Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Clint Eastwood Horse Show...

Finding the car? Easy peasy!
It's been two years since my last horse show.  If you've been following AWIP for a while, you may recall that last show was the one where I attempted to turn myself into a human lawn dart.  I haven't shown since then because of one thing or another - The Sainted Mare injured herself, I was kicked out of my old barn and needed to acclimate to life in a new system, health issues, my son was showing my horse, showing has never been that important to me.  For any number of reasons I just didn't show.  Then things changed and I kinda sorta thought I maybe wanted to show.

You know that kind of feeling, right?  The niggly thought in the back of your brain that's just a kernel of an idea until it takes shape and ultimately becomes something you need to act on?  That's what happened to me.  Watching my son show Sugar made me think I might want to show, and over time that thought grew and finally I told my trainer, "Let's do it!"  We settled on a local show as my comeback, and decided that instead of the jumpers I'd compete in the equitation classes.  My trainer felt that I'd be more relaxed as I wouldn't feel pressured by the need to make time or memorize a jump off course, and I'd put less pressure on myself as I am not an equitation rider, nor is Sug an equitation horse.  No expectations = no pressure, right?  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Not if you have my brain.

The weekend of the horse show coincided with a soccer tournament my daughter was in.  I spent the morning watching her team play, thinking it would help distract me and keep the show nerves at bay. It didn't.  Not really.  We then had friends back to the house for a pizza lunch.  No distraction here, either.  Noah and I headed off to the show and arrived at 3:30, ready to warm up and show around 4:30 or 5:00. Here's where things got interesting.  The classes started running later and later, as will happen at horse shows, and our estimated show time was pushed back an hour, then another hour, and then another hour, and yet another hour.  We were told we'd be showing outside, under the moon and arena lights, in weather that had turned quite chilly and windy ( a factor when all the fences standards are decorated with cornstalks.)

So here's where we get to the Clint Eastwood portion of this post...

I showed.  Despite nerves and delay and crappy circumstances.  When we weren't on the horses by 8:00PM I wanted to chuck it all in, but I didn't. Yay me.

I didn't completely suck.  There were some very nice moments in my courses.

I didn't fall off when I choked my poor horse into a ridiculously deep distance and she had to jump straight up from a near standstill. I almost went out the side door, but managed to scramble back in the tack.  The good news is this contributed to a marked lack of impulsion, which made it much easier to do the Halt/rein back test portion of the class which immediately followed that fence.

We had a fabulous time with my trainer and barn friends, laughing like loons over a late dinner of pizza that a barn mate's mom brought in.

Finding where you parked your car is not too difficult when you are one of the last people to leave the show.

The time - Riding at 9:00PM, 5 hours after we thought we would be.  By 9PM I'm normally in my fat pants, reading a good book and enjoying a nice sauvignon blanc. 

The weather - a 20 degree drop in temperature with gusty winds.  The Sainted Mare was definitely on her toes, bug-eyed and snorting, as was James, the OTTB my son Noah was riding. 

Cornstalks.  And wind. Need I say more?  Thankfully TSM and James kept their wits about them.  Many horses didn't, and we saw a few galloping riderless around the ring.

My riding.  I went from riding 3' courses well at home to riding 2'6" courses badly at a show.

My nerves.  I let them get to me.  And because I let them get to me, I lost focus. Instead of being a thinking rider who executed her plan, I became a reactive rider that choked up on her horse, trying to "pull back" into seeing a distance, instead of simply getting my rhythm and letting it take me to the fence and finding the distance out of the rhythm.

When I added so many strides my poor horse had to take off from darn near underneath the base of the fence and I almost fell off and had to had to clamber back into the tack after hanging of the side of my mare's neck.

I beat myself up quite a bit over my performance at the show, as poor Sug did not deserve the ride I gave her.  Despite the adverse conditions, she did her job as best she could.  I did not hold up to my end of the bargain, and I feel I let her down.  Thankfully, horses don't think like we do.  (I hope). 

In the meantime, I'm feeling glad that we got that "first show" out of the way and it's in the rear view mirror.  I know what I need to work on in terms of my riding and in terms of my mental outlook, so I can say that while this show did not go as I'd hoped, it was a valuable learning tool.

So, onward and upward!  Time to start planning for show #2.  Now, where did I leave that valium prescription...


  1. Hey, it's your first show back and you stayed on. That's pretty freaking good. ;) Now you know what to work on for next time.

  2. Glad to see you are back in the show ring. Good on ya!!
    You expected to go to a show and ride, and you did = goal met!! I like to keep my goals simple, very simple, like "ride back out of the arena = goal met" No unscheduled dismount = goal met. I used to tell my son when he became stressed before I baseball game: guess what you get to do today? Play Ball!! Any way you slice it, that is a good day!!

  3. Not a doubt in my mind that I absolutely would have thrown in the towel and scrapped it, so I give you a WHOLE lot of credit for showing in the moonlight among the dancing cornstalks. Tucker and I would have said a polite *nothankyouverymuch* and been on our way, in our respective fat pants. Your stick-to-it-ive-ness is admirable.

  4. Yay for being back in the show ring!

    Ugh nerves always get me too!

  5. I think when you're an adult getting back out there and just doing it is 75% of the battle. Good job!

  6. Congrats! Have you seen the documentary by Jennifer Saunders (British comedian from "Absolutely Fabulous") called "Back in the Saddle"? It ends with her return to the show ring. Very funny!