Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Confessions.

At the show Saturday afternoon, running between classes, dehydrated and stressed, I realized that showing was NOT my thing. I was literally sitting there in the shade trying to recover before my last class and wondering why the h*ll I did this.

I wondered if maybe it would be easier if I had started as a child. Or maybe if I had paid my coach to walk me through the show. Or if I simply paid my coach to show FOR me. Or maybe I should stick to the small back country fun shows. Or give up showing all together. Maybe once was once enough.

I wasn't so sure I could do it again.

_______

As I dismounted from Moon after the Kur, I felt a little different. Tired and dirty, yes. But...satisfied.

My boots rubbed blisters, I still had a 4 mile ride home and Moon was about done for the day.

But somehow, we still cantered down the grassy patch on the side of the road, and still trudged along.

We still trudged along.

_______

Saturday night faded away and Sunday was busy. Yesterday I stayed cocooned in the house avoiding the heat. I did manage to empty most of my gear from the car and still have some tidying up to do at the barn, post-show.

I sat on the couch and thought about the weekend...

Was I ready to give up this showing thing?

_______



Coach W emailed me Monday. Her words were simple, her question direct...

"Congrats on an amazing first show! I thought Mr. Moon looked great! So, June's approaching....maybe a bronze walk trot test is in order? Or will we be cantering by then??? Sandra I was so proud of you and Mr. Moon! Please consider the next show!"

Please consider the next show...should we even bother?

______

You probably all know me by now. I'd be surprised if you didn't already know the answer.

OF COURSE!!!


The first step when you have an addiction, is admitting you have one.

"Hi, I'm Sandra, and I officially have a showing addiction."

Yup. It's a fact. As I catch myself eyeing the July Brandon Show Schedule, wondering if maybe...maybe...

It's a 3 hour drive. It means camping or a hotel. It's a long way to go. 1/2 a day off work at least.

But...

...did I mention they have a special walk-trot Freestyle class...(freestyles are normally limited to Training level and above).

:  )

_______

Yes, there's no doubt I'll be aiming for our next show, the Captain DeKeyneres Bronze Sanctioned Show on June 16th and 17th.

BUT, we're doing it different then the last time.

You see, I loved the showing parts. I love riding in the ring, trying my best, improving our scores, and creating the freestyle.

I really, truly had next to NO ring nerves.

What I suffered from, was PRE-ring nerves. Where do I go? What do I do? When can I enter? Who do I speak to? When can I use the warm-up ring? Where can I walk? What's the protocol? How long before hand do I need to be ready? Will I be late to my class? What test is that?!! etc, etc, etc.

Because I'm an obsessive planner. If I don't have every detail and plan laid out in advance, I freak out and stress.

But I memorized my tests. I knew them. They were planned to every letter, every transition. It's getting INTO the ring that freaks me out!

Now we've experienced the "pre-show" bits. I know where to go at that facility, I know how and when to enter the ring, and how and when to leave. I know how to ride in a warm-up ring (well, how not to crash or piss off too many people)...

And most important? I know what I'd do differently!!

Yes, of course there's a list.

1) Own trailer. 
Technically I own a trailer, but it's not useable. Unless I want a leg-less pony.
Tomorrow it is being sandblasted, Saturday it is being painted! That gives me 1 month to reinstall the floor boards, lacquer and reattach the roof, and add the wiring and brakes. I think it's enough time, but if it's not, Coach W was awesome enough to offer us a ride : )

Oh, and teach Moon to load into it. : P The longest task. : P

This is key because riding home after a long show is not the hugest blast. Especially in your blister-causing show boots and white breeches. : P

I also hate asking for rides from people, no matter how awesome or nice they are.

Owning your own trailer also means all your gear is pre-stocked, by and large. At least that's my intention. No need to keep emptying your tack shelves to haul stuff between shows and home.


2) Less is More.
Less classes that is. 6 in 4 hours is insanity. Like beat your head on the nearest fence-rail insanity. If you've never done it before, you don't realize just how ridiculous it is (okay, so my whole family said it was too many, but not the point!). I learned my lesson. From now on, I want either only similar classes together, or at least 1 hour in between. NEVER again will I do what I did this weekend. Insanity.


