Monday, April 7, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - Another Regional Experience

Part 1

Once I had qualified the Arabian horse for the US Nationals at the Region 5 Championships, it was time to think about the Region 4 show. I think there was only a week in between the Region 5 and Region 4 shows at that time. Since entries had closed for both before the start of Region 5, I was entered in the Bonanza division at Region 4 and Region 17 as well. Since I had received a Top Ten award already I was no longer eligible to show in Bonanza but went along to show in the pre-show to see if I could get qualified in western or hunter for the regional championships.

I don't really recall what happened in the western class except that I didn't get qualified. But the hunter class I remember clearly. It was a big class of about 24 horses. For that arena in Salem, OR that's almost too many horses to be ripping around at the hand gallop, let alone for a class full of amateurs. So it was a class that a rider needed to be on her/his toes to stay out of traffic and avoid wrecks because with that many amateurs there were bound to be wrecks.

There was another rider from the barn riding in this class as well. We had been friends since I had first begun showing Arabian horses. Her horse had been in training with Kelly for the whole show season and was already qualified for our regional championship class. For me, it was a new experience to be showing with someone from the same barn. I was actually thinking this might be fun having friends and a built in rooting section.

I remember the warm up arena felt like a zoo. With all of those amateur hunters and the usual assortment of early schoolers for later classes, I was cautious about getting Dandy into any situation where he might be claustrophobic. Mostly I just walked the horse to get him to loosen up and warm up his muscles. I don't think I did more than a small circle at the trot or canter either direction.

When the paddock announcer called for us to line up to get ready to enter our class, Dandy and I were the first team on the ramp. I knew from experience that Dandy was much happier going into an empty arena. Being willing to be the first gives the appearance of confidence to the judge. In a class of hunters this size first impressions were going to be important.

I didn't ask Dandy to trot until just before we entered the arena. Then instead of rounding the corner and riding up the wall as most riders do, I rode a straight path in front of the judge to a place farther down the wall. This straight line entrance allows the horse to stretch out his stride and maximize those crucial first moments under the judge's watchful eye.

The bad thing about being the first one in a big hunter class is there's much more posting to ride than what that last rider has to do. For someone with asthma (yes, that would be me) entering later is really better than sooner, and I remember that I thought I was going to die before they even got the darn gate closed. But I managed to hang in there and didn't have a full blown asthma attack right at the start of the class.

Once the gate closed, I think the judge only had us complete about a lap before calling for the canter. I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I was to no longer have to post! Dandy nailed his transition and other than a little bobble (right in front of the judge, of course) where the horse rooted at the bit for just a second, the canter was really nice.

On to the hand gallop, not my favorite gait, my balance riding two point wasn't quite perfected yet. Kelly had shown me that I could shorten my reins and put my thumbs up onto the center of the horse's crest and balance myself there. That added bit of security helped me to be better with my legs and keep my weight balanced over the horse correctly.

Also I knew I needed to get the horse out into the middle. Because of his size and length of leg, Dandy's hand gallop covers much more ground than many of the horses. Keeping him on the rail can get the horse boxed in and that's the last thing I wanted with Dandy. If he's going to get claustrophobic at all, it's going to be in the hand gallop.

Riding on the inside presents its challenges as well. Riding the corners too tight can cause any horse to drop their lead behind. Again because of Dandy's size, he's more vulnerable to this occurrence. There's not much room on the inside to give him a proper corner. But I managed to keep him wide enough in the turns that he was able to hold his lead. Between my not so perfect balance and the horse's insecurities, the hand gallop was what I considered to be a real test but we got through it pretty well.

When the announcer directed us to walk from the hand gallop, my horse sat on his butt like a reiner. Fortunately, I was used to his fondness for "whoa" and "walk" so I didn't ask until I was balanced right for such a stop. It turned out to be a pretty cool transition down. The horse stayed round and didn't walk out of his collection, but kept it together making us look like we knew what we were doing.

The ride the next way of the ring went just as well. Other than a lengthy trot before we lined up, I thought the class went well. The trot, however, was more than I could take and as I hit the line-up, I got clobbered with an asthma attack. I remember my paramedic friend watching me from the rail, trying to figure out if he should jump the wall to save me. I nodded I was ok and managed to locate my inhaler and ward off doing something really embarrassing.

Once I could breathe again, I was really pleased with my ride. I didn't expect to get a ribbon in such a large class because I knew my horse had only had a couple of weeks of Kelly's training. How much can a trainer fix in that amount of time? Imagine my surprise when the announcer called out Dandy's name for second place. I was pretty darn excited, we were qualified for the 40 & over amateur owner hunter pleasure class.

Outside the ring, I tried to find my friend to find how she had done. Unable to locate her, I stopped to talk with a couple of my Bonanza friends who I came across. One of them had been the 11th placing horse in Bonanza at Region 5. My winning trail ride had bumped her from getting qualified and she was excited for me.

