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Show Recap: November 5th Eagle Mountain Schooling Show

Show Recap: November 5th Eagle Mountain Schooling Show

I’m nicknaming this “the show that almost didn’t happen”. I was on my way to the barn at 4:00 in the morning on Sunday when my tiny Chevy Spark hit snow/ice/slush/gross while I was merging into my exit lane. I lost all control of my wheels and skidded right over the bumpy patch at the side of the road. You’re not supposed to hit the brakes super hard in situations like that, but there was also a guard rail coming up so I weighed my options and ended up screeching to a halt about five feet away from a crash.

Thanks, weather. Off to a fantastic start. #unamused

My part of the world barely sees any snow over the winter, let alone in early November. When I got out of the car and had to kick the snow off of the gates before I could get into my pony’s stall I wasn’t super psyched for a day of showing in 33° weather, despite having made the spectacular decision to wear thermal leggings under my breeches and a thermal long sleeve under my show shirt.

I am thankful that daylight savings gave me a much needed extra hour of sleep, though. (BarnOwnerK, on the other hand, came out to feed the horses an hour earlier than normal and was very confused 😄).

I got to the barn extra early so that I’d have a chance to lunge Rags and have a light ride on him before we headed for the show. I groomed him/took out his bands while he ate, then we got down to business. Our ride went super well, he was very calm and focused—a great confidence booster right before the show!

Rags loaded up like a champion and we started the short but snow-ridden journey to Eagle Mountain.

We pulled in just before 7:00am, with just enough time for us to make it to the arena right as it opened for warmup. We were the first ones in the arena and I used the time to handwalk him around the perimeter (it’s got mirrors, benches where spectators can sit, and an aisle of stalls behind one of the arena walls—plenty of things for a horse to be wary of). He didn’t look twice at anything, so we quickly moved onto the lunge.

I was just wrapping up the lunging when TrainerM arrived. We adjusted the irons and she climbed aboard Rags to take him for a couple of walk laps, but she only got about half a lap in before dismounting and declaring him “not ready”. She hopped back off and sent us to do more handwalking, but the moment he was back to power walking beside me he seemed bored.

“I think it’s you,” TrainerM said. “You’re his security blanket. I’ve only been on him twice; he doesn’t know me. You’re going to have to just get on him.”

I was wary (I’m a PANSY, okay?), but TrainerM talked me into getting on even though I didn’t feel super prepared. I went to ask him to walk forward and he immediately balked (“too many ponies out there, mom”), so TrainerM turned our warmup into a personalized pony ride instead.

TrainerM had me tighten up on the reins a lot more than I have been when I ride at KW. She chastised me for wiggling my hands too much (guilty) and had me find a “firm handshake” that connected me to the bit. Every time his head moved she had me lift or lower my hands to keep the straight line from my elbow down to the bit (AKA “finding my handshake”). She reminded me that my outside rein should be a still barrier and that I could squeeze my inside rein, but that I shouldn’t be using my hands to create a false contact.

Also, “more leg”, which I’m pretty sure is TrainerM’s favorite phrase.

We only got stuck once, and we just had to squiggle until our feet were moving forward again!

Another rider from my lesson program came into the arena with her horse right as I was starting to get comfortable, so TrainerM detached herself from us and we continued on alone. The snow had scared a lot of people away but there was still more horses in the arena than Raglan had ever seen before. They walked, trotted, and cantered past us and there were only a couple of moments where I felt him get nervous (one of which was when someone with a very lazy horse kiss kiss kiss kissed her horse into the canter right next to us), but Rags was a good boy and kept one ear cocked back on me whenever he was unsure. We even did a little bit of trotting jigging before the warmup hour was over! It’s all about those small victories, LOL.

Once warmup was over and classes were started (with the end of the arena sectioned off so that everyone not currently in the class could huddle undercover), we quickly discovered Raglan’s greatest weakness: waiting. He couldn’t handle it. He started squirming in place, threatening to back into other horses, and smashing his big head into anyone close to him (sorry TrainerM 😳). We ended up having to go walk around the grounds in the snow while we waited for our classes to come up.

At least all that walking in the cold made for some uber cute pictures

Luckily it wasn’t long before I was back on Rags and coaxing him out into the arena. There was only one other rider in my class (and I couldn’t remember if it was an eq or a pleasure class, soooooooo) and we giraffe-walked/trotted our way into a second place ribbon because apparently I missed my diagonal while the judge was looking. The judge and the ring steward really liked Rags, though—they could tell he was young and enthusiastic, plus they said he “looks like a warmblood” (AKA he faaaaancy).

