Day Six: 30 Day Challenge

Day Six: Your most accomplished horse

Well, I have only ever had my Gen, but I don’t think that is what they mean. I wasn’t sure if they mean the number of ribbons or the kind of ribbons. If it is the kind then Gen wins hands down. These are all the ribbons that Gen won (minus 1 which is in a shadow box). Gen and I only went to 6 shows (or was it 5) so I would say that it is a really good haul for a very short lived show career.

The Finished Ribbon Rack

If you are thinking quantity over quality…well…let me go count.

Hahaha…guess which horse I won the most ribbons on?

Awww...Phoenix...he was such a cutie!

Phoneix! Hahaha…I love it! Go figure! He beat out Heart by 4 ribbons. Those hunter shows I did with him really pushed him over the top. I am not sure if I should be proud or sad that my most accomplished show horse was one that I only rode for 18 months who was barely broke when I started with him. He and I won 36 ribbons in our time together, which might not sound like a lot, but considering we mostly did dressage shows I am really proud with that.

How would you define the term “most accomplished horse”?

“What am I? Chopped Liver?”

So it has now been 30 days since I have seen Phoenix. It has been a rough transition. The worst part? I keep slipping up and saying “I don’t have a horse anymore”. Gennyral is NOT happy about my Freudian slips! In fact, he is down right pissed about it. In order to counter act my carelessness he has been extra cute and extra lovey as of late. Yesterday, the heat FINALLY broke! It was 80 degrees with no humidity and even a slight breeze. Gen was in heaven! He  was a total love! It was so peaceful and so wonderful I swear I will remember that moment of just hanging with my lovely horse forever! So see…it is not that I don’t love my Gennyral to bits and peaces. It is just that I lost a big part of horsey hobby and…well…it feels weird.

I am going on several vacations this summer. I NEVER go on several vacations during the summer because I am always planning around horse shows, etc. It is just weird, in a good way,  so be so free. The Young Rider wants to go up to Saratoga, NY to look for barns and it is liberating to just be able to do it. I am even going to Florida for almost a week to go to Harry Potter World! These are things I would not be able to do if I was still riding at the level I was riding at. Not only for time and a show schedule, but for money reasons as well.

I have let horses consume so much of my time and money in the past three years that as odd as it sounds I don’t know how to be a normal person anymore! I don’t know what to do with my weekends now that they are not filled with shows. I am having a hard time sitting down to focus and write in my blog. It was so easy to dedicate 30 minutes a day to writing when you spend hours with horses. When you are only at the barn for 45 minutes to an hour it just seems weird to go home and sit down and write about  horses for the same amount of time.

I would without a doubt say that I am going through a time of transition right now. I am trying to figure out what I really want. I have been going to my trainers barn and taking lessons on her school master once a week and that has been very cool. It has also been challenging in a good way and really pushing me to be a better rider. I have also thought about switching to saddle seat, but the only barn in my area was rude to me on the phone so do I really want to be giving them money. Or jumping. I would love to learn how to jump. Like really learn, not just point the horse at the fence and hope they go over it.

I ALWAYS land on my feet. I know I will find my way some time soon. For now I am just enjoying being lost in the horse world and getting a better sense of balance in my life. I needed that! I really am just a one horse kind of girl. And I couldn’t ask for a better horse than Gennyral. He is anxious to get back to work, but I am still wavering on that. For now I am just glad that I walked away from a bad situation. I am smiling at that statement because I know that I did the right thing and that is why I am okay with having no direction right now. Everything happens for a reason and so at some point I will be back in the horse world and it will be better than ever. For now I am content to sit on the side lines and ponder.  I will also try to take some video of my next lesson so you all can see the fancy pants horse I am riding now!

And don’t worry Gennyral…I will make sure to give you lots of attention on the blog and off, because I DO still have a horse.  And a pretty great one at that.

The Memorial Day Horse Show Saturday – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

So as I was riding around feeling out of place I got yet another blog to my ego. My first test, the one I thought I did okay on? Well during my warm up they announced that I got a 56.522% for the whole world to hear! Yikes! I got a freaking 56% at training level. I wanted to crawl into a whole and go home. I spent about 2 minutes giving myself a pity party, and then it was time to get back to work. Clearly I was not good enough to be at this show. It sucks to know that you are just not there yet. I was signed up and I had to show so I could either sit around being miserable or at least try to get better and break a 60%. My trainer and I set to work trying to make my second ride a better ride.

