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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 arenaβ€”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. πŸ˜€

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 wasΒ 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 questionsβ€”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. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜†

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!

Show Recap: Friday May 19th (English) @ Cascade Pinto Silver Buckle Show

Show Recap: Friday May 19th (English) @ Cascade Pinto Silver Buckle Show

Friday dawned bright and early, especially for the 5 out of 7 of us that were participating in the morning showmanship classes. I, on the other hand, fed Ezhno his grain and then chilled in my chair with my breakfast (with occasional handfuls for Ezhno, who thinks cinnamon granola isΒ the bomb) while I watched the chaos unfold. As someone that’s never done showmanship, it was very cool to watch the preparations the horses go throughβ€”fake tails, shaved socks, Show Sheen, and face oils abound! It’s a whole different ball game.

There was a moment of panic when one of our team almost missed the very first class of the day (I jogged Midas all the way out to the arena so that she could sprint there the moment her makeup was finished), but the timing just barely worked out.

My first class of the day was class number 130, so I had plenty of time to prepare. While the showmanship classes happened, I took my time tacking up Ezhno, changing into my show clothes, and bridling my lazy, hay-eating horse.

We headed out into the warm up arena early so that we could spend some more time getting used to the noises coming from the highway that runs alongside the outdoor arena and the sheer amount of activity in the covered warm up arena. He was very looky and he did a couple of small, scooting spooks, but for the most part he felt very forwardβ€”a great thing for a horse that would prefer to live behind my leg rather than in front of it where he belongs!

Our first class was #130, OTAB Walk/Trot English Equitation All Ages/Types (Ezhno’s PtHA paperwork didn’t come back in time for the Pinto classes, which is fine because the open to all breed classes were cheaper anyways πŸ˜› ).

We’d practiced this pattern during our lesson on Monday (albeit in a western saddle with an English bridle) and it didn’t go super well. I’m still terrible at picking out my diagonals (a hole that Trainer M has missed since we’d been focused on jumping and I’m quick to fix them when I miss them). I hadn’t been planning to do the class, but another member of our team was entered in it, so I figured, “Why the hell not?” I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, but oh well, who cares!

Surprisingly, the pattern went well. Our trot transition was prompt and I picked up the wrong diagonal (as always), which was the correct diagonal for the pattern. Unfortunately, as we came towards cone C Ezhno spotted a hose hanging up in the arena and used it as an excuse for a prompt spook left that had us halting very far away from the cone, plus our back was bleghβ€”but we got a 4th, two 5ths, and a 6th from the four judges (Mike Adams, Theresa Sullivan, Curt Summers, Sally Jo Freucl).

See that hose wheel on the pillar? Yep, that was SCARY. Also, this horse was super handsome.Β  πŸ™‚

We had a while until our next class, so I untacked Ezhno and let him chill in his stall while I went and watched a few of the classes (and admired all of the handsome APHAs). There were a few competitors that came to practice for PtHA Worlds, so there were a lot of amazing horse/rider combinations to ogle.

When there were only a handful of classes left before mine (#149, OTAB Walk/Trot English Pleasure All Ages/Types) I brought Ezhno back out and got him warmed up again. Trainer M touched up my lipstick, took a cute photo of us together, and then in we went for our class!

We entered in at a trot and probably made a good three circuits of the arena before they gave us another direction (totally fine, except I was so hot). Ezhno felt super good! His pace was good, his head was down, and he was listening when I clicked to him. He tried to shy a little bit when we came up on the hose the first time, but I just set me inside leg on to pin him to the rail and he got back to work right away. All in all, I was super proud with how he went (though our back was still blegh and we probably lost a placing or two over it), and we came out with a 2nd (!), two 3rds, and a 4thβ€”very good for his first large show!

Ezhno got mucho pets, then I untacked him, stripped off all of my uber hot show clothing, and tossed Ezhno a couple of flakes of hay while I enjoyed my own lunch of champions before I went back out into the heat and spent the rest of the day watching everyone bring home more ribbons for our barn.

