OOO look what I did yesterday...
I entered a horse show. This magnificent creature is Tia, the shiny red mare I ride a couple times each week. She's a ten year old, 14.3 hh Quarter Horse mare owned by my coach Susan. I was given the opportunity to compete with her while Susan is concentrating on her one month old baby boy!
You do know that I have a soft spot for a shiny red horse. Tia's been so good for me. She's push-button broke but never gives anything away easily; I have to really want to get a good ride out of her. She always makes me work. I need that.
She's also smart, gentle, and a total delight to the eyes. I adore her and it was an honour to have such a great horse to compete with. I'm riding Susan's horse and wearing her clothes. Man, did I luck out when I went looking for a coach!
I have a strange problem with showing a horse. I ride better at home than I do at the show. This doesn't make for very good performances. I lucked out this year because there weren't very many competitors. I walked away with first and second place ribbons, which believe me are looking good on my bookshelf right now, but I would like to feel better about my rides. I have a bad habit of mentally falling apart in the show ring. I go back to all my old tricks that I'm trying to forget: tugging on the reins instead of slowing the horse down with my body, rushing into the next move without thinking first, forgetting which way is left and which is right. Just...mental freeze up. I never really felt nervous. I felt deceptively calm. I just couldn't think once I got through the in gate.
I also was in a lot of physical discomfort yesterday. I tried to sit up straight and proud and smile and not show any pain. Once you're back on the ground, you can bend over and take a deep breath, but in the saddle it's show time and you better suck it up. I sucked it up. I complained a lot but I looked okay.
Just getting there was a big deal for me. I went out and hitched the truck and trailer by myself but I refused to drive the rig on show morning. I didn't want to add to the anxiety. I worried all week about how badly I could screw up the show and told myself that it really doesn't matter and I can just go and have a good time.
Tia hasn't been off the farm for two years. I mostly stopped showing a few years ago. I don't know how long ago because it's all a bit of a blur.
While this was my best Western Pleasure Class ever, I do believe I can do better. I know that I really messed up the Western Equitation. The good news is, I know why I screwed it up. The next step is to correct these mistakes at home until it's like first instinct to do it right. This is part of my journey, because my Level 3 Rider test is coming up and I need to learn how to cope under the mental pressure.
I know what I need to work on!
The pictures are a good reminder that maybe the competition can't be won on good looks...but it does boost the confidence! I gave Tia a nice pat and thanked her for making me look so good.