Although we’ve been to lots of horse shows over the years, today marks the first day we’re participating in an event class. Specifically, I’m running Romeo in the barrels. Here I am the morning of the event, nervous and realizing I wish I had spent more time practicing. But I promised myself I’d do this and I know it will be good experience for me and Romeo. He is experienced so he mostly knows what to do. It’s a matter of me being able to give him the right cues at the right times.
Having never been to a show as a participant, I’m amazed at what goes into preparation. If you’re a regular participant, you already know this but you can’t really just load and go. That’s especially true for the first show of the season. There’s tack to clean, a horse to clean, making sure…well, let me make a list:
Check horse trailer for wasp nest. (I almost learn this the hard way last year)
Check tires on horse trailer for proper inflation and dry rot/wear
Clean tack (watch for wasps!)
Assemble grooming kit for show grooming
Locate Coggins papers (can’t trailer without them)
Find my bumper spurs (and straps)
Run through a list of all tack needed and load into tack trunk
Charge camera batteries and remember to bring them
Get cash for entry fee, class fees and concession stand (we’ll be there a long time)
Load hay and a bring water bucket
Bring lawn chairs (sitting on the ground gets old)
Bring umbrella (chance of rain today)
Optional but maybe bring a cooler and sodas
That list may not look bad but some of those things take time, like cleaning tack. I’m glad the show isn’t until 3 PM because I need some time to run through this list.
Spring 2010 is less than a week away now and the weather is noticeably warmer. While buying feed the other day, I saw another sure sign of spring – a local horse show event schedule. I’ve been saying for a while “this is going to be my year!” but this year I’m serious about it. We have beautiful horses and relative youth on our side but none of us is getting any younger. Sure, we love to ride trails but I’d like to push our horses and ourselves a little more and learn something new. So we’ve asked a gaited horse trainer to help get us all into shape. Now we’re not talking about big fancy horse shows, though those can be fun. We are talking about local shows where you don’t have to show up with a $50,000 horse trailer and flawless fur. It’s in local shows you don’t have to worry about being the newbie, you just need to worry about having some fun. Plus, our two Tennessee Walking Horses, Cash and Valentine, have very nice natural walking horse gaits.
Our first official lesson was supposed to be yesterday but as frequently happens in east Tennessee, we were rained out. At least Cash was groomed. So instead, we spent some time learning about the different show classes, what’s expected and how we can prepare for them. For example, some exercises like butt lifts (lying down and lifting your legs and rear into the air for a few seconds) help prepare your back muscles. Also, balance improvement by riding bareback in the ring. I feel like I have good balance on a horse but I’m winter-green and could always use some improvement. Our trainer also suggested riding in a round pen with our arms out and heads back (it’s safer having some help guiding the horse). Apparently it’s harder than it sounds and we expect to find out on a clear day this week.
We’re looking at the following gaited classes: Open Gaited Pleasure, Go As You Please Gaited, Novice All Age Walk Pleasure and possibly Open Gaited Trail & Pattern but maybe later in the year, as we’ll need to practice a bit more for that class. Additionally, I’m still planning to run Romeo in the barrels, Mikki will run Cash in exhibition poles and we’re considering the Costume Class for Romeo or Cash. Fun!
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At the horse show, this weekend, Mikki and I made an interesting social observation. There are very few boys/men riding at these shows. It’s true. I’d guess 85% of the participants are female and all the boys/men were constantly surrounded by cute girls/women. Our son is only 10 but when the time comes for him to be interested in girls, I’m going to suggest he ratchet up his interest in horses, too. It’s nearly a perfect dating scenario. Horses are masculine but also feminine. Guys look tough on horses and girls like horses and guys who look tough. It’s easy to date someone who is interested in similar topics, such as horses. Chemistry can develop when you’re involved in some friendly competition at a show. And supply versus demand gives guys the edge. Eighty-five percent! Why aren’t more guys into this sport!?
A friend invited us to a local horse show this weekend where her kids were competing. We are now fairly certain we want to show our horses. We’re not interested in the super fancy dress-up shows, not that there is anything wrong with that. But this local show was right up our alley. Come as you are, show what you’ve got. 43 classes, a few of which either had no participants or only one participant. Mikki is interested in the Walking Horse and gaited classes for Valentine and I’m interested in trying Moonshine out as a barrel racer. Again, local shows, small purse, light competition. But it sure looked like fun!
I know we have some work to do but Valentine is an ex-show horse, to begin with and has quite a striking appearance. Moonshine’s talent seems to be her ability to run like the wind. Our horse friend offered to cart our horses to some shows with them since we don’t have our own trailer. I need a helmet!
Yesterday Mikki and I worked with our very willing horses. We rode both of them some, practiced saddling, mounting and helping them stay focused despite distractions like kids on bicycles and dogs barking. I think that show was just the motivation we needed to get our horses (and us!) into shape.