Like many of you, I dreamed horses my whole childhood. I dreamed of showing my own horse, showing any horse, in something, somewhere, even at the tiniest barn show, just once.
I didn't do more then a nose-to-tail trail ride on one-off family vacations until I was 17. Ten years later, after many ups, downs and offs, I find myself exactly where I always wanted to be. At my first show, with my first horse.
This is that story.
Feeling the time crunch since I still had a very crudely run-through kur, no practice of the walk-trot test and a mild sense of related panic, I took Friday afternoon off work.
It was a good choice. I had printed off the walk-trot test, and in mapping it out, noticed an error. They told you to turn left and circle, except that meant you'd head right over those little white fences. ERROR. Emailed the show steward who promptly made the correction and sent it back.
I stuffed Moon's costume into my trunk yet again and raced off to the barn. I managed to glue together the costume using loads of velcro and duct-tape, and then while it dried, grabbed Mr. Moon. I blasted from my car stereo my kur, and after warming Moon up, we started practicing.
You CAN make a dressage freestyle 100% based on mathematics.
I'm not even joking.
I had done every transition, every movement, every letter based on his walk-trot speed and the size of the arena and each figure. And when I actually rode it to the music, the timing was near perfect.
And Moon, bareback, was near perfect.
I ran through it a second time, and I went to line up on the center line, I noticed a 1/2 ton (the municipality was grading the road so there were municipal trucks whipping up and down), backed into the driveway across the street. In perfect view of the ring. Weird, but whatever.
Twice more we rode that song and I was in love. No matter how Saturday went, this song, this music, this ride, would be the one that I'll always remember. No matter how Mr. Moon did, that freestyle was us. It was going to be "our" song.
Funny, after I finished my kur practice and dismounted, the municipal truck drove away, near to the second. ; ) Apparently someone enjoyed a nice sneak preview. : )
We rode the walk/trot test twice through, I was certain I knew it, so I called it a day. I still needed to volunteer at the show office and was running out of time.
I quickly tried on Moon's costume, and it was perfect. That was yesterday's pic of him in front of our home arena. I snapped quick pictures, knowing even if Saturday went to h*ll, I would always have at least one picture of this ridiculous costume that my amazing horse would actually wear. I mean, it was WINDY Friday evening, and he still was a total champ.
He had already won in my books.
Tore off the costume, placed it in the garage for transport Saturday, tossed Moon back in his paddock and raced over to the Horse Council facilities.
There I stopped to drop of W's stall sign and visit quickly with her and another friend, K who was competing. Was totally bummed to hear that W's horse Royal wasn't feeling well and likely would have to scratch. He previously suffered...bladder stones?...and the last time had to have surgery. She thought he was feeling similar under saddle as the last time, but not nearly as bad so hopefully they were still small and they could have the broken up by ultrasound. : ( I felt terrible for her. She tries sooo hard to show, but the universe just won't let her. : (
Her 7-year old beauty however was doing awesome at her first show experience! She was there just for familiarization, and from what I saw all weekend, was doing awesome. : ) I really, really hope the two of them hit a show this summer, as they'll smoke it out of the water. : )
At the show office, I spent the next couple of hours doing things like putting stickers on show test, and writing on waivers for people. Not too exciting, but I did get sent to Subway to buy food for the stewards since the food-booth people didn't show up.
The best part (to me) was that I got to watch everyone warm up. : ) And sitting there, I managed to get some basic feeling for how things worked, where I was to be, and what the environment was like.
After 3 hours there, I packed it in and went back to the barn. I had thought about trimming Moon's fetlocks, and a half dozen other things, but in the end, decided against it. It was late, I was tired, I still had to feed horses and pack, and I really didn't care. I love him just how he is, and it's a fun show.
I got home by 9 pm, had a wonderful shower, packed the last bit of stuff and crawled into bed. Tomorrow was show day...
I can promise you, I hardly slept.
Saturday morning I was out of bed, packed my car and raced over to the barn. I opted not to put my breeches and show clothes on at home before I went, not wanting to be overheating (it was to be a hot day), if I wore them for the 6 hours pre-show.