We did transitions, a little lateral work, lots of figures and any and everything else we could think of to get Phoenix forward and over the back. It was during out canter warm up that I felt him lift up his tummy and come underneath me.  You should have seen me start to smile. And when we went back to trot and he still kept it…well…I was grinning from ear to ear. When it was time to switch warm up rings I really tried to focus on Phoenix and make sure that he stayed with me because this is where we really lost focus last time. I was more successful, but I still did not have the same horse that I had in the big warm up ring.

By the time we got called to the ring to do our test I had some of my horse back, but it was not all there. Here is the video of our second test.

Now watching this video I don’t love the test, but riding it was worse. When I walked out of the ring I was not a happy camper. It just felt like a worse test. Watching the videos they look about the same, but riding it…it just didn’t all come together in my book. I mean, look at the horse in the ring next to us and then look back at is. It was just embarrassing!  At the time I was pretty bummed about it, but in the same breath I was also pretty proud of Phoenix. Look at my little super star taking it all in stride. I know many horses that would have a problem showing in a ring with a horse next to them, but not my baby! He was a rock star all day long!

My trainer’s baby was getting hot so she left not long after my second test. I took my time un-tacking and taking care of Phoenix knowing that if my trailer and truck were a mess it would kill me the next day at the show. I gave Phoenix a bath and loaded him in to the trailer waiting for them to announce the results. I got many admiring glances from the people in the trailers on either side because of how I was able to do everything on my own. After waiting 15 minutes for them to announce the results I grabbed my clothes and figured I would to and change and by the time I was done with that they would have to be done scoring…right?

Remember, I was parked out in the middle of Siberia at this point because the people staying at the show had not been very courteous about their trailer parking. It took a long time to hike to the show office and the results were still not up. I changed and checked again. Went back to the trailer and checked again. All the while I was beating myself up in my head over the 56%. I mean, with a score like that I should not be showing dressage. I was berating myself for thinking that I was good enough to go to this show. It was abundantly clear that neither Phoenix nor myself was of the caliber to be at this show on this weekend.

Almost an hour after my ride they finally announced the scores for my second test.

PHOENIX AND I GOT A 63.214%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I knew right away that the judge was just generous, but I didn’t care. Not only that, but it was good enough for 3rd place and…(drum roll please)…we even beat PO!!!!!!!!!!

Talk about going from a low point to a high! I happily skipped down to get my ribbon and test. Driving home I was floating on air! I gave Phoenix a bath when we got back and put him back in his sleezy. He was not thrilled about having the braids left in for another night, but I was not re-braiding the following morning! This was my first multi-day show so I went home to clean tack and do laundry so everything would be clean and wonderful the following day. I was so happy with my red and yellow ribbons. I was hoping that I would get more the next day…

The Memorial Day Horse Show Saturday – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

With the footing being so bad my trainer and I decided that it was in our best interest to be conservative in the warm up. What did that entail? Lots of walking :P. It was good because the more we walked the more warmed up his back got, but in the same breath what we both needed was to keep our confidence up and walking around gave us both time to look…and time to think…

Seeing our wondering attention span my trainer figured that crappy for or not, we needed to WORK so she started barking out orders. It is not like her to be that demanding, but in the same breath it was exactly what we needed at that moment in time. My biggest problem at that moment was my long, droopy reins. For some reason I had decided in my head that long reins=confidence….not such a good thing at a DRESSAGE show :P. I tried to remember all I had learned at the Becky Cowden clinic, but for some reason it was just clicking as well in the full warm up ring.

I was really trying to get it, I swear I was. We had some good moments in the warm up, but for some reason it was just not all coming together. I could get Phoenix for a stride, sometimes even a few strides, but looking around at the caliber of horses and riders here a few strides was just not going to make the cut. You couldn’t even tell the difference between the training, first, and second level horses. All were impeccably trained, well moving bays or chestnuts.

