By Jennifer HortonThe American Quarter Horse JournalAugust 20, 2013
Jennifer and Bill Horton and "Doug"
Show day was Saturday, August 17! I arrived at the grounds early in the morning. Mitch had already ridden Doug in the Mustang Arena, where we would be showing later that day, and he was back in his stall eating hay. Mitch was down in the Ford Arena on his 2-year-old, preparing for the 2-Year-Old Intermediate Open Western Pleasure class later that morning.
Time management would prove important. After Mitch was done showing and had his photo taken at the backdrop, we had several hours to get Doug ready. I banded his mane, doing the double row of bands again since they looked nice and kept his mane flat when I showed him on Monday.
I washed his legs and tied him back in his stall in front of his hay and water.
We were the fourth pleasure class following longe line, hunter under saddle and western riding in Mustang. We estimated our class would show around 5 p.m., based on the entries listed in the show program for the classes ahead of us. So I had time to grab a sandwich for lunch at the coffee shack at the end of Ford Arena.
I saddled Doug and Mitch took him to the practice pen right next to our stalls for a short session. He turned him over to me to practice my departures and rating. Doug and I were both relaxed and on target, so I felt pretty good when I took him back to his stall. They were on the western riding classes in Mustang, so we figured a couple more hours and it would be time to get ready to go.
The Green western riding had called for 35 entries when it started, however, they announced that there were several scratches and conflicts, so it must have been going faster than they anticipated. I put Doug’s tail extension in and just let him hang out in his stall. The show had been very good about making several announcements, giving three calls for classes, to help keep you informed on the schedules in both arenas. Figuring the Novice amateur western pleasure class would be split, we planned to saddle and head up to the arena when that finals went in, as it was two classes before mine.
Then it seemed that the announcements stopped, and we weren’t sure where they were in the show schedule. They had announced a change in the Ford Arena schedule, with the Heroes on Horses classes moving ahead in the order to be held as close to 3 p.m. as they could get. Our stalls were about as far away from the show arena as they could get and we sure didn’t want to have to rush to get ready and run to the arena. Still believing we would show around 5, we decided to start getting ready when they called for the Novice amateur western pleasure.
Doug was saddled, numbers pinned to the saddle pad and his hooves cleaned and blacked. Even though it was getting closer to supper time, he was quite content to stand in his stall and snooze. I had my jacket and chaps ready but wouldn’t put them on until we were ready to go. And then we sat down and waited. And waited. And waited.
Apparently, there were numerous conflicts for horses and trainers between a maturity class in Ford Arena and the youth western pleasure in Mustang Arena so they announced they would hold the show in Mustang and not start the youth western pleasure until the conclusion of the maturity – which had two splits and a finals.
And we waited.
Dean had gone up to the arenas to keep watch on the schedule so he could call us with updates so we didn’t have to depend on the announcements.
Finally, they announced the end of the maturity class, so the youth western pleasure class would be starting in Mustang. I pinned on my hat, zipped on my chaps and pulled on my jacket as Mitch bridled Doug and we started the walk through the parking lot to the arena. While we walked down there, I tried to keep the calmness.
Mitch got on Doug in the warm-up pen to stretch him and get him ready for me. I was a little surprised to feel my heart beating pretty fast. A little excitement, more nerves I’m sure. So I made a conscious effort to slow that down. The activity in the warm-up arena was increasing. The Green horse western and hunter under saddle pattern classes were after mine, so there were hunt seat horses warming up as well. I couldn’t help but notice the outside activity noise as well, loaders and dumpsters moving, people loading out. Again, probably my nerves starting to work against me.
I got on Doug and jogged around, reminding him to keep his attention on me and making sure he was listening to my reins and my feet. Since my lope departures are key for me in getting him set up right, I practiced those and he felt good. We checked in with the equipment judge and Mitch pulled his bridle to show her the bit and she looked us over and kindly wished us luck.
They called for 20 in our class, which was much larger than the entries listed in the show program. We jogged up the alley through the gate, with the cold air conditioning hitting us as we made the right hand turn to head down the rail at the jog. I was on my own from there out. Mitch would be on the rail to support me but it would up to me to get my horse shown.
Long story short, my ride wasn’t the one I had worked and hoped for. While Doug didn’t do anything bad, he was tired after the long day (and long week) and I failed at getting him shown well. With a very full pen of horses, I didn’t want to make any strong corrections with him that may interrupt someone else’s ride.
When we left the arena, I was disappointed for myself and for Mitch, who has worked so hard for us. Mostly disappointed that I didn’t ride the way I did in the practice pen yesterday and this morning. So this one was on me. We got in line at Larry Williams’ photo backdrop because I still wanted a photo of Doug at this show.
While we didn’t win any prizes, I believe that being here and riding here was still quite an accomplishment. There’s a long personal story there, but let’s just say that I still had such a fun week being there, and even though the 20 minutes in the show arena weren’t what I wanted, I had the best rides I’ve had on Doug in the practice pens and I so enjoyed just being there at this show for the week with my horse. And photographers have to eat. too.
"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' "
Sunday, August 18
Up early for the drive home. The over fence classes are being held in Ford Arena to close the show. While I would have loved to see the Huntfield Derby classes that were held first thing this morning in Ford Arena, I am ready to go home.
We leave Wednesday for Amarillo to work at the 2013 Adequan Select World Championship Show, so the couple days at home will be filled with work. After Select, we get to be home most of September and I plan on showing Doug at the Nebraska Silver Classic and Iowa Futurity show. Another chance to work on what we have learned and try again.
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