Sunday, January 13, 2013

First Show of 2013

It was really foggy yesterday morning, so I got up a little early to make sure I'd have plenty of time to get to the show. I drive pretty slow with the trailer as it is, so add in some fog and I knew I'd need extra time. I had prearranged with the BO that I would be the one to feed Lilly so as soon as I got to the barn, I threw her some hay and made breakfast. This made all the other horses angry (of course), so I gave them each a little bit of hay to snack on. All the horses were outside except for Gabe, and he's the horse most obsessed with Lilly. I was all packed and ready to go, so as soon as Lilly was done eating I tossed her in the trailer. This made Gabe VERY angry and he was trying to crawl over his stall door to get to her. He was rearing and hitting his head on the top of the door, so I closed his window to keep him safe. This made him even more frantic since he couldn't see her anymore, so I just decided to hurry up and leave. After Lilly and I got back I noticed his stall had been completely stripped, so I'm guessing things didn't go much better after we left. I hope that doesn't happen before every show!

Lilly and I got to the show grounds around 9am and I was the only one there. It was quite creepy actually because of the fog. I knew the show hadn't been cancelled because everyone was chatting about it on Facebook so I assumed it was just going to be a small show. We had our choice of parking, though, so that was nice!

Foggy... and alone!
I've been working with Lilly on backing out of the trailer. I'm not sure why, but it seems to make her very anxious and she has the Band-Aid mentality... just do it SUPER fast and get it over with. This behavior is unacceptable to me so we've been working through her issues. She backs out so fast that there's nothing I can do to stop her, especially since I'm always at these shows by myself. I've just been asking her to back one step at a time, and each time she takes a nice step I tell her she's a good girl. When she reaches the point where she inevitably flies out backwards, I tell her no and make her get back on the trailer and we start the process all over again. When we left off last year, I would need to back her on and off about four times before she'd back out slowly. This time, though, I only had to pull her back on the trailer once before she backed out nicely. Progress!

I only signed us up for four classes. Two western walk/jog classes and two western go as you please (GAYP) classes. I figured I'd use the GAYP classes to practice loping since they didn't have any actual western pleasure classes. I skipped showmanship because we were the only ones signed up for the class. If I go to another one of these shows, I'll sign up for trail too.

Finishing up her breakfast hay.
After she had some time to settle and eat some hay, I tacked her up so we could have a nice warm up. There were quite a few classes before ours but there were only 2-3 riders in each class so they were going quickly. Lilly was a bit hyper when I first started riding. She was listening to me pretty well, but she wanted to do everything quickly. As long as she's obedient, she can go fast... for a little while. I was hoping I'd be able to wear her down so she'd relax, and after a good 30 minutes of jogging and loping, she decided she was good to go. We watched a bunch of classes together after that. I sat in my chair and she napped next to me.

During the lunch break, Lilly and I went into the arena to do some more practicing. By now, the temperature was about 70 degrees, the sun was out, and she wasn't hyper even a little bit. She jogged around nicely and I received quite a few compliments from onlookers. When it was time to lope, however, she copped a bit of an attitude and didn't want to give me a nice transition. I had to really get after her, but after a few tries, I had her going nicely.

When it was time for our first class, I realized there would only be one other rider in there with me. I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping for a larger class to simulate a more "normal" environment. With such a small class, I was hoping the judge wouldn't screw us over and tell us to use half the arena and only allow us to jog for like 10 strides. As it turns out, she didn't so I had plenty of time to work with Lilly.

My plan was to use this show to school. I figured I'd go in there, start off showing, and then as soon as Lilly decided to be a brat, I'd take hold of her and make whatever correction she needed. I talked to Alex before my classes and she suggested I make BIG corrections since the corrections I usually make in the show ring are very subtle so the judge won't see. She needs to know the rules are the same everywhere, so I wanted to make a point.

In the first walk/trot class, Lilly was SUPER good the first direction. She was relaxed at the walk and when it was time to jog (I waited about 10 strides after the speaker clicked off) she was amazing. She jogged the same way she does at home and I was loving it! When we were asked to reverse, though, the fun started. We had taken a good five steps after the reverse and Lilly decided it was time to jog, so she started jogging. I snatched up my reins and we slammed it into reverse. After she settled, I asked her to walk again and not two strides later she started jogging again. Each time I had to ask her to back, I got more and more rough with her. I kicked her harder and asked for a faster, longer back. I guess she was over it after the fourth time because when she walked off she just calmly walked along the rail. I think the judge was waiting on me to finish schooling in her class because as soon as we had walked a few strides, she asked for the jog. Ooops. I waited about ten more strides before I asked Lilly and she jogged off like nothing happened. Needless to say, we placed second out of two...

During the second walk/jog class, I only had one issue with her and that was when we were jogging and she broke down to a walk. I booted her back into a jog and pretended like nothing happened, but I was sure the judge had seen me. We went back into showing mode, though, and I had a great ride on her. It was wonderful. We walked out of that class with a first place ribbon, so I guess the judge missed my little correction (big correction).