My trainer could see me getting frustrated about not being able to get the connection and decided to pull me to the ittsy bittsy warm up outside the ring I was going to show in. It is only a 40×20 and it can have up to 5 other horses in it at the same time. This turned out not to be a good decision because for some reason Phoenix was infatuated by a grey mare in this warm up. To the point where he would even try to change rein, etc to follow her and was totally ignoring me. Instead of this small warm up relaxing me, I started to get tense. Phoenix was way worse about listening! My trainer got down to work and did everything we could to get Phoenix to focus. We did tons of figures and transitions. He was actually marginally better by the time we went over to the ring.

So here is the weird thing… The test actually felt a lot better than it looked! I was so proud of us when we saluted for the second time because I thought we had put in a solid test. That it would be close to 60%! When I walked back to the truck to get ready to take a break before the second test my trainer seemed a little surprised I thought it went so well. When I asked her about it she diplomatically said that judges scored a little tougher at big shows like this one so I should not get my hopes up.

We had an hour between tests, which meant that we had 30 minutes to chill. Phoenix was very grateful for the break and took the time to eat some hay and drink some water. He was already starting to feel at home in this big/intimidating show environment. I smiled at how good my baby horse was doing while watching other horses drag their owners around. It was a bitter sweet moment sitting down with my trainer, friend, and trainers baby watching Phoenix. We all knew that that I had dreamed about showing at Memorial Day for years and now the moment was here and I would be loosing Phoenix after the show.

After some encouraging words, muffins, and Gatorade it was time to get dressed again and head back to the warm up.  Phoenix was getting sleeping so retacking went easily. He was a little reluctant when I got back on, but at least this time he didn’t spook at anything as he was heading to the warm up. We walked in and sure enough there were a good 30 horses all warming up at the same time. This time most of them were in double bridles and top hats. If there were ever a time to feel out classed at a show this would have been the time. My fat self with my Appy stood out like a sore thumb in the sea of upper level horses and 6 foot tall thin riders.

To Be Continued…

The Memorial Day Horse Show Saturday – Part 2

Part 1

I took some deep breaths and figured it was better to unload him, even though I would be alone. Luckily, Phoenix backed off the trailer like a big boy. As he started to jig around me though I started to question my decision to unload him so soon. I set about fussing over him and making sure he looked his best, which seemed to help him calm down. He kept touching me and looking for reassurance. Luckily, after the show the week before, I was as confident as I could be so I stayed calm and made sure he knew that he would be okay. His back was tight as knots as I went to tack him up, which made it a very interesting process. I finally got his saddle on and started to get myself dressed while holding him.

Just as I was finishing up my trainer showed up. She took one look at my cold backed pony and asked me what I was going to do. I told her that I was just going to get on and walk around. I knew it was a little early. I knew that he very well might take off bucking. The thing is, I also knew that the only way I was going to not worry about what he was going to do was just to get on and find out. I could see the worry in her eyes, but I didn’t sweat it. I know Phoenix. I know that the only way he will feel 100% is if I feel 100% and I knew that the only way for me to get there was to get on him. As I walked over to the tail gate of my truck (it makes a great mounting block) I took many deep breaths and said what my fears were out loud. For some reason that calmed me even more.

By the time I put my foot in the stirrup I was okay. As soon as I got on I felt Phoenix tighten up even more. He was so tight over the back that he could hardly walk! Because I was parked in the middle of nowhere I had a nice big field behind my trailer to walk around in. It took a good 10 minutes of walking, changing rein, etc before I even felt comfortable enough to head down to the warm up. My trainer was walking behind me laughing on the way down because EVERYTHING was an issue to Phoenix, but I wasn’t letting him get to me. He would spook, I would stay steady and tell him he was being stupid (he was I swear) and keep going. After about the 10th spook Phoenix started to feel my confidence and finally began to settle.

Because I had gotten on a little early I had time to kill so I walked him around everywhere, including down by the barns were all the big names were stabling. After once last big spook about a storm drain Phoenix took a deep breath and that was it. He was so overwhelmed and he just had to trust me, so he did! By the time we headed to the warm up ring for real he was nervous, but he was paying attention to me and looking to me for guidance. That trust was hands down the best thing about having a baby horse. They look to you for leadership because they don’t know any other way. Over the last year and a half Phoenix learned to listen to me when he gets scared. That moment at the show was the big payoff for all the training and work I had done.

