Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blogging from AQHA Region 1 – toes in the Big Pond

Today is Saturday and I’ve been here since Monday when we hauled in early to set up and settle in. I was able to grab a partner for Ranch Sorting on Wednesday – we only penned one cow in the time allowed but placed 5th in the Amateur – most of all it was fun and Grace loved it! 

Wednesday night I rode in a Trail Class Clinic, the clinic was great – tons of information on how to ride a trail course at this level, many technical aspects that I never thought about. The riding part did not go so well. Grace was running at the poles and by the end of the night she and I were both incredibly frustrated. Once again this year I am having a hard time not comparing myself to the well-schooled horses and riders that are my competition. Ranch Horse Pleasure on Thursday morning was another fun class. I am upset with myself for not having higher scores, I know I can do better at home; still Grace was relaxed and really flowed on pattern. We fell apart in Trail that night picked up the wrong lead and never recovered. Grace and I were tense for the rest of the pattern and I was so pissed at myself. When I came out of the ring my trainer made me continue to school my horse until I got her to settle. I wanted nothing to do with it. I had already embarrassed myself enough, but Sarah forced me to not leave the ring until I had ended on a good note. I had that overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong here at all, really not cut out for the Big Pond. This was all taking place at 11:00pm at night when Trail ended. 

The next morning Sarah wanted to talk about it. She said I could go home if I wanted to and not show at this level but she feels that I do belong here and reminded me of all that I have accomplished in the last year with my horse. With that said she reminded me that for some reason I ride differently at these bigger shows and it is something that I am going to have to get past. I had planned to go home today but went ahead and signed up for Horsemanship on Sunday. Western Riding and Showmanship were held on Friday. I thought my Western Riding patterns were good, had a bobble over the pole at the lope in the Novice Am class but put together a nice pattern for the Amateur. Still not near the level of my competitors but I wasn’t last in the class either. For the first time maybe ever I enjoyed Showmanship. I even placed under one of the judges in my Rookie class. I should really consider practicing that class – I might have a chance to be competitive! 

I still feel like I am at the bottom of the competition here and I question why I am here. Then again if I don’t push myself to a level outside my comfort zone I’ll never have a reason to push myself and improve. I’ve really enjoyed spending time getting to know my fellow riders at this show. Today is English so no classes for us but I will school today to get ready for horsemanship tomorrow. The classes are huge- 30+ in the Novice Am so I will plan to just go out there and put together the best pattern I can.


  1. Can I offer a little input?
    When I first waded into the big pond, I immediately started to drown.I absolutely did not belong there.
    My mentor pointed out I just needed to show.
    He's a big believer in immersion. So I showed, again and again.
    I watched, studied, discussed...
    Eventually, I became used to the big time, quit worrying about what people thought, since, for the most part it was supportive, friendly and sympathetic.
    Guess what happened?
    I started to place.

  2. Thank you! I so needed to hear that!

  3. I felt like that at the little saddle club I showed at! My horse and I were both clueless and embarrassing. I kept going back, eventually taking my kids into lead line classes (same horse! He really grew up!) and made some good friends there. I learned so much from being there and watching and asking stupid questions and making mistakes. (So basically, what Mugwump said, but on a smaller scale!) I think you are doing great to attempt these competitions, and I suspect many people there secretly feel the same as you do. Heels down and smile, keep up the good work!