Show season is creeping up on us, and FINALLY prize lists have been posted for our FIRST event. I mean, EVER.
Can you tell I'm excited?
I read through the prize list and spent a long time thinking. The May Dressage show has three options: 1) A Bronze Show 2) A Fun Show 3) Doing both shows on the weekend.
After doing the math, if I did the Bronze show over two days, I could do the fun show Saturday (4 classes) and then 2 W/T tests on Sunday for about $200. OR I could do just the Bronze show for $175 (3 tests).
...but I *think* since I'm still working towards all the trailer upgrades and since it's our first show anyways (which means we'll be a mess and not likely in the running for any ribbons), is that we'll stick to the Fun Show on Saturday.
That's a whole day of events, we can just ride over instead of stabling overnight (so Sunday I can just hack to the park or drive over to watch the other riders) and I won't feel stressed about how I perform since it's not "real" anyway. Then we'll have some idea of what we're in for at the next Sanctioned show we get to.
I'm filling out my form right now. I'm giddy.
We'll definitely do the walk-trot test, and I figure it can't hurt to ride the $5 bareback test either since it's also W/T. I REALLY want to do the costume class (I figure one costume will lend well to all of the summer's gymkhana's we're planning on attending), and then I'm thinking for the heck of it, we'll also do the Ker. Aka. Freestyle. Aka. Dressage to music. I'm *dreaming* of finding someone at the barn who'd want to do a pas a deux, which means, two rider freestyle. But even if we don't, it's one more chance to practice in the ring. The only one I'm not sure on is the "Best Groomed" class. I can certainly clean Mr. Moon up, but is he really a halter horse??!
The whole show would cost me just $60 and I've got a handful of classes to compete in. And since we're just riding over in the morning, I can get him all spiffed at H's and then walk over if we don't have our trailer by then. The rules state no tying horses to trailers anyway, so I'll have to keep him in hand at all times.
Phew. Decided. And Excited!
Uhoh. But now the next most pressing decision...Moon's show name! Should he go under his barn name of "MoonSox", his registered name of "RR Moons Sox" or his blog name "Manitoba MoonSox"?
Yesterday I attended the first IRC meeting as club secretary and was rather nervous to start. They had us "Executives" at the front of the room behind a table and I'm so not a front-and-center kind of person. But as the meeting went on, I realized how extremely different this club is from say work. My tasks are similar enough to make the comparison, except at work, I'm not an expert. Or even really experienced. Sometimes, I don't even understand what people are talking about (it's very health-science based and can run the entire gambit of possibilities...we're lucky we can select people who are experts in the field we're currently investigating). But you throw me in a room with a bunch of horse nuts, and suddenly, I'm comfortable. Happy.
T was roped into being on the executive as well, which is awesome. More time for us to hang-out after and before meetings! I really can't believe how friendly and easy-going the whole group is. After just a couple of meetings, I feel like I know them all really well and wouldn't be at all bashful to drag Moon into something we have no experience in. Like running barrels or doing gymkhana around these people. They're supportive, encouraging and hey, we're not trying to be pros.
Which had me yesterday comparing it all to some of the more serious competitive sports. It's there in them all, be they english, western or not discipline specific. But they're there. And here I am, trying to get into competitive dressage when the fun for me, I think, is in the less technical, more fun act of learning a new sport and giving it a go. I like where it's okay to be a jack of all trades, master of none.
I had gone to the barn yesterday before the meeting to squeeze in some riding time. I Durasole'd Moon's front hooves again (I accidentally got some on myself and am now stained purple...and probably beginning to preserve), and then dragged him into the arena all tacked up. Two of the kids at the barn were riding around and doing trot poles, and Moon was still kinda lazy about riding near other horses. So I went to grab a dressage whip off the wall and accidentally knocked one of those inflatable exercise balls away from the wall. Next thing you know, the three of us were chasing it around trying to get our horses to kick it like a soccer ball. It didn't go particularly well (the horses avoided it more then they kicked it!), but it was a blast. To stop worrying so much about perfect form, perfect bend and softness and just have fun. Goof off. Be un-serious.
I kinda thought after that, "Why am I letting myself get so frustrated with this technical stuff when I'm here to enjoy my horse?" Okay, yes, we're gonna keep working on softness and bend and dressage form, but we're not aiming for the Olympics. We're trying to do it to make riding more enjoyable for us. And it has become that Moon's developed new ways of doing things and I've learned new ways of handling things. But does that mean we get all serious and stop just goofing around?
Ask me what my most fun moments with my horse have been in the last 8 months of "Dressage" and getting serious within the arena? 1. Our first practice test. We didn't ace it, but it was fun. 2. Kicking that ball around yesterday 3. Pretend barrel racing a couple months back.
Fun. Not necessarily our most accomplished or the moments of greatest pride. But moments of pure on fun, enjoying myself and my horse, those were them.
After we finished some "serious" work, I thought, to heck with it. Let's canter. It took a bit and I'm sure he was on the wrong lead, but we made a couple loops of the ring. He got fast towards the end and then I called him down. You know what? It was technically wrong. But I'm gonna say it was a great counter-canter, he's learning balance, and who cares? Heck, if I gained enough control, I can counter canter him in shows, take the dings for the wrong leads, and have fun with it. If I'm just in it for the ribbons, I'd just go online and purchase them myself : P I'm in it for the fun of the competition.
Last thought on the Thinline pad. Yesterday, and it may be a fluke, but Moon didn't start gapping his mouth when I put his saddle on. He just stood there all nice. Even when I girthed it up.
AND I think I'm going to swap inserts. I'm thinking that if he's rubbing at the back, the answer isn't to pad up the back, but to pad up the front so that more pressure is at the front and less at the back. I think I had the whole concept backwards in my head. So tonight, I'm going to reverse it. And see how that goes.
I still don't think it's doing much for Moon when riding, but OMG, I'm LOVING it at a sitting trot. I mean, loving it. I don't think you should be able to tell, and maybe it's changing the way he carries himself so the sitting trot is easier, or maybe I've gained massive amounts of core strength and rhythm (bahahaa), but I was ON FIRE at the sitting trot yesterday. I mean, it was EASY. Until he got cantering and suddenly all speeds meant: Hollow and Rush. But still.
What does this all mean to me? It means it's time to focus more on fun, while still keeping the technical aspects alive. Trail rides that build strength and muscle. Where Moon remains respectful and obedient. But isn't expected to be long and low or round the whole time. It means taking the time to practice by doing things like running barrels or jumping x-rails, knowing that our performance won't be perfect. But we're doing it for the fun!
This evening, I'm going out to the barn knowing I'll spend awhile there. I want to perhaps take Moon to the community centre field and go for a good long gallop. Do some canter circles and then practice our dressage test outside.
THEN, I'm finally packing up my tack box. For real. Even if I have to carry the thing across the muddy parking lot. Ugh. Maybe I'll empty it first!
And this weekend, I'm gonna start thinking about a costume for Mr. Moon. I have one in mind...actually, I have two in mind...okay, three. But the last one requires a side saddle...
I'm also hoping to trail ride with horse and dog to a friend's house. With dog! How awesome would that be? Let's hope it goes okay!
Anyone have any costume ideas?? I'm thinking this might be our sole avenue to getting a 1st place ribbon...we can't ride, but dang, we look fine!