Mistake #1. ; )
At the barn, I pulled Moon out and gave him a good grooming. He was a total pasture pony. Cut marks, bite marks, fence marks, bug marks all over his body. Most were healed, but they hair hadn't grown back yet. His white legs were brown and dirty, his blaze was a muss, he was shedding like crazy and didn't glisten at all. Whatever, I thought. I did my best, brushed him down, borrow H's "Green Spot" remover and before I knew it, I had a half-decent looking pony. Okay, he was adorable and I love him.
H joined us for the trip over to the park, and then Moon was unloaded and I was on my own. He was looky and head-high, and I could only breathe and hope for the best.
No to wander over to the show office, pony in hand, since I didn't get a stall.
Mistake #2 : P
I love ridiculous rules.
Things like: If you haul-in, no tying your horse, it must be held at all times. No horses on the grass.
Okay. So now build your show office so that the window is on the grass.
I figure, it's 5 paces for me to go up to the show window with Moon in hand. I can't tie him, I have no handler, and I need show numbers.
I take ONE pace and get yelled at by some random person. "NO HORSES ON THE GRASS!"
"Um, how do I get to the show office?"
"I need my numbers and would like a program".
"WELL YOU CAN'T GO ON THE GRASS"
Resist urge to beat people with my lead rope.
"Is there some way I can get them please?"
"USE THE BACK DOOR"
Except there's a whole group of people standing around and yapping RIGHT on the path in front of the show office back door.
One or two people shuffle over.
Right. Cause I need to get my hyper, slightly overwhelmed horse by you, while staying perfectly on this little gravel path, and would *prefer* none of you gets run-over by my 1000 lb. creature.
But no, please don't bother to step onto the grass.
Apparently however, your horse spinning in slow circles around you looking slightly wide-eyed will actually get those people to get the h*ll out of your way.
It did for me.
I should also add, that someone throwing open the back door of a building while your very looky horse is standing there is pretty scary to a horse. Just saying.
So I get my show numbers, and head back to my car. There's some grass there and no sign (or people) banning me. Moon's nervous, I'm nervous and irritable and we're just trying to do our best. By some miracle I get his numbers on his bridle and we start walking up and down the path to calm him down.
Lesson #1: Showing up 6 hours early is beneficial for a horse that's never seen any of this before. Gives you LOTS of time to wander around and see everything.
He only steps on my feet (both of them) about 4 times over the course of the morning. He rudely shoves me a couple times and tries to scratch on my body. NOT ALLOWED.
I really want to watch some friends ride in Ring 1, but can't get to it because of the grass-rule. W/e.
Snap some pictures with horse in one hand, camera in the other. Moon drools on it repeatedly. Sometimes bashes my hand mid-shot, causing me to photograph the sky or other randomness. I praise my zoom lens that lets my photograph (poorly) ring one from a 1/2 mile away ; )
Moon's starting to "calm". And I'm running out of time. I luck out and C, one of W's students who's been working a bit with Moon, finds us.
Her and her friend are awesome. I needed them, big time.
C holds the crazy Moon while I put a braid in his hair and brush him down. He's hyper again. Where we are, he can watch the trail rides from the local ranch going out. He seems to think he should be with them on a trail ride, not here getting his hair braided for some competition. He acts like a bit of a dick, circling and refusing to stand still.
I beg C to hold him while I put on my show breeches.
Mistake #3: Wash your hands before putting on white breeches. And if you've been travelling around a dusty, dirty horse facility all morning, wash arms, legs, face...
My white breeches were already covered in dirty smudges. And I was dressing in an outhouse.
Back to Moon, I start saddling him up. He's a pest. He's circling and won't stand still. Nervous pooing. T2 stops by along with R from the new barn, and I don't know how, but we get Moon saddled, bridled, me dressed and on him. With me on board, he settles down a bit.
My folks and BF show up, and I try to be welcoming to them, while trying not to puke, control my horse and figure out what I'm doing.
T2 comes to my rescue. She's done this before and starts explaining what and where I should be, and doing what.
No joke, she stayed right by the rail of the warm-up ring the whole time I was getting ready for my first class. And I was in there like a 1/2 hour early. She guided me, relaxed me, joked, smiled, assured me and kept me from weeping like a small child.
