Sunday, August 29, 2010


SO glad to be home. There is a bunch to do around our place and when I'm away, it makes me realize how much I simply love doing all the stuff we do around here.

I have lots to report! First the horse show:

The drive up the mountain to the Estes Park horse show was harrowing but I did it. My eyes were glued to my mirrors and I took lots of deep breaths to stay relaxed. I sang along to the radio and I heaved a big sigh of relief once we were there.

Sera took to the stall well. She seemed quite pleased with herself Friday milling around in her shavings and munching hay.

There was a full fledged rodeo going on in the main arena with bleacher seats under cover. Many dressage riders were NOT at all amused. Shrug. Not being to many shows, I figured it would be good for Sera to be exposed to cattle, miniature Brahma bulls, miniature donkeys and the whole kit and kaboodle.

Friday night when A and I went to the warm up rings to walk our horses around, check out the arenas and to get a good glimpse of everything for ourselves and our horses, we got stuck in the middle of the Westernaires. Westernaires are like 20 to 30 people on horseback riding in pairs very fast, in complicated patterns while holding flags. They ended practice just as we were walking past... all of a sudden we were in the middle of 20-30 horses holding flags.

I thought A's Callusaur and my Sera's eyes were going to pop out of their heads... they skooched and skittered away from the milling flags and horses only to be confronted with pens full of miniature Brahma bulls and a braying miniature donkey. They were o.k. and as the weekend went on, they barely flicked an ear at the chaos.

The hotel that night was sort of crummy. A and I were on the hide-a-bed... full on springs poking you in the back, tiny bed and I'm all cuddled up next to A whom I love but ... I'm not comfy enough to sleep with her. I lay awake until 2:30am... got up, tried to sleep in the armchair with little success. At 3:30 I found the couch cushions, fashioned a bed and tried to sleep. Oh. Wait. I'm cold... there is no extra blanket. I grabbed towels from the bathroom and used those. I think I maybe... just maybe... got 2 hrs of sleep.

The horse show. Wow. There were some pretty amazing horses there. Like 6 figure horses. Horses from Steffan Peters' barn... "and didn't he just win gold this summer?" sort of horses. It was a little depressing because there were utes riding the horses.... utes... from My Cousin Vinny? Youths.... kids maybe 15 or 16 on these amazing horses. Wow.

I was feeling a bit intimidated but there was nothing to be done. I'd ride my nice mare and see how we do.

The first day, I ran out of time. I was braiding Sera's mane and all of a sudden I had 30 min. to change into my show clothes, tack her up and warm up. Talk about stress! Once I got down to the warm up ring, I realized I forgot to wear my stock tie.... whoops. Let's hope they think I have a nice neck because there was no time for anyone to run and get it! I was in the wrong warm up ring.... the ring steward called me over and directed me to the correct ring and then about 3 minutes later it was time to show.

It felt pretty stiff and tense but hello? I was pretty stiff and tense. The next test was an hour later and I stayed on, warmed up, relaxed, let my shoulders drop from up around my ears... we rode our second test and I felt much better. A fellow competitor told me it was a nice ride. And you know what? I LOVE that person. It's nice to have a simple "good job" thrown at ya every now and again.

I untacked Sera, changed clothes and went to see scores.

My heart dropped. I scored 52% and 51%. I heard judges were scoring low. I would have been fine if everyone scored low but A had a 62%. I was happy for her - really I was - and at the same time I was horrified at my low score. I thought A and I were pretty comparable riders and to be that much behind her? What could that mean?

Did I just make a total and complete fool of myself?? Was I incredibly out of my league at this sort of show? Do I ultimately suck ass? Is it because I don't have a warmblood? I have my little $1/lb race track reject and we just can't cut it?

All the negative crap began playing in my head. Man. I hate that. It is very un-Shanster-esque to be that negative and down and frustrated. And I will admit there were even a few tears shed. I didn't do that around anyone, it embarrassed me... I removed myself and took Sera out to hand graze and be a poor sportsman out of everyone elses eye.

It all really surprised me -my reaction - that is. I didn't think I cared so much about scores... thought I wasn't very competitive minded. But man oh man, that point spread between A and me really about did me in. I don't care if A beats me as long as we are with in a point or two of each other. She beat me in Cheyenne and while it stung a tiny, teensy bit, I certainly didn't have THAT sort of reaction. I could smile and laugh and tell her she did a great job.

When I was done feeling sorry for myself, I returned Sera to her stall and went to watch A show in her next class. She did well again. I was happy for her but still feeling the sting of my earlier low scores.

I began wondering to myself if I should scratch on Sunday. After all, this day was the easier day with easier tests... but then I would have spent all that $ to enter this show for nothing and that would certainly not be "doing my best" to just give up. Talk about poor sportsmanship.

I decided to chalk up my reaction to 2 hrs of sleep and see what tomorrow would bring. I got a much better night's sleep. That was huge.

I made sure I had plenty of time to get ready. I talked to my trainer to have a game plan. We discussed the low scores of Saturday and how I really needed to keep Sera round, active, coming through. I tacked up, got on my little red-headed Sera and hit the warm up. Rex helped me with some exercises and I went into the arena determined to not make a fool of my horse, myself or my trainer.

I felt we did well. My next test was in an hour and I continued on with warm-up exercises on my own because Rex was riding in another ring. When the time came I went into the ring and I rode my test determined to do my best.

Mostly I figured I was there, it was a gorgeous day, I was on my horse, I was learning and I was riding in this big show. That should be enough right now. I was doing it and to hell with the scores. Try my best and if I don't do well, figure out why and work to fix it for the next time.

Furry Husband was there to cheer me on and my good, wonderful friends Harry and Sally also came for support. It meant the world to me.

Once done, I hopped off, untacked Sera, changed clothes and went to check scores.

Guess what?

Blue ribbons in both classes. I won. I won over every division, not just in my division... Sera and I had the high score out of everyone in both of my classes. Even the warmbloods - including the $29K warmblood from the Cheyenne show. (see? not having a warmblood? cop-out city)

Sure made me feel a whole heck of a lot better - like I wasn't a bumbling idiot out there.

Boy did I learn at that show.

I know (after a good night's sleep) that all the negative talk about Sera not being a warmblood and me sucking and me being outclassed was all a cop-out. Sera will never be a warmblood but she is a very lovely horse and as long as I ride her correctly and through, she will do well. I have to take the good with the bad and when I pay for some one's opinion, sometimes I'm not going to do well and that is o.k. (Do I sound a little like Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley? I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and dog gone it, people like me!)

I don't show very often and the more I do, the better and more relaxed both Sera and I will become... the better we will do. I gots to take the good with the bad and take it all with a grain of salt because it is a moment in time. It's my goal to show more next year. (Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise).

That blue ribbon is hanging up in our living room because I feel like I earned that sucker with blood, sweat and tears last weekend AND I learned a whole hell of a lot about myself and about showing in a short amount of time.

What a weekend!


~Tonia said...

Congrats on the Blue Ribbons!! Enough sleep makes a world of difference!

Susan said...

Wow! Good for you! I was thinking as I reading about your first day results that a good nights sleep and enough time to prepare would help a lot. Guess you figured that out on your own.

No picture of the blue ribbon? Come on, show off a little.

Shanster said...

Tonia - you ain't kiddin'! I am pretty worthless on an empty gas tank!

Susan - Spot on! I just needed to recharge and process much better. Really? You wanna see?