Spare Me The Details - 2003 - 5 Years Old

Wake up, time to get ready and be spotless for showmanship!

Showing in Harriman, Tennessee on March 14-16, 2003

Do I look sleepy? I left at midnight on Thursday, drove all night and arrived just in time for the start of the show at 8am.

We had a successful weekend - earned points in showmanship and hunter under saddle, and even survived our first equitation class!

After Harriman, Tennessee, we had several successful shows in Wilmington, Ohio and Winfield, West Virginia. Wilmington was a great day - earned 4 NA HUS points and got our first win in Equitation! West Virginia was a lot of fun, what a pretty place to show. I decided to not show any novice this weekend to try and save my points (that 40 point limit is fast approaching!). We earned our first Ammy point in Showmanship. We had several great rides in HUS, finishing one place out of the points.

I started Taylor's training over fences in December, and Stacey continued her education.

Now I am the one in need of education! Hopefully we both can pull it together this summer. The great thing about this new event is that Taylor LOVES to jump! She makes it so much fun.

Next on the schedule was a show at Taylorsville, Kentucky. How could we go wrong in a town named after my horse????

The first day we won the NA HUS with a squeaky-clean ride. I love those clean rides when she just goes on cruise control!

The second day was double-judged. We got a 1st and 2nd in amateur showmanship (Taylor blew the NA Showmanship by deciding to gawk at the open arena door rather than pay attention to my cues!).

We had a great day of riding - won the NA HUS under both judges, got a 1st and 2nd in amateur HUS, and 2nd and 3rd in open HUS. Those novice points are racking up. I guess this year is it...I think I only have 3 1/2 more to go and I'm out!

And just so you don't get the idea that everything is always perfect...

Amateur HUS on the first day....the boogeyman ghost came out of the shadows. Every now and then Taylor reminds me that she DOES have a mind of her own!

June 8, 2003: Frankfort, Kentucky All-Novice show I have a feeling this will be my last all-novice show...the points are racking up gradually. This was a good show, good-sized and laid back. Taylor gave me an auto-pilot ride and we ended up winning the HUS class. We even did equitation...would have done really well if only I had actually read the pattern correctly :-]

June 26-29, 2003: Frankfort, Kentucky MEQHA Circuit

DAY 2: This was a huge show, ended up being one of the largest shows ever held here (over 800 entries the first 2 days). This was a weekend to remember for us, as we got 2nd out of 16 under both judges in the HUS and POINTED OUT of novice. I left the area excited about my great ride, and a little sad about the death of my novice status (we had a Novice Funeral at Fazoli's that night!). Just to cement it, we came back and got a 1st and 2nd in equitation. Taylor was 'on' tonight, really followed my cues and stayed so soft and level.

DAY 3: A banner moment, we actually beat 3 other horses in halter. I believe it might just be the very first time my big 16'3" appendix beat other horses! The riding classes went equally well, once again getting 2nd out of 16 under both judges in the HUS, and 2nd under both in the equitation.

DAY 4: We ended the long circuit with showmanship and a 2nd and 5th...a most successful circuit! We left with 14 additional points and tied for the circuit championship in equitation (pretty amazing since I am NOT an equitation rider!). I am just so proud of my girl - she was incredible all weekend.

Wilmington, Ohio

Finally I get to show a little in my home state! What a hot weekend...in more than just outside temperatures.

Showmanship was a bit sloppy. We need some work perfecting our backing skills. Next was hunter under saddle...

What a great class. Taylor is surprising me - she is concentrating every single ride.

We ended up 1st and 2nd in NA HUS out of 14.

We did well despite having to ride a slalom course around the mud pits in the arena from last night's storm.

We did well in amateur HUS, placing 5th and 9th out of 18. Taylor was very tired from the heat, but really tried hard for me.

Next was Equitation. Our pattern wasn't perfect, but it was smooth and fairly accurate.

We ended up winning under both judges out of 10. Amazing! Looks like I'll have to keep showing this class. Time to go home and work up some of the harder elements of the class to be prepared.

Good friends at the show...

Stacey Ryan,
the hardest working
trainer on earth!

The Kentucky State Fair AQHA Show...