When I arrived back at the stalls, my friend was already there untacking her horse. She hadn't heard me come in and I overheard her telling her mother the judge must have made a mistake and gotten our numbers mixed up. There was no way that Dandy could have ever beaten her horse because he wasn't even good enough for dog meat. So much for my friend and barn camaraderie and hello to the ugliness of horse show jealousies. That's what I remember about Region 4 that year.

To be continued..............

This picture is from that ride in the pre-show.

On to Canada

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  1. ACK! My jaw hit the floor when I read that last paragraph. Such a shame..

    Thanks for sharing these stories! I am addicted to your blog! I'm really enjoying reading about Dandy's progress.

  2. Horse show people can be insanely cruel. Sounds like she has a bad case of the green eyed monster to me.

  3. Maybe the competition feeds Cerberus and he only eats REALLY good looking horses...
    I can think of no other reason to call Scandal Sheet 'dog meat', how very odd.
    Do you think she could have been,



  4. Wow, excellent job on placing 2nd in hunter, but how harsh can someone be?? I think those remarks SERIOUSLY crossed the line! not only insulting you and your horse, and the good job you did, but insulting the judge for thinking the judge made a mix up in the placings up. And jealousy is right! I really want to how you replied to her! I would of demanded for a rematch! you and your horse, vs her and her horse!

  5. I am sadly shaking my head. Yup-welcome to the wonderful world of showing horses. I even have the joy of having one of those sore losers in my own family.
    At the open horse show here last year-one of our mares won the halter class and the people who's mare placed second(and just happened to be parked next to me)kept bitching about how the judge just wanted muscle over balance.
    I thought it was funny-their mare couldn't beat ours in either category-LOL.
    Enjoy your wins-they are yours and your horse's.

  6. kim, that's about the way it hit me. I was shocked. It really caught me off gaurd and it has affected me along the way.

    beckz, I have no clue what to think of this woman's behavior. It hit me hard because I'd always been supportive of her and her horses regardless of what happened with mine. She might as well have slapped me in the face as insult my baby.

    Lisco Nebraska, I don't know about jealous, to be jealous she would have to be able to see what a great horse Dandy is and I doubt that she is capable of that.

    kim, thanks, it was pretty cool doing well in a class that large especially after the tough start I had in the season.

    I, too, thought she was insulting the judge's intelligence. I didn't confront her at the time. I have never told her that I heard her say my horse should be dog meat but I did tell her later that I couldn't be her friend anymore if she couldn't be supportive.

    A mutual friend says the woman would be appalled to know that I heard her say that but it no longer matters to me, what's important to me is that's what she thinks about my horse.

    browneyedcowgirls, fortunately this is one of my few experiences in the horse show world where this has happened to me. Most of the people I show against are always supportive and happy to see me do well.

  7. Can you post a picture of your ribbons? I think they are well cool and I would love to see them.

    Where do you keep them? Do they have pride of place somewhere?

  8. What a shock to hear your friend say that about your horse. :/

    This is part of why I'm not into the show scene. I've entered it a little for my daughter's sake - she loves showing her pony. Funny thing is when we have gone to shows, so many people come up to us after her rides, to say how refreshing it is to see a young rider so talented and so kind to her pony. It blew me away the first time it happened - I couldn't figure out why so many people would come up to say that. Then realized that they're used to seeing the "other side" of the show world - the extremely competitive riders who get mad at their horses if they don't win. (and, as you encountered, at other horses!)

  9. it always amuses and amazes me when someone feels a need to cut down another rider who places above them. It's petty. And the problem never know what the future holds so you need to be careful of how you conduct yourself....that competitor could be your next instructor or the person who has the horse for sale you want to buy. You never know when you might need that person.

    and this is a horse show. We aren't talking about life and death situations here. Even for the professionals, there will be another show, another horse, another this the rep you want to have attached to your name?

    Sad, huh?

  10. Congratulations! But dang...what the heck?!? Some friend...sheesh! How incredibly rude!

  11. I'm sorry your friend turned out to be so mean, but you nailed the class. I love that you can remember so well and can tell the story like it was yesterday. Dandy is wonderful.

  12. It is sad that people are that way. And they are sometimes cruel about it. I agree take your win hold your head high and keep going. You and your horse deserves it! Why they can't just be happy for you? More often than not those people who are jealous and cruel take it out on there horses as well. I have seen it alot in team roping. Not good. It is all I can do not to go out there and jerk them off there horses and proceed to do to them what they were doing to there horses! I wish I could muzzle my mouth at times, but oh well. Mistreating a horse is unacceptable especially when it is the riders fault! Well, I better quit I am on my soapbox! Great job and congrats!

  13. GASP! I've been angry about a placing in a class before, but I would never say that any horse was dog meat.

    Also, I'm gonna say it again: MiKael you really should be talking to a publisher about putting your life into book form. You are a great writer with a powerful, dramatic, exciting, interesting story to share.

  14. That's a very impressive result! Second out of 24 on a horse that you trained almost completely by yourself is great! And I agree with you about how scary an amateur class is. There are always at least a few people completely out of control of their horse (and I remember at least one class when that person was me :).

