Archive for April, 1996
“Showtime”, I thought as I lurched out of bed and listened to the rain. I thought about the mud on those two glistening horse bodies after yesterday’s full body makeovers, nails done, expensive hairdo’s. I’m talking baths, scrubbing, rubbing, drying, clipping, sheening, and attempted braiding of manes and tails. Both Velvet and Sage were lovely; I was broken, old, sore-footed, wet, dirty and hairy. This is my first show as an adult. My last horse show was 33 years ago. I am called a beginning adult rider. Hang on for the day!
I went out to pasture this lovely morning and the horses were barely wet with no mud. Whew! Thank you up above! After breakfast, my husband’s friend came over to play guy machine stuff. I was nervous about getting those fox trotter ribbons in Sage and Velvet’s mane and forelock. I asked John, who is a team roper, if he could braid my horse’s hair. AHAHHHAAAA! John and my husband broke up over that. Braiding is not a manly team roping thing. As they were spitting up with laughter, I promptly broke into sobbing sobs. These were outloud sobbing sobs! All three of us were shocked! “Hmmm, we all thought, Susan is hysterical! Let’s do calming words and thoughts and get her out of here!”
I got the horses into the trailer and drove the 10 miles alternating with tears and deep breathing. What causes a calm, relaxed, don’t-worry-till-it-happens person to experience such frightful feelings? This show stuff is hanging yourself out, with no defense, for strangers to judge in an area where you are so inferior that you have to reach up to lick people’s toes. Fox Trotter Horse Show!!
The week before the show I was hysterical because I had never touched clippers and last braided anything 33 years ago. I didn’t want my horses to be pitied because I didn’t know how to make their fuzzy winter bodies into sleek summer splendor. Thank goodness a friend volunteered to help so “my girls” were truly beautiful!
I belong to the Kansas City Regional Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association. Two years ago my husband and I lost our minds and moved from our city home to a country home and I was finally to own a horse again before death took me. Why did I choose fox trotters? I love their heads-up beauty, their flowing manes and tails, and the practical reason that they are so smooth I will never have to wear adult diapers when riding!
Against all the advice of the practical horse people in the world, I bought two young horses. The adventures and rear that I lived through for the last two years to arrive at this point is a separate story. I hire out as a motivational speaker. Just ask me!
This is the 2nd annual horse show and seminar that the club has put on – purely for my benefit. The seminar teaches us about biting, training, and gaits. The horse show is for riders new to showing can have some experience before we get thrown out with the wolves. This is not to say that all the Missouri Fox Trotter World Grand Champions in our arena do not participate. They participate too as a warm up for the show season just around the corner. Plus, they help us “newbies”. This year the association president, Tom Owens, was the speaker and judge. I laughed at all his jokes, but it didn’t do any good in the show ring. Drat. He judged the horses on their performance rather than who laughed the most at his jokes.
My first hint of something going wrong was when the registration person said, “
Eight Classes? You want to sign up for eight classes!” I looked on the show bill again and counted. Yep, there were eight classes for me to ride in with Sage and Velvet. It was also then that I discovered that the show started at 1:30 rather than 2:00 and I barely had time to saddle both horses, stab their ribbons on and get into the arena to warm up Sage, my fun events horse. I was back stabbing the ribbon into Sage’s mane when another rider asked if the trail class allowed you to wear ribbons. Whoops! I looked at the rules and saw that it said, No Ribbons! I frantically sawed the ribbons out of Sage’s mane and arrived at the gate to see the gate man frantically trying to find me. My number had been called several times. I was the next to last horse to perform in the trail class. When I came out, I leaped off Sage and traded her for Velvet, my “show horse”. The next class was starting and Velvet’s newly borrowed show bridle hung for the saddle horn instead of her head where I put it. My husband had arrived to take care of my horses for me. He said, “Velvet hates her bit. Her borrowed bridle is too long and I can’t control her!” Husband is also new to horses and Velvet went hysterical when I took Sage away. Good GAD!
I was trying to get the bridle on Velvet, the hysterical horse when the trail class riders and horses were called into the arena and line up! HUH! Sage and my husband had dropped out of sight. I had a hysterical horse. The brave gate keeper volunteered to hold my horse.
Susan, the new show horse person, cantered into the arena. I hoped people wouldn’t notice that I wasn’t riding a horse. They did notice as there was a pregnant silence. The announcer was finally able to recover and made a quip about a funny lookin’ two legged horse in the arena. I lined up in the middle with the other horses and hoped my number would be called. It was! I got reserve! To thunderous applause, I cantered over to the ribbon girl and got my red beauty ribbon! I cantered out. Thank goodness I didn’t win first or I would have had to canter a victory lap. Whew!!!
I scratched the bridleless horse from the first class and went out to do some calming ground work. I hoped I might be able to get the bridle on before my next class of seven! The classes that Sage and Velvet were in alternated and the trailer was parked blocks away. I had planned to have different outfit for the fun events and the fox trotting events, so I compromised with jeans and shiny silky jacket and teddy. No pictures were taken of me. Drat
Sage, the fun events horse, has turned into the bravest horse ever. She was a formidable competitor with her trick bag of sidepassing, backing and tight fore and hindquarter turns. We had a blue tarp in the trail class and she just sailed over that. She sniggered at walking over the logs – come on give me a challenge! She sidepassed to the mailbox and waited patiently for me to get my letter in and out. She floated between two staked flags and won 2nd in the class. Our first show ring experience!
The egg and spoon was lost when I believed the announcer who jokingly said, CANTER. That lost me the egg. No one else cantered. I’m still bitter.
We had a water relay where two riders had to work together. One had to dip water out of a bucket with plastic glass and then pour the water in the partner’s plastic glass who then had to empty his glass contents in the bucket. Then we had to bring the bucket to the judge’s helper. We won!
We had musical feed sacks. When the music stopped a horse had to get one foot on a feed bag. There was one less bag than horses. Sage was yelled at, threatened with ramming but managed to STOMP on her sack. “Don’t try messing with the boss Mare!” We lost when we were too far from a feed sack. The other horses beat us and were standing on the feed sack when we got there. I told Sage that we weren’t allowed to knock them off the sack and we left the arena!
The husband loved Sage that day. He held her ribbons. He wore them on his overalls and stuck out his chest more as the day went by. Sage became “his horse” on this day.
Velvet, the former “sweet” horse now turned “spirited”, electrified the crowd with her beauty and fire. Our performance at the gaits was not to be discussed. We did move quickly around the arena when asked to go into the faster gait. It appears that Velvet and I must get out more into the real world.
When the show mercifully ended, I was so grateful to Ronald Howe, the wonderful gate man who helped me get on my horse, held the classes open until I could get into the arena and tried to calm me down. My thanks to Ralph and Sue McGarry who gave me advice and also helped to calm me down before entering the arena. Thanks to Paula Crump who gave me some training tips after the show was over, even though she worked harder than all the show horses and was dead tired. Thanks to Nancy McConnell who loaned me the show bridle. Thanks to Gail Osbourn who fed me and wasn’t afraid to hold the spirited Velvet. Thanks to all who helped a beginning adult rider survive her first show.
Thanks to my great husband, Terry. He approached the announcer and told him it was my first show. He did this while I was in the arena waiting for the next class to start. Terry also mentioned that these were young horses. I bet that announcer was just amazed to learn all this, but he dutifully reported it to the crowd. So I had to ride around the arena and wave at everyone which I did with a big grin on my face with the Queen Elizabeth wave. Thank goodness, I was riding Sage. I told Sage to canter, but she wanted to hard trot instead. Oh, the crowd was nice to me and clapped.
Lordy, what a day….