Friday, May 14, 2010

Daffodil................The Judges

Part 1

I must say when I made the decision to stay talk with the judges I really had no clue how long the rest of the classes would take. I hadn't really looked at the schedule so I didn't know that reining classes were scheduled directly after the rest of the afternoon session either. Had I know that I might have thought twice about hanging around.

When I did find out about the reining classes, the afternoon session was already well underway. At least I knew there wasn't much chance of tons of reining rides because our number one reining trainer was gone to regional championships at Scottsdale, Arizona. I figured if Jeff Lee was participating it would probably be just one horse because in all my years of showing that's been his norm.
There was the one amateur I'd seen trying to school Sunday morning. If she rode all the qualifiers that she were open to her and the corresponding championships that would be 4 rides at most for her. Even if Jeff had the same, it would probably be eight rides max. If the afternoon session wrapped up quickly eight rides didn't sound like all that much.

What they sound like and what they actually turn out to be always seems to be different. It was after 5 before that last ride happened and by that time it seemed like I'd been waiting for most of the day. I guess since my day started at 5 AM it probably was most of my day. When that last horse exited the arena I was really hoping the judges were right on her tail.....but they weren't.

Not being a patient person can get me into trouble sometimes. My inclination was to just bag this whole thing but logic won out. It would be silly to leave now even if I had another fifteen minute wait.

I took deep breaths trying to get some of the tension out of my body so I didn't scare the judges off. I'm pretty transparent about my feelings and sometimes people read more into what they see than what I'm feeling in the first place so it was important my stress not show. I didn't want it interpreted as something else.

As the judges approached the steward walked in and approached Josh Quintos. I had asked to speak specifically with him because I knew I could approach Lewis McKim on my own after we were done talking. I guess the steward told the judge I had a question so he came towards me already with a midset that the conversation had specific parameters.

In the past I've learned that specific parameters in a conversation like this can be limiting. I've gained more helpful information from judges when they I've left the door open for them to tell me their random thoughts. Starting off the conversation with "Thanks for coming to our show, I've really enjoyed myself" can lead to all kinds of things I wouldn't have thought of asking.

Still in this instance it seemed to be ordained. The judge spoke first asking for my question and I stuttered at what specifically I wanted to know. I really wanted to know more than IF he thought I should attempt to show at regionals but whatever those other things were got lost.

I started off saying, " Regional entries are due and I'm not really sure if I should enter. I don't want to go if my horse isn't not going to be competitive. What do you think?

I could see the judge's mind race for a moment. Then he asked me my horse's number. In the early years when asked that question I've felt like I was doomed not to get an answer. I mean, heck, if they can't remember you, how are they going to remember the horse?

All that talk about politics winning classes is based on that whole belief that judges are looking at riders and picking their friends or business acquaintences and not really looking at the horses. Yet in my years of asking questions of judges most judges have asked about my horse's number and most have remembered my horse correctly by that information. Josh Quntos was the same.

As soon as I relayed our number, the recognition crossed the judge's face and his head nodded in acknowledgement. "Are you thinking about select rider?"

"Well, I know my horse needs to be more committed to the bridle so I'm not really sure. I'm qualified for both divisions. If I go, I'd probably ride in both."

Another nod of the head followed by "Pretty horse, pretty mover. His speed at all gaits is good. I'd like to see him use his neck just a little more and he could be using his shoulder a little better. You can easily fix that in two months. I think you should go for it."

From there we talked a little bit about the horse's injury and the path I had taken to get him fixed. In the course of that conversation I learned that Josh Quintos liked Leg's head carried at this height even though lots of western horses carry their heads low. I also learned he liked that the horse could walk the way he did and stay committed to the bridle.

As for his evaluation of what needed to be fixed, we were on the same page there too. I felt that my horse was a bit "flat" and sometimes he was a bit bumpy which I knew was about that shoulder. I'd only had the one ride that got ruined where I hadn't had problems with those things. I found the conversation with the judge to be validating of where I am AND where I'm going.

Once that was done, I moved on to speak with Lewis McKim.
As I walked up to Lewis he stopped what he was doing to give me a hug. It's not really what I was expecting but it certainly felt good.

I don't remember if I've mentioned that I know Lewis McKim. He was a client at Feature Farm back in those days I worked as a groom. I've seen him on and off over the years and I consider the man to be a friend even though I don't see him except at horse shows. After the last couple of years I've had being told that people do not like me OR my style of horses, it was nice to have such an experience that said otherwise.

I asked Lewis if he remembered Scandalous and he remarked, "Of course, I do!" in a manner that suggested he had great respect for my mare. I told him Legs was her last foal and I could see he understood the name Legs carries as he nodded to my words. We had a warm conversation that didn't really get into specifics about our time at the show. It was clear right from the start that Lewis approved of both my horse and the way he is going.

I briefly told Lewis how Scandalous had died. He knew Malachite too so I knew it would be of interest to him to hear what had transpired between these two dynamic horses. Then I asked him about the fate of the amazing horses he's owned that I have known. It was nice to catch up and even nicer to be reminded that I do have friends of power within this industry.

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  1. Thats awesome to have what you are doing with Legs validated by a judge, it shows you do know what you are doing! I really hope you do enter the regionals.

    I'm glad you got to catch up with a friend, and very happy you received the reassurance that you do still have powerful friends in the industry, I'm just really sorry that you feel like you don't, obviously I haven't read about what happened to cause this, I'm just sad that something has happened to taint your dream, and I'm glad your hanging in there and not letting them/it get the better of you!

    Karren from Australia

  2. Sounds like a productive conversation even with the limmits

  3. I think it's great that you talked to the judges and got his opinions. It's a big help to know that you and he were on the same page about the horse. You should go to the regionals and see how you and Legs do.

    I'm glad you got to talk about horses from the past with your friend. Sounds like a great show all around.

  4. AAL, I haven't really posted about what caused this lack of confidence. It's complicated. Someday I'll get to it. In the meantime suffice it to say that Daffodil was a good show for me in a number of ways.

    fv, yes, it was. I was pleased that he volunteered the information about what he would fix even though I hadn't asked for that information specifically. One of the things I wondered about is the height at which Legs wants to carry his head but I think had he not thought it was OK he would have mentioned it since he did point out what he thought should be fixed.

  5. Congratulations on your win! The pair of you look fabulous. Here's to many more!