Normally at this show ground there is only a single warm up ring for all 5 show rings. Because this show was a CDI there was a special warm up for that ring for only 4 rings were using the same warm up. There was still about 20 horses already in the ring by the time I got there, but that was better than the 35 that their normally are! After riding in a teeny tiny ring with over a dozen other horses the weekend before I didn’t worry about all the horses flying towards us and past us. I made a plan of how I was going to ride my warm up with my trainer the week before and we were going to stick to it. I refused to get flustered. Just flat out refused! There were many close calls for crashes, but I was steady and didn’t worry about them. I think I need to do a post about universal ring rules, but barring other peoples bad manners we had an even bigger problem.

The footing was a total SWAMP!!!!!!! All the rain from the night before and the morning seemed to have all stayed in the warm up ring. Phoenix was worried about sinking in and honestly, I was a little worried about that also…

To Be Continued…

The Fun Horse Show – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

As I walked towards the bridge Phoenix started to look at it. I sat up tall and put my legs on making it clear that he had to go ON the ramp. He tried to go left and right, but I was so firm and consistent that he started on the bridge. As he put his foot down on the wood and it made a sound he started to snort. I took a deep breath and tried to pass all my confidence down to him. And it worked! He marched over it like a little trooper. At the barrels he picked up the wrong lead! I was so mad. There went my chance of winning! I was so mad that I almost forgot to stop at the second barrel! Luckily my little dressage pony was listening to me so when I used my aids to ask for a downward he dropped right down to the walk.

Of course now that he was snorting and blowing it was time to get the rain coat. Phoenix turned to face as it blew in the wind and it took a lot of coaxing to get him close enough to grab it. As soon as it was in my hands he settled right down. The T was not so pretty because Phoenix does not like to back (he would prefer not to use his hind end thank you very much) but at least it was clean. I figured we still had a chance of pinning as we came up to the ground poles. My lazy, of course, had to hot everyone the whole way through. Sigh. We now had two movements with poor scores instead of just one. I got a little too close to the mailbox so I actually had to tip it back in order to get the mail out. That made everyone laugh! The gate was tricky. I ended up having to get it open and then back Phoenix through. As it came time to re-attach it Phoenix started to walk away! I was so shocked that I almost dropped it! Luckily I was able to get it back on in just a nick of time.

It was VERY fun to be able to do the class! I was all smiles watching the last group of people go. At the end they announced the results and Phoenix and I came in 3rd!!!! How great it that? My trainer actually ended up winning the class! Here it was an English/Western show and my dressage self and trainer ended up coming in 1st and 3rd. What a great feeling.

As I got off to wait for the unmounted trail class (Kristen…YOU ARE SO TAKING LAZ TO A SHOW…look for a place) I could not help but be proud of my fat spotted pony and myself. After waiting literally almost 2 hours it was finally our turn to go in the unmounted trail class. The pattern was more complicated this time involving tarps, jugs, and even a little pattern through cones. Right before it was our turn to go in a big gust of wind came along. The giant rainbow colored umbrella came flying out of its holder behind us. Phoenix, of course, came flying forward.

Phoenix spooks big so he literally jumped into me. I was not mad though because a giant rainbow umbrella blowing around behind you IS a scary thing! Phoenix repositioned himself so he could look over at it (he had turned himself 180 degrees) and was now hiding behind me and scared. He had his nose on my shoulder and so I talked to him and gave him lots of love for being such a good boy. He could tell I was not worried about it at all so he dropped his head in to my arms and took a big sigh. I wish someone had a picture of that moment. Phoenix was scared and he was looking to me for comfort. With me holding his head he could not see anything, which made him feel better. He knew I would protect him from the evil umbrella.

Since this happened right as we were called to go EVERYONE was watching us. Phoenix got TONS of “awwww”s for being such a mama’s boy. I gave him a couple of kisses and waited for the scary umbrella to be put back in its place before I told Phoenix he had to be a big boy and do his class now. Phoenix, understandably, was high as a kite as we walked over to the bridge for the trail class. He even spooked at the flowers that were on the bridge, the same flowers that had been there 2 hours ago when he walked over it. Next was the jug run, where Phoenix would only way. Hahaha…I had been hoping that him being up would mean he would want to go…no such luck! By the time we got half way through the course Phoenix was starting to calm down and focus.