Lesson #2: Friends are the best. Friends like T2, who've been where you are, are even better.
K, who was between classes and done this before solo, came over for some moral support as well. I go for another walk circle in the warm-up ring, trying to calm my nerves.
Moon lift his hind leg, and I think a bug is bothering him. He starts feeling funny from behind. I wonder what's going on...
My horse drops to his knees and starts to roll!
I spring off his back as someone yells "DON'T LET HIM ROLL!"
: O I wasn't planning on it!
I kick him in the ribs with my boot, my first reaction.
He springs back up looking perturbed.
I'm flushed with embarrassment.
I'm about 2 minutes from my first class, at my first show, and my horse is now covered in arena sand, my saddle has sand clining to it, the leg of one white breech is now tan from the sand, and my horse is looking mightly pleased with himself.
How many people in a SHOW have their horse roll?? All I could think was "Well at least it wasn't in the show ring!"
I watch the girl ahead of me do her test.
And realize it's NOT the same as the one I memorized. Or thought I'd memorize.
I freak out. Tell T2 and K that I must have the wrong test. Something went horribly wrong. It's all over. I'm done. I don't have it. Oh no!!!
T2 and K try to find the caller for the last rider, and I start circling the ring since it's my turn. The caller explains to T2 that they changed the test, and T2 comes over to the judges booth. We try explaining the test error, and the judge says "Just ride the test you memorized". I realize I'd already broken the rule of "don't talk to the judge", but I don't care. I'm panicking. T2 does her best to talk to them about it, but it's time to ride. She wishes me luck, and I'm just glad that she was there in my moment of panic. I probably would have scratched and cried right there.
I ride into the ring, my heart pounding. I tell myself to smile. I don't care. We're doing this.
So I ride the test I know.
Our first halt-salute, ever.
(Love that you can see his dusty bum from rolling on me!)
(Trade-mark "Evil Rabbit Face")
Finished!The crowd cheers. I smile. And walk out.
Sure, now you stretch : PThere's one more rider in the class. The first rider had done this before, gotten 2nd. Her palomino is a cute little mustangX, very round over the neck. The third rider only has a year of training under her belt, but she's on an 11 year old warmblood that's a school master.
I resolve myself to third, assuming I had the wrong test.
Then back in the warm-up ring, I speak to the first rider with the mustang. Guess what? She tried to ride the test I rode, and they told her she had it wrong. We're all confused now. Her and I review the test together and agree we both had the same one. Hers was different because they made her redo it.
We un-saddle for the bareback $5 ride. Moon's back cut is open and bleeding lightly again. Boourns.
I don't have $5. It's in my car. I don't have time to get it. I panic. Again.
K offers me a $10. My hero.
Then the steward tells her she can get change from the canteen. Yippee!
I stuff my $5 under my leg and head into the ring.
The only caption: "AURGH!" (from both of us!)
I swear it was right here!
And it's gone. : P
Oh well, I'm not too worried. The judges look disappointed. They assure me they saw it during our last turn and it must be in the corner right before the turn-down centerline. My dad walks to the corner, and there it is, caught in the little white fence. We lost it in the final turn!! : O I'm smiling like crazy and laughing. "Oh well," I tell the judge "we had a good time!". She smiles and tells me that I rode a much better test then the first walk-trot and it's too bad.
I smile. She's a lot nicer then I remember. She's actually really nice it turns out. The rest of the afternoon she repeatedly makes positive comments to us. She knows we're not the best, but we're trying hard. And having fun.
We have a short break where I unsaddle Moon to prep for the "Bribe your horse at liberty" class. I assemble my costume in the interim and the wind is CRAZY. Moon is being a jerk. The BF is holding him and not impressed. I'm not either.
At one point I'm tying his numbers onto his halter and he gives me a mini rear. Front feet lift off the ground maybe 3 inches.
Number one NO-NO in my books. Like ZERO tolerance. All I can think of was Danny some 7 years ago. I smack him across the nose. Wasn't even a thought in the process, just NEEDED to tell him it was 100% unacceptable.
He stands a touch better. I'm embarrassed a bit. I hate smacking horses in the face. Body, sure. Face, no. But in that moment, I was reacting. And needed to.
I dash back over to the bribe your horse class.
