Saturday, June 22, 2013

Horse shows

Horse shows are still just horse shows, be it an 'A' rated or schooling show. The schooling shows are good for teaching the young horses- it doesn't all go smoothly, all the time. Crappy footing, crappy weather, crappy people, lousy judges- it's all part of the game and you will find them all either one at a time, in a combination or maybe all together in the losing lotto part of it all.

When Kat and I were at the CDE in March, it POURED on Friday during the dressage tests. One of the mini's had a loud crack of thunder overhead after a bolt of lightning lit up the sky, right in the middle of her extended walk portion of the test. One competitor had it Hail on her and her horse while they were in the ring. You have the option of 'Retiring' from the competition or withdrawing at any time without penalty, and several people did for various reasons.

One woman retired her horse from dressage and afterwards took him home. She had wanted his first time out to be a good experience for the horse. It just wasn't going to happen that weekend. Another trainer retired every one of his client horses- he did not want to risk injury to them if they should slip in the mud and do who knows what? Another entry had a decent go in dressage, but as the first one out on the marathon things went horribly south for them. She was going to retire, but went through sections A & D, found the footing to be ok so trudged on through E and the hazards thinking it was all good. Turns out it wasn't. The competitor on course right behind her- things were great up until the same point when the first horse had problems. This time, her mini and the cart, literally sank in the mud.

The barn area was buzzing with people asking if you were planning to retire or go for it. I was going to go for it. Even though the upper level people were pulling out, people who have done it longer than I have, maybe know more than I do and are likely far more experienced than Kat and I are in this game- we were there to compete.

At home, I pushed him to his limits to see how far he will take something before he blows up. A few times he has blown up. One blow up was epic and early on. Knowing his limits, how he handles things, how he doesn't handle things, is part of the game. We have trained in the pasture where the footing is not exactly good. We have shown in arenas with deep footing, pitted with hoof prints and it was beyond bumpy riding in the cart. Then there were dressage arenas with lovely footing, covered arenas without the overpowering sun, lovely breezes and dang near perfect conditions.

The judges have been a colorful spectrum of sorts as well. Showing Kat in hand, I have had judges say "Oh what a KYOOT pony, You WIN!" even though he may be acting like a complete and total jerk. Others who liked his movement, conformation and temperament and placed him well and several who look at his size and think- "He's too small, you can't ride him so Frankenhorse over there gets the prize." Yeah, whatever! You don't always get a fair or unbiased opinion.

A friend of mine took her pony mare to a recent show. She tanked in every class, even when others were saying she clearly should have won. She got to ask the judge why and what his reasons were behind the placings.  He liked her horse, liked everything about her actually, they had executed the far best reinsmanship pattern he had seen and yet still placed her last because her horse was not 'framed up' like a pleasure horse. He advised her to show the horse in driven dressage as if it were a lower standard of showing. Her mare has only recently begun driving, let alone showing and when I asked if she really wanted her 'framed up' the answer was "No. Not like that."

At the end of the day it is still just a horse show. You paid for one person’s opinion of your horse on that day. You may or may not agree with them, they may or may not hold an opinion you respect, but they placed you as they thought best on that one day.

Back when I started driving Kat, I was interested in seeing how far we will go. I would like to hit the bigger CDE's with him, I want to do well. I want people to know him and think well of him. I want people to appreciate how far we have come with little outside help as far as his training goes. But still, at the end of the day, I love him because he is a goofball, doesn't always behave and keeps me humble when I get a little ahead of myself, thinking we are better than we might be in the process. A good friend of mine told me once- "You will do well with him because through it all, you love your pony. Never lose sight of that and the rest will work itself out."

1 comment:

  1. "I love him because he is a goofball..." I get that.
    Great post!