Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Last Show of the Season

Last Sunday we had the last show of the season for the local schooling show series I compete in with both Satin and JB. Satin was in the lead for Grand in Speed for year end by 6 points, so she had a title to defend. JB was just a few points off getting reserve behind tough competition in both Model and Beginner Western, so the pressure was on.

Satin was up first in the speed division. We went in for the barrels and she was totally asleep, basically cantering the pattern. Luckily her good turns made up for lack of speed and she managed a 2nd. I borrowed a western version of a crop for the next class which was poles. I never actually need to use a crop on Satin, just flashing it past her eye a few times is usually enough. This is what I did as I ran up the poles and she kicked in to gear. She cut the turn around the first pole too tight and the footing was a bit soft from the rain earlier in the week, causing her to almost fall. I thought her front end lost traction, but I saw from the video her back end actually sunk under her and what I felt in the front was her scrambling to catch herself. The one thing I love about my mare though is she will do anything to save us both. One time during a lesson she tripped doing a lead change and went down on both front legs and her shoulder and managed to get herself back up and keep me aboard then keep going.

Anyway, when she recovered we just stood there for a few seconds. I wasn't sure what to do and whether or not I should keep going. That is when Satin said, "Mom I'm ready to keep going". So I trusted my mare and completed my pattern, though conservatively. The other great thing about my mare is she is very smart and careful. She is not the kind of crazy horse that will keep running hurt. If something was wrong she would let me know, so when she said let's finish, I said okay. She managed a fourth in that class.

My father was ringside that day, as both my parents always are. He has not seen me fall or almost fall since I was 5 so he freaked out about. As I exited the ring he was frenzied, insisting I get off the horse right away and that she was dragging her back foot. Now my mare is 22 and has some arthritis and those of you with senior horses with arthritis now, they often will drag their back toes a bit while walking and some even while trotting. So this slight toe drag is completely normal for my mare, which my father did not understand. I let him cause me to second guess myself, but I know my horse and I will never let that happen again. I got off felt her legs and flexed them, all normal. A friend of mine walked up the ring just then and I had her get on and trot her around for me to see and she trotted nice and forward. She was quite eager, even breaking into the canter. Then I got on and felt her trot, still 100% sound and normal.

My next and final class was keyhole so I practiced a rollback and both her turn and canter felt perfect, so I decided to trust my own judgement and knowledge of my horse and continue on. I ran her slightly conservatively, in fear too quick a turn may slip her up again. Her turn was beautiful and she earned a 3rd. These placings were just enough to keep her in Grand for year end awards by 2 points. Not too bad for a supposedly "senior" mare.

Next up, I had JB in Model. He placed exceptionally well against some stiff competition. A new gelding came who I happened to know from my old farm. This gelding and his sire are champion halter horses in Palomino and QH. JB placed 3rd in that class to that gelding and another that has been champion at CJHA the past few years. In the Open class he placed 6th out of about 12, which was excellent. He held on to his 3rd for the year end awards.

After that, we tacked up for our western division. Usually JB's owner H rides her classes before mine so the edge is off by the time we get to warm up. They had changed classes around to fit everything in so now she was riding after me. JB was pretty quiet though, but required a little more warm up then usual. Unfortunately, I did not get to give him as good of a warm up as I would have liked as I had to communicate back and forth with the ring steward to see where they were in the ring H shows in and if classes could be held as promised due to the switch.

Anyway, I had him going pretty nicely by the time they were ready to start with Horsemanship. It was a pretty simple pattern, so I was quite confident. The entire pattern rode beautifully until the very end. The last part of the pattern was to jog to the last cone, stop, and back 4 steps. Unfortunately for us, it just so happened that the last cone was placed right next to the board for the trail class, which JB is deathly afraid of. He refused to trot all the way to the cone and stopped about 4 or 5 strides before it and backed himself the 4 steps. This cost us a few points, but we still managed a 2nd. In pleasure he rode pretty well, but did speed up at times, and placed 4th. We earned back our title of Command champion (a class we have won almost every show this year). It was down to 3 of us, one of which being my friend K, who I battle for first with every show. The judge has us backing up and asked for a reverse. I was the only one to reverse and keep backing as is proper procedure. The trail class was a failure as JB was once again afraid of half the obstacles, so he was 6th. He again held his place in 3rd for the year end.

It was not the best show of the season for me or either of my mounts, but it was still a good end to the season as they held their positions for year ends. I am quite proud of both Satin and JB and could not have asked for two better show horses. They both gave me a great season filled with many wins and championships. Satin proved once again she has still has plenty of years left in her and "senior horse" has a very loose definition. JB was excellent for his first ever western show season with this past winter being the first time he was ever ridden western. Looking forward to a little break for all of us and exciting season in 2012.

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