Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Show of 2015 (And In Many Years!)

It's been quite a while since Lilly and I had a consistent show season. The last one was in 2011 and we did pretty well, but things really tapered off after that for one reason or another. I only took her to one show in 2012 and one show in 2013, in May of both years, so I started out the years with good intentions, but never managed to get out to another one. We won a reserve championship in the Stock Type Division at the show we did in 2013, which I thought was pretty amazing. I never dreamed we could top it, but we did.

It was a Johnston County Horse Show Series show (JCHSS), and the show was supposed to be on Saturday, the 11th, which was also my sweet Lilly's 15th birthday, but the weather has been stormy and they ended up post-poning the show for Sunday.

I wasn't sure what to expect from her. She's always easy going, happy go lucky, and performs when I ask her to, even if we've been out of work for quite some time. I've been riding her a little bit since moving her to the new barn, but nothing consistent, and nothing too taxing. She's hairy, out of shape, and out of practice. (To be honest, so am I! Well, not hairy, but out of shape and out of practice.) At first, I only entered her in enough classes to make us competitive in two divisions, stock type and adult, so we would be eligible for the day awards. At the last minute, I threw in an english pleasure class (to maybe grab a few PAC points) and one other western class, just to get the practice.

Halter classes are always hit or miss for us. Sometimes we're in the middle and sometimes we're at the bottom. It always depends on who else is entered, and how the judge is feeling. We ended up in the middle of the pack yesterday, and placed 3rd out of 6. Honestly, I thought Lilly deserved a second, but the judge disagreed with me. That happens a lot.

Showmanship was amazing as always. I couldn't have asked Lilly to perform any better... her back up was so straight, her pivots were perfect, and she set up in half a second. She rocked it. We ended up with 2nd place behind someone who is a judge, and there's a feeling around the grounds that she sometimes places where she shouldn't because of that. I thought Lilly had a way better pattern than her horse, but Lilly is still a hairy beast and her horse was slick and groomed to the nines. You never know what the judge sees, or why they place how they place... you just get what you get because that's horse showing.

We had a nice, long break after our in hand classes and Lilly was happy to hang out at the trailer and eat hay. I socialized a bit and caught up with some of my horse show buddies, ate a chili dog and fries, cleaned up my tack, and frantically searched for my belt. It felt great to be back in the show atmosphere.

Our english classes went pretty well. We always do ok in the stock type english class because we're competing against other stock type horses (slow, lazy, fat, stubby legs...), so I wasn't surprised that we were pinned 3rd out of 9 horses. That won us 1 PAC point for walk/trot, which should earn Lilly her APHA Certificate of Recognition for walk/trot. YAY LILLY!

The adult class didn't go quite as well, as there were lots of gorgeous hunt seat horses in the ring. I lost count of how many horses lapped us in that class. I've really given up on pushing her hard in those classes, though, because she's just not going to look like the english horses do. I figure consistent and slower is better than pushing, pushing, pushing. We ended up with 7th out of 12, which I felt was actually quite respectable.

Our english pleasure class had 13 horses, and I went with the same philosophy. Consistency was the plan and try to keep her head in a good place when we cantered. She was REALLY good, and her transitions were beautiful. I was very pleased with her performance, and the judge seemed to like what she saw, as she pinned us 3rd! I definitely wasn't expecting that, but I was really excited about it. We won 2 PAC points for that one.

The western classes were not spectacular. She seemed a little cranky and even though she was consistent with her speed, it was too fast, and she wasn't really happy with her bit. It's the one I always use when we show, but usually when we're training at home, I ride her in the big o-ring snaffle. She very clearly prefers that one, so I'll need to ride her more often with her show bit. We got 4th out of 11 in the stock type, 4th out of 5 in the adult class, and 7th out of 8 in the open class.

The open class was a bit of a wash because there was a very young boy on a very hot horse zooming around the ring and riding up on everyone's butt. Despite the announcer repeating that faster horses need to stay to the inside of the arena, he continued to nearly run us all over. He had zero control and couldn't keep her on the inside if he had to. He should NOT have been on that horse. I spent most of my class trying to stay out of his way.

Here's a recap of our placings:
Halter Stock Type - 3rd out of 6
Showmanship Adult - 2nd out of 5
English Walk/Trot Stock Type - 3rd out of 9 (1 PAC Point)
English Walk/Trot Adult - 7th out of 12
English Pleasure - 3rd out of 13 (2 PAC Points)
Western Walk/Jog Stock Type - 4th out of 11
Western Walk/Jog Adult - 4th out of 5
Western Walk/Jog Open - 7th out of 8

And just when I thought the day couldn't possibly get any better, they made the announcements for day champions. Lilly and I won Reserve Champion in both the Stock Type AND Adult divisions! The ribbons are gorgeous!

Lilly was better than I expected both in the ring and out. When at the trailer, she was happy to stand and munch hay. When waiting at the ring, she took many naps. She was very relaxed, very content, and just a joy to spend time with. As always, we have things to work on and I'm looking forward to having more time to ride and get her prepped for the next show. Overall, we had a great day!