Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Rash Vow: C-Rage Hits the Open Circuit

After a solid kick in the pants by our dressage clinician, I signed Courage and myself up for an open schooling show. I haven't done a rail class or an open show since I was maybe 14, so I called the show secretary on the closing date and signed Courage up for every single class we were eligible for.
yup
I'm definitely a "the more, the merrier" sort of person so I talked a girl from our barn into going with. (It was hard. Me: "hey let's go to a show!" Her: "yes!"), then we picked up another local friend, which filled out our three horse trailer. 
also finally justified a fancy stitch bridle
Two days before the show, I had the farrier pull Courage's hind shoes for the winter, then tried to practice "english pleasure" on a horse who had no goddamn clue what I wanted but thought his newly-bare hind feet were EXCITING and we had only dolphin leaping and no cantering and I had to get off and lunge. So that was positive? 

I also realized I don't ever ride in my jump saddle anymore and that was going to be challenging. Oh, and while I was making good choices, I said this to a friend:
I mean, let's be real: Courage and I have been failalicious (it's a word. i just made it a word) at shows this year and I had zero hopes of this going anywhere, especially after the dolphin leaping ride. 
I thought maybe we would practice again the next day, but completely forgot a dressage friend was in town and wanted to play ponies, and it takes like .01 seconds to talk me out of riding in jump tack these days. 

Courage was ON IT for dressage. 

And then we went to the show! To do not-dressage! 

First things first, I took too long checking in and completely misunderstood the nice woman in the office when she explained that I needed to be in the lineup for in-hand trail. I thought she meant outside the ring. 

She did not. 

So when Courage and I made it down to the ring to wait our turn, I discovered that our entire class was already in the ring doing their thing and we were too late and not allowed in. Whoops. My bad. Whatever. We took the opportunity to hang out on the rail and Courage was pretty bug eyed about the experience, but he didn't kick anyone or lose his shit, so I counted it a win and stuck him back at the trailer. 

I should mention, it was a super gross rainy day. And I brought the fixings of apple cider mimosas because Courage relaxing isn't the only problem I have. As I told my friends, I was going to drink until showing sounded like a good idea. 
one of many refills
Possibly I lost count of the mimosas, but there were several hours of western and trail for us to chill out during. We needed yeah all of them.

Oh my. And then we had to tack up, at which point I started sorely regretting the chili I got from the concession stand at lunch. 
peer pressure makes it happen!

But Alyssa was on hand to document! And dammit I paid my $40! And mimosas! There was a fortuitous break in the rain, so I threw tack and and handwalked C around the indoor during the open schooling. I expected him to lose his shit about the bleachers, the barrels behind the fence, the corner all the horses were spooking at, and the huge ass steamy mirrors.

He was up and giraffe-y, but he settled in and gave zero shits about those things. So. Don't don't get me wrong--he was still super tense and looky, but he wasn't bothered by the completely new-to-him facility. He was just being green at a show. 

By the time I got on, open warm up was over. I walked some figure eights in the holding area while the class before us ran and tried to find a good place to throw up my chili. Before I settled on a spot, they called us in to the ring along with five other contestants in the W/T. 

Courage was actually being reasonable--he didn't look at the ring steward, wasn't worried about the judge, and really wasn't super upset about anything I expected. I locked my demon right hand into the neckstrap of his standing martingale, basically got full tunnel vision, and would have said a rosary if I were Catholic and knew it. Time to die. 

I really can't explain what happened next. Courage put his little nose down and walked like a pleasure horse. I thought I was dead for sure when they called the trot, but no. He did a lovely transition into a trot I'd say was too on the forehand and not quite tracking for dressage, but it was fine. He even stood in the line up fine and backed on cue fine. I hadn't watched anyone else in the class, so I sat there to see how it placed AND THEY CALLED US FIRST!! IN A CLASS OF SIX!! 
note death grip on martingale
DAYUM was that unexpected. 

Then we had to sit out a couple classes. We did some more figure eights at the walk and added walk/halt transitions. Not gonna lie--I was feeling a little competitive. Didn't know the little guy had it in him, but apparently he does. He even kept his back moving reasonably well and he was starting to let me put a little leg on, which was helpful for steering.

