I have a real reining horse!
I guess I have felt that my horse is capable of reining, but after this last show I really feel like I can call myself a reiner now, and that we fit in with the other reiners out there competing. I have a lot to learn still, but I think I can say we are no longer ignorant newbies.
Catch my drift? Milo and I went to our first B Rated horse show this weekend. For those who might be unfamiliar, Washington State divides itself into "Zones" and each zone puts on their own B System horse shows. They are double judged and follow the same rules as the breed and discipline associations. I like to say that they are two steps up from schooling and one step down from A rated or Breed show.
I was very excited to get off of work Saturday evening and haul up to beautiful Port Angeles for the show. While outside of my "Zone", Olympic Peninsula Zone is the closest nearby that offers reining, so I transferred zones to qualify myself for year end awards. It is about an hour and a half drive to get to the show grounds, but a similar one to the Tacoma Unit where I was showing this past winter.
Sarah and some of her clients were already there (including Melissa and Grace) for the classes Saturday including the Maturity classes and sweepstakes. I was a bit bummed to miss the sweepstakes classes, but I was lucky to switch shifts and get off earlier from work anyways. We still made it to catch a few glances at the reining sweepstakes classes, and with good time to settle Milo into his stall before classes ended and I could school in the unfamiliar arena.
The fairgrounds are beautiful. While the arena is a bit rocky, the stalls and stall fronts in the horse barns are well constructed and kept up. I didnt fear my horse escaping overnight due to lack-luster stalls at some of the other show grounds I have gone to locally. Milo settled right into his stall with fluffy shavings and water buckets. I was equally impressed with the organization Sarah had gone through to make the showing experience as close to home as possible. She completely overhauled the empty stall to a tack room inclusive of hanging saddle and bridle racks. She even got the aisle-way set up for grooming and saddling in cross ties and very easy access to all the things we would need. I had never gone to a show with Sarah in her element before and I must say, I definitely will try and go to shows with Sarah because she makes things entirely comfortable and stress free.
So, after the classes were over and Milo had had some dinner in his belly, (oh and one of Sarah's students so kindly re-did my less than exceptional banding job) I tacked up Milo and hit the arena by 9, with just enough daylight left to get some schooling in. Milo worked well after checking out the arena and it's things to look at, and we had a nice ride. There were certain things I new needed some addressing, and sure enough that is when Sarah made it over to the arena to watch. I was again holding some tension in my lower back and Sarah also suggested giving Milo even more rein. I found the more rein I gave him and the better seat and leg cues I asked with, the lower Milo's head came and the more he rounded up and reached down into the bridle. Its funny how giving trust to your horse and riding correctly can do that!
Horses all snug and ready for bed in their sleazies and sheets, we all enjoyed some campfire smores, potato salad, and chicken along with a lot of laughs and entertainment. Boyfriend had so ingeniously created a sleeping quarters in my tack room, which naturally I forgot to take a picture of when set up, but it worked famously for a one-nighter at the show grounds.
Reining was the first classes of the morning and I was up bright and early at 6 am. I fed Milo (who I had no issues with BTW, nor did anyone else such as the gal who pulled him away from his food in his stall the night before to band him in the cross ties before I got in there from the show office), cleaned and watered him, and prepped for my classes. Milo had very clearly enjoyed a nice slumber the night before, which I was happy about knowing that his usual 10 am snooze-fest couldnt happen so he was at least well rested and comfortable.
Before long it was time to tack up and warm up. Milo felt great in the warm up arena, though small, I didnt get a chance to lope him before classes were called for the reining. Fortunately, after the arena drag, they opened the show ring up to reiners for a 15 minute warm up period, where I was able to get some loping, simple changes, and rollbacks in. Milo didnt feel quite as with me as the night before, but he still felt good and I was ready to go. I looked around at the fellow reiners riding and felt a pang insecurity, then reminded myself that I was interested in the score, not the placings.
They called the order of go and Milo and I were up first out of three. I had only looked at that class's pattern not wanting to confuse myself with knowing two. I entered the arena, Sarah, Boyfriend, and the Judges watching.