Lucky is totally herd bound so she started calling out right away to see if there were horses around. Since the show is at a 45 horse barn she soon got some call backs so she knew she was not alone. I went and checked in and saw that one of the people in my class was a trainer. And a good one at that! On my way to pee before I got Lucky off the trailer I saw her and gave her a hard time about being in my class. She is a really good rider so I was busting her chops. Even though the horse she would be riding was just broke I knew I couldn’t beat her. I have found that in my experience a good rider can make any horse look amazing regardless of the level.
I still had plenty of time left when I got back to the trailer so I decided to unload Lucky and take her for a walk before I put her bridle on. She got off the trailer UP, but not crazy. She just looked a little overwhelmed is all. That I can handle. Considering she has only been in one indoor before that I know of I thought she was being pretty good. After a few laps around she started to settle so I took her back to the trailer to put her bridle on and so I could put my helmet it. I realized that I had my black gloves with me. I was wearing a white long sleeved polo. I didn’t want black gloves! I knew I had white gloves with me, but they were buried deep in the truck and I was attached to a nervous horse so I just had to let it go.
As I was getting ready to mount a bunch of people came and it was great…they were all people I know and am friendly with. I knew I would run in to someone I knew, but to have it be people from every trailer! Amazing! I got right to business with Lucky as soon as I got on. We went to WORK. I rode tall and told myself not to think about anything but training her. I sounded crazy again because as she would get nervous I would speak out loud to myself as to how I correct it. Other people had trainers with them and I was alone so just saying it out loud was calming to me. I tried to stay steady and just fix the problems as they came.
There were a lot of people in not such a big ring so it was a little rough at points, but I was so focused that Lucky actually settled down! How cool is that! I got my Lucky to settle down BY RIDING HER! I had gotten on about 40 minutes before my test and I really used that time to work. She was okay, but not great by the time we headed in to the ring. We got outside and Lucky got nervous again right away. It is hard to be alone in a ring when you are so herd bound. In fact, she even spooked at a roll top jump that was at the side of the ring! Lucky rarely spooks so it actually made me laugh. I took a deep breath and told myself to keep riding!
I have a bad habit of heading in to the show ring and being a passenger. I hate that. And I can’t do that with a green horse. That little spook reminded me that Lucky needed me. We used the two minutes before the judge blew the whistle to go back to the walk and use square turns. I still didn’t have her where I wanted her when it was time to start the test, but what can you do? Even after taking an extra circle to try and make it perfect we blew our first centerline. I tried not to fixate and instead focused on on our walk transition, which turned out to be nice.
I tried to think of not only what I wanted her to do, but how I could ask her in a way so that she would do it. There were still moments in our test where I was a passenger, but I can say with all honesty it was hands down the test that I was most active in without being dramatic. The judge had talked to the first rider for a bit after her first test so after my salute I went up hoping for feedback…and got a thank you.
I got a little upset in that moment because I took it as if the judge had no hope for Lucky and I. I know that test was far from perfect (stupid corners! and stupid circles) so the fact that he didn’t say anything was pretty crushing. Lucky was soaked with sweat as we went back to the trailer and I realized my first real problem of the day…I had forgotten to pack water in the trailer! I had a dripping wet horse and no way to get the sweat off. They did have water available for competitors, but it was inside the barn where outside horses should not go.
I loaded her up quickly (she was perfect this time). And decided that instead of hanging out waiting for my test I would just go home and take care of Lucky properly. I went to look at the class list to see when I could come back and see my placing (I can’t help it…I love ribbons…) and it wasn’t until 2:30. I was not going to be around that late so I asked the show manager if I could just come back and get my test and everything the next day. She is so laid back she said it would be a problem. I took Lucky home and took care of her, but I was going crazy not knowing what my score was. I knew the day had been a success in my eyes, but I wanted to know what I should be working on!
To Be Continued…