Sunday we hauled out for the Washington State Quarter Horse Association's All Rookie show. Yes, Milo is a Paint, but the QH show was offering some All Breed classes and Sarah was taking her clients to the show and encouraged me to go for a couple of reasons: 1. The judge is NRHA carded and would be a really valuable person to not only judge us, but to take some lessons with (whom Sarah also plans to take some of her babies to, and I could then go too) and she believed being judged under him then have a lesson from him would be an invaluable experience - I agreed. 2. Not only would this be a good experience at the Breed show level, the show was geared for all Rookie and Novice competitors, so I would get a taste of Breed show level, at a rookie environment. Sounded like a good idea to me.
Based on the last schooling show, we decided to put Milo into two classes before our reining one. Although Milo has shown at this venue many times now, we thought that a couple of classes (rail and pattern) would be a good way to get stupid out before reining. Sounded like a good idea...
Well, we arrived at the show with no issues and I got Milo into his day stall, unpacked, and headed to the show office. Boyfriend had to run an errand since we were on that side of the bridge, and I contemplated which classes to go into. I chose All Breed Western Pleasure Walk Jog 18 and Over, and Horsemanship Schooling Walk Jog, Lope. I decided on these two because it would give us a low key pleasure class to start out the day with, then move into not only a lope class, but a pattern one, and to hopefully, get stupid out. Then we would have a break before going into All Breed Reining.
When Showmanship and Halter were finally finished and the thirty minute break was nearing an end, I got Milo ready and headed to the warm up arena. The show pen was still open for a little while longer to school in. Milo was doing great, although there was a lot of traffic, he schooled well at the walk and trot. I focused on keeping consistency in his jog, and didnt want to lope in the crowded arena (besides the fact that we would be seriously lapping those western pleasure lopers). He was unfazed by the arena as I expected, so I headed to the outdoor warm up to get some loping in. I didnt need to lope him long and I was really happy with the gaits he was offering to me that day. He was keeping his shoulders down, but other than that the pace was good and his back was lifted, I figured since elevating his shoulders and withers were something we were still schooling on at home, I better just be happy with the effort he was giving me - no sense to try and school at the show.
We headed into our walk jog class and Milo had been schooling so well on our transitions and speed in the warm up, I didnt have any butterflies. We entered the ring and they asked for the jog. We jogged about half way around the pen when Milo decided he was tired of jogging and broke to the walk for about a single step before I corrected him. We went about another hundred feet and he broke to the walk again, this time for about three steps. After that I made sure my mind was on every stride and to keep him going at the slightest inclination of slowing. Unfortunately, that seemed to compromise our consistent pace I was striving for. He sped on the straight-of-ways then would slow to a crawl. It wasnt awful, but it wasnt what we had had out in the warm up pen. We placed sixth of sixth. But I wasnt too upset, this was a practice class and it gave us the opportunity to work in the show pen. I was actually really happy with the performance my horse had been giving me so far. I looked forward to my horsemanship schooling class.
The wait between pleasure and horsemanship was a lot longer than I had anticipated and the schooling class was held at the end of all the horsemanship classes. We found a nice spot to park in the shade for a little bit and I later felt guilty thinking I should have gotten off Milo and given him a better break, but hindsight is twenty-twenty.
The horsemanship pattern seemed pretty straight-forward: jog to and past Cone A to Cone B, then pick up the left lead and lope a circle to the left, ending facing Cone B. Perform a 1 and 1/4 haunch turn to the left, back four steps (this part I seemed to completely overlook and didnt realize it was part of the pattern until I saw others do it), then lope on the right lead to Cone C, halt. Exit to line up. I schooled our lope in the warm up, and it certainly isnt a horsemanship/pleasure lope, but Milo was moving off my rein nicely and every other element of the pattern we schooled well with. Milo had no problem picking up his leads.
Just before the schooling class was All Breed Horsemanship 3 Gait 18 and Over. I thought maybe I should add the class, we were schooling well. Then I decided against it because I didnt care about being judged in Horsemanship, I would probably get dead last anyways and I didnt need to pay another $12 for a class I was just wanting to use as schooling for reining. So I opted to remain just in Horsemanship schooling. We entered the pen and lined on the rail. The judge exited and the announcer said he would call our gaits after everyone completed their pattern. Wait...? This is a rail class after pattern? Oops...I didnt get that memo. Oh well, chance to lope on the rail.
HAHA, the class was hilarious. Milo jogged nicely but had no steering apparently at the lope to the left, we lapped around three times before I was happy with it to move on (once even going wayyyy over the other end of the cone). I totally didnt know that we were supposed to back after the pivot, but he loped off on the left lead nicely and stopped well. I walked to the rail and watched the five other people school the pattern, all horsemanship professionals, apparently. They all did a whole lot better then we did, but still used it as an opportunity to school. Once everyone was done, the announcer called our gaits. When we loped Im pretty sure we lapped everyone at least twice, and used one end to school a good circle. I'm sure everyone else in the class thought we were a complete trainwreck - little did they know I didnt give a darn about how I would "do" in horsemanship - haha!