The next three classes are kind of a blur. Courage and I went out there and freaking killed it at the walk and trot. 
But every time they called for canter, no matter how I went slow, set him up, asked softly, and took my time, our canter transitions looked like this:
thank the lord for standing martingales
I'd ask for left lead and he'd leap and bolt onto the right lead. I'd ask for right and have the opposite problem. The first class was bad, the second mildly better, the third pretty bad. The good news was that it was a schooling show with a super nice judge. The bad news was those two Equitation classes we signed up for are pattern classes with an assumption that your horse is broke. Which mine is apparently rather not.

And hey. If I'm going to use the allowed schooling equipment at a schooling show, I like to at least demonstrate to the judge why I feel the need to ride my nice horse in it... so there's that. Also fun fact--I didn't really watch any of the other riders other than trying not to hit them (we never really got close), but in several classes, we actually placed above people. I'd say they must have really screwed up, but even with his canter reactions, Courage was still ON IT walk, trot, halt and back. So. Dunno. We can go from flailing to perfect english pleasure trot, so that's cool.
and sometimes after the flailing, the canter was ok
I told my squad that if I had one class without bolting, C was done. It was our last rail class with just one other rider on a nice broke horse.I REALLY REALLY REALLY didn't want to do the pattern classes under those conditions, but I also can't end on a bolty note. 

Off we went. 

W/T were of course fantastic. Left lead actually also went great. C picked it up and cantered around about half the arena before the judge called a walk transition. We changed direction. You open show folks know the drill--walk and reverse, then canter again. All day, I'd been ignoring the walk/canter transition and just picking it up through the trot. I did that again. C'mon horse--ONE decent-ish transition and our day is over. 

And as a friend described it, "I heard the crowd react and thought 'I hope Aimee is ok'". 

Sigh. 

Yeah. Saved the best for last apparently. We went BARRELING and LEAPING across the arena. The positive here is I totally got my new most favorite flail pic.
uphill much?
I mean, this is not my first rodeo with C and he's not a dirty horse, so I was never in danger of falling off. Despite how it looks, I really wasn't in danger of having my face bashed in either. It was just frustrating because we have these problems conquered at home, but the show environment brings it out in him. Which is why we're there.

Again, it's a two person class that I'm clearly not winning. The judge looks at me once I have C more or less contained and goes, "let's just try that one again". He was a Ray Hunt/Tom Dorrance natural horsemanship dude with a good head on his shoulders and he talked us through another transition and C kept his little brain in his little head and it was totally reasonable. YAY JUDGE. YAY COURAGE. YAY AIMEE.
finally justified this super attractive cooler I bought last year
We made it out of the ring, I slid off, and the tendons in my lower leg promptly seized up from that much abuse. Courage was steaming and covered in sweat, but dammit, we had a class with two good canter transitions. I'll take it.
our barn buddy cleaned up (top row), but we didn't do too bad either (bottom row)
The judge had some nice things to say about Courage and I. We even chatted with another competitor on a super cute, super broke horse and she assured me she'd ridden him through worse before it got nice and that Courage would get there too. 
pretending he's a fancy show horse with Alyssa
So. All in all, it was an excellent learning experience. Courage and I both really need the outings and the ability to just keep going back into classes. Usually this is the sort of thing you can do at jumper shows, but jumps are kinda not our thing and I don't want to go there anymore, haha. We will definitely be looking for more opportunities like this.

Oh and that rash vow? We not only won a class with more than three horses, we also placed above other competitors in more than one class. 

Apparently there's a craft project on my horizon.

44 comments:

  1. "Drink until showing sounded like a good idea." I swear this is going to be my mantra and theme next year when I push through my fears to fulfill my goals/dreams/wishes.

    YAY to you both for having some big positives, a negative or so, and a big step forward for Courage learning how to be chill in a show environment! Can't wait to read about this crafting project.

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    1. I basically hydrated with champagne. Whoops.

