I hauled Grace to an open zone show on Saturday for Western Riding and Trail. I wanted to go to that show specifically as it would be my last chance to show a Western Riding pattern before the Rookie show. I also like to support any local shows that hold the class in hopes that they won’t drop it the following year. Luckily there is a trainer that has been hauling down specifically for that class so I’ve had other riders in the class with me. I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get any edge off Grace before my class, riding her in the morning during the English classes and again during the lunch break. The warm up footing at the show grounds was less than desirable; I had my choice between incredibly deep and heavy or hard and rocky. I opted for hard and rocky until I could get into the main arena at lunch; the heavy deep footing was a tendon strain just waiting to happen.
Grace warmed up well during the lunch break. At one point I had the arena to myself so I gave myself the equivalent of a barrel racing time only and schooled the pattern. I’ve made it a rule to not school patterns with Grace as she is too freaking smart and will anticipate, but at the last show I felt like if I could just go right back and ride it one more time I could have fixed my mistakes. For the most part Grace stayed soft and quiet; she got much farther in the pattern before making a decision on her own. We had just executed a change when two strides later she threw in another one all on her own. I stopped her hard and backed her up letting her know that she wasn’t in charge. I then shaped her body up and loped off finishing the practice pattern without another incident.
When it came time for the class I already knew to plan on 2nd place or lower as the horse the trainer was sitting on could do the class in his sleep. The gelding has gone to the AQHA Select World multiple times. I enjoy watching him on pattern; it’s like getting a clinic before my turn to go in the ring. I paid close attention to the lines the trainer chose with the way the pattern was set. When it was my turn I went in with a plan to use the room I had to best of my ability. I let out a sigh of relief when Grace jogged over the pole quietly and stepped into the left lead lope when asked without her usual commentary. The line changes felt really good and I followed my plan to shape Grace up in the corners before the crossing changes. Grace stayed in a consistent rhythm throughout the pattern. She never once took over or tried to run with me, even her stop and back up were quiet. It was without a doubt the best Western Riding pattern that we have put together so far. I parked Grace next to the trainer on the nice gelding so I could watch the next rider’s go. The trainer told me that I had made a big improvement over the last three weeks when she had seen me at the last show. She then went on to compliment me on my ride. That was way better than any blue ribbon! We still have a lot of work to do in the next two week, but I’m starting to feel like I might be able to pull this off!