Saturday, April 11, 2009

Under the Big Top

Maddie and I went to town today for a little schooling show at the Kittitas County Fair Grounds. 4H always uses this nice indoor arena for their shows (the state High School Rodeo was going on outside in the big arena--home of the Ellensburg Rodeo: Greatest Show on Dirt).
Though Maddie carried on a bit when she first came out of the trailer, she settled pretty quickly. I led her into the arena for a look-see during the warm-up between halter and riding classes, but didn't have a chance to ride her inside before her first class (I had hoped they would have a "green horse only" warm-up, but they didn't). Here she waits quite pleasantly for her first class.
Alert, but willing.
The speakers outside the announcer's booth would loudly "click" each time the mic was keyed. One horse lost it right in front of Maddie, but she was worried about him, not the sound, which was good.
She's starting to relax nicely. She went much better in this full-cheek, copper roller snaffle than the one I used for Western.
I really like this judge (who has done this show for several years). She gives good feedback to all of us "kids" (I need to keep my hands quieter). When I mentioned that this was only Maddie's 12th time being ridden, her jaw dropped. (This time last year Kate was on her ninth or tenth ride for this show.) We got first in eq and second in pleasure (green horse English walk-trot).
The out gate empties into a narrow aisle between the arena and another long barn. It looks like a dead end from inside, but if there are any other horses outside, it echos very oddly. This is where we had the most problems all day! I generally let everyone else leave first, then let Maddie take her time....
Once she would decide to go, she did okay.
Maddie did a lot of jawing at the bit in the afternoon Western classes: I'm not sure if she was ready to be done, or if she prefers the other bit over this Myler. She did a lot of counter bending, too, and wasn't listening to my legs nearly as well as she has been at home (and I couldn't very well reinforce my aids with too obvious use of the whip).
After the equitation class, the judge again talked about staying off their mouths. I made a conscious effort to leave her alone, and although she got a little fast, she did seem to relax more, and do less fussing with her mouth.
This little buckskin won all four green horse western classes. He was an cutie, and the gal did a nice job with him.
One advantage to the green horse classes is small numbers--there were eight in both Western classes, and four in the English: lots of room. During the lunch-break warm-up, I had taken her in with probably 20 other horses, all doing different speeds and sometimes directions. Tho she jumped a bit the first couple of times horses loped up behind her, she settled down quickly, and took it all in "stride."
The line up. The judge surprised us all a little by asking for a back-up in the last class--she hadn't all day--perhaps she was looking for a tie-breaker. I had just enough time to put Maddie back on the bit, but less time than I would have hoped to generate some energy, so we got a bit of a gaping mouth, drag-back. Oh, well.
Maddie took a fifth in each of the green horse Western walk-trots.

I couldn't have been more pleased with Maddie's behavior, considering it was her first show under saddle (she had done showmanship one time last year, where she screamed and carried on something terrible!). We still have lots to work on, especially with our aids (and my balance), but she's got plenty of time to learn!


  1. To me, that seems like a very successful first show under saddle. The two of you look great! Interesting about the hands. When I rode hunter classes, judges usually criticized me for not keeping enough contact with the mouth. I always wanted to stay out of my horse's way. Fine balance to get it just right.

  2. You guys look fantastic! I agree, that's a great first show experience.

    How on earth do you get them so clean?

  3. BJC: I think I've said before that one of my biggest challenges with my babies is trusting them enough to let go of their faces (read: no death grip on their mouth). In the last class, I felt confident enough in Maddie's attitude that I was able to let go some--even though it meant we wandered off the track a lot, and got a little speedy.

    CLEAN!?! You weren't looking close enough, Funder! Her hocks were horrible! and fronts weren't great, either. Remind me again why I have (largely) white horses?

    We did have an early thaw this year, so we got through the worst of mud season back in February (except for that one freak snowstorm dp sent us). We did have a nice enough Sunday last weekend that I was able to give Maddie a quick bath. And, being a bit thin skinned, she's always the first one to shed out (tho she's not quite done yet, as evidenced by all the white hairs on my coat, my saddle pads, my breeches, my gloves, my ....).

    I usually blanket them in late February and March, to expedite shedding. But I have been trying to groom her at least a couple/three times a week, whether I'm riding or not. There's still a lot of hair and deep down dirt to work on before the next show in two weeks (as well as her headset and canter).

    (As far as looking "fantastic" and "great"-- Maddie, maybe--I need to lose 40 pounds! (I'd settle for 20.)

  4. Oh that is too exciting! I really do want to try for a first like this too sometime. She looks very relaxed save the gate, and you look great too!
    Nice job....isn't it fun!