We had made several mistakes so I knew that if we placed it would be out of luck. As we approached our final obstacle, the trap,  Phoenix was wary. The tarp was held down by 2 PVC pipes so it was like walking into a flat blue chute. I really didn’t think Phoenix would have any issues with this so I just walked right next to it knowing he would follow. And follow he did…well…sort of. To avoid stepping on the scary blue tarp my little ballerina WAS WALKING ON THE PVC PIPE!!!!

As soon as it clicked in my brain what he was doing (how does a horse even get 3 legs on to a PVC pipe at the same time?!?!?!?!?!) I quickly made him go back, causing him to do half a rear and land on the tarp, which scared him and made him run backwards a few steps. At this point I was still laughing at his Shawn Johnson move so I gave him lots of pats and told him that I would walk over it with him. It would be counted as a Disqualification, but we had done so poorly that part didn’t matter. What mattered was that Phoenix knew it was okay. As soon as I got on the tarp he looked down and started walking over it to.

I loved him more finishing that trail course then I did before it.

He tried so hard. My little Phoenix was a total Rockstar. And everyone loved him for it! We had a break of 5 classes before it was time to get back on and do our pleasure classes.  I planned on spending that whole time tell Phoenix what a good boy he was.

To Be Continued…

The Fun Horse Show – Part 2

Part 1

I knew that I had to do something because clearly I was not getting into that spot. My options were to try and get in the spot I wanted with less weight or to try and back out. Considering there was about no chance of me backing down that driveway I had a brilliant idea. I would just unload Phoenix. My only problem was that while there were a good 20 people staring at me at this point, I did not know ANY of them! So me being me, and Phoenix being Phoenix I rolled down my window and asked a total stranger to hold my horse. Who does that EVER besides me? I promised he would be good. Some poor innocent stranger (who did not look like she believed me) came over to the trailer to hold him.

Sure enough my superstar 6 year old came off the trailer like a pro and let a total stranger hold him. He did not even try for grass because he new better. As this poor bystander (I don’t even know if this person has horse experience) held my boy I closed up my trailer and went to try and park again. Luckily, getting that 1,200 pounds off the trailer did the trick and I pulled through no problem just as my trainer showed up with her niece…and a full trailer.

My trainer had not only brought her niece and her pony, she brought her own horse! My trainer had dragged her 4th level warmblood to this back yard show. I could not help but laugh with excitement because I knew this was going to be TONs of fun now. A day with my trainer and a very cute 8 year old plus ponies…there was no way NOT to have fun at this point.

Since I now had my Phoenix attached to me I had to wait for them to check in so they could hold my fat spotted superstar. The check in area was right by the ring and it was filled with things that only this show could pull off. There was a giant rainbow umbrella by the food stand, a pink grass skirt like umbrella by the secretaries stand, and just pink and purple awesomeness everywhere! As I checked in the show secretary was nice as can be and just said over and over again how happy she was with the turnout and she just kept thanking me for coming. And then she saw my fat spotted supestar his head in my trainer’s sister-in-law’s lap and could not get over what a cute mush he was.

After tearing myself away from all those complements (there were lots of them!) we all had just enough time to get ready for our first class. The trail class! I think my trainer, her niece, and I all just about died when we looked at the pattern on paper. Here I was thinking this was a back yard show…how hard could the trail class be? The answer…HARD! Want to know what they thought we should be able to do?

Walk over a wooden bridge, walk to barrel 1, gallop from barrel 1 to barrel 2, immediately walk at barrel 2, walk over to a standard with a rain coat on it. Pick up the rain coat, place it in front of the saddle for at least 5 seconds. Take if off and place it back on the standard, walk over to a T made out of poles. Walk in the T and then back out. Walk over ground poles to a mail box where you have to have two front legs over a pole while you take mail out to show to the judge. Put the mail back in and then go over to a rope gate which you have to open and go through.

