Saturday, May 7, 2011

Back in the Show Ring

I took Grace to a local B system show today. I had one goal in mind, to ride in the Western Riding class one handed. I considered today’s show to be a schooling show, one that would help prepare me for the show on the 22nd. I have a history of show ring nerves and I wanted to use today’s show to “get over myself”. Today I accomplished exactly that. I did not have the best pattern, and I could have ridden much better, but I know what I need to work on over the next two weeks. Overall I consider today’s show to be a success!

I had a really good warm up at the show. I had a ton of time before my classes, so I pulled out the Connected Groundwork halter and line and did some work with Grace in the warm up arena. It wasn’t long before a girl rode up to me and asked “Do you know Peggy Cummings?” It was so cool to get to share that with someone and talk about our experiences with Peggy’s work. When it was time to ride I did some work in the snaffle and then moved to the shank bit. As long as I kept my body and hips soft, Grace stayed soft. She still has that wonderful lope that has shown up in the past month. It is so new to me I am still surprised every time it is there. After a lot of confusion as to when the show would be taking lunch break, they allowed up to warm up in the show arena while they were setting the pattern. I loped Grace and threw in a few lead changes. As long as I remembered to torso twist after the change, she stayed soft. If I stiffened, so did she. I knew this and yet I still became stiff in the class. Grace bobbled the first cross change. She wanted to change early and I wouldn’t let her, when I did she was stiff and it took an extra stride to get the change. I became tense at that point and forgot to relax for the rest of the pattern. It was much faster than I would have liked and it could have been a lot cleaner, but we did it one handed and I had the chance to get in there and get over myself. There were 2 other people that were in the class. They chose to do simple changes and were told they would not be disqualified for it. Still I was surprised when the placings were announced and I won 1st and 2nd under 2 judges.

Our next 2 classes were Trail. Grace and I love trail! The first time I rode in a trail class was on one of Penny’s been there done that show horses. Penny taught me how to take my time while schooling each obstacle at home; it kept the horses quiet on pattern. She also used to judge so she taught me trail from that perspective. It quickly became one of my favorite classes. Grace has always loved to climb on things, and there is almost nothing that she is afraid of. It also feeds her love of patterns and her need to be the center of attention. We’ve had a lot of success in trail over the years. Today she perked up when she saw the pattern. Our first class was just spot on! Oh and I rode it one handed! I haven’t practiced trail in close to a year, but you would not have known it today. We placed 1st and 2nd in the first trail class. We had a few bobbles in the championship class, and I fully expected 3rd place from both judges. So I was again surprised when the call judge placed us first in the class.

Overall it was a great day and it’s given me some much needed confidence going into the show season. I also have a long list of things to work on, all of which are rider related. In hindsight I could have used the turn after that first lead change to balance my horse and get her soft again before the next change, but I had to have the experience so I could learn from it. Thanks to Sarah I have a new tool kit of exercises to do at the lope to help me to soften my body. So if you see Grace lope by and I am touching my right toe with my left hand, just know that somewhere in that pretzel I am relaxed!

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