    And wow, it's amazing what comes out of some people's mouths when they think nobody is listening. I know it was a horrible thing to hear, but maybe it was better to find out she was like that and not be her friend. And the dog meat comment was about the worst thing you could possibly say about someone's horse.

  15. Geezus , that's a bit harsh, what an aweful thing to overhear! And to be said! People can be such jackasses! Good for you, glad you won over her, sounds like with that attitude, she didn't deserve to win!

  16. kahless, I have to say I have not been religious about even keeping my ribbons. Many times I recycle them back to the show committee.

    I think the one I won for Bonanza is stuffed away in a box somewhere but for important rides I have always gotten pictures done and Dandy has his "shrine" on my wall commemorating this first year of showing.

    billie, I think the reason that I have received such support from others at horse shows over the years is because I am kind to my horses. This former friend rode with a death grip and ruined likely ruined that horse of hers.

    holly, I couldn't agree with you more. It is very sad.

    equinespirit, no longer a friend, that's for sure.

    molly, it's funny how I remember some rides and not others but I think I remember this one more because of what happened afterwards. And you're right, Dandy is a wonderful horse.

    kris, you and I have the same soap box. I can't stand to see people be cruel to their horses.

    katee, I don't really show for ribbons. I show to see how I am doing and I can find that out by asking the judge even if I never get a ribbon. So I rarely let placings bother me. Usually when that happens it's when I've been watching and I feel someone's been treated unfairly.

    Thanks about the vote of confidence on a book. I hope someday that I will be able to do that but publishers are not flocking to my door. Taking care of 27 horses consumes my time so I won't be tracking one down anytime soon.

  17. HELLLOOOO HORSE SHOWING "friends..."

    I am so sorry this happened to you. We too have felt the sting and jealousy of "friends" not happy about someone else's win.

    I had a real "humdinger" of an experience occur a year ago. I'm trying hard to not let it change my "soul.."

    **hugs to you**

  18. haffiegirl, I was pleased because it told me I wasn't far off in my training if Kelly could get him going like that in just two weeks. And believe me I've had my own out of control times in a class.

    I agree her comment was about the worst thing anyone could say. Had she just said she didn't like him or even hated him, it wouldn't have been as bad as calling him dogmeat. I don't even like it when people joke about horses being that.

    callie, I never really cared before about wanting to beat anyone but after this, I have to admit it felt good every time I beat this woman.

  19. Hey there, Girlfriend, ya know there's an award sittin' at Home On the Range for you!

  20. Congratulations on the 2nd place win, that was a great accomplishment in a field of over 20! Dandy is wonderful and gorgeous too, there is nothing to even suggest he would be dog meat.

    People can be cruel when they are beaten by a horse they don't respect and stricken with the green-eyed monster. We have dealt with this in the past too. When my daughter first started showing in English Equitation we had a talented paint quarter horse, and there were many times we heard "what's that western thing doing here" or similar comments. Being the only paint on the show grounds back in those days, the judges wouldn't even look at him, until my daughter (young as she was) took to ahh stuffing him in their faces so to speak and they had to take notice. The comments eventually stopped and he was usually end of the year champion of the whole region. By then paints were becoming all the rage in our area. I'm happy to hear that you don't associate with this person anymore, but I'm sure she still has plenty to say about you and your horses, they just never stop their pettiness and jealousies.

  21. I'll take that as a no then!!

  22. Hi MiKael,
    Congratulations on your new award. Stop by when you have the chance and pick it up. Have a great day.

  23. Eeeg. What a nasty person. I'm relieved to hear that you've run into more nice people than people like that, though.

  24. Wow, how very sad for this woman. Also, sad for you, because GOOD horse friends, when you can find them, are priceless.

    My daughter and her best friend support each other to the nth degree despite the fact they are more often competing against each other than not.

    Congratulations on a job well done in a large competitive class!

  25. beth, I'm sorry you've had a similiar experience, don't let it get to you. I refuse to let that woman's negativity take away from the joy I get showing my horses. I don't do it for her, I do it for me.

    callie, yes, thanks for reminding me, I tend to get sidetracked and forget about such things. lol

    grey horse, thanks for the encouragment. Fortunately I had the opinions of some people I could trust about the quality of my horse so this women's rude remarks didn't make me doubt him in any way. It just really hurt my feelings that someone I'd trusted had be unworthy of that trust.

    That prejudice against a horse because it isn't the prefered breed by some just makes me crazy. I'm glad you and your daughter were able to show them what that horse was made of.

    It can be the same with horses that aren't in big training barns. I tell Rachel to win our horses must not only be top quality but they must be better trained. That way we can't be denied. lol

    kahless, actually that was a maybe, I will have to see if I can locate that darn box! lol. It really is impressive all the ribbons that Dandy as won.

    Arlene, thanks for thinking of me, I will check it out.

  26. If not how about a piccie of Dandy's "shrine"?

  27. MiKael I can imagine that this last bit must have cut you to the heart. You are a strong person but it still hurts.

    Well done on the second place that is awesome. dandy is truly a special horse, give him an extra carrot or apple from me tomorrow or whatever his favorite treat is and muzzle his nuzzle for me too LOL.