My trainer and I almost died laughing when we read that. I figured Phoenix and I would probably make it to the bridge and that would be about it. My trainer wasn’t even sure she would be able to get her horse in the ring, let alone through the obstacles! They called us to do the course in order, and since we had checked in last we were not going until the end.

Since this course was a bit on the elaborate side it was taking each person a good 5 minutes to complete it with no mistakes. For people who were getting stuck at an obstacle…well, let us just say that the trail class ran FOREVER!!! By the time it was my trainers turn we had all been standing around for over an hour. Seeing my trainer laugh as her upper level horse tried to get out of going over the bridge made me almost fall off laughing myself. She made him get over it and there was not a problem for the rest of the trail course. Her horse tends to be on the hot side so no one was more surprised to see her have a clean course than her!

Seeing her do so well gave her niece and I courage to try and rock it out ourselves. Right after my trailer came through the gate with a big smile on her face my number was called. Phoenix is great out on the trails. My trainer was fine in the trail class. As I sat there ready to walk in I started to psyc myself up. We were not just going to do this trail course…we were going to WIN this trail course! I took a deep breath and headed over to the bridge…

To Be Continued.

The Fun Horse Show – Part 1

So I am sure I am not the only person in the world who drives by a barn on the way to work. Being the good online horse person I am, I always check out websites to barns I think are interesting. How could I not look up a barn with a pink and purple sign and a matching house? I bet most of you would have also! That was when I found out that they have fun shows! They actually called it a fun show! Add that to the fact that this farm is literally less than 3 miles from where Phoenix lives and I knew I had to go!

I took one look at the prize list and got super excited. Why? Because they had a trail class!!!! I was so signing up for that! They also had an unmounted trail class, which I have never done but was going to give it a try anyway. I figured that there was no way I could hang in an eq class so that meant the only other classes I could do were the pleasure classes. That was plenty good enough for me. I called my trainer and told her that she needed to bring her niece to the show. The poor thing is only 8 years old and is taking riding WAY too serisouly these days. She needed a fun show just as much as I did!

The weather was going to be perfect for the show, low 70s and partly cloudy. I decided the night before that I was going sans jacket and just going to wear a polo shirt instead. To make up for that I figured I better braid my Fat Spotted Pony. Since the show did not start until 1 and there was an inhand class before trail I figured getting to the barn at 10am would be tons of time to bath and braid. Being able to sleep in makes any show a good show so by the time I got to the barn I was already in a crazy good mood. Even Phoenix, who was not loving all the traveling we have been doing as of late, seemed in better spirits.

After cleaning him up and getting my trailer I was running early, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to get to the show ahead of scheduale right? My trainer called to say she was on her way with the pony…and her horse. My trainer has been having a hard time getting back into riding since having her baby. She thought that a fun show would be the perfect thing for her to get her mojo back. I told her over the phone that I could not agree more. By the time I dove all 8 minutes down the road I was over the moon excited. This was going to be just like old times.

I pulled into the driveway of the farm and started heading down a clearly marked path for trailer parking. They even had someones husband out there smiling and making sure we could follow the signs. I feel in love with this little horse show right then and there. As I turned into the field for parking I noticed two things, the first of which was the fact that there were WAY more people there then expected. The second thing I noticed was that they had only mowed half the field and not a lot of spots were left.

I surveyed my options and decided that a pull through spot on the end was the best way to go. My only problem was to get to the pull through I needed to drive over the unmowed part of the field. That might not be a big deal for most people, but my little truck is not 4 wheel drive (I learned my lesson. 4 wheel drive next time). I started to go on the unmowed part and my little truck kept going. I took a deep breath and smiled. My little truck was going to make it!

It was right as my stupid grin hit my face that I started to turn…and my truck started to slip. Yikes! My tires were spinning and I wasn’t going anywhere! I, as I think most people would, dropped a few choice curse words and looked around to see who had spotted me. Unfortunately, because the show had just started and everyone was clustered in the same area the answer to that question was EVERYONE was watching me. I turned beet red and threw the truck in reverse. Luckily the truck did go backwards so I backed up and took a deep breath before I put it in drive again.

As I started to go forward my truck started to slip AGAIN. I could have died on the spot. Here I was at a show I have never been to and I was stuck and making a scene!

