Today was my first ever academy show. The atmosphere is a lot more casual than what I'm used to, and I really enjoyed myself. I wish that I was feeling better so I could have stayed to watch some of the kids ride, but by the end of the morning session, I felt pretty crappy.
The show was held at a training barn in Davison, and the action started at 9:30. M suggested that I try to arrive around 8:30, leaving myself enough time in case I got lost on my way (she doesn't realize how likely that scenario is - thankfully today it didn't happen until the way home!). The directions to the barn from yahoo! maps were quite good, and I arrived a little after 8, even with a stop for coffee.
I got up at 5:45, showered, and then had to put on make-up. It will never cease to amaze me that I picked a hobby that you have to dress up for. Then I struggled with my double-windsor knot, and after 3 attempts, was satisfied with the results. Getting my jods zipped and buttoned with a pair of thermal pants, an Under Armour t-shirt, a thermal shirt, and my dress shirt tucked inside them was a bit of a struggle, but I finally accomplished the task.
The drive to the farm was uneventful, except when I passed it by because the houses weren't numbered. It's such a nice barn! The observation room was large and heated, and if I ever win the lottery, my place will be just like it
I was scheduled to ride in the 2nd class, and Laurie was in the first 2 classes. She pulled into the parking area when I ran out to my car to grab the schedule. I helped her bring in a crock pot with mac and cheese, grateful that there would be something to eat!
M had set up a table for the crock pot, and she filled a coffee maker with hot water so we could have hot chocolate. I'm going to try to remember to bring some tea to the next shows, as I'm not overly fond of hot coco.
D is off at a shoeing job out of state, so it was just M with 3 of the lesson horses. We helped brush them off, wipe down the tack, and then it was time to get Jimmy and Harley warmed up. M started with Jimmy, and I hopped on Harley to start getting his old muscles stretched out. They had the arena divided into 2 sections, one for warm ups, and a larger area for the classes. It got really crowded in the warm up area!
There were 150 entries, which M said was big for an academy show. My two classes had at least 7 people each, which was what I wanted, so I could practice moving in traffic. While we were waiting between classes, M mentioned that there were two classes that I could actually show Blondie. I like the idea of riding her first at a couple of academy shows, and let M know this. She said she would talk to D and see if he thought she would be ready for that, maybe for the February show. I'd much rather make a fool of myself at a small show like that then at River Ridge, which is the first show of the season.
I wasn't as nervous as usual during my classes, though I didn't exactly wow the judge. The first class was an 18+ equitation class, and a lot of the riders had just turned 18, so I didn't have much of a chance doing well. My equitation skills are non-existent. Because I started riding so late in life, M has been concentrating on just keeping me on the horse, and while she tries to drill proper form, most of the classes I show in are judged on the horse, not the rider. I was 5 out of 6 in my first class.
The next class was judged on Harley, and I was last out of 8 riders. As I was getting off of Harley, M declared that during the class, she has pin-pointed my biggest problem; I haven't been holding the reins correctly, so I have to constantly adjust them during the class as the horse pulls on the bit. Whenever I fidgeted with the reins, Harley would turn his head, and head set really counted in the class. She said we will work on that, and having me ride the horse into the corner more.
Since I am competing in the academy shows to build my confidence in large classes, I don't really care how well I place. I felt better during the classes than I had in any of the previous classes over the summer. Once I feel more comfortable riding in front of all of these people (most of whom aren't even watching!), I believe that everything else will fall into place. I think I will even try to ride a pattern class at the next show.
On the drive home I became hopelessly lost, and if I hadn't remembered that my GPS was in the car, I would probably be in Ohio by now. Stupid yahoo! maps!