It was an exciting two days for me and my bay mares at the Aurora show in Ponoka. The excitement started when I unloaded them in Ponoka to discover that Izzy had pawed her way right through the stall mat in the trailer! Then when I led them into the barn, Dani walked right into her stall, but Izzy had no intention of stepping over the threshold. It took about 5 minutes of convincing to get her into the stall.
Once I got them settled in their stalls with water, bedding and feed I went to check in to the show office and to check my ride times for Saturday: they had me riding Dani at 7:37 am and 10:48 am for her training level tests, and Izzy at 11:56 and 2:41 pm for her English dressage…the problem was they then had me riding Izzy at 3:01 for western dressage and Dani right after! Not sure how they thought I could do a complete tack and outfit change in 14 minutes. Fortunately the show office managed to move my times up for the English dressage, and I found a friend to hold the girls so I could ride back to back for western dressage.
Before the dressage day though, I had Dani entered into the evening classes in the main (indoor) ring. The arena in Ponoka is huge and echos, and Izzy hated it last year. By 5:30 they had finished the afternoon classes and so I could take Dani in to see the indoor arena. She was so funny! “What’s that?” (It’s a saddleseat horse Dani) “Oh, What’s that?” (It’s a horse lunging Dani) “OMG, WHAT IS THAT!”, (it’s a horse being walked in a red cooler Dani) “Oh. Oh, hey, that looks like Java! Hi horse that looks like Java, HI!” (Shh Dani).
After about 20 minutes the arena got too busy so I took Dani back to her stall to relax, with her class scheduled for 6:30. I was able to ride her around the show ring a bit more right before the class while she continued to gawk, but as soon as the class started she settled right down to business “Look at me, I’m a SHOW HORSE”. Arabian shows are kind of fun because you trot in through the in gate to make a grand entrance, and Dani marched in with confidence even though she was the first to go in.
The class itself was not what I expected. I half wonder if the judge thought it was a show hack class (it was a junior Sport horse under saddle class. Junior meaning horses 5 and under). She asked us to walk, trot and canter, and lengthen at walk, trot and canter. We also reversed in a lengthen walk, which was very odd. Dani managed the lengthen trot, but for the lengthen walk and canter I just gave her a looser rein. She placed 2nd in that class!
We then had well over an hour of a break before her next class, which was purebred Arabian Sport horse under saddle, Limit horse. Limit horse means they haven’t won 6 first place ribbons. This class started more normal, with no lengthening at the walk or canter, But then we reversed at walk…and then right away had to canter, then trot, then lengthen the trot, then back to working trot, then canter again, then trot, then walk, then canter a THIRD time, then walk and head into line. Three right lead transitions. It was very odd, and poor Dani was tired, but she managed to be second place again!
It was a long night though, and I didn’t get to the hotel until after 9:30 where I enjoyed my McDonalds dinner…yummy sundae, and cable TV.
Then up at 6 am to check out and braid Dani for dressage! Again she was a star. The dressage was outside, and they had padlocked the arena so nobody could school in the dressage ring. They were using an SUV for a judges booth (it was cold).
For a warm up ring we could either use the indoor warm up that was shared with the main ring classes, or a rocky uneven field. I chose the field because it was closer and less busy. Dani was just doing training level so her warm up was mostly walking, with just a tiny trot. (She was fascinated by the train in the distance)
Dani has NEVER been in a dressage arena, but she didn’t bat an eye! She managed to get over 60% in both her tests, and was second in the junior horse class. Very happy with her!
Then it was Izzy’s turn. Izzy warmed up fine and felt relaxed….but then we went into the dressage ring and it was like she had been zapped. She was electric, and not in a good way. Poor girl. So we started our first level test, and I am going along and I think I hear a whistle (which would tell me I was off pattern), but I knew I wasn’t…but sure enough the judge was waving me over. For some reason when they moved my ride times to accommodate the western dressage, they put my harder test first…but didn’t tell me. Fortunately the judge was accommodating and allowed me to start over. Unfortunately she slammed the car door after talking to me….zoom went Izzy!
Our lengthened trot may have involved some canter, and our lengthen canter may have involved knees coming up well past horizontal. Sigh. Our second level test wasn’t much better…she had great moments (scored 6.5 and 7 for our shoulder in) and WTF moments like our canter serpentine when she picked up a disunited canter after our first simple change. Still she managed to get a score above 60% in that test for a 3rd. We were 5th at first level.
Finally came the western dressage. I know the show photographer got some good pictures, so can’t wait to see them! (although the photographer was the one holding Dani while I rode Izzy and vice versa, and apparently Dani thought it was fun to bump her elbow when she was taking a picture.)
Izzy was so much more relaxed although still too high in the neck. I did manage to do the test neck reining (one handed) which is a first for me! I rode Dani second and I could tell she was tired, yet she had the bounciest trot and canter she has ever had! All I could think about was how much I had to pee…and that my boot had come untied when I switched horses.
Dani’s test started ok, but then for our first canter she did a little buck…which is unlike her. It wasn’t until after I found out why: her tail had gotten stuck in the pin holding her number to the saddle pad!
Even with her little buck she managed to beat Izzy to win the class. Poor Izzy was coming up short compared to Dani at every turn!
I was done showing by 3:15, but then had to wait close to 2 hours for the tests to be scored and placed. (and then when I went to load I found someone had parked in a way to block me from getting the horses in the trailer…fortunately that was quickly resolved). Home for 7pm. Exhausted but thrilled with Dani! Also met some really nice people at the show and had a relaxing time away from the demands of the farm.