Austen’s blog today (if you aren’t following her you should be!) made me stop and think. After I wrote a long ass reply on her blog I was still thinking. And I was curious. Why do we do show? Especially if someone ends up not liking your horse (Happened to me many many times)!
I started riding at 10 (I turn 51 this week you do the ‘maths’ LOL) Let’s just say it has been a very long time. I showed as a kid in local open shows both western and hunt seat (We were equal opportunity riders to say the least LOL). Sometimes I won (I rode the cutest gray Arab cross pony for a few years (Joker Mite Go was his name) and he could get some blues both Western and English) but sometimes I lost. One year I was going for high point (I was maybe about 13 at the time so a life-changing event in my mind) for the summer and I had to skip a show due to some family event. The girl who I was tied with (not a friend but a fellow competitor but still) agreed to NOT show the one weekend as well and we would meet up the next show and duke it out. Yeah I am pretty sure you see where this is going. That girl DID not show but she had her friend ride the pony and clean up so he was a good 15-20 pts ahead of me. I got Reserve Champion that year (Which was still a pretty bad ass ribbon and the banquets were killer back then). Live and learn right??
Back then we all looked at those hunter type horses going around the ring and drooled. Even back then they all were so cool with their gorgeous long necks and trots and canters to die for. Then we unloaded off our van with our appy ponies or arab ponies or whatever backyard thing we were riding and go into a ring full of 30 gorgeous freaking thoroughbreds or whatever they were(This was late 70’s) and not place. HA. But we loved it. Once in a while one of us would place and we would whoop and holler like no one’s business. (Yeah we were a bit rednecky too HA we came from the rural VA area) 🙂
And back then if it was a huge class we didn’t even care if we didn’t place. But somewhere along the line we started really caring and really wanting to compete. But we still were riding our backyard ponies and then my first real horse of my own ended up being a Morgan (Man I loved that horse even though he was a bit cray cray (umm guys don’t buy your daughter a yearling for her first horse, YEP that is me, thanks Mom and Dad. I really did love him and was so appreciative that they got him for me!)
By the time he was ready to break I was like 14. Match made in heaven. NOT. Though he was an amazing horse but he put me in the hospital at least once, HA.
But I digress. If you think backyard ponies don’t place, try a cute cob-like Morgan solid bay gelding who was 14.3 if he was an inch. Yeah. We started showing Morgan shows and still didn’t place. But we had fun. We would show halter, then western, hunt seat and sometimes saddle seat, oh and drive our horses that same day (Not me, my friend and her mare did, my horse would have DIED if I had hooked him to a cart and pretty sure I would have died as well)! We did start placing more as we got better at our skills but a bad judge could sure ruin your day (especially back then with the hot “IT” trainers in the same class as you). Luckily the only thing judges did back then was pin you. So no ribbon no biggie at least you didn’t get comments like you do in dressage now.
I took the Morgan to college for the first year or so and ended up selling to a friend of mine when it was apparent I didn’t have time to ride that much. I did do a few baby events with him and if I think Remus has no engagement omg we were hilarious. But we liked to go jump and run around fields. My friend kept Pasha till he died and he lived to a good age so he had a good life. But then I kind of bounced around horses for a while and didn’t show that much. I helped ride some Welsh ponies (I was short and trim back then (Still short now LOL) and showed them and got a few ribbons (THEY were nice Welsh ponies, mostly I just pointed and shoot but then once in a while one of those little stinkers would drop its shoulder and BAM down I would go (HA). (Since I was of age when I rode these I often had a beer chaser before going into the ring OH Yeah I was that kind of jumper).
But I never have been mainstream, I am not built with long long legs and perfect body to look good in those hunt seat clothes. I just don’t fit in in traditional showing experiences, and pretty much never have!
I have a Quarter Horse now, but he would lap any Quarter Horse at a recognized show today because he doesn’t have the walk/shuffle/trot or the 4 beat canter most of them have (and I don’t want it!) Plus he is a solid 15 hands where most of them are 16 hands plus now (tiny little gaits, big ass bodies). But I do have fun and have always enjoyed showing. My stomach gets all knotted up before a show (WHATEVER the type). I almost always feel like vomiting (But don’t). But I can remember going to sleep to get up at 4 am for the shows as a kid and I still feel that way now. Excited. Optimistic. Ready to try try try again!
But somewhere along the line after moving back to DE (I need to write a whole blog post on my life in Texas sometime where I had a farm and a few horses but didn’t really show), I got into eventing after taking this big fat buckskin out of a field and deciding it would be fun to get him to canter and jump. Crazy right?? He literally could not canter the first six months I had him. Unable to carry himself enough to canter!
But now we get comments written down in our dressage scores or we get whistles blown (I am always in such a panic that I won’t be able to distinguish which judge is ringing what!!) or we get eliminated and we STILL continue to compete. WHY? I often giggle at how often the judge writes good pair or well matched pair in the comments (Ha short and stocky both of us)!
Any of us who show have to be a bit batshit crazy for sure, but after reading Austen’s blog today I realize something my instructor told me back when I was barely a teenager (and did not take it in at that young age, but she was a very wise woman who I still miss to this day) and crying my eyes out under the horse van after losing out to that cute dun pony for the year end award.
We are paying for ONE PERSON’s opinion of your horse for that day only for just a few minutes or whatever. That is what we’re paying for. And what I do (and plan to do from now on) is read the scores and comments, and use what makes sense to improve upon our rides. AND If what they wrote makes no SENSE at all. Well my cat’s litter box always needs more paper dumped in it! Am I right?
I know many of the bloggers I now follow have the same mindset usually. Do you have ways to get over disappointment when you don’t place (I don’t mind honestly not placing but I do mind if someone who blows leads both ways pins above me)? I am just curious on how you guys handle it. Sometimes I feel like I am the little kid still crying under the horse van! (Not really but you know what I mean).
I just think it is a great topic of conversation because my husband honestly wonders why I do all this! HA I do know a huge part of it is the people who compete with me (I am still riding on fun fumes from the Fair Hill expedition from early July when we all competed together).