Sunday, July 12, 2009

Show Report: GMHA June Show - Saturday (Part 1)

Continued from Friday...

After my leaving the show grounds late on Friday, I finally got home, ate, and slept - sort of. I still have a hard time sleeping on show nights, although it's getting easier every time. I'll post about some tricks separately.

My Saturday class was at 9:18am. Actually it was supposed to be on Friday. But did I mention that my entry had been mixed up? Yes, that was the first of many things to go wrong.

So I arrived at the grounds around 6:00. It was very quiet, except for horses eating and the scuttling of grooms. I made my way through the temporary equine city to Armani's stall. It quickly became apparent that I was the only non-groom in our little "neighborhood" that morning. Most were teenage girls. They moved nearly silently with down cast eyes. They avoided my gaze and mumbled (if anything) to my cheerful "Good morning!"s. They hurried about with pitch forks and buckets in blue jeans and muck boots.

My husband was out of town. My mother was planning (threatening?) to come watch later. My instructor's first class was not until 2. So I was completely on my own with my horse. For someone social as me, it was very disconcerting.

As it got later, riders and owners began to arrive. I could tell because they were already dressed and much louder than the grooms. I got dressed myself, in the middle of the isle. The bathrooms were far away and if I changed in my stall Armani would "help". People politely looked away. I heard two riders complaining about my next judge. "She expects to see Grand Prix at Second Level!" one shouted defiantly. Hmm... This doesn't bode well for us, I thought.

Our first class was in ring 4, far across the grounds. We were there just before 9. I watched one lady leave the ring in tears after her horse spooked and cantered on the wrong lead - twice. But I felt better as soon as I found that the gentleman ring steward was friendly. Some of the other riders eyed me cautiously as I asked him about the how the ring was running. I laughed "I hope you don't mind all my questions." as I entered the ring. He said "Oh we'll answer them until you are at 3rd level. And I expect to see you back here then!"

"You will!" I grinned.

As I walked up to greet the judge, Armani spooked at her booth. So much for pride. "Good morning!" I said cheerily and laughed "You don't eat horses, do you?" She vaguely smiled and shook her head.

We rode a pretty nice test. Much better than Friday's class. I was pleased. I knew we probably weren't perfect, but I was confident we were at least a 60%. People clapped politely. One of Armani's veterinarians had been watching and greeted us. The ring steward complimented us as we left. I was feeling quite flushed with pride as we untacked. I hustled to the show office as soon as the scores were posted. Thrilling with anticipation I scanned the list... down... and down...

There we were, in last place, just after the lady with the spooking and the wrong lead. Well at least she could feel better now. We had scored a 53%. Disheartened, I picked up my test results. The judge was primarily critical of Armani's self-carriage and contact. She hadn't liked his canter or free walk either; my favorite things. I ate my lunch alone with my horse. My lunch was perfectly packed and precisely planned to deliver maximum nutrition with minimal stomach upset. I can do anything I put my mind to, I insisted to myself. Was I wrong to think we did fairly well? Shouldn't we be able to do even better? I resolved to give my all on our next test....
Continue to Part 2...

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