I say “our” first show instead of “my” first show very deliberately. I could do none of this without my horse. Sometimes I take a step back to think about how amazing this sport is – an animal that weighs ten times what I do allows me to climb on his back, poke him in the ribs, and make him run when he would otherwise rather be grazing. He has the opportunity to kill me at any moment, yet he doesn’t.
Our show was a couple of weeks ago and I honestly could not have asked for it to go any better. It was a schooling show, so the idea is that people and horses of all different ability levels can compete in a safe, non-stressful environment. Everyone is there to work on something and have the experience of a show without some of the pressure.
The first chunk of the morning we spent getting ready – the horses needed to be brushed and cleaned up, as well as tack. Then I had to get dressed and get my number pinned on.
There was a lot of waiting around, which was awesome for Sue. He (and I) had to practice sitting, watching other horses, and just generally being calm. The same thing happened in the warm up pen – tons of other horses doing their thing and we had to practice just doing ours.
We competed in three classes. The first was a walk/jog class – the horse and rider are judged on how nice their gait is, how well they work together, etc. We had a really good time doing that and it was nice because there were 16 other horses in the class, so it wasn’t a solo thing right off the bat. The second class was our pattern – you have to move the horse through a series of walking, backing, loping, jogging, trotting, and galloping. Sue was amazing… he did absolutely everything I asked him! I missed the right lead (horse speak for making him run but starting with the right front hoof), which automatically disqualifies you. It was a great experience and was the one thing that went “wrong”. Needless to say, we’re going to keep working on that right lead!
After that, we played around on the trail course – basically a series of obstacles that you and the horse have to navigate. Not once did Sue do anything bad (there were other riders there that had horses try to buck) and I could feel that he was really trying hard! I love that horse!