Here we are, going down the ramp into Freedom Hall - on the Kentucky State Fairgrounds in Louisville, KY. The cold air from the air conditioning hits you with a blast when you reach the arena - and you have to just trot right in by the judge!

Taylor is moving great today. She had an emergency chiropractor appointment this morning, and her shoulders were out. You could see the relief on her face after he worked on her - now she is moving much freer and is a lot happier!

This is a spooky arena, but Taylor surprises me just as she did last year by taking it all in stride. She never looked at anything.

It was a show to remember - Taylor's most successful show ever. She won the NA showmanship under both judges, won the NA HUS under both, AND won the NA Equitation under both. What an amazing, incredible, memorable day!

Back home for a month....

After the KY State fair show I brought Taylor back to Ohio to do some Ohio stuff and prepare for the Ohio Futurity. We hit the OAQHA show in Delaware, Ohio, where Taylor earned 3 more HUS points. This was a big show, and it was great until a major storm hit right before my equitation class.

We spent the next few weekends showing locally. Taylor did me right by earning several hundred dollars in cash for winning various HUS classes. It's nice to bring home money instead of points! Courtney showed Taylor in youth 9-13 showmanship and did very well, winning a class of 25 one weekend. The Ohio Futurity is fast approaching (Sept. 6), then Taylor goes back to Kentucky to do the Kentucky Futurity and prepare for....Congress!!!

The Kentucky Futurity

This is our last 'warm up' before Congress. Warm-up is a good term, since this ended up being the coldest, rainiest weekend all year. The temperature dropped suddenly, and Taylor's energy level rose accordingly...fun! We had out work cut out for us, especially since it rained all weekend leaving us very little chance to ride. She managed to pull through, winning the showmanship and earning 3rd under both in the HUS. Our equitation was terrible, but we got through it alive (got a 1st and 2nd out of only 2 LOL!) so that's all that really counts! We did well enough to earn the Novice Amateur All-Around at the show, and won a nifty metal stool!

...now, on to Congress!

We began our Congress showing experience (for the second time!) in showmanship. 8am in Cooper Arena can be a veeeery cold time. Mid-October in Ohio can sometimes be rather unkind. We kept Taylor wrapped in blankets until we entered the arena.

Our pattern was one we had done a million times before: Trot cone A to cone B....

...Then walk cone B to cone C (Taylor was right on the money!)

Back up....(nice, straight backup for us...something we always have to work on)

Do a 270 degree pivot...(careful to line up Taylor's hip with the judge so that we will end up straight...and we hit our mark!)

Then trot to the judge. This is where our problem occurred. Unfortunately, the trap in this pattern was the spacings of the cones and the judge - very close together. I always know going into the class that having a big huntseater as a showmanship horse is a disadvantage, and here's the biggest example why! By the time I got her long body around on the pivot, we just had not enough room to get her long legs into a full trot before stopping at the judge. She kind of took a trot step, but there just wasn't enough room for her to truly trot.

Our set up was SO fast! This has been a major item we have worked on all year - setting up quickly and neatly. It was nice to have an element we made a priority to work on all year come through at the Congress.

Pull turn and walk out. Our pull turn was right on the money, neat and straight. Another element we have been working on successfully completed!

It was a successful class - we nailed all of the elements we had worked so hard on all year. Too bad about that second trot! Oh well, them's the breaks when you have a big horse. This winter's project will be working patterns in smaller spaces!!!

Our Congress started off rather weirdly. The first weekend Taylor arrived, she broke out into hives (vet bills $$$$). Then she twisted off a back shoe, and needed her feet repaired (farrier bills $$$$). It was a crazy start to a crazy couple of weeks. But the most difficult thing was keeping my mind and my nerves in check. It was my last Congress as a novice, and I wanted to make it a good one!

Since I was only allowed to take off 2 days at work, I had to do a lot of driving back and forth from Lima to Columbus to ride and prepare. I got to know that 2 hour drive very well!

Our nightly rides at Congress were terrible. The crowds in the riding arenas were huge with everyone going every which way, and plenty of rude people who just loved to sit on their horse in everyone's path and chat on their cell phones! I had some good rides and some frustrating rides, but the crowds just made me too nervous to really accomplish anything. Taylor worked hard to try and ignore my nerves! I know she was probably frustrated with me and my lack of focus. I promised her we'd get it together on show day!

