot of spurring, and I saw a lot of jerking. Jerk, jerk, jerk... I saw one girl riding around at the lope on her cell phone, looking around, and jerking. She wasn't even looking at her horse and she was talking on the phone, yet she was still jerking. Really?! I'm not sure how it's fair to jerk your horse's face when you're not even looking at him. How do you even know he needs to be jerked? As if they ever need jerks like that, but especially when you're not even paying attention! I felt sorry for most of the horses there... I told Lilly she better appreciate me!
After riding, we had dinner together. She ate grain, I ate a Lunchable. :) Then I gave her a bath and banded her mane.
Saturday morning when I went to feed Lilly, I noticed she was no longer white, but rather pinkish-red. Gotta love NC clay! So I pretty much had to give her another bath and then realized when I put her back in the stall to go change, her legs would get dirty all over again. It was a big PITA, and I think I washed her legs 4 times yesterday morning.
I forgot my teal outfit earrings, so I was really pissed about that, but I was planning on showing in that shirt anyway. The plan was to wear that for halter and then switch to plum for showmanship, but it was looking like rain and had even sprinkled a little that morning. No way was I wearing my way-too-expensive Hobby Horse hat and chance it getting wet, so I just went with plum for halter and showmanship. There weren't a lot of horses in the halter classes, and they were going quick, so I wouldn't have had time to change clothes anyway. So it's back to plum pictures. :)
So I figure the easiest way for me to do this, since there were two judges there, and it'll just get confusing, is to go through the classes and then post the placings after I get done boring you with details.
Our first class was halter. There weren't "halter" horses like I expected halter horses. There were a few beefy ones in some of the classes, but mostly they were tall and lanky. I guess that's just the style these days for western and english? This class was "aged mares" and Lilly was the only short, fat pony in the class. We got last and second to last. :)
Then we went in the tobiano color class, which according to APHA "is to reward the most ideal markings of the individual Paint Horse as defined as a 50/50 distribution of white and color overall. The tobiano pattern is to be judged 100% on the most ideal markings of the individual tobiano Paint. Conformation is not considered and the class should not be conducted like a conformation halter class." Which explains why we walked in circles around the judges both ways and didn't jog or line up. I thought Lilly had nice tobiano markings, but what I consider the more overo style horses placed higher. They had the "wispy" looking markings and not the big patches like Lilly has. It was an interesting class and something we've never done before.
Next up was showmanship. I had two classes, the novice amateur and the amateur, and they both had the same pattern. After seeing the other horses warm up, and after hearing there were 20 horses in the novice class, I was really nervous! Every single horse there did a really nice pivot. I just kept telling myself that I'm just as good as they are and me and my fat pony were going to show them just how good!
Our novice pattern was first and I thought we did pretty darn good. I decided I really need to work on our pivot more. I think it's my fault that Lilly steps out of her pivot sometimes because I'm still pushing her backwards like we did back in the day when we were pivoting on the wrong foot. I need to stay closer to her head and just guide her around in a circle. Our pivots were good, but I can see now where they can improve. And that's one of the reasons I wanted to go to this show... so I could see some of these higher caliber horses and gets some tips and ideas, and see where we compare. She squared right up, backed up perfectly, and I felt good about our pattern. I wasn't sure if we'd place or not, but I was hopeful. And we did! We got 6th place from one of the judges out of the 20 horses entered! So I was really thrilled about that! We've officially got our first REAL Paint point now!! Novice Amateur Showmanship! :)
The classic amateur class went well too, but it took Lilly a little while to set up. When the ground is uneven, sometimes she'll try to put her foot down, but then puts it back in the wrong spot because of the bumpy dirt. We still placed ok, but nothing spectacular and no points. I'm very happy with her performance, though. She did super. Now if I can get my butt in gear and get our pivots worked out...
Now for the riding classes! Please note that I got to use my number pad! YAY! I'm so sneaky, Lilly didn't even notice.
Alex thinks Lilly is saying, "please don't ride me like that guy, mom..."
Just like for showmanship, there's a novice amateur and a classic amateur hunter under saddle class. I thought there were going to be a lot of horses in the novice class because there were so many in the showmanship class, but there were only 9 of us. It was still pretty crowded and Alex noted that I got lost on the rail a lot and seemed to be hidden behind other horses. We even got cut off at the canter! I was coming around on the rail and the girl in front of me decided she was going to get to the rail too and we had to hit the skids and trot to keep from running them over. Then back to the canter. Does no one look over their shoulder anymore before moving to the rail? Guess not... And let me tell you about my precious angel!! Her head was beautiful for a good majority of the class, even at the canter! She picked up the wrong lead going clockwise, which is usually her better way, but who knows. We were able to correct it pretty quick. So other than that, she held her own in there with all those 16 hand hunt horses! I was really proud of her!
The classic amateur class only had 4 horses in it and we placed 4th under both judges. She got the wrong lead again and then about fell on her face promptly thereafter. So it took us a little longer to get the correct lead. I wasn't surprised that we got 4th. But she still did great! She was a little rushy at the walk, still, and I have a tougher time getting her to keep her head down at the walk than the trot these days. She's still anticipating, but she gets better and better. I wonder what we would have placed had we got our leads... time to do some more practicing! She was doing great in the warm up ring, so it's probably me, and I'm probably rushing her into the canter when we're in the classes.
The equitation classes were next. Usually, if there's a pattern it'll say on the show bill. There wasn't anything mentioned for this show, so I assumed it was just rail work. So I about fell out when they said they were setting up for the pattern... Pattern?! Lilly and I don't do patterns!! Her head will explode!! But we were already signed up and Alex helped ease my fears and we decided to try it. Our first equitation pattern!
Our first pattern went ok... she got the wrong lead around the first cone but did a beautiful simple change back to the same lead. :) It certainly wasn't spectacular, but she did wonderful in my book! She didn't toss her head or flip out and did much better than I ever hoped for.
The second pattern was much better and she got both leads! Again, she was really good and I just couldn't believe how well she handled being out there by herself and working a pattern. And, we won $15 via a random drawing for placing 3rd... I need all the help I can get!! :)
I just might have to try these equitation patterns more often!
All in all, I could not be more proud of Lilly. Considering the horses that were there, and their body type compared to hers, she did a fabulous job. She's getting more relaxed too, and although she made friends with the horse in the adjacent stall, she didn't carry on and whinny constantly. I think the open top doors on the stalls helped a lot too because she was able to see a lot more. We had so much fun, and if it wasn't so darn expensive, I'd go to the one next month!
Aged Mares - 6 Horses
Judge 1: 5th
Judge 2: 6th
Tobiano Color - 7 Horses
Judge 1: 5th
Judge 2: 6th
Novice Amateur Showmanship - 20 Horses
Judge 1: 6th
Judge 2: NP
Classic Amateur Showmanship - 12 Horses
Judge 1: 7th
Judge 2: 6th
Novice Amateur Hunter Under Saddle - 9 Horses
Judge 1: 5th
Judge 2: 7th
Classic Amateur Hunter Under Saddle - 4 Horses
Judge 1: 4th
Judge 2: 4th
Novice Amateur Hunt Seat Equitation - 7 Horses
Judge 1: 6th
Judge 2: 5th
Classic Amateur Hunt Seat Equitation - 6 Horses
Judge 1: 3rd
Judge 2: 5th