Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Stressful Day Before the Show

Melissa and I hauled up together to the Port Angeles show first. When we arrived at the fairgrounds Friday afternoon (after an additional hour added to the haul due to Labor Day Weekend traffic), we were dismayed to find the entrance gate padlocked shut. As we called and texted anyone we could think of, waiting pulled over in the grass, Sarah told us to check the perimeter and find if a different gate might be open. We opted to do that, and if no luck, at least unload the horses out of the hot trailer. Fortunately, we did find a second gate open and the road from there led around the fairgrounds and to the horse barns and arena. So we gingerly brought the trailer through the gate and around the small fairgrounds, and got the horses unloaded. The next step would be finding someone to unlock the main gate before Sarah and her big rig arrived - it would never be able to make the tight turn we had to take using the alternate route in.

As we tried to figure out that next step, we did want to get the stalls bedded and the horses out of the sun. We got their two stalls ready to go (fortunately the horse barn was not locked) and began getting the stalls ready for the next four horses to arrive. Meanwhile, we saw the only two cars parked in the fairgrounds pulling out of the far gate, and locking it behind them. This was not good: not only had we not found someone to unlock the gate for Sarah, but now we were locked in the fairgrounds and there was now no access back in or out. This immediately sent Melissa and I into a small panic mode and we set off across the fairgrounds in search of anyone who might be here with a key. We knocked on the office door, whose hours and sign read closed. Melissa scrambled to get in contact with anyone who might be able to help, and I walked the fairgrounds a little longer in hopes of finding some groundperson there who could help.

As my search came up dry, I made my way back to Melissa, who was still calling numbers. Then, by some miracle, two dogs were let out of the caretaker's house. Then, a woman briefly appeared at the doorway and made eye contact with me. I immediately approached her and told her the situation. Fortunately, she did have a key to the main gate, and mentioned that the other fair workers had left believing that Melissa and I had a key. Well, obviously that wasnt the case, but she unlocked the main gate and just in the nick of time as only a few minutes passed by before Sarah came into sight and pulled the big rig into the grounds.

Crisis averted!

Melissa and I had managed to get all of our things unloaded so we were available to help speed up the process for Sarah. Ponies and supplies all situated, we new we had to start riding soon - it was already seven o'clock and we only had an hour or so of daylight in the outdoor arena. We all started tacking up, and heading towards the arena.

My horse had already been acting funny that morning when I was bathing and prepping him to leave. He was fidgety and had excess energy. In hindsight, I should have at least longed him before bathing him. At least it would have taken some edge off of him. When we arrived at the fairgrounds, he seemed to get mildly attached to Grace (probably because they hauled there together, that always seems to be the case with Milo), and got distressed watching other horses leave the barn as well. He had been pitifully calling to horses as we had been unloading, and started getting some runny waste.

Things fared no differently as I got astride him. He was set to high gear - my horse had never trotted with this much forward ever before. We trotted, and trotted, and trotted for ages, adding some nose in hip out and snake exercises along the way. He felt good and finally settled down a degree, so we started on our loping work. Everything seemed to fall apart. I couldnt get a decent lope out of him, he would blow through my hand and every time to tried to spur him for lift he would run away from my leg. The counter canter work was a mess and he refused to come up over his back. We couldnt get a circle to save our lives and every time we reached the center he wanted to blow his shoulder out - wouldnt listen to my outside rein or leg at his shoulder to keep him straight. I was so frustrated.

I walked straight to Sarah who was longing a horse, and she asked what was wrong. I just need help I said, sort of throwing my hands in the air. Sarah told me that my horse just came from a three hour trailer ride and was probably stiff and sore in his hocks. He couldnt lift. Tonight was not the horse show, tonight was schooling and getting him fluid. She made me work on a figure eight at the trot, nose in and hip out each direction. It was such hard work to even get him to listen to my leg to push his hip out. Sarah now wanted to see a lope, and it was just as bad as before. She told me I needed to sit in the center and make Milo work, not me. That all sounded well and good, but it was not happening. She told me to stop and do some walk work. Nose in, hip out, back, forward. Loosen him up. So I did for the remainder of the ride, and as the sun disappeared and everyone was heading back into the barn, she finally said that he looked more fluid in the hocks. Great, but I couldnt feel it. I was just frustrated and didnt want to talk.

I put him away, mad, and feeling defeated in my classes already. From a wonderful ride on Thursday, to this the night before the show, I was unhappy on many levels. I wanted to pack up and go home. Tack cleaned and horses fed, we headed into the campers for dinner and I downed two Mikes Hard Lemonades faster than I ever had before. I wanted the night to be over.

It soon was and we were up and at 'em at 6:30 in the morning.


Mary said...

I can't wait to hear the rest. I remember whenever I worked with my horse the night before a show and he was terrible, usually by the time our class was up, he was perfect! I think it's a good thing you got there the day before.

in2paints said...

I always try to get to a show early for just that reason. All the bad stuff can be worked out the night before and hopefully they're more settled and ready to focus by day two. I can't wait to hear how you did in your classes!