What We Learned This Weekend

Proper mane length and thickness is essential to good braids.

Being organized is essential to avoiding stress on show day.

Teamwork makes horse shows a lot more fun!

Warm-up time is really important.

Even when we don't put in our all-time best performances, shows can still be a learning experience, still be fun, and still be worthwhile.

This weekend was awesome, and as I'm sitting here with a beer and having washed off two days worth of horse dirt in the shower, I'm feeling pretty great about how everything went.

Saturday was a LONG day, but totally awesome. It started out EARLY, doing the barn at home, washing Dino's tail, and then heading home for lunch before traveling down to Rachel's barn to prep for Devon. I had three manes to braid for our Hunt Team horses, and we managed to get everyone done in time to load up on the trailer. My fingers are still pretty sore from braiding, but I'm rather happy with how everyone looked; especially considering that one horse didn't have his mane pulled at all, and I had to half-ass pull/cut it in order to braid it. And we had to take abut 5 breaks during Toby's braiding session because apparently pulling on his mane is a traumatic experience.

Besties! So proud of this girl and this horse!
We somehow managed to get all three horses braided, bathed, and loaded, everyone's gear on the trailer, and all the riders and helpers into the truck without much trouble. There may have been some anti-anxiety meds and beer involved. We were also dealing with one rider with a broken hand, Rachel with an injured ankle, and another rider with a bad back. They all rallied and were total troopers all day! Everyone warmed up great, and our team had a fabulous round in the Dixon Oval! They didn't pin, but everyone came out of the ring all smiles, thrilled with their horses, and had a ton of fun. That's what I call a successful horse show! I finally got home at about midnight. Whew! Plus I made some money braiding, and the trainer at Rachel's barn was so happy with my grooming job that she said I could come pull manes and braid for her anytime, and ride her horses whenever I came to see Rachel. Bonus!

Me and one of my charges, Miss Rosie! She was such a good girl! 
Sunday morning came way too early, and I took care of the minis before coming home for breakfast and to wake up my husband so we could get to the second horse show of the weekend. Dino still needed a bath, but I was about the fifth division of the day, so I figured I had time and I wouldn't even ride til about noon.


Paula was at the show doing massage demos, and thankfully she was able to tell me what class they were on and give me a play-by-play of how our ring was running. Way too early, she texted and told me we were two divisions out, so we loaded up my pony and hoped he would blow-dry in the trailer on the way to the show. But I had two divisions... that would take about an hour... I had plenty of time!

Wrong again.

No sooner than we pulled into the show and I paid and got my number did they announce that Adult Amateur Equitation was starting in FIVE MINUTES.

Stifling a minor panic attack, I asked the show office to please hold the ring, because I had literally just pulled into the show grounds. Thankfully they were super accommodating, and thanks to my ridiculously awesome team of Michael, Paula, and Amy, Dino and I were ready to rock in record time.

Unfortunately, my pony did not transform into the type of horse that can canter twice around the ring, jump 3 fences, and then go in the ring and show. Which is what we had to do. Dino's always needed a through warm-up since I've known him, and that didn't change just because we were at a horse show.

There were only two people in my entire division, including us, so thankfully it was a pretty low-pressure day, and the other rider went first. When Dino and I went in the ring for our first jumping round, it was... interesting. Since we hadn't had a proper warm up, we weren't really on the same page as far as appropriate pace and when we were leaving the ground. All day we were either chipping in or taking stupid-long spots, and when we were actually together over a fence, Dino jumped everything so hard that I literally got smacked in the butt with the cantle of my saddle. He was not really relaxed and into his work, and it showed in his over-exuberant jumping efforts.

In the second class we actually had two stops. BUT - They didn't rattle me one bit. I just gave him a smack on the shoulder with my stick, turned around, and came back at the fence and jumped it. We finished the course, and I was brave and just rolled with it instead of letting the stops get to me. MAJOR WIN! If that isn't proof of how far I've come mentally from last year, I don't know what is.

Dino and I did manage to rally for the last course! While it wasn't perfect, it was definitely the smoothest of the day, and I was happy that I was able to go right back in the ring and jump even after the refusals.

The flat class, however, was our crowing achievement of the day. We got into Dressage Mode and totally killed it, and were dully rewarded with a blue ribbon. The very first blue ribbon Dino and I have ever won together!

Since the entries were so light, the judge was kind enough to come and chat with us after the division was over, which I thought was really cool of him. He said, several times, that Dino was "Extremely Cute." He really liked him! He also really got on me for using my stick on my pony's shoulder, but I wasn't fussed by it. The stick-on-shoulder works for us, and I'm not about to change that to pin better at a local schooling show. He also complimented my leg, which was quite nice to hear.

And we walked away with some serious satin! Three seconds, a first, and a reserve champion! Plus a bottle of shampoo for our awesomeness.

It was a fun day, and I definitely learned some things about our show strategy that I'll be implementing next time around. First of all, we REALLY need our warm up and chill time! Neither Dino nor I were really ready to show, weren't communicating well, and weren't focused because we were rushed. I need to plan to be at the show at least an hour before our first class to have enough time to warm up properly and get relaxed. I also need to work my 'focus muscle'. In the ring, I wasn't 100% focused on the task at hand, and I paid for it with some ugly fences and 2 stops. Getting to the show early enough will help, but I've got to work on centering and focusing before we go in the show ring instead of just winging it! But I have to say, I'm pretty happy with how Dino and I performed despite the huge rush and not having enough time to warm up properly. I'm encouraged, I have things to work on, and I'm looking forward to our next outing!


  1. You were awesome! Great job on making the best of a hectic weekend, you and Dino rocked out there in the ring :-)

    1. Thanks for all your help! Couldn't have made it around without my support team. :)

  2. Super pony! He looks so cute with his ribbons.

    1. Thank you! I am of the opinion that he should be covered in ribbons more often.

  3. Good recovery! Sounds like you had a blast :) My back always hurts me after braiding, not my fingers. Something about the straining and how I stand I think.

    1. My upper back was killing me, too! I think the one horse that was like... 17.2 and wouldn't put his head down did me in. I was on tiptoes on my stool!

  4. Wow, that is a worst nightmare come true with getting there so close to the class! But now that it's over you don't have to stress about stuff like that ever again, right? And look at at all that satin. Great show!

    1. THANKS! omg, for someone who tends to OVER-prepare for shows, it was crazy! But I thank my newfound mental maturity & sports psychologist for not freaking out over it. We are leaving extra early for our next show. Definitely.


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