I've already looked over the June show list, and have decided we'll do 3 classes, and stay for the whole weekend.


3) Get a stall.

I balked at spending the $60 or so dollars for a stall for one afternoon of showing. And had I owned a trailer (pretty sure the other gal tied to her trailer anyway), it may have been okay. But as Allison can attest to from her weekend show experience, holding your horse and wandering around the grounds for hours IS NOT FUN.

Mid-day Saturday I would have paid someone $100 to use their stall. I'm serious. Next time we do this, we're getting a stall. We're moving in Friday evening. We're relaxing in the shade of the barn, where Moon has a nice bucket of water and a hay net.

This also means that I can give him a bath Friday afternoon before going to the show, stick him in a stall for the night and return the next morning to a reasonably clean horse. And I can braid him in an environment where I can get on a stool and he'll stand still.


4) Show Cover.
On Sunday I went to a tack sale, and bought some new gear. All kinda show-specific. Such as a real stock tie. I know, stop the presses. It was $5, brand new in a package and came with three different colored accented center pieces. But I'm still not sure I want to part with my real tie...

I also bought Moon a show cover. It's a silk smooth, light weight and cool cover. It comes up over his entire neck, and keeps him clean. And shiny. Not dust covered as you wait between classes. Especially nice for haul-in shows where you're tired to a trailer. I'm thrilled. For $10, it would make my life so much easier.

5) Don't be Lazy.
My "show jacket" is not a show jacket. And somewhere between being lazy and not having enough time, I didn't add the two button holes I needed. I cut corners and stuck some sticky-velcro to keep the front closed.

Except...on hot days, the stickiness disappears. So my jacket would come undone in the sunlight. Oye. I need to add those button holes. I need to add those button holes...


6) Button Braids or Roached.
Running braids hate me. There was one person at the show who could pull it off and it stayed in all day, but poor Moon's just kept shaking out. No matter how tight I tried to braid it. Maybe if I had a stall and stool it would work, but at this point, I'm not sure I'm going to bother.

I know, I know. I want his mane natural for the bugs and weather, but if we're going to keep showing in REAL shows, he needs to be braided. And I can't do 30 second running braids before a class. Which means braiding the night before or early that morning. Which means I might need to make/buy a neck slinky.

Or I roach Mr. Moon...


Which means I need to get around to trimming his fetlocks. And bridle path.

7) Pack a picnic.
Someone (sorry forgot already!) suggested packing a cool with drinks, and that's an awesome idea. Maybe a cooler with drinks and food and candy. Or maybe next time, I'll ditch my horse in a stall and hit the canteen on the 2 hours over lunch I have between classes (couldn't get to the canteen this weekend since it was on the grass : P ). Hmmmm...

8) Gloves.
I thought people did this because it looks good. I rarely ride in gloves. Hate them. Didn't want to just buy some to look stylish, so I didn't. They don't offer you any more grip then bare skin, do they? I never found that.

Until Saturday.

When it's hot, dusty, your sweating from the heat AND nerves, suddenly your grip is gone. OR alternatively (or at the same time thanks to my luck), you're getting blisters on your rein fingers.

GLOVES. A must.

Looks like I know what my $25 gift certificate I won is going to. Really, really nice show gloves. Synthetic so maybe I don't wind up in hives again.


9) Wet Naps.
To clean up before pulling on those white breeches. For the apple juice you spill on yourself because you're too nervous to drink properly. To wipe your dust covered face between classes. To remove the gob of horse slobber from the back of your jacket. Wet Naps. Another must.


10) Ask for the sound check pre-freestyle.
If ONLY I had known and thought of it! : P
_________

There's many more lessons that I learned, but overall, I feel well prepared for our next show. I'm actually excited, and rather taken aback that W asked if we'd be doing training level! Haha. Not a chance in heck right now!

I read somewhere you shouldn't consider going up a level until you're managing 6's on all of your elements. For us, that means we have a long way to go. Our top score was 52%, which isn't all that great.

