Sunday, November 20, 2011

Show Recap!

It's cruel to put up a picture of Lilly sporting a blue ribbon and then not share the details, isn't it? Okay, so here are the details, and I'm not reluctant to share them this time around!

The evening before the show went pretty well... Lilly was happy to see me, but it was COLD. It was in the upper 30's when I left the barn and over night we got our first frost. Banding manes with frozen fingers isn't very much fun! I clipped her at bit, but mostly just to take off the long hairs on her legs, face, and ears. I washed her tail and used the hair dryer to make sure it was nice and dry before putting her to bed for the night.

Saturday morning didn't start out very well, though... I was having technical difficulties with my trailer and it was causing me to run late. Long story short, I have to replace my marine battery and without it, the carbon monoxide sensor in the trailer thinks I might die, so it SCREAMS when I plug in the lights. It has a mute button, and you'd think that would mute it, right? Not so much. I briefly considered hauling without the lights, but knew that wouldn't work on our way back when it's dark, plus it's just not safe. I didn't want to haul Lilly with a screaming alarm either because I could just imagine what she'd be like after 45 minutes of that! I finally got it to shut up, but not before I was 30 minutes behind schedule.

Fighting off the anxiety, I told myself that it wasn't a big deal if we missed the showmanship classes... when we get there, we get there. Let's just have fun.

I got Lilly out of the stall and she jumped right into the trailer. The BO's hubby was out doing chores and he was very impressed at how well she self loads. Psh... that's the easy part!! I didn't rush on the way there and I pissed off a lot of people in the process, but I didn't care.

After we arrived and it was time to unload, Lilly was in a huge hurry to get out. I thought she might bust out the back because she kept ramming her butt into the door. That's one bad thing about only having a 2 horse trailer... I keep the hay up in the front stall and she rides in the back. There's not a whole lot I can do when it comes time to unload, but I might need to do a little switcharoo... Anyway, she backed out ok, surprisingly, and I tied her to the trailer while I unpacked a few things, observing her the whole time.

No whinnies, no pawing, and she wanted her hay! I hung her hay bag and went up to the office to sign up for classes. When I got back, she was still standing there, eating happily, and when I brought her some water, she actually took a drink. Progress so far!

So I won't say that she was a perfect lady during the hours she spent tied to the trailer. There were quite a few times during the day when she pawed, but we didn't have a giant hole at the end of the day, and it wasn't the obsessive pawing where she just can't seem to stop herself. She also whinnied a couple times, but they were "happy horse" whinnies instead of "OMG I'M GOING TO DIE" whinnies. I think she called maybe 4 times, but the fact that she was eating and drinking and standing calmly for most of the day was a huge plus.

We had plenty of time to get ready for showmanship. There were only 4 of us in the class, but it was a really nice group of horses. The pattern looked strangely familiar (I've done it once before this year) and it looked like this:

One of our favorite patterns!
I practiced a bit of showmanship the other day, but it isn't something we work on a lot. She knows the maneuvers and I don't like to make her do them over and over and over again. Once we saw the pattern, we practiced a few times in the make-up ring at the show and then waited for our class. As usual, no one wanted to go first, so Lilly and I walked over to the cone and waited for the judge. She squared right up at the first cone while we waited and then walked right off to the second cone. We started our trot right at the second cone so we were trotting around it as we headed to the third cone. We stopped, I turned to her to set her feet up and she instantly squared up. I didn't even have to ask! She's been doing that a lot lately... I turn toward her and she squares her feet. We did our inspection, executed the best 270 degree pivot ever, and walked into line. The girl is a machine!! The other patterns were also quite good, but I had a really good feeling about ours. We placed first!

Yay! Another PAC point!
After showmanship, we had about 4 hours to kill while the western riders showed. I cleaned my tack, grabbed a chili dog, watched some classes, and Lilly snacked on hay. I wanted to make sure we were ready for the 20 minute schooling break, so we tacked up a bit early and headed off to the make-up area. She actually stood while I got on and wasn't off to the races as soon as my butt hit the saddle... more progress!

