Western day dawned bright and clear, with Amber considerably less temper tantrum-ish than she was the day before. Everything was pretty much ready to go, and she walked right on in. Good girl. She announced herself once again before hopping off, and I had the miraculous ability (again) to grossly misjudge time, so we got there, tacked her up, changed, and had about 5-10 minutes to warm up for ranch riding. Yeesh.
She was still a bit tense and nervous, but like the smarty-pants she is, she knew it was western day. We got a nice jog going, and while she was high-headed and tense in the canter, in ranch riding they don’t want a headset like the current reiners – they want the horse’s head up and eyes in front of them and paying attention. So that means noses not perpendicular to the ground. Which meant our current status worked out in our favor.
Unfortunately, since I was rushed hopping on, I forgot my phone and to ask if anyone would be willing to video for me. My mom was announcing for the club since they needed volunteers, so she wasn’t able to get much. One of the ladies there did take a live fb video of my ranch riding pattern, and took one of my reining pattern, too, so hopefully I’ll be able to get those from her and show you guys.
Ranch riding she walked in, perky ears and a ground covering walk. Again she was looky, but I didn’t correct her. Just went about my business, and I swear that horse multi-tasks because she was looking at horses on the other side of the arena but did this gorgeous sidepass to the right. After our turns and we loped off, I thought about asking her to go a little faster, but decided against it. She was looking at things but just felt very relaxed, and I’d much rather have that. I want her to think shows aren’t The Big Bad, so we just eased to the middle, did an okay simple change and nailed our halt and back up.
Even going easy on things, we still got 3rd place out of 9! I was very pleased with her. We were one of the only ones really dressed up – most of the others were wearing jeans, short chaps, vests and whatnot, and I showed up in my fringe suede chaps and uber sparkly shirt, but that was mainly for the reining and the horsemanship classes that I was just melding my outfits into the other classes.
Next up was reining, and I was just tickled pink with her the whole pattern. Her right spin was great. I misjudged and we got a penalty for an overspin, but her left was just beautiful as well. We had some trot steps going into the lope (which is another penalty), but we were just loping the circles nice and easy and she was doing really well. Not much of a fast/slow difference, but that hadn’t been my goal during the ride anyway, so we didn’t get many points there. I had to simple lead change left-to-right since that’s her bad side, so that was another penalty, but she was just really game and relaxed and listening to the right circles. We put in a bit of a change of fast/slow pace, and at that one I thought “I’m just gonna try that lead change; what the hell”. And she did it! I haven’t been going over changes with her, and her right-to-left is always easier, but she has a hard time when I’m sitting down in the saddle. She also just doesn’t quite understand yet that I’ll ask for it occasionally, but I just sidled her to the right, put my outside leg on her and steered to the left, and she changed! Not together, but hell, I was just happy the hind end even fixed itself! Good girl!
The judge had to have seen me smiling because my grin was just enormous as I passed her to start our rundowns. Those were very measured, not fast, and she still slid a few feet as one person who watched told me. Our rollbacks were more slow 180 turns and she trotted out of one, so a few more penalties, but man she was just being great. On our turn to our last rundown, I kept feeding her the reins, and she just kept lowering her head and feeling fantastic. As we headed down I really wanted to ask her to step up the pace because I knew if she did she’d slide, but I had to tamp that down and we came to a nice collected halt. I almost missed the back-up, but we finally completed our first ever scored reining pattern. It felt really good. I even had on the never-used white polos I’d bought specifically for when we did our first reining show. It was a bit nostalgic, but it was also even better because I wasn’t showing a random horse – I was showing Amber.
I hopped off of her and gave her all the love she deserved. They called our scores, and I got a 58 1/2; not a very good score (since 70 is the baseline/average score) but it was good enough to get us 4th. I was just as happy as I could be with her with what little practice we’d actually had, so I thought 4th out of 5 was just fine.
We had a long break to our horsemanship class, so I just walked her around a bit, gave her some water, and then stood there. With those two intense patterns I figured rest would be good for her, and it was. She got pretty nervous when we went back into the ring for our pattern, but there were 7 other pairs in that one, and we were last to go, and just like before, the standing helped her relax.
Our pattern was good – not where I wanted it and not what we’re capable of, but the judge liked it and we placed 1st out of 7! I swear, guys, this little girl and her heart of gold. She got many more face loves and we got geared up to do the Youth club sponsored fun class! It was – get ready for it – putting on makeup horseback. Yup. It was an absolute blast. There were two guys in there too, and at the walk we had to apply eyeshadow, and then apply lipstick at the jog. It was definitely one of my favorite fun classes the club has put on so far!
After that we had a relaxing lunch break before tacking up again for our last class – western dressage intro. Thankfully, there were a lot more people entered in the class – around 5 or 6. I was third to go, and again had my mom call for me. Again, the judge was extremely fair. She gave us points where we deserved them (I mean, an 8 for my halt!), and dinged us in the walk again. She gave us a 5 and I can understand that since Amber was sore and her right hind wasn’t tracking up nearly as much as her left. But, I feel we’re never going to get over a 6 or 6.5 perhaps because her back legs just don’t really overstep like that, and it’s due to the way she’s made. So I’m fine with that.
But as you notice – no comments on the corners! I very much took her previous comments to heart, tried to bend into my corners, NOT overshoot center line again lol, and yet I STILL missed something at the end – I completely spaced on where G was lol. So I was short. But hey, it was an awesome test. I mean a 26? Wow!
It actually made me happy that at the end of our test she wrote that Amber “needs more energy” lol. And for English she said that Amber had nice rhythm and energy. I couldn’t be more pleased with Amber because while that was actually a faster jog than we normally do, it means that she knows exactly what the different tack means. Such a good pony mare!
So for the end of the show, we managed a 3rd, a 4th, and two 1sts for Sunday. It was a great show and learning experience, but I think my favorite part was at the end as I was filming a fellow rider, and Amber passed out. I mean, legit passed out. I cheered very loudly at the end of the ride, and poor girl jumped and was startled awake. Oh, Amber.
Our next show is in 3 weeks, so I’m hoping we can make some more improvement by then!