We came out of our class and went right back to handwalking. I must have looked funny walking my giant horse around out in the snow. We ducked into the round pen every once in a while to dry off, but Rags seemed to legitimately enjoy exploring the ranch, so we spent most of our time outside.

oh my god I’m so bad at selfies 😨😨😨😨😨

We were the only entry in our second class, so the woman running the in gate waved us down to make sure that we’d be okay going in by ourselves (my response: “that’s actually preferable”) and then sent us in alone. Raglan marched out along the arena wall and happily strutted his way through the class. I felt a lot more confident, so I put more leg on and tried to get him to stretch himself out a little bit more (no luck, but he did jig a bit quicker in response 😂). We came away with a blue ribbon (duh) and a small sample pack of treats that he immediately jammed in his mouth once his bridle was off.

And just like that Raglan’s first show was a wrap! I’m super happy with how it went. He was very distracted, but he was sensible and whenever he felt unsure he paused to check in with me instead of reacting off of instinct. We didn’t have any incidents and, most importantly, I met my #1 goal: I stayed on the horse! When it comes down to it I’m actually kind of thankful for the snow, since it gave the show a small turnout that I’m sure was integral to our success.

Now we just need to go to 1,000,000 more of these so that he thinks they’re old hat.

Our ride was a little late picking us up, so we spent some time grazing out in front of the barn 😀
Show Recap: Sunday May 21st (Western) @ Cascade Pinto Silver Buckle Show

Show Recap: Sunday May 21st (Western) @ Cascade Pinto Silver Buckle Show

With only a couple of weeks of western experience under our belt, I knew going into Sunday that Ezhno and I were going to come out of it without ribbons. We managed to get him trained up enough for a transition bit by the time the show hit, but we’ve been focused on keeping his head down and his pace consistent, so… well, he’s a #goodboy, but he’s not very slow and it doesn’t help that I didn’t have a hat (though I did go buy a scarf and a very comfortable hairnet from The Hat Lady)!

Our first class (#322, OTAB Walk/Trot Horsemanship All Ages) was scheduled right after a bunch of driving classes, so it was a great chance for us to go out and see how well Saturday night’s carts-are-cool lesson went. He was still nervous, for sure, but he walked properly past them—MASSIVE improvement!

Trainer A hopped aboard for a quick school (she looked super funny riding in my stirrup length with her long legs, like a jockey!), then passed him over to me.

We warmed up for our class by practicing the individual elements of the pattern: walk to jog, jog to halt, turn on the haunches, halt to trot, backing up, etc. There were cones set up in the outdoor arena, so we even practiced the pattern all the way through a couple of times! We got to the point where he was really knocking it out of the park (at least to the best of his current abilities), then we lingered in the shade while we waited for them to finish dragging the arena.

Of course, when we went in to do our pattern everything fell apart, LOL. We lurched off of the straight path, stumbled into our halts, didn’t really plant for our haunch turn, and backed super crooked… but, to be fair, neither Ezhno nor I are experienced enough to perform in the main arena just like we do while we’re practicing, I get super nervous and the change in environment throws him off. More experience needed!

After we were done I untacked and gave Ezhno a break while I watched classes, then came back for him a while later for class #341, OTAB Walk/Trot Pleasure All Ages/Types. I had no doubt that the pleasure class was going to be laughable, but it was even more comedic when I faux-jogged him into the arena and realized just how many horses were in our class.

Apparently everyone and their brother decided to use the OTAB walk/trot class as a warm up (can’t blame them, the OTAB classes were way cheaper than the Pinto classes!), so any chance we had to snag a ribbon flew right out the window. The super full arena also made it really hard to hide the fact that Ezhno’s jog clocks in at Mach 10. We had to pass a horse and then we never really found a place on the wall again. Pretty sure Ez thought it was a race and was super proud of himself. 😀

Personally, I was just super happy to get to take my chaps off and put a tank top on, because ☀☀☀

I took a few minutes to organize some of my stuff and throw a few things into my truck (after I untacked Ezhno, topped off his water buckets, and shared an apple with him, of course), then spent the rest of my time at the show grounds watching the rest of the pleasure classes, the discipline rail classes (one of which Trainer A rode Midas in, the GIF to the left is them walking to the main arena!), and the ideal Pinto classes.

The ideal classes were very interesting! It started out like a pleasure class, then all of the riders dismounted, a whistle blew, and grooms ran in to untack and spiffy up the horses for the halter portion of the judging. Unfortunately, a few of the competitors from my barn got DQ’d from the ideal Pinto classes when their grooms came in wearing tank tops (apparently they have to wear long sleeves, go figure!). 🙁

All in all, it was a super fun (and educational) weekend! We were definitely outclassed by the competition, but we went into it expecting to get trounced, so no loss there. We’ve got a lot to work on in the next few months, but there’s a good chance we’ll tackle another one of these shows in the early fall if I feel like we’ve made good progress. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Show Recap: Saturday May 20th (Trail) @ Cascade Pinto Silver Buckle Show

Show Recap: Saturday May 20th (Trail) @ Cascade Pinto Silver Buckle Show

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. 😀

My pattern and a look at how the trot weave is supposed to look. Spoiler: Ezhno and I didn’t look like that LOL

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!