After walking her around a bit, it was clear she was having some anxiety issues. She started chomping on the bit and any pressure I applied with my legs sent her scooting forward. After taking a second to evaluate myself and make sure I was actually breathing, I started working on steering with my legs. We did turns, turns, turns and eventually she was steering off my legs instead of trying to run off. I could feel her relax and she stopped chomping. From there, we did some trot, stop, trot exercises and we worked on stopping without the reins. I tried to do as many exercises as I could think of and they seemed to be quite effective.

Once it was time to warm up in the arena, I had to start all over. She started chomping again and was back to having a hair trigger. We went back to the exercises and before we were asked to leave the arena, I had a relaxed mare again.

While we waited for our first class, she snoozed outside the arena. She kept trying to rest her back foot, but I don't think it worked out very well for her. She didn't whinny once when she was with me, and she had no temper tantrums. :)

Our first class was an equitation class and there were 14 horses showing with us. We were having a few issues (bit chomping) and with that many horses in the ring, there was only so much I could do to school her without disrupting the class. Her anxiety seemed minor, she was listening to me, and didn't try to trot before I asked her to. We didn't place, but I didn't expect to as I'm pretty sure it was obvious I was doing a bit of schooling.

Our next class was an English walk/trot class for adult riders and there were 8 of us in there. Lilly seemed a bit more calm this time, maybe because there were fewer horses, or maybe the schooling helped, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get her to give to me for an extended period of time. I asked, she gave, and then she went back to being above the bit. We haven't been working on this a whole lot, but because she went back to being above the bit so quickly, I felt she still wasn't quite comfortable in the ring. We ended up placing 6th in that class.

We went in two huntseat walk/trot classes, both with 14 or 15 riders and we didn't place. I felt we had a pretty good ride in the second one, but I wasn't always "showing" because this was more about Lilly than it was about ribbons. She was starting to relax, but still wanted to travel above the bit.

The next class was a huntseat pleasure class and our only canter class for the day. Again, there were 15 horses in the class and I wondered how it was going to go when we were asked to canter. We were asked to canter from the trot, and it took us a while to actually make the transitions because I wanted her to do it right, but she picked up the correct lead in both directions. Her canter to the left was beautiful (!) but when we had to canter to the right, it felt like I was riding a freight train. There were too many horses to circle, so we did the best we could, but she canters similarly at home unless we're doing circles. I was very surprised to hear our number called for 6th place. :)

The last class was a stock type walk trot class and we placed 5th out of 8.  I thought we had a pretty good ride, considering. We have some things to work on, which I already know, but we had a much better show this time around and I was VERY proud of her. She didn't get fired up in the line-up when the other horses were leaving to get their ribbons, she was able to work through her issues, and most importantly, she listened to me! I was crossing my fingers that we wouldn't have any saddle issues either and we didn't, so there's another bonus! She's always been pretty good at shows if we go by ourselves, so I've decided horse trailer pooling is probably not for us. I like having my own trailer there anyway.

I also noticed that by the end of the day my shoulders were REALLY sore. They shouldn't have been, so I'm thinking I'm holding a lot of tension in my upper body. Maybe that's what I do when we're in the ring, and that's where a lot of her issues are coming from too.

I'm super proud of my super pony, and that was a great way to end the 2011 show season! :)


  1. Congratulations! And I should say that blue looks very nice on her!

    I know I ride differently at shows. Part of that is the effort to maintain a perfect position, something I don't often do at home, and I think I tend to hold my breath a bit, as if that will keep me from giving any random cues that could mess up the ride. That kind of thing will definitely leave you a bit sore after lol.

  2. Too awesome of an ending! That blue ribbon looks so good on Lilly that I think she'll want to go back next season and get a few more!! : )

  3. I'm so happy for yall! You've worked so hard to get to this point - a really fun show for both of you, plus a ribbon and a point!

  4. Again, yay! I agree - solo is the way to go for Lilly.

  5. What a great way to end the season!!!! And to think you considered not showing!

  6. Good for YOU and good for Lilly!

    Sounds like a very productive day. Way to go after so much time off.

  7. What a great show you had! Congratulations :) Lilly looks wonderful in blue!!

  8. Congrads on a fantastic end to your show season! I'm so glad you had such a productive day, and Lilly looks lovely with her beautiful blue ribbon!

  9. Thank you all so much. :) Lilly and I had a great day together and she was such a good girl. Hopefully we'll be doing a lot more of this next year!