Time to show! We entered the arena at a very confident trot. I was shaking all over but forced myself to concentrate and remember the game plan outlined by Stacey when we discussed how I would ride this class.

Our canter transitions were fairly nice...an improvement over the frustrating ones we had all week. Things were going smoothly, though I could feel that Taylor had a lot more energy in her than we had thought!

Taylor forced me to concentrate extra hard as she really wanted raise her head and look at the crowd. I had to ride consistently, always reminding her to pay attention to only me!!!

Things were going smoothly, though it was a lot tougher ride than I had anticipated. It's always so hard to really RIDE and try and make it look like you are just sitting there.

Now the moment of truth..would I get my number called to make it back to the semi-finals? I was not very confident. I tried hard, but I am not sure my ride was smooth enough.

YES they called my number! We managed to hold it all together and make it to the semis!

Now comes the hard part...trying to focus on another ride. We had a very short wait until the semi-finals. Stacey walked Taylor around, not only to keep her moving but also to get her away from my nerves!!!

I felt much calmer for the semi-finals. I could feel Taylor was a LOT more nervous. The crowd was very noisy, and the semi-final go had a lot more horses in the pen. We had a pretty nice first direction, and second direction started off pretty good. But, here's a picture of another example of what can always go wrong...be it at the Congress or a local weekend show., You just never know with these animals!!!

I brought her back down from the spook right away, and we finished the class rather smoothly, all things considered! But a major boo-boo like that was plenty of reason not to have my number called back. Such is life! I was still happy with Taylor, she handled the crowds and my nerves as best she could!!! There is nothing greater that showing a horse you bred and raised from a baby.

Equitation at Congress 2003!

Equitation is a class we just started doing about midway through the season. This is the one event I entered knowing I had such a slim chance of ever making it out of my split, but I figured 'what the hey?'. After our disappointing semi-finals in the HUS, I was determined to do well in this class. I worked my pattern over and over in my mind, and practiced the canter transitions with Taylor until she was nearly perfect. I felt very confident...odd since I was SO nervous in my normally 'good' classes. I guess I felt no pressure with this one since we had almost no chance of making it.

Our start of our pattern was fairly smooth. My number one goal was to get Taylor to take the right lead from a stop at the cone. Canter transitions are always tricky with her, but she was in tune enough tonight to nail it for me!

We cantered (collected) right lead from cone 1 to 2, then hand gallop a half circle...

Break to a trot (always fun to do after a hand gallop!), then switch diagonals, stop and back.

Overall, our pattern went really well! Of course when I left the arena I thought it was simply miserable, but after watching the video I was amazed and proud of how well we did. The fun part was waiting, and waiting, and waiting to hear if our number got called for the finals...and it DID! We were now Congress finalists!!!

Our second pattern in the finals was correct, but less smooth. Taylor was on edge after a big diesel truck spun out in the gravel right behind the entry chute and threw rocks all over the tarp...perfect excuse for her to get tense and upset. Being 9:00 at night, cold, and dark didn't help either! I walked to the line up after my pattern feeling somewhat confident, and just hoping that our railwork would go smoothly.

The trot part of the railwork went OK. Taylor got more tense, and I worked very hard to try and keep her calm while still keeping my equitation correct.

Unfortunately, the canter portion of the rail work didn't go as well. We started off good, then...ka-BOOM! Taylor decided that 2 weeks at the Congress was ENOUGH for her! I love these photos, notice how the judges are ALL watching this mess! Not only was this bad enough, but they stopped the class and pulled us into the center to get us out of the way. I sat in the center and watched the finals finish. It was a rather embarrassing end to a good week and a couple really good patterns.

Well, such is life and so it goes. I keep reminding myself that Taylor is young, and we have lots and lots of years ahead of us to gain show ring experience and deal with this sort of thing. It's still rather embarrassing! But I can at least say with some pride that we were Congress semi-finalists, and now Congress finalists, and we managed to make a huge mistake in every single class we entered! Let's hear it for the little guys :-]