Show Recap: February 4th & 5th IHSA Show

Show Recap: February 4th & 5th IHSA Show

Back at the start of fall Trainer A took a position as coach of the University of Washington’s western equestrian team. The team competes in special shows organized by the IHSA where riders are required to compete on mounts they’ve never ridden beforeβ€”so riders draw from a pool of horses in the morning, watch the horses get warmed up by their owners, and then have a brief chance to ask questions before they mount up and are sent into their classes.

It’s an awesome (and unconventional) idea, so when Trainer A announced that the last collegiate show of the season was happening in Lynden and she needed warm up riders, I jumped on the opportunity. I would’ve loved to take Ezhno if he was sound, but Belle the Pony loves horse shows and was more than happy to be my partner in crime for the weekend.

So the Show Buddy and I woke up at a ridiculously early hour on Saturday morning and trekked up north to the same place we competed in November! We found the horses chilling in their stalls at the fair grounds, had the horses tacked up, and then grabbed Belle and Boston so that we could ride in the over fences warm up.

The Pony jumping in one of her classes and a good, sweeping view of the course setup.

We accidentally went into the arena when the jumps were set for the open division (2’9″ is SCARY), then ducked out until the jumps were lowered. Boston was entered in intermediate (2’6″) and the Show Buddy has only jumped him a couple of times, so she was nervous to warm him up over them, but they sailed over the red jump with the brick wall without any problems. Unfortunately, Boston made a solid decision throughout the day that the pink jump was the spawn of Satan, so…

The Pony was in novice (2’3″), so we made it through our warm up with only a bit of trouble at the oxer (I lost my guts at the last second, she almost stopped at the base and then jumped anyways LOL).

Boston’s hated pink fence and my nemesis the oxer (totally my problem, not the Pony’s)

From there the classes kicked off! It was a lot of fun to answer questions about the Pony’s quirks and all of the riders that drew the Pony were ridiculously friendly and enamored with her tiny cuteness. Plus I was super proud of the Pony because she did a great job of taking care of all of them, even if they hadn’t jumped in a few months or were super nervous.

Since Boston and Belle were used in the jumping portion of the day, that left Ivy and Coda for the flat classes. I tucked Belle away in her stall and then went back out to the arena to watch the Show Buddy ride Ivy in the warm up, plus check out the other horses. It was really interesting to see the variety of horses that had been donated to the show, and by the end of the first day of the competition the Show Buddy and I had picked out at least two horses each that we wanted to take home with us.

Yes, I’ll take Bob the Giant and Flint the Hunk home with me, please

After an awesome dinner and a night spent talking with the Show Buddy, we were pulling back into the fair grounds for western day! There was a mix up about the warm up time, so the Show Buddy and I got there just in time to rush in and mount up (after a frantic change of tack, since they’d managed to mix up saddles on almost all of our horses). The Pony and I walked/jogged/loped our way around the arena while people cooed over how cute she looked from the bleachers.

The western classes were organized so that the competitors participated in a standard rail class, then lined up at the end to perform a pattern. The patterns for the advanced riders were complex, requiring counter canter circles, halt to canter transitions, and no stirrup work. It didn’t matter, though, because our horses were kicking ass and taking names on Sunday; every time we sent a horse into the arena, their rider came out with a first place ribbon!

Unfortunately, we only had the chance to get through the first five or six classes of the day before the snow outside started piling up. People started to get nervous and soon we were milling about in the warm up arena, waiting for news on whether or not the show was going to be cancelled while the staff rushed to get through all of the classes that affected regional placings.

Waiting for the snow verdict and walking around to keep the Pony warm

Once they officially called it, chaos erupted. Stalls were stripped, ponies were untacked, and equipment was hauled out through the snow to the trailers. I came outside to find my tiny car entrenched in snow and all of the trailer doors frozen shut. Then Trainer A had to fight with her truck’s four wheel drive and we all had a moment of horror when we finally got the trailer opened and realized that snow had gotten into the trailer through the windows.

It was all a bit of a nightmare, but we got the horses out safely and, despite the ups and downs, I had a fun time and wouldn’t hesitate to go to one of these IHSA shows againβ€”so long as it’s not in Lynden in the depths of winter! ❄

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