Monday, August 15, 2011

Spruce View Horse Show

WARNING: This post turned out to be really, REALLY long. Here's the show summary:
 Showmanship - 2nd
 English Pleasure - 2nd
English Equitation - 2nd
Western Pleasure - 1st
Western Equitation - 1st
Command Class - 4th
Water Race - 4th
Egg and Spoon Race - 1st

Feel free to stop reading now!


Saturday my family and I went to the Spruce View Horse Show. Scarface hasn't been to a show in over 3 years, so it was a bit of a warm-up show for the dressage schooling shows I'm planning on going too before school gets busy in the fall. The caliber of horses wasn't too high at this little open show, mostly young horses or ranch horses or gymkana horses or both/all three, so our placing are pretty high, even when our performances were less than stellar.
My nieces who are 6, 7 and 8 were out from Manitoba for a few weeks, so they rode all week to prepare to ride in the show. My oldest niece Cassie rode my old, mostly-retired horse Hootie. He was an absolute angel for her (except for in showmanship - he's always a brat in-hand). She ended up winning the high-point award for the 8 and under age group, which is pretty impressive for her first show! Having a well training horse really helped, but her equitation pattern was bang on and was actually better than mine (more on that later). My youngest niece, Kylee, also rode Hootie in the lead-line classes.

I let my middle niece, Clara, ride Scarface in some of the PeeWee walk-trot classes. He was so good for her! I never thought of Scarface as a kid's horse because he can be pretty spooky and silly. But luckily Clara's classes (except showmanship, which was a bit messy) were in the afternoon, after Scarface was less nervous. Scarface loves being a walk-trot horse! For one thing, my niece weighs about a 1/3 of what I do, plus she never really asks him to do anything but walk and jog on the rail. He ignored her floppy hands and legs and just jogged and walked along the rail. I'm not sure how things would go if she would have had to ride a pattern, since he is so leg-trained and her legs are so much shorter than mine. Anyway, she had a blast and in her 5 classes managed to win one ribbon of every colour, which she thought was awesome!

On to Scarface and I. The night before the show, Scarface was acting really nervous and upset. I guess he knew something was up when he had to have a bath and sleep in the barn instead of out in the field with his buddy Teto. When we arrived at the show ground Saturday morning, Scarface was a bit nervous, but really not too bad. We got all ready for showmanship (in-hand) and heading to the arena. That's when the trouble started. Scarface was terrified of the indoor arena because it was dark and kind of loud and brand new. He danced all around in showmanship whenever I asked him to stand. Amazingly, we ended up getting 2nd out of 6 horses, mostly because all the other horses were nervous too and all the parts of our pattern that didn't involve standing still were pretty good (including a trot circle where I was on the outside and had to almost sprint to keep him from breaking). Even when he stepped out during inspection, I kept smiling. I guess it's still drilled into me from my days of bigger shows.

In our english classes, there was one girl there on a big Hanoverian jumping horse, riding in the show as a warm-up for her jumping show on Sunday (I guess my dad talked to her). Her horse was happy and calm, while Scarface was worried, so we were right behind her in both the english pleasure and equitation. Our pleasure was not so great because my niece showed Scarface in showmanship immediately before my englsih pleasure class. I assumed there would be a break between the in-hand classes and the riding classes, but there wasn't. So we had to hold up the gate to do a quick tack change at the gate and then go right into the class with no warm-up what-so-ever. The combination of no warm-up and an already super nervous horse was not good and Scarface got super humpy on all our transitions into the canter. The judge missed most of the humpiness in the pleasure, but it was painfully obvious in our equitation pattern (only when I picked up the left lead, our right was actually pretty decent). But I made a point to smile through the left circle, even though my horse was all humpy and things weren't going great.

We ended up scratching from the trail class, mostly because Scarface was so nervous in the morning. Plus the day before my niece tried to do a rope gate with Scarface and things got all out of position and she didn't know to just let go of the gate and Scarface got really worried and upset. I wasn't there, so I'm not exactly sure what happened, but Scarface was still a bit worried about the gate when I rode him through it afterwards and would get worried about it if I didn't keep good contact with his mouth (usually I let him just stand around a lot when doing trail maneuvers so he doesn't start rushing through them). So this fear, combined with a super narrow metal gate with huge metal rails sticking out the bottom (a super easy place to get in trouble and have a wreck) and the fact that it was less of a traditional trail pattern and more of a collection of scary things (like a slicker and a mailbox and the aforementioned gate) made me decide just to scratch the class. It probably lost me the high point and it probably would have been ok, but I decided better safe than sorry.

Luckily, there was a break after the english classes (so the judge could eat lunch) and they left the arena open for riding. I was really on the ball and was there right after they cleared away the jumps (Scarface wasn't ready to jump in the show, but more on that another time), so I even got to ride in the arena by myself for a while. I worked Scarface a bit and did a few walk-canter transitions, but mostly I just walk him along the rail and left him start to feel more confident and comfortable in the arena. It helped a lot! He was better in my western classes (it still wasn't pretty). In the western pleasure, he was a bit humpy one way, but the judge's back was to us, so we managed to get first (once again, it was mostly against young and/or green horses)
. In our western equitation, we had to do a circle to the left and Scarface decided rather than just lope along in the circle, he was going to do this weird lope on the spot thing he does sometimes when he wants to be lazy. Our circle was a bit small for me to push him forward and I was more focused on making our circle round. But when I watched the video my dad took, it sure looked funny! My dad burst out laughing and actually rewound the video so we could watch it again. I might try to get it off my parents' video camera to post up, but it's pretty strange-looking. But all our lines were pretty straight and our circle was pretty round and we were sharp on the cones, so we managed to win the class. One 3 year=.-old had a huge blow-up at the pylons and refused to go near the second or third one (the first one wasn't too scary). I think it was it's first class (why you would do a pattern on a young horse but not rail work is kind of confusing, but whatever) so it also might have been scared of the far end of the ring.

After that we moved onto the game classes, which I went it just for fun and to let Scarface spend more time in the new arena. We had a command class, which I'm usually pretty good at, but by this time Scarface was pretty tired from me showing him, as well as his extra classes with my niece, so when we were asked to transition from the lope to the extending lope and I put my legs on him, he got pissed off and pinned his ears and broke to a trot. I pushed him back into a canter before stopping and heading to the middle. We ended up 4th out of about 7. Next was the water race (everyone gets a cup of water and at the end of the class, whoever has the most water left wins). I thought we would do well since Scarface is so smooth, but apparently I have shaky hands or something, because we only ended up 4th out of 6. Our last class was the egg and spoon race. It started off not very good. Everyone got their egg and spoon and we were all stopped and about to start when I adjusted my hand and my egg fell. Luckily, since we hadn't started moving yet, they let me pick up my egg and keep (start) going. And in the end, I won the class! I was pretty close to losing it a couple times, especially in our downwards transitions, since Scarface was tired and was more than happy to shut down from a lope to a stop in one stride. All-in-all a great end to a great day!

Sorry for the hugely long post, but it was a long day (with way too many tack changes)!

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