Not long after my friends left it was time to get heading up to the arena to school for our last class. By this time I think Legs had pretty much had it with horse showing. He had worked more at this horse show than he had the entire months preceding it. My poor Arabian horse was plumb tuckered out...........and so was I.
When I held up the bridle for him to take the curb, he gave me a look I've not often seen. Normally he grabs the bit readily even when he is tired but not on this day. I got a plaintiff sigh and his head almost dropped to him knees as he tried to find some way to avoid taking the thing. I swear if my horse was capable of rolling his eyes that's what he'd have done. He was that sick of the whole show thing. Well, maybe it wasn't showing as much as it was work of any kind. Legs was pooped.
I was tired enough I didn't have the patience to be dealing with a less than cooperative horse but I tried not to take it out on him. I did use the toe of my boot to tap him on the chin to get him to lift his head up to my level. Even that effort was almost too much. If he hadn't accommodated my request, I was darn close to giving up.
Legs had pity on me raising his head he made an attempt to grab the bit as it went by. It would have been comical if we hadn't both been so pathetically tired. The bit ricocheted off his cheek and struck me in the hip. Visions of slap stick humor played through my head. The two of us fumbled together trying to get the curb in the right place, grateful when it was finally done.
Legs stood there quietly glazing over as I tied the leather thong that acts as a throat latch and buckled up the curb strap. Then as I turned to walk out of the stall, Legs gave another sad sigh as he followed. We were quite a pair.
Our warm up was as half hearted as bridling my horse had been. I had to remind myself to stay focused so I could give Legs a proper warm up, still I didn't push too much. I just wanted to do enough to have him properly warmed up for the class without doing anything extra. I was hoping I could come through this class still having some horse under me.
At least this time there were other western horses in the warm up arena. It wasn't going to be just a two horse class. Like this AAOTR class had been, the select rider was a combined championship with both the 18 to 39 riders as well as the 40 & overs. It looked like there would be 7 horses to show.
As usual I lined my horse up on the ramp early so we could be the first horse into the ring. I tried to keep my horse rounded up while we waited. I was afraid if I let him stretch out I wouldn't be able to get him back for the class.
The championship classes were running pretty quickly so it didn't take long for our class to enter the ring. I think I was relieved when the gate opened just because I knew it wouldn't be long and it would be over.
Legs didn't want to jog when I asked. I had to actually use my spur to get him to move. Once he did, he was good about continuing the pace. He didn't try to stall on me at all although he was a little bit tough to keep together. At this point all I wanted was a clean ride without any kind of spooking. If it hadn't been for those kind of issues, I probably would have scratched this class and given my horse a break.
It always amazes me how long a handful of riders can take to get into the ring. With only 7 horses the gate should have been closed in no time flat. Yet I was almost around the arena before the gate closed. As the announcer called the class to order Legs gave another one of those knowing sighs. He knew it wouldn't be long either.
I'm not always pleased when the judges run through the classes quickly. I figure I paid my money I should get my time in the ring but for this class I was ready to be done. I was the one that breathed a sigh of relief when they called for the lope. Legs' transition was pretty good, I think. To be honest I'm not sure if it really was or it was just the blur I was in.
As we loped, I realized that Legs was throwing me off to the left pretty dramatically. I had not noticed this in the warm up and I worried that maybe he was getting sore. My best efforts to keep myself centered were not going well but Legs plodded along doing his best. When they called for the transition down to the walk, he waited for me to ask then walked out of the lope just a smidge on his front end. Not bad considering how tired we both were. I was surprised I actually remembered to round him up before I asked for the downward transition.
This time they had us walk farther than they did in the AAOTR class. Legs wasn't taking any chances of getting poked with my spur. He walked off just like it was the first class of the show and not the last. When the announcer asked us to reverse, Legs tried to turn one way while asked for the other. For a moment we kind of sat there figuring out what to do. I was feeling pretty disconnected from my ride and it showed.
I had to hold Legs briefly on this transition into the lope. He was not quite as round at that moment than he had been. Once he got it together, he was pretty solid. This direction he was not throwing my weight to the left, another sign the horse was probably getting a little sore from all the work. His rate seemed to be ok compared to the others in the class but then this was the select rider division. Those horses tend not to be quite as together as the AAOTR riders.
I can't tell you when I have been so grateful to hear the last call for the jog, maybe when we had that stallion stalking us at Region 4 two seasons ago. Jogging down the rail I waited for the call to lineup knowing it would be quick. I have to admit as tired as I was, I was very grateful my horse does not dive for the line up. Even on a day like this Legs waited for me to guide him into line.
Only when we stopped did he sigh again and let down his frame. I don't usually let Legs stand with his neck out flat and his nosed pushed out in the line up. I tend to ride with the mindset that in the ring is about collection and outside is for letting down but it had been a long show and I let Legs be.
As we sat there waiting for the results, I ran over my ride in my head. It had been a decent ride much like the earlier one except for one transition, not bad for the select rider division. I figured over this show, Legs had improved a little each ride. In my mind anyway, we were definitely in line for most improved.
We placed third on judge Susan Witte's card and fourth on Bill Melendez's card. Looking at the movement and frame of the horses that placed above us I had some notations to make in my book about judges. It seemed to me that Susan Witte seemed to go more for good movement while Bill Melendez seemed to be more interested in a rounder frame over that movement.
Normally, I like to stay and talk with the judges at the end of the show and considering my observations it would have been nice to clarify them with the judges. However, they had reining classes scheduled at the end of the afternoon session and I had my youngest grandson's birthday party to attend so I had to skip that part of my usual show routine. I wish that had not been the case. I would really liked to have some input from both of these judges.
Officially the Daffodil Spring Show was over for Legs and me and I couldn't wait to get packed up and outta there. I think Legs felt the same way. When we got back to the stall and I began stripping the saddle off, Legs turned his head towards me and fluttered his eyes at me like he couldn't wait to nap. I tripped over my spurs as I turned to leave the stall and fell into the door scraping my saddle. I couldn't help but laugh at this ending to a great weekend.
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