I've got 4 carrots in my hand and before walking in, give him 1/2 of one. He's still revved high as a kite (for a Moon). I have a REALLY bad feeling about this. He's gonna go nuts and jump the fencing. There's horses and people EVERYWHERE. It's his first show and he was already misbehaving. Who knew how this would go.
My hand shakes as I unclip his lead-rope. The judge says "And you didn't even change into sneakers?" as I'm still in my tall boots. Um, I haven't had time, thanks.
We break the start line and he...
Right there the whole way. In and out of pylons, and back around, he's with me like glue at a trot. Right there.
We cross the finish line and I don't care how we place. In THAT environment for the FIRST time in his life, he was RIGHT THERE beside me. I swelled with pride.
We rushed back to my car as I watch the next person go, their long-strided horse eatting up the ground around the course. Meh. I'm still proud of my boy.
The costume re-assembly is a nightmare. We have about 5 minutes. I can't even re-saddle Moon. I throw his numbers on his bridle, throw his bridle on him, and the BF and my dad grab the costume and some duct tape and run after me back to the ring.
My dad gives me a leg-up onto my bareback horse, and they put his costume on. I can tell Dad, Mom and BF are nervous about the whole thing. Yeah, if running at liberty is nerve-wracking, what's a giant cardboard car in front of so many people, with a horse that's never been in such a contraption at a walk (I had only had it fully on him once, at a stand still!), on a wind day gonna be like? Oh, and me mounted this time, bareback??!
Yes, I was up there and realizing I was insane. Literally, insane.
Am I nuts, or what?! You can't see the bleechers full of spectators!
The judge calls out that we won. And then...
Come on! Even if there were others, we still would have won, wouldn't we?! I didn't even have time to put on our matching helmets...
And as it half-falls off Moon, he starts circling, thinking it's chasing him. No matter how he circles, it's still following him.
Here's where I realize I know my horse. A couple of circles and I slide off his back, snap the piece of duct tape that lets me slide it easily off his body to the ground. He halts just as the judge and my dad run up, and they move it out of his way. He's totally fine now, and we walk out of the ring.
I get a lot of comments from other riders how there's ZERO way 1. Their horse would ever wear a costume like that, and 2. If it fell apart, they're horse would dump them and be out of there kicking and bucking.
: ) Not Mr. Moon. Not my Mr. Moon. He can be a nutter, but in all things, he still a very sane little pony.
We step out of the ring and have ONE little kid circling on a stick-horse before our best groomed! I have ZERO brushes with me, and he needs to be braided for the class. I reach into my pocket and...
There's ONE little black elastic.
I make the world's fastest running braid, literally 30 seconds as the ring steward is asking me if I'm ready, I do the three twists of the elastic around the end of the braid. I'm laughing, as this is a joke.
We loop once around the ring, the judge tells me I have saddle marks, and I tell her I have a lot worse then saddle marks.
She declares me the winner and we leave the ring, me still laughing over the whole thing.
Then Mr. Sparkles walks up. A beautiful huge warmblood, polished and shiny, rhinestones in his bridle, diamonds up his bum.
His owner pronounces she's entered the class too.
Obviously in those 5 seconds when she saw me braiding my horse she entered : P I mean, who wants to say easy win?? ; )
I'm kinda glad. I don't deserve a first place. I probably don't deserve any place, but that's just how it's goes.
We circle the judge again, line-up and the judge tells me I have saddle marks again. I smile. The other girl has a girth mark which she's told about, but let's face it. Mr. Sparkles wins.
I leave the ring, just happy those classes are over!
We have 1 hour before my final kur.
Moon snacks on some hay while I cool off in the shade. I hadn't eatten all day, I had two classes of apple juice thanks to my mom and I'm exhausted.
I felt like being sick. Just from the heat, the dust that was whipping around, the drying wind and all the fluffy pollen in the air from the poplar trees. Moon is sandy, dirty, sweat-covered and there's white fluff all over him. Oh, and he keeps shaking out his running braid, despite all my hair-spray.
My lips are chapped, and no surprise, I'm covered in hives, head to toe. The leather bridle I touched? The dust? The pollen? The stress? Who knows.
