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 is 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 through—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 forward—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 😛 ).
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 blegh—but we got a 4th, two 5ths, and a 6th from the four judges (Mike Adams, Theresa Sullivan, Curt Summers, Sally Jo Freucl).
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 4th—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.