When we got to the show she refused to back out of the trailer. We had been working on this and she was doing pretty well, but for some reason this time it was not happening. After 45 minutes of trying I finally let her have her way. She turned around inside and did her signature vault out of the trailer Probably should not have let her do it, but I did want to be saddled and warmed up before the show was over. We will revisit this issue again very soon, trust me.
I opted not to put her in any halter classes, but rather saddled her and rode her around the grounds during those classes. She was a nervous wreck, the wind was blowing and everything was terrifying. There was no real warm up arena, just a clear spot in the surrounding desert to lope little circles in. It was terribly rocky, so I opted to move to the area where they often hold equine driving events, and although the ground wasn't super soft, it was atleast rock free, and we did some trotting and slow loping over there.
She finally started to calm down, and we rode up and watched some of the events. In between classes we were able to go into the arena and acclimate ourselves. Everything was terrifying to her. The barrels outside the fence, the grandstand, the trail obstacles on one end..EVERYTHING! Finally I got tired of her shenanigans, and smacked her with the reins and she realized that fake fear was not going to get her very far. She quickly settled right down. For the rest of the day if she started her signature "I don't like it" Shimmy Back up, she got smacked on the butt. After all, she is a seasoned show horse, and I expect her to atleast pretend to act like one.
Once we got past all of that it was time to start showing. We started with Western Pleasure, and got first place, I was totally shocked. (on facebook I said we got second, but we actually did get first, I just got confused) In horseman ship I had studied the wrong pattern, but the judge recognized that although I did the wrong pattern I did do the pattern I did correctly, and there for gave us 4th.
Then we did Western Reining. There were 2 "big time" reining horse trainers there with a couple of colts they had been working with. They actually tied for 2nd place and Melody and I got 3rd. She did pretty well except that I really have to push her to keep the momentum going for out large circles. Other than that, she was divine! Gorgeous stops, perfect spins, good roll backs, correct leads.just lovely!
Then they announced that rather than do the Ranch Reining later and have to clear the arena all over again, they would do those classes back to back. Melody was the last horse to go in western reining and the second horse to go in Ranch Reining. Which meant she had to do back to back patterns, and I had to remember back to back patterns.
She was still huffing from the last run when we entered for the next one. I didn't push her as hard this time, letting her big fast circles be a little slower, and her slow circles were really slow. I still had to really coax her but she kept going and I was very proud of her.
She really gave it her all, and it almost seemed as though she was starting to enjoy herself. She did a fabulous pattern, although I thought that I had made a few mistakes by rolling back the wrong way, or asking for the wrong lead. The 2 reining horse people left before this class because they didn't like the ground, so it was just us amateurs this time around. One of my friends was also in the class and I thought for sure she hat nailed. I watched what I considered to be the perfect pattern, and her horse looked gorgeous. I was very happy for her, as I walked my horse to the trailer for a snack and a drink.
Over the loud speaker I heard, "AND THE WINNERS FOR RANCH REINING ARE #130 HEATHER FOR 4TH, #135 JD FOR 3RD, #126 HEIDI IS 2ND, AND #124 CINDY IS 1ST. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR RIDERS"
Okay...yeah...I realize it is a little open show with a maximum of about 6 people in each class, if that. But still it was a big deal to me, because we didn't fall apart, and we actually brought home a couple of ribbons. It was our first time together competing as a team....and we didn't suck.
The sucking part came later!
I had tied Melly to the trailer after that. We knew that there were semis coming in with rough stock for the next event. My horses are used to semis, so I wasn't concerned. However, I turned around right after the announcements to see a big rig pulling in past my trailer, directly behind my horse.
While she is used to semis, having one come that close while she is tied was a recipe for disaster. I was trying to determine if I could do a running slide under the stock trailer to get to Melly before she freaked out. The truck was going just fast enough that I didn't think I could make it without getting stuck under his wheels so I opted to run around the back.
I was talking to my horse the whole time telling her I was coming, that it was going to be okay (but not really convinced that it was) and that I wouldn't let them run her over. When I got around to her side she was pinned up against the trailer sideways. Her eyes were the size of saucers, and I could tell she was trying to figure out her escape route. I believe she figured that straight up was her best bet. If she had not moved, the dumb ass driver would have been about a foot behind her butt!
Now I realize that he needed to take the path he did in order to make a wide turn, but seriously???? Would it have been so hard to give me a chance to move my horse, or to even ask someone else to move her? Its not like there weren't people all around.
I yelled a litany of obscenities at the driver, who never even looked back to see if my horse was ok, untied my horse and got her the hell out of there just in time for the next truck who literally would have hit her if I had not gotten her out of the way.
I expect my horses to put up with stuff. I expect them to handle vehicles driving past them, I expect them to trust that humans will protect them. These jerks did not have any concern about my horse's well being. They were pissed off that we were still having our show while they needed to be unloading stock.
Once we calmed down from that, it was time for our final class. Actually we had had two classes but I scratched from one because it required trotting over poles (which I didn't realize when I signed up) and I needed to give her a break after the reining classes. Since I knew we would break pattern anyway, I opted to take care of my horse (who promptly got the beejeezus scared out of her) over placing last.
The final class was Ranch Riding, and was a pattern that was so complicated none of us could remember it, however the very nice judge called out each move a head of time. The bad part was that it was done right in the midst of all the trail obstacles, so while we did not have to execute any trail obstacles we had to navigate through them.
The diva lost her mind.
You'd have thought I beat her with a pole or something. She was snorting and bug eyed at everything! I finally spanked her and made her trot past the poles and to and from the various cones. It was awful. Still we survived, even when the judge laughed at her staring at things and doing her "I don't like this" nose wiggle.
He thought she was hilarious.
I guess we did have one more class after that, which was working the flag (in lieu of a cow). Melly was pretty much done for the day I could tell. She will watch the flag but she won't work it like a cow. It isn't anywhere near the same thing for her. She was slow and sluggish on her feet by then. It was fine, it was a long day for an old girl. I am pretty sure that except for some of the horses that the youngsters were riding, she was the oldest horse there. Even with that she held her own, and as far as I am concerned she was a total rock star that day.
Here are some of the pictures that the professional photographer took.
|I'd like to mention that I was the only one in either|
reining class who rode in a shanked bit. Everyone else
had snaffles so they could ride with 2 hands.
Even the big time reining trainers.
|Starting a run down I think|
|After one of the reining classes|
|My friend Heidi and I. Her horse is Latte|
|She looks much calmer than she was|
All in all we had a great time, I cannot wait to do it again, and I hope that next time I can take Trax too!