We get Moon re-tacked 10 minutes before our last class and I head back to the warm-up ring.
I for the second time (first was when she signed in the night before) meet SuperHorse's rider. My only Kur competition.
Turns out, she's kinda nice. : )
Her horse sparkles. Literally. The horse's owner is there wiping him down, polishing him up, spraying sparkles on him, and she's doing flying lead changes around the warm-up ring.
Moon's unbrushed, hair unbraided, dusty and dirty. I'm just wondering if I tucked my show jacket into my breeches when I went pee during the break...hmmm...is my big white butt sticking out??
I don't care. THIS is going to be my favorite moment.
We circle the ring. The judge loads. We have to yell to the show committee AGAIN that we want our song to start at the halt-salute.
We ride in and halt-salute.
And Moon shuffles.
The show people say the song is playing, but nothing is coming over the loud speakers. They try to imply that there's something wrong with my CD. Since they had played it over the loud speakers for EVERYONE to hear earlier that afternoon, I know there's nothing wrong with it.
Then suddenly, there's music on the loud speakers.
And we missed the first MINUTE of my song.
I have two choices. Throw a DQ moment and demand they restart, or just go.
I just go.
I'm covered in hives, tired, hot and dirty. So is Moon. And he's been standing there for a minute while they figured their sh*t out. To h*ll with it!
So we ride. I shake my head a couple times, dissapointed in the show committees screw-up. I had practiced this hard, and it was bang on. Except for their error which meant I was no where near where I needed to be to leg yield.
On the fly, I start chopping things out of the ride. I'm frustrated and unhappy. They ruined it.
As I come across the diagnol and manage to take enough out to be back where I should be for the second 1/2 of the song, I look at my little cheering squad on the bleechers and back to my awesome little pony.
RIDE THE UGLY. Even if the ugly is the show's committee.
We ride the 2nd half beautifully. I mean, technical marks would be low, but our timing is on, our transitions meet the music, and other then one tiny trot transition during the walk, our Kur is what I had created.
We hit X a moment early, take another step and then salute with the music. My friends and family erupt from the crowd in cheers.
: ) I'm proud of us.
We were the only other people at that entire show willing to go into the ring and do it. Good, bad or ugly, we did it. We did the whole day. We did our song.
The announcer says "I'm pretty sure this isn't a One Trick Pony!"
No, he most certainly ain't.
(Video to come once I edit it to be smaller!)
Superhorse and Rider do a nice job, lots of fancy moves, double bridle and the whole lot. I had learned the day before, that her kur was created by the show secretary, and was done by adding different pieces of music to her movements, which she recorded. Cool and nicely done.
But to me, there was something missing. That sense of self.
I knew we wouldn't win, but our song, it was us. That ride, was us.
If I never did any other class in show, I'd do the freestyle. I offically love it. I'd prefer if they got the music working, but I love it. : ) And yes, the stereo worked perfect for SuperHorse's song. Go figure. ; )
The line-up: My One-Trick Pony and SuperHorse.
The day didn't end there. Everyone left and I went back to the show office to collect my final ribbons and return my numbers. One of the show people told me "Next time pick a safer costume. Your horse could have gone crazy and you could have been hurt since there's no way to get out of it."
"Actually," I inform her, "It all unvelcros. He didn't go crazy, and we were perfectly fine. I know MY horse, thanks."
I can tell she's still not impressed. Probably happens when you know no horses that could handle that and AT their first show.
Funny, cause random spectators called out that they loved my car. The announcer kept saying how we did practically everything today, and Mr. Moon is the all-around horse. Even the first-responder on-site told me she loved our costume. Funny, SHE didn't seem worried she'd have to perform 1st aid.
And yet, Friday when I was working the show office, someone's horse spooked at the wind, and a lady ended up falling down when trying to get out of the way and injuring herself. And MY horse is a danger? Get real.
I ended up riding Moon back home.
3 miles from the show ground to the barn. We had to get directions ONCE from a random stranger sleeping in his truck on the side of the road. Who of course, had to stop and pet Mr. Moon. : )
When we got back, Moon was happy to roll and relax. His back wound was no worse for wear, but he'll be saddle-less until it heals properly. No more peeling the scab off.