Next up was the GAYP class and I asked the other adult rider if she was going to lope. She said she would if I was, so we both went in there planning to lope. The only bad thing about the GAYP class is there's only walk and one other gait. So we wouldn't end up jogging at all, but I figured if anything would make her anticipate, it would be the lope. When it was time to lope, Lilly wanted to give me a little bit of attitude about our transition. I abandoned the one handed ride and took hold of her with both hands to demand she do it properly. She did, and as soon as I had her going nicely, I switched back to one hand. The judge had us lope around the arena at least three times, so by the time the reverse came along, Lilly was probably too tired to even think about doing anything other than a walk. Her transition in the other direction was much better and I stayed with just one hand.

When we were in the middle of the ring for line-up, the judge asked us if we were curious to hear her opinions. Of course we were! She said she was having a difficult time choosing which horse and rider to place first because our horses were so similar and we each had our strengths. She discussed our walk/jog classes too and told the other rider her horse was a bit fast, but she told me she knocked me down because my horse's head was too low and I should bring it up a touch.

I'm sorry... do what now? Her head is too LOW??

She said she has to penalize for horses for having their ears below their withers for more than five strides. I was actually really excited to hear her say that, but a little bummed at the same time. I wasn't asking Lilly to drop her head, that's just where she's decided she wants to carry it. I guess I'll have to pay closer attention next time and see exactly how low it is.

She said she was also trying to make sure we got our money's worth, which is why she was having us go around so many times. She told me that since I was here to school, she wanted to give me time to do it. (Thanks!) She said Lilly's lope looked nice and she liked her head much better there, but Lilly was a little fast and our transitions needed some work. All in all, she really liked her, though, and thinks she'll make a "nice little western horse".

Lilly and I won the second GAYP class, but Lilly was TIRED. She did two flying changes from her right lead to her left lead and I was about to just stop loping when the judge finally said to walk. Definitely getting my money's worth... poor Lilly was about to die, though, especially with all that hair and with the warm temperatures. It took me quite a while to cool her out.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. Lilly was really good, and I loved that after I corrected something, she didn't continue to do it in every class. Perhaps we'll just need to have one class for schooling before we show in our actual classes, and then hopefully, eventually, she'll just stop the nonsense.

I would also like to say that since this was a schooling show, I didn't wear any show clothes. I wore jeans and a sweatshirt... and my helmet. Why is it that when my horse is dressed in western clothes and I'm wearing a helmet at a horsey social gathering of some kind, I feel like a complete loser? I was the loser in the helmet riding in a western saddle and there were no english riders there either, so I was the only one wearing a helmet. It sucks that the helmet is part of the english outfit, but when you pair it with western tack, you're made to feel like a dummy wearing it.

Anywho... when we got back to the barn and I unloaded my pony, she backed out slowly the FIRST TIME. It was just the perfect ending to the wonderful day I spent with my very special and very loved Lilly Poo.


  1. Wow, sounds like you guys did great!!

  2. Success! At my last clinic I was the only western rider in a helmet. I feel 'ya! Stay strong!

  3. Congrats on a good day at the show. And congrats on Lily's weight. I see a real difference.
    Smart people wear helmets.

  4. What a wonderful day! I'm glad you got to school Lilly some (and it WORKED), and you had some nice riding moments as well! The judge sounded awesome and very considerate too. And having Lilly back out of the trailer nicely was just the icing on the cake. Congrads!!!

    PS. Smart, cool kids wear helmets, didn't you know? ;)

  5. So interesting and yes, one class for schooling before you settle into the classes you are really interested in sounds like a great idea. I wear my helmet with a western saddle (and I don't show)... and find it amazing how many western riders don't. I watched a horse stumble in the ring at a walk, and fall on its front knees, and the rider did a somersault over and onto the ground. She was fine, but I saw her land right on her neck. Just goes to show you...

  6. Good for you!...and sounds like a nice judge. I bet this is going to be a rockin' season for you.

  7. Yeah! Sounds fantastic. That is great that you were able to school Lilly in the show ring. And that the judge gave you extra time. Gotta love that.
    Reading your post reminded me of when I showed Fritzy in a schooling show about 6 years ago, we were in a western pleasure w/j class and the class was huge. They had to split the class and even with a split class there were approximately 20 horses. Well, being Fritzy's first show and I didn't even think about what would happen if she had to poop, she HAS to stop and poop. Well, she had to poop. So she stopped in the middle of a jog in the class to poop and my trainer is yelling at me to "kick her, get her going". I was kicking and Fritzy wouldn't move. I glanced over to the judge and I think she heard me kicking Fritzy and she turned around to see what was going on. Fritzy finally went back into the jog. I was quite embarrassed! We made the cut to the finals and ended up placing 4th out of approx. 50 riders. I laugh about that now. She would never make a show horse, because seriously she can't walk (or jog) and poop! And that was her one and only horse show!

    1. LOL! Too funny!! I'm surprised you still placed! Usually with a class that size, any little reason to cross you off the list is welcomed. Sounds like she would have been a great show horse, though... 4th out of 50 horses is amazing, especially with the pit stop!

  8. Go Lilly!! Sounds like a VERY productive show!

  9. How awesome that the judge gave you time to school while you showed and then gave you feedback. Sounds like a great day.

  10. Thanks everyone! It was definitely a great day, and if this keeps up, this might be the best show season yet!

    The judge sent me a message in a very roundabout way, which I received this morning. Basically she said that I set a very good example for other riders at the show by wearing my helmet and she hopes they follow my lead. It made me feel good to know she noticed and appreciated the fact that I wore my helmet.