I'd REALLY like to see us manage a 52, 55% and 58% at the next show at Walk-Trot, so that we can try to break the 60% at our 3rd show. If we manage that, I'll take him to a walk-trot + training level on the last day of our 4th show to finish off our show season. No need to rush, it's all for fun.

What's even neater, is that maybe this means W thinks we're ready to school more canter?!

________

So we're on tap. We're ready, eager and excited for our next show. The count-down timer is being reset on our show page, the scores from the last show are posted, and I'm going to focus on working on the things we were docked marks for on our tests. Like actually riding to the letters : P

Hello show season, I think I'm in love...

: )

4 comments:

  1. I love lists! As far as a cooler goes--I don't know how you survived without one! I always stock up on almost-frozen Gatorade AND water, sandwiches, and tons of candy, chips, and crackers that will give you a good sugar rush to keep yourself going. Real food can come whe you're done!

    As for the gloves, they're also good for a quick sweat whipe off without smearing your dirty horse hair fingers across your face right before you go into the dressage ring! ;)

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  2. Funny, for me the part where I go into the ring is where I finally stop being nervous! Nothing more I can do at that point lol.

    I think you got the toughest part over with. I've shown dressage once, but it was just one random class at a regular little club show so it didn't have all of the protocol of a real dressage show. There is a dressage show here next weekend that I'd love to do but I'm so intimidated by the protocol! I don't have any friends locally that do dressage so nobody can help me decipher it. Maybe I'll go out and watch it so I can see how the real dressage people do it.

    Believe it or not, I've been showing on and off for nearly 27 years (omg that's scary) and this upcoming show will be the first time I've ever shown from my own trailer! I think it's going to be fantastic because I can pack early and I can spread things around as much as I want! I've always packed so conscientiously so as to not take up more than my share of space. Now it's all mine!!! I'll have to let you know after if it's really better lol.

    And I'm so with you on the less is more. I showed way too many classes in Bozeman last year. I saw my horse truly tired for the first time ever at the end of the day and I felt terrible. This weekend's show I'm planning just two classes, and Memorial Day I'm thinking just 3 or maybe 4. It's so hard because I'd like to enter everything we're eligible for every day for all three days!

    Even though we are taking our trailer, we plan to get a stall for both shows. I think it's so much easier for the horse to relax plus they get out of the weather for a bit (be it rain or shine).

    Tip for the running braid. You can tie it in! HORSES-How to- FRIESIAN FRENZY/braids. Also I've been experimenting and a French braid (adding hair from both sides) seems to hold a bit better than a running braid (adding hair from just one side). Experiment and see. I think button braids are beautiful but oh so much work! I wouldn't roach for dressage.

    I really like your wet nap idea. I will be switching to white breeches for my last class of the day. Think my hands will be clean? Besides, you might have to eat one of those sandwiches you brought for your lunch lol.

    So glad to hear that you're not giving up on showing. Funny thing is, every show I say that it's maybe not for me, maybe not worth all the effort, and yet somehow I'm all psyched up to go when the next one comes along. Showing really is an addiction!

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  3. The first show is the most difficult because you have no idea what to expect, but it sounds like you learned a lot and will be better prepared for the next one. That also means the next one will be more fun, and the next one even more fun, and so on... which also means this showing thing only gets more addictive!!

    Showing from your own trailer is a HUGE plus, I can attest to that. If I'm spending more than one day showing I get a stall, but for the most part I just show out of my trailer. I'm quite lucky because I have a little camper area in the front, so I have access to water and a potty, and lots of room to get dressed. I think once you're able to show out of your own trailer, it'll make things a million times easier.

    I was SO SAD when I first started reading your post and found myself saying, "NO! It's not true! She wouldn't give up on showing already!" and then you saved the day. :)

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  4. The first show is quite the experience! I debated with myself on going back for another. . .I think I will give it another try though. These grounds don't have stalls, so I just hope that we can get a closer spot with the trailer. Otherwise. . .spending another day lugging that pony around will put me in the loony bin!

    As in2paints mentioned, I was sad and thought you didn't want to show anymore, either! I was thinking, you guys did so good!! Glad you are gonna keep it up!

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