H and her hubby drove me back to the ground, M telling me all about watching Moon and me ride. My little cheering committee.
I drove back to the barn after getting my car and fed Moon. In my feed tub was a little note from H, that made me smile so huge...
I stopped for ice cream on my drive home, exhausted and thrilled. I showered, pulled on pj pants and curled up on the couch. A dream come true. Now, to dream.
I'm still recovering from it all. I managed to be dehydrated enough that I've got some heat/sun stroke from the day and constantly feel thirsty. I have an ongoing headache and feel a little hung-over despite not having any alcohol. But I'm thrilled. I have today off, and I'm just relaxing and enjoying it all.
Moon received 6 ribbons.
The 2nd place "Best Groomed" is the one that doesn't mean much to me. It just "is".
Our 2nd place in the Walk-Trot class is pretty special. We beat one other competitor fair-and-square and that's kinda neat. It was our first class ever. We didn't do very well, with a score of 49%. Ike! But we tried, and considering we didn't even know if we were riding the correct test (we were, the judges paper was wrong), we did just fine.
Our 3rd place is from the $5 bareback. The other riders didn't lose their $5, so we were automatically in last. We improved (since it was the same test as the W-T) and scored 52.1%, and that was WITHOUT a saddle!
We went from having 4's and 5's to having 5's and 6's. Not one 4 on our $5 test! Judge wrote that we improved, and there's lots of "obedient halt" and "nice transition" on it. : ) And yes, "acceptance of bit" was underlined repeatedly ; )
Improving, in the same day is AWESOME. No, we're not ready to move up, no we're not likely to take 1st. But we improved. What more could you want from your first show?!
Our 1st place ribbon in the costume class, even though we were the only ones, we EARNED. I'm super proud of that!
We wound up in SECOND for the Bribe your Horse at Liberty. I'm THRILLED about that! : ) Second! And it was the largest class of the day with 5 or so horses. : ) Well earned Mr. Moon.
The Kur was a second, and I'm really proud of that one too.
We also won a Dressage Winnipeg ball cap for the Costume class. : ) Which I could've used a lot earlier in the afternoon!! : P
The best moments??
When K said next year she's doing the Freestyle to give me a run for my money. : ) Or we should do a pas a deux (Two riders together doing a freestyle). I love the idea that more people are willing to do it because I was willing to do it. Good, bad or ugly. Ride because you love it. SuperHorse or not.
When W and gang argued with me when I said that SuperHorse was the better horse. : ) Oh Mr. Moon, you have soo much support, don't you? : )
When T2 talked about her new mare, and maybe someday they'd be there with us too. : ) She deserves that, and boy, I'm gonna have to groom my pants off for them, because they were my life saver!
Hearing my BF and family cheering from the stands, seeing all my barn friends shouting our names and whooping.
The annoucers comments on my wonderful boy.
That costume class.
The quiet ride home with Moon over the trails.
I will do it again. Next time, fewer classes. Next time, we get a stall. Next time, I bring my wonderful boy again and remember this day. When we tried our hardest and I nearly burst with joy. Even if the bugger had rolled in the warm-up ring and stepped on all of my toes. ; )
"He's a one trick pony.
One trick is all that horse can do.
He does one trick only,
It's the principle source of his revenue.
And when he steps into the spotlight
You can feel the heat of his heart
Come rising through.
See how he dances...
See how he loops from side to side.
See how he prances...
The way his hooves just seem to glide.
He's just a one trick pony (that's all he is)
But he turns that trick with pride!
He makes it look easy,
He looks so clean.
He moves like god's
He makes me think about
All these extra movements I make
And all this herky-jerky motion
And the bag of tricks it takes
To get me through my working day
He's a one trick pony,
He either fails or he succeeds.
He gives his testimony,
Then he relaxes in the weeds.
He's got one trick to last life time
But that's all a pony needs (that's all he needs)
He looks so easy
He looks so clean
He moves like god's
He makes me think about
All these extra movements I make
And all this herky-jerky motion
And the bag of tricks it takes
To get me through my working day
One-trick pony, One-trick pony
One-trick pony, One-trick pony
One-trick pony (take me for a ride)
One trick pony.
Moon. MY One-trick pony.