After the class was over, Milo was loping so nicely and finally was moving off my leg and rein beautifully in the show pen. I really wished we were going right into our reining class afterwards as he was totally warmed up and ready for "our" class. But, unfortunately, Hunter Under Saddle and English Equitation classes were to be run next, with another half hour break in between. Then they would run Western Riding and finally Reining. At least this gave an opportunity for Milo and I to have a break. I untacked him and let him be in his stall and I sat in the truck and shut my eyes for a while.
After the english classes were finished and the break over, I knew I would still have some time between Western Riding and my Reining class as mine was the last one of the reining set. But I wasnt sure how many people would be entered into the Western Riding classes possibly making those classes run faster, and I had only seen one other person I was sure would be in Reining so I wasnt quite sure how much time I would have in that set either. Because I hadnt worked on rollbacks, lope circles (hardly), spins, or lead changes, I figured I would need more time to school.
Milo started out well but after the first few lope circles it was apparent he was getting pretty tired. The leas changes asked for were only received about fifty percent of the time. I knew it was most likely from less control over his hip then normal (our "shaping" exercises help enforce I can shape him from one lead to another) but he was stiff and reluctant to shape his body from just the walk. I also could tell that my hips just were free enough to easily rotate from one direction to the other, further diminishing lead changes. I started to get frustrated and schooled, schooled, schooled. My initial plan to school lightly and keep "enough horse" for the show pen was starting to fade. But I couldnt enter the pen with only fifty percent lead changes!!
Sarah came over to me and encouraged me to continue working on shaping, and to not school the lead changes. She also reminded me to sit lightly and lifted in the saddle because Milo needs to come up in order to change leads, but also reminded me to not lean forward. I also needed to find that rotation with my hips before going to the spur, as spurring when Im not in position only causes him to kick out. I was pretty frustrated by now and pretty much gave up on scoring well in the reining class (I know, I know, think positively...). One class before mine I realized the concho fell out on the back of my chaps. I called Sarah over who sent one of the kids' parents off to fetch some chicago screws. It wasnt coming together and the steward came towards us saying we were in the hole. I started getting stressed.
We did fix the chaps, and I did have a few more minutes to shape before going into the class. I knew my pattern at least and I knew what my horse was capable of that day, even though I knew it wasnt what we had at home. But I still had a pattern to go in and complete.
We entered the arena, walking the perimeter to the center facing the left wall. I noticed right away that the judge was sitting on the wrong side. Thats weird....then I looked at the tracks in the dirt and thought, oh crap, I was supposed to enter the other way... it looked like the rollback tracks were set on the wrong direction. Oh well, I continued on the path I was on and started our spins. They were lack luster and I had to really push to keep Milo going, who wanted to stop after every half turn. I knew he could have sat on his hock better and not drifted, but what was done was done. We did four spins the other direction...oh wait, was that spin 1 or 2 now? Oh well, I ended up doing five. I dont think the judge noticed based on my scoresheet.
I prepared Milo for the lope departure, which wasnt horrible, and realized my horse felt somewhat put together, but I actually had a gas pedal, so I stepped on it and my horse loped a notch faster! I was really happy with our first set of two large fast - they were faster than normal, not out of control, and we stayed on our tracks. The small slow wasnt as slow or put together as I would like, and when it came time for the lead change it showed. I seemed to have forgotten to shape my horse in that last circle and he was completely un-prepared for the lead change. I also didnt sit lightly and I leaned forward. I ended up forcing the change just as we got to the wall. So much for that. Now that I forced him simply from balance onto the right lead, we careened out of the corner, losing all body shape. I knew speed didnt count if it wasnt correct, so I slowed him enough to get him more put together although by this point I could feel I was running out of horse. The last large fast was better and we had more of a speed change down to the small slow, but the small show was a little more sloppy then I'd like. I didnt focus on that, however, but heard Sarah tell me to sit up, sit lightly, and shape my horse in this last half of the circle before the lead change. He shaped just enough to get a lead change from front to back. I praised him verbally a few times and we headed into the first rollback. He started to pick up a little speed out of the corner, but I slowed him down knowing I would get no kind of hock action in the stop if he was strung out. He stopped ok, and was a bit slow in the rollback, but he picked up the lead and we headed around the corner for the next one. This stop felt much better, I credited it to being more put together then the first and not focusing on speed. He stepped out of the stop really nicely and we loped around for the final rundown. Milo must have known the drill and saw the center cone, just a stride past it he tried to put the brakes on, so the final stop was lackluster as we had lost our impulsion and drive from the rear, as well as a lift in the back. Our back up finally got good the last two steps.
Boy was I happy to be done. As we walked out of the pen I dropped my head and lifted my hands to the air - FINISHED! (Boyfriend just didnt catch that part on the video).
Now I have a few things to walk away with knowing to work on and think about. Oh by the way, we scored a 62. -1/2's across the board for spins and circles, -1's for all the rollbacks and stops.