I believe that Grace and I just had one of our most successful schooling shows yet. This is not something I measure in blue ribbons or high points, but in the way each ride felt. This was the first time that I was in “the zone” 90 percent of the time in the ring. I credit a lesson I had with Sarah last week where I finally understood that I had to ride each and every stride. This weekend I was able to carry that into my classes.
On Friday at the show grounds I had the best warm up; Sarah later said she was afraid to talk to me in fear that it might interrupt my focus. The arena was full of other riders which gave me a good opportunity to work in traffic. Grace worked really well for just getting off the trailer, it didn’t take me long to get her supple throughout her body. After my usual first day at the horse show warm up, I put the reins in one hand and put Grace on the rail. I was thrilled with how well she worked, no rushing, slow and steady. I was having such a good time I didn’t want to end the ride. This might be the first time that I have felt like I could jog my horse all day long.
I started Saturday with Showmanship, which is not my favorite class but I have decided that it is good for me so I force myself to do it. Showmanship gives me the chance to get stupid out of the way which I successfully did by completely blowing my quartering. What I did get out of the experience was the reminder to get into my body. I don’t usually lunge Grace in the morning at a show, I have this idea that I need to save her energy for the day, but I started to rethink that when I took her to the warm up ring. Grace started to dance, and when I corrected her she stood on her hind end. Instead of going down the tension road with her, I accessed the breathing I’ve been learning in yoga. I then used my body instead of my hands to guide her as I practiced my showmanship pattern. I found that as long as I carried myself with confidence and acted like I knew what I was doing, Grace stayed calm. When it was our turn to run the pattern she was on the ground and I was thrilled that she didn’t blow up on pattern.
I rode my rail classes one handed and with each class got a better feel of staying in rhythm with my horse. There were times I had to put Grace back together, but by the last class I was keeping her together for longer periods of time. Much to my surprise we were starting to place in some of our rail classes, not something I had anticipated in that group. The walk jog pattern class included a serpentine around a set of 3 cones. I had not practiced the pattern at home and when I asked Grace for the jog I could feel her anticipate the lope. Of course – this MUST be Western Riding! It was a great opportunity to remind her of who is in charge in the show ring. I ended the day before my last two classes as I felt like we had accomplished what we were after for the day.
I am really appreciative that Sarah talked me into attending this show series this winter. With each show we have made improvements and I feel like we will go into show season more prepared than we ever have been in the past. Good thing since we will be attending our first breed show this year. One of our local AQHA affiliates is putting on a rookie show in June which will also have novice amateur classes. It promises to be low key and offers a day of clinics prior to the show. There is also the Regional Experience show being held in August. I’ve been on the fence about going to those shows, mainly in fear that I will embarrass myself stepping up to that caliber. I’ve decided to let go of my stinking thinking and I will instead start to walk my own talk and believe that I can do this. I think I can, I think I can….