I have been dreaming for years of the day I would get to ride a first level test. I have come very close a few times but had some setbacks. Today was the day. We had our normal show morning routine going and all the horses were ready to go. We get to the show and I can already see all the smiling faces warming up the beautiful horses. Not long after that I was getting ready to head into the ring, it was the first attempt at a first level test for Pi and me. All the staff were smiling and wishing me luck as I headed into the ring. Luckily I had just enough time to get one more canter transition in around the ring just before the bell rang and then we were in. As I left the ring I was greeted with “job well done" from everyone and I felt so accomplished after that amazing ride. Everyone at CDCTA was very nice and supportive to all the riders and for me it was very helpful to hear the last good luck from the ring Steward right before entering the ring. The warm support at the CDCTA show made it the perfect place to take our first step up a level.
To show or not to show
I go back and forth. To show or not to show. That is the question.
Why do I show when I often will say, when asked, that I don't like showing? I love riding. I love training my horse. I love learning about horses and their care and about my current obsession, Dressage. But I still struggle with showing. I have been stuck at a particular level with my horse trying to break through some training difficulties. Mostly bits and contact and connection. So now that I felt we had made some progress I decided to sign up for the Mother's Day Show with CDCTA at The Westbrook Hunt Club. . A check in if you will, to see if we had really made any "strides" in achieving our goals. I got the horse clean and braided, the tack cleaned and oiled and my show clothes? Well I squeezed into them after what was obviously a winter of too much fun.
Now I remember why I show...... The people. The chance to show off my horse in this community of people who understand me and my obsession. These folks who are also there to show off their beloved horses. This sport where we all work so hard. We put in so much dedication and time. Need I mention the cost?? As always, I watched the weather for this show. I have been part of this particular show since 2013. It has rained the night before or the day of for all five years. I have developed a sense of humor about it at this point. It is a great way to get used to showing in all conditions. The mud and puddles and the windy cool temps. The warm up next to I-95. I get myself up early and get the trailer loaded. l am up, dressed, and ready to show this magnificent creature that I feel so privileged to ride among these people who are my friends and competitors. They have won classes and ribbons and made the best of what started out as a messy day that turned into a beautiful Mother's Day after all! How did Hampton and I do? We decided we made the progress we had hoped and are on to the next show....... with mixed feelings, of course.
It’s been about eight months now that I have been working with my new Quarter Horse, Rudy. It’s been a long road, as he is an anxious horse who is extremely opinionated, to say the least. Originally, my thought process for the show season was to just take it day by day, as I didn’t think that we would get much further than an Intro C test this year. I spent every day walking and trotting in a 20 meter circle, being sure to keep both of our minds quiet and steady. Within time, our improvements were drastic. Soon enough, we were trotting 18” cross rails calm, cool and collected. He seemed to enjoy the process of becoming an event horse!
After a successful first show with cross rails, I sent an entry in for the elementary two phase that was put on by my club, the CDCTA. The show was held at Westbrook Hunt Club, one of my favorite grounds to compete at. The morning of, Rudy was sleepy and unbothered by the commotion of getting on and off the trailer. The rain had been spitting out of the sky all night, so the outdoor rings were quite soupy. Most horses were being pretty cooperative given the pond which decided to reside between A and K in the large arena. Our white horses were now brown from the hooves to the belly.
There was a fantastic turn out despite the weather, but a few of the scratches brought my dressage time up from where it was scheduled. I got on and proceeded to head to warm up, which was filled with puddles every few strides. Rudy was offended that I was making him so dirty-which resulted in beautiful extended trot work to stop the mud from splashing up his legs. I made my way over to the “bubble”, as I like to call it, which is an indoor round pen area which lead to the small dressage arena. Rudy stayed composed despite the echoes and rain drops on the roof.
I marched in and around the ring, and Rudy acted as if we had done it a million times before. My circles weren’t circular, my centerline was more like the quarter line, and my halt at ‘X’ was far from straight and square. BUT- my work was relaxed, there were no surprises, and I left the arena hugging my horse. The rain had stopped for a bit which allowed the stadium ring to solidify a tad. Rudy could tell that the footing wasn’t right so he took his sweet time and trotted most of the course. I won’t complain! We jumped clear and safe, making an incredible day for us.
Overall, we went home dry AND with a pretty red ribbon. The show staff was more than accommodating, and super friendly! I didn’t see one competitor on the grounds without a smile despite the rain and mud. I can’t wait to go to the next CDCTA show and compete with the same group of people. Check out www.cdctaonline.com for all the fun stuff CDCTA is doing!
Cally Hency & Rudy
Clinic and Event Participants.