If you had asked me, six or so months ago, “Do you think that mare will be a show horse?”, I probably would’ve chuckled and said “No way”( I think I did say that actually).
Six months ago she was running around like a psycho in the round-pen, bucking occasionally when I’d saddle her and running. Running like a bat out of hell. Running when I’d lunge her and running when I’d ride her. She has taken all my time and energy and effort, but fast forward six months and that crazy, wonderful, love of my life mare, just completed her first ever show and she did a damn good job. We did Trail, Western Pleasure and Horsemanship on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Zoey loaded onto the trailer like a champion on the first day of the show. The atmosphere of the show didn’t seem to bother her one bit, in fact, she seemed to enjoy all the hustle and bustle, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that mare so relaxed and happy before, if anything I was more terrified than she was. It’s one thing to be an observer at the show, it’s another thing to be one of the ones riding in the show. We did Trail on our first day there. I had just three goals for her for that class, 1) back through the L, (2) walk over the poles with our head down and without hitting any poles, (3) walk into the box, turning a circle would be a bonus, but just getting into the box and stopping would be an accomplishment within itself. We screwed up the entire pattern, BUT, she did back through the L with little to no head-tossing and she did a pretty good job moving her hip over, I asked for one too many steps back so she ended up hitting a pole. She did walk over the poles(I believe we were supposed to trot…oops) and when we got to the poles she hesitated, dropped her head down and I think we only tapped the last one. The bridge was a no-brainer for her, she seems to enjoy that part of the course, and when we got to the box she stepped inside and stopped when asked. Zo isn’t a fan of the box, she avoids it when lungeing and does her best to avoid it under-saddle. I figured she wouldn’t stay in to do the circle and because of that rushed it which completely guaranteed a screw up on her part. I rushed her throughout the pattern which is probably the main reason why it all got jacked up in the first place. She did her best and which is all I can ask for, we will go home and work on the pattern more and work on slowing down more so that next go-round will be better.
Saturday was Pleasure and Horsemanship and probably the worst day nerves-wise. I’m horribly claustrophobic. Like, really claustrophobic, so the thought of riding in an arena filled with other riders on a horse who has a tendency to want to run off, did not bode well with me, at all. I got her out and lunged her on three different occasions Saturday before really saddling up and heading down to the pavilion. We watched the other riders before us then headed out when our turn came. She did really, really well. The classes we did were just walk/trot and that’s exactly what she did, if anything I screwed her up. Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, but we both did better in our classes. She once again had a great performance and we managed to end the night on a good note. Somehow we had a catastrophe free weekend considering three novice riders on three novice equines went to the show. It was, in the end, a very fun weekend and much was learned and accomplished by all.
It’s funny, when I first started with horses three or so years ago, I swore I would never ever ride or work with a Paint horse. I’d spent over a year with a red Paint mare who was a moody, hostile thing and I’d seen other Paint horses and decided I’d stay as far from them as possible. Riders whom I’d always held in the highest regards and admired all informed me that because I live in the city, didn’t/don’t own a horse and didn’t start seriously riding until I was 16, that 1) I’d never ever be considered a good rider by anyone because I’m a city-kid, (2) that I’d never make it as a trainer because no trainer would want to take on a city-kid with very limited horse and riding experiences, (3) that I’d never make in a show-pen because that kind of stuff takes years of practice and I was behind the ball on that, and to just be happy as a casual trail rider. As a very new rider at the time, it was hard not to believe that and take them seriously. These were riders who’d been riding for years and years, who had beautiful horses that seemed to practically float. They’d seen it all and done it all which was why they were so neat to me. Then to have friends and family who all said they’d “Pray” I’d see the light and come to my senses and drop horses and riding and move on to something worth while, because I’d never amount to anything in the horse-world, I think that was the worst blow out of them all, and probably the reason why I cut so many people off.
Having this weekend go by so well, it was so neat and satisfying to see everything I’ve done with this mare pay off, grant it we have plenty to work on still, but the things we’ve done thus far, it’s made a noticeable difference. And to have been able to see all the support we had this weekend from EVERYONE and to have had family members come out to watch me ride and friends show up and those who couldn’t come still called and texted and messaged words of encouragement and support. That’s part of what makes all this worthwhile. To have been able to ride this Paint mare in our first show ever, that was pretty neat.
We will work on slowing things down more, poles, the box, gate, head down and loping in the arena this week and every week to come. There is a light at the end of this tunnel and my girl and I are heading straight towards it. Way to go to all the horses and riders who went out and had a fantastic ride and performance, y’all did so well.