On to the good part everyone! Show day number 1!
Amber was staring at me wide-eyed as I finished preps on the truck and trailer. Like “oh shit, no I think I know what this is and I AM NOT HAPPY” because literally as soon as I started the truck, she leaped in the air and ran around her stall throwing a temper tantrum. I mean, really, horse.
So what did she get? Tied. And she sat there all upset for a while until I grabbed her boots and we walked on in to the trailer to get going. And we were running late too (which we ended up being fine) so I was hoping she was going to be the mare I usually ride and not some strange animal.
Either way, we got to the show grounds with plenty of time. I talked and chatted with a good friend for a bit, and that helped to calm my suddenly very crow-hoppy quarter horse. I don’t blame her though. It did get into the 50s overnight and she still has her summer coat. After a bit though I hopped on and she was pretty lit. A bit looky and tense in the trot, but I let her canter and sat up a bit. She got the zoomies out (which was like, nearly no zoomies at all) and then settled alright in the trot. She was definitely more comfortable in the canter than the trot, but after some work both ways, I stopped and stood there. I was worried about her fitness level as well as her hip being sore, so I didn’t want to get all the juice out and then make her keep going. Even when she’s lit she only gets tense. She still really tries to do everything for you, and if you just sit quiet and relaxed she comes back to you.
Our first class was just a HUS flat pleasure class. Personally, I think we look as lit as she felt, even though she really kept it together and was listening. The judge apparently really liked us and placed us first!
I felt bad about placing first because as you can see we broke gait (I told her good girl and she slowed lol), and it was also a bit intimidating because there were about 5-6 other horses in the class and you could hear some people gasp and a few murmurings when they announced me first but I digress. I took the ribbon anyway. She was a super judge though because she really took each class individually. It wasn’t a “I like this horse, and they’ll definitely be the best of this class” which I’ve seen many judges do, so I was pleased she assessed each and every class.
Which meant that she really dinged Amber and I for our jigging in the walk in the next class, which was jackpot. (Which I agree she should have because the first place horse didn’t jig). So we got second, and a total of $26 to put towards our bill. Yay lol.
It seemed the order of the day, though – being a carded USEF judge, I wasn’t surprised that she’d like the more uphill travel. Which I am actually happy about because I’ve been noticing AQHA HUS is just…ick. It’s as slow as western; I swear. But, that’s another topic for another day. She seemed to like us, but I really appreciated the fact that she always judged the class fairly. For our equitation pattern, she dinged us a bit (I think on the sitting trot at the end) and we ended up second. But Amber was really laying down some good stuff, so I was super pleased with her.
In between these classes I mostly just parked myself next to a friend, helped her gather up her confidence and just let us chill. Again, while she was tense, she was trying her little heart out, and while warming up would’ve gotten the tense out in her movements, I was more concerned with where her brain was headed. The standing helped relax her, and with each class she got less tense. Plus, Miss Thing only has so much energy, and I absolutely didn’t want to potentially make her sore by riding her a bunch.
The end of our equitation class marked the end of the morning for us, so I took her back to grab some food and take her tack off. After a short rest and lunch break, we tacked back up for our Dressage Intro Test B (and of course had to wear our sparkles!). She felt much calmer and perhaps a bit tired as we stepped into the arena, but the minute I asked for a trot, she gave me the energetic trot we’ve been working towards.
She was looky for our test, but again, the more still I am and the less nagging I do, the more she tries to fit into frame for you. Again I think most of her resistance in her face is due to her teeth right now, but we’ll get those done soon. But she was really superb, tried, and delivered for me. I can’t ask for more than that! I was sad looking at the test that she seemed really stabby on the right hind. I’m going to look more aggressively into that.
Reading the comments on the test, I was really heartened by this judge. She seemed to want to give us points for our tries and our good moments, as well as our “moving in the right direction” times, but she was also very honest and dinged us for where I messed up. Like at the end I WAY overshot centerline. Haha whoops. All in all, a very positive first test. I was a bit surprised by a score of 34 – I was expecting higher penalties like a 38 or into the 40s, but I’ll take it! We got first, but we were the only ones in the class, so….it’s fine lol.
It was a great first show day, though, so we packed all of our stuff and headed home. I have to admit it was so nice to be able to put the horses away, all the English tack got put away and could immediately go back in the house or tack room, and then it was so easy to pack the western stuff. Love having the horses at home. Quickly, I banded Amber’s mane for western (I know, I should’ve braided for English but I felt I didn’t have time), put her sheet on, and we were all set to go for western on Sunday.
Looking at the videos, though was nice to see that while we’re still very nose-out, the moments she comes into contact (and I’m not messing it up, either) are really starting to look nice. She has the basics of pushing with her butt, so now we just need to transfer that to the rest of her body for a better outline and perhaps a little more lift in her shoulders while taking into account her structural limitations. I’m excited to keep working at it!