To Be Continued…

The No Go Horse Show – Part 2

As I walked out of the indoor I felt bad for the show organizer than anything else. Looking at all those people who were ready show had me doing some mental math and she was definitely loosing lots of money. I do not show hunters so I have no idea if it is normal for a judge to not show up or not, but I did know that meant I did not have to squeeze in my super tight hunt coat and I had just saved myself $120 in entry fees so even though I lamented the lack of ribbons, I was pretty happy overall. Phoenix was still a little up when he got out of the trailer so we figured it was bet to lunge him before I got on (not something I usually do).

The one thing that was very clear was that my stupid hunt saddle was not helping the situation. It was all padded up and still not even close to fitting Phoenix. I was kicking myself for trying to play the part of a Hunter and not bringing my dressage tack along! Seeing that although Phoenix was looky, he was okay, I decided to head over to the indoor unmounted first and let him look around. One thing I noticed right away about this show was that people were either super friendly, or not nice at all. I was keeping my eyes and ears open for Susan trying to figure out who she might be. It was when I saw a car pull up the drive way and stop every 10 feet talking to one person or another and a woman behind the wheel with a big smile on her face that I turned to the Young Rider and said “That has to be her” the Young Rider answered back asking how I could tell just as the smiling woman called out my name. Hahaha…I answered back that I could tell because she was just like me!

Susan went to park while I walked with Phoenix into the dark indoor. I could tell that inside Phoenix was having a heart attack. The good thing was that he was totally internalizing his feelings so besides the fact that his eyes were saucers and his back was tight he was okay. I made sure to fuss over him and tell him he was a good boy for not being stupid. After chatting my way around the ring several times I figured that he was being good enough that I just needed to get on. All I wanted was for him to relax and we would call it a day.

As I went to get on, I eyed my hunt seat saddle suspiciously. I had not touched it in almost a year and it was looking like it fit him even worse than the last time. I pushed those negative thoughts aside and put my foot in the stirrup. That was right about the same time that the saddle started to slide left. I had the choice of trying to climb on or jumping back down and hope that my foot would come out of the stirrup. I decided to try and get on. As soon as Phoenix felt the saddle going and my weight coming he skooched forward. In the past that would lead to a quick turn, followed by a bolt and of course some leaping. I was scrambling (rather unsuccessfully I might add) to get on before he took off. The strangest thing happened though…Phoenix stopped. He didn’t do ANYTHING bad. He put his nose to the wall. That second of still was all I needed to actually get on him.

The Young Rider looked like she saw a ghost and I just started laughing. No one else had any idea how close that was to being a bad accident! I don’t know when Phoenix grew up, but he did. The weirdest part was that my saddle which had just slipped at least 6 inches sideways had come back almost to dead center. Still laughing at my close call (can you imagine if I got myself killed trying to MOUNT at a HUNTER SHOW…I would never have been able to live it down) I started to ride around. Phoenix was tense so I worked extra hard to use what I learned from the clinic the day before. Sure enough it worked and in no time flat we were trotting around on a nice light contact. Phoenix still did not feel 100% relaxed, but he was so much better that when we got the boot because the lead line class was coming in (you don’t need a “real” judge for that class) I decided to call it a day.

I quickly untacked Phoenix and turned my trailer around and reloaded him (it took two tries to get him on…not normal) and set about getting to know Susan’s ADORABLE horse Jupiter. Phoenix got TONS of compliments for good behavior both when I was riding him and when he was hanging out in the trailer. Everyone was so impressed at how good he was. It made me laugh because while Phoenix has always been good, the fact that I take him all over and that I have taught him out and about is fun and not scary has really turned him into an easy horse. I give all the credit to Lexi on that one. He taught me how it should be so I could teach Phoenix.

After a little more socializing I could see that the Young Rider was fading so I hastily said good-bye to Susan and got ready to head home. I carefully pulled back out through the cars (I learned after I checked in that horse trailers can pull around the barn and park on dirt instead of grass and cars…all well) trying not to hit the BMW that was close to my exit turn. I left the farm with a HUGE smile on my face. It was without a doubt a good experience. Not only was I able to go to two horsey events in two days and not have a problem, I was able to work with Phoenix through his nerves making sure he had a positive experience as well. We also had NO ISSUES in the indoor! Plus I made a friend in Susan (who promises she will come down and meet Gen someday now). That day turned out NOTHING like I thought it would, but I still had fun and learned a lot. I swear both Phoenix and I walked out of there with giant egos because we got so many compliments. It was a good reminder that life might not always turn out the way you want it, but it will turn out the way you need it to.