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  2. Yay C-rage and Aimee! Congrats on the fancy walk/trot and beating people. That flail pic is epic though, haha. I love it! Looking forward to reading about the craft project.

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  3. This is so fantastic! Despite the flailing at the canter, you guys had a great outing! What an awesome way to work through some stuff in a no-pressure environment. PLUS SATIN.

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  4. I think I need to join in on the drink until it sounds like a good idea!
    From what I recall this is a massive improvement over previous shows. Not to mention 1st place!!!!

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    1. Haha some parts better, some parts worse. At least we moved the flail from the trot to the canter I think?

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  5. This does not sound super fun for you(minus the booze!)but he looks really great in some of the photos and schooling open shows will absolutely be the best way to put miles on him cheap and get him over himself. Good for you for doing this and I have to say, the judge having you do the canter transition again to end on a good note gives me faith that there are still horsemen out there.

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    1. Yeah fun is not really the word I'd use. Educational? Sigh. The judge was fantastic tho. I'm not a hugger and I totally would have hugged him.

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  6. im SO glad you went. as soon as i get my own wheels this will be me and runkle. proud of you.

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    1. If I waited on wheels, I'd never leave home. <3 my couch.

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  7. Mimosas for so much win! Great job - I am so happy for you!

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    1. Seriously doubt the day could have happened without them.

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  8. Now, just do that about 1,000 more times, and you and Courage will be old pros in the show ring ;)

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    1. In fantasy land, I pay someone else to do this. It is definitely not the funnest.

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  9. Moar open shows! All the classes! Glad you had some successes :)

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  10. Yay Aimee! So proud of you both! Sounds like a great showing experience. Just gotta get out there and keep doing it until it is boring old hat. Sounds like you got a really cool judge.

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  11. Congratulations on a wonderful learning day. Sounds like overall it was a great opportunity and it sounds like a good environment to learn in.

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  12. This is the best show report I've read in a while ;) I have definitely done the "drink until showing is fun" thing. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call that particular show fun, but I lived!

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  13. Yay experience! That's what it's all about.

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  14. These types of shows are so priceless!

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    1. I keep reminding myself it was so much cheaper than even stepping in the grounds of a schooling dressage show.

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  15. I mean, the experience was totally validated just by snagging that awesome flail pic haha. Everything else is just a bonus ;)

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    1. I would be legit so sad if we missed those. Only regret was not having it on video with the audience gasping.

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  16. Good for you for going out and getting it done! I hope you let the organizer know how much you appreciated the judge. That kind of feedback in invaluable as an organizer.

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    1. I should have done this. I may have to track that person down.

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  17. Love this, keep it up! Might have to find some shows like this for prisoner this winter!

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    1. I'm trying to focus on the good takeaways so I can talk myself in to doing this again. Also hopefully it will be less traumatic for everyone.

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  18. At least you both came thru it all still alive and everything intact. Plus you did well enough to have to keep your vow about the bridle. I'd definitely call it a win.

    If you have access to a public use arena, I would start taking him and working on things there too. The more places you can take him the better, shows or otherwise. He will learn he can work other places than home.

    I don't know if you checked with the show or not, but some of them allow dressage, hunter and saddleseat tack all under the English division. The schooling shows I went to did this. It encompassed all aspects of English for horses that showed in the different divisions not western.

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  19. Well at leas there were some positive moments! Sounds like a good judge that understood it as a schooling show.

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  20. Hey, can't be that for the price, plus you got some ribbons and great pictures too!

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  21. Showing is a skill set unto itself! So proud of you for getting out there and doing the thing :D

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  22. So much good. Some bad. Over all sounds like a positive experience. His flailing is epic.

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  23. Good work! This is why I love open shows, having multiple opportunities to get in the ring is such good exposure. They also maximize the ribbon opportunities!

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  24. That was a brilliant show for the both of you. And I love the fail photos. :)

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  25. I've spent four years trying to get my horse to trot pretty, so hey, fancy trot is a major win. I love the fail photos!
    www.baysoverbaes.wordpress.com

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  26. Woohoo!! What a great experience for him!

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