I took a look at the schedule for Saturday and was a little preemptively nervous when I saw that the classes right before mine were trail in hand classes for miniature horses. Ezhno spent most of Friday afternoon staring out of his stall as the pleasure driving carts rattled by on their way to the arena, his eyes wide and his nostrils flared in a permanent snort. When I led him out for a lunge Saturday morning (after everyone went through the showmanship rigamarole again) he was better around the tiny horses, but still not completely sane.
But before our class there were sixty four others, and most of those were halter classes (AKA so boring to watch). I watched a few of the halter classes with some of my friends from the barn (and discovered the awesome scones at the Horse Play Cafe attached to the main arena), but I spent most of the morning hanging out with Ezhno (and tying him to a rafter when he wouldn’t stop trying to bulldoze past me while I cleaned his stall).
Originally I planned on doing my trail class (#164, OTAB Walk/Trot Trail All Ages English/Western) western, but Trainer M suggest I ride English so that I had two hands to manage Ezhno in case things went wrong (AKA my steering one handed sucks LOL). I like English more, but I feel more secure in a western saddle, so I spent most of my time after I warmed Ezhno up sticking close to Trainer A (while letting Ezhno stare at all of the miniatures that were plaguing the arena—it’s probably good that he ignores how nervous I get and does his own thing).
Unfortunately, the trail classes before mine took forever. By the time we were put into the holding area at one end of the main arena (with only a small amount of unease as the minis left), an hour or so had passed. I was hot, Ezhno was pissed off/bored, and he would not stop fidgeting. He’d start shifting his weight and wiggling, then I’d correct him, then he’d get mad and overdo the correction, and then I would have to jam my spur into his side to stop him from bashing into another person/horse.
By the time it was our turn to line up at the start of the course, my only goal was to avoid knocking over the whole gate. 😀
The person ahead of me (one of the riders going to Pinto Worlds, she was flawless) was finishing up their pattern while Ezhno and I quietly argued about the virtues of standing still next to the gate. When we finally got the nod to start I pulled my reins a little tighter, bunched them up in one hand, and unhooked the gate. Despite his attitude, Ezhno actually went through the gate and backed into place so that I could close it with a surprising amount of accuracy (if not a beautifully relaxed style).
Our weave was terrible (he trotted over the first ground pole and immediately decided that the obstacle could only be done at the walk, thankyouverymuch), but we picked the trot back up, halted at the start of the L, and then backed through it without any problems (only one moment where we were close to going outside of it and I put my spur in and he fixed it very quickly).
And then we trotted out of the L and I immediately forgot where the hell I was supposed to be going. I’d been so focused on taming Ezhno the Beast that I’d forgotten to think about the pattern, so I ended up having to yell that I was “a little lost” and take a big circle to reorient myself (the judges were very nice, one of the ladies even said, “That’s fine!”).
Despite feeling really silly, though, Ezhno redeemed us when we got back on track and came to the bridge. He pricked his ears forward, but didn’t ask any questions—he just went right over it, THANK GOD. It was such a relief to be done and even though we didn’t get any ribbons (obviously), I was very happy with how Ezhno performed under pressure.
After Ezhno was untacked I went to sit in the gallery with all of the barn moms and watch all of the other competitors from my barn ride their trail classes. It took forever, but after that they had mini horse jumping (!!!), which was adorable. They were slated to have pleasure driving that night also, but there was only one participant and she graciously decided to scratch the class when the mini jumping didn’t even finish up until around 10:00 at night, which left only the ranch riding classes.
A couple of our riders were entered in the ranch riding classes, so we all stayed late to cheer them on. Another rider and I were excited at the idea of going riding in the dark, so we went back to the barn and I tacked Ezhno up western so that we could gallivant around the (very scary, very dark) outdoor arena while we waited for the class to start. I didn’t even bother to put on breeches, I just climbed on with my pajamas stuffed into my cowboy boots. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Cars with headlights on out on the highway were scary, but Ezhno quickly decided my spurs were even scarier and that he should probably pay attention to me instead of gawking at every shadow that flickered in the dark. 😆
Our ride was very light, we spent most of the time lingering by the main arena’s in gate so that we could watch our riders do the ranch riding pattern, but I’m glad I got him out and made him ride around in the dark. It was a good experience for both of us! On top of that, we also got the chance to stand in the main arena and watch some of the pleasure drivers practice, which gave Ezhno the chance to watch regular-sized horses pull (still slightly scary) carts. A great way to end a busy day!