The No Go Horse Show – Part 1

The No Go Horse Show

So because my blogging has been sporadic as of late I am FINALLY getting around to writing up my little hunter show experiment from the day after the clinic (it has been 9 days already!). Why did I decide to do a show the day after a clinic? Well, there were a couple of reasons. One, I was starting to feel indoor phobic again with Phoenix. Knowing that there was a good chance that I might show in the indoor at Memorial Day I knew that was an issue I had to address. The second reason was because I was worried about showing two days in a row at Memorial Day. I figured that I could prove to myself that I would be okay if I did a clinic and a show in the same weekend. The third reason why I went to the show and didn’t just go somewhere to school in an indoor was because it is me…I love my ribbons and I had already given my notice so I figured that I should just give a hunter show the old college try. Sounds like fun right?

Well, the night after the clinic I was thinking not so much. I was sunburned and exhausted Saturday night. I thought about bailing on the show, but the Young Rider was having none of it. She even offered to braid Phoenix herself because she knew it would be a good thing for me to go to. After promising she would come and groom for me and make me laugh I tried to get a good night’s rest. All too soon my alarm went off. My body was aching, especially my core and shoulders, from actually riding correctly the day before. It took a lot of will power and some homemade blueberry muffins to get me out the door. As soon as I rolled down the window and smelled the sweet spring air my bad mood lifted and I was excited.

I knew that the only chance I would place at the show was if there were under 6 people in my class. For once, ribbons seemed secondary. I was going to have a fun day. It was beautiful out, I was going on an adventure, the Young Rider was going with me, and coolest of all was the fact that one of my readers boarded at the barn where the show was so I was FINALLY going to get to meet her! When I opened the top door to Phoenix’s stall I could tell right away he was going to be a little bit harder to convince. He had been a little tense all weekend and as soon as he saw the water going for yet another bath he gave me a look that told me he had HAD IT.

I knew that if I was tired and sore, he must be too. I promised him that I wouldn’t ask much of him, he just had to go and be a good boy in the indoor. After his third bath in as many days I can say that he was glowing white. The Young Rider, true to her word, came by and braided him all up and was so fast that for once all season I WAS EARLY! Phoenix had some trouble with the trailer. He was a little thrown off by getting on to the right the day before and add to that someone mowing with a tractor right next to him and it was not a good start. He actually flew off the trailer backwards (for the first time ever) and did so dramatically enough that he cut a huge chunk out of his boots (better his boots then his leg).

I was starting to have second thoughts…Confidence booster? Maybe I was out to ruin our confidence instead. I really started to second guess myself as we put the butt bar up and he started to panic rocking the trailer backwards and forwards. Not wanting to let him pick up on any of my nerves I quickly snapped him in and got into the truck. The Young Rider took one look at my face that was filled with panic and told me to calm down. The reason Phoenix is okay at new places is because I am okay at them. I had a 25 minute ride to remind myself that yes, it was okay!

By the time we showed up my confidence was fully restored. I have driven past this barn many times, but never actually turned in the driveway before. As with all new places you go slow and look around for a place to park. I saw a relatively narrow opening that said show parking, so I slowly pulled in. It was a field, but not a very big one and it was already packed with cars. My first thought was, “damn, there goes my hope of small classes” and my second was, “We better check in and see what class they are on”. As I asked around to see where the registration table was I was met with odd news. People seemed unsure if the show was going to happen.

This was extra odd because I showed up at 11:30 and the show was supposed to start at 9am. I saw people all around in show clothes so I hoped that it would happen. When I got to the table though I was greeted with not so good news. I was told that the show was indeed canceled because the judge had never shown up. One look at the show organizers face told me that I had to take this fact with grace because the poor woman looked at her wits end. She apologized profusely and told me to feel free to come in the indoor and school at no charge. She felt terrible that I had come all the way out for nothing.

To Be Continued…