Initially when Trainer talked about hauling Joey to this, he was just intending to ride him around and get him used to the show environment. Then he started schooling Joey on obstacles and realized it wasn’t too far fetched to expect Joey to be able to participate in the actual challenge. So I sent in his entries and we planned to just haul him down there, show him in all three rounds, let him experience the world, no pressure. If he did well, great. If the baby brain prevailed, we would know what we’re working with.
Trainer hauled down on Wednesday evening to get them settled. The show wasn’t until Friday morning, but Trainer is all about getting places early and letting the horses (especially these green ones) see the lay of the land and settle in before expecting them to compete. I got down there on Thursday evening and was informed that he taught my horse how to hobble. Trainer brought two client horses, Joey and Annie with him. So when he was riding Annie, Joey was hobbled in the middle of the arena and vice versa. Yay for practical life skills. The obstacles weren’t set up yet, so they just rode around in the arena and let them see all the normal dark corners and such. It was good that they got this opportunity despite the fact that there wasn’t anything dramatically scary in there because the indoor was closed to warm ups for the entire weekend and all riding had to be done outside in the rain. So most horses who showed up had to go into the arena having without having been in there before and see the variety of obstacles as well.
From showing Joey as a weanling and yearling I wasn’t terribly worried about how he’d settle in at a strange place. He’s always stepped off the trailer, neighed once, then buried his face in his hay net as soon as he sees it. There were several other horses neighing throughout the weekend but from Thursday-Sunday, I never heard mine respond. He didn’t even pull his head out of his hay. This is one of those small things I appreciate about my horse. I can’t stand a horse with nervous energy, it just feeds MY nervous energy. I am a delicate flower. My horse has to be the brave one. Luckily despite his age and experience, Joey is that dude. His parents are also those horses. Purposely bred horses you guys. 😂
We had a group of five horses. Joey, Annie (5 yr old mare), another two year old gelding, a three year old gelding, and an aged horse. The aged horse belongs to the “barn manager” at Trainer’s and actually ended up winning a saddle at this competition for high point for the year at this series. None of the rest of our group had been to any of the other competitions and were just there for miles and experience. Our group of horses was a VERY quiet, laid back bunch, which was nice.
Day one was the ‘speed’ day and was the one I had the lowest expectations for with Joey, but Trainer had countered previously that while it judges by a timer, the accuracy that the obstacles are performed with is still vitally important. The obstacles in this round were: lope into arena, over a pole under a tent/canopy, trot over poles, a narrow bridge, backing through a pool noodle chute, trotting through upright poles, a small jump, sidepassing both ways over a pole, pushing a “Flinestone car”, loping back under the tent and ground tying while the rider ran around the tent and back to the horse.
Day two was ‘horsemanship’ day. I’m honestly not sure what the difference between how it and day three (ranch) were judged. The obstacles were a teeter totter bridge, long trot from it to the narrow bridge, walk over the narrow bridge, lope from it under the canopy to an L, sidepass to the left part of the L, pivot at the turn and sidepass right the rest of the L, lope to a cone, pivot your horse, back through upright poles, then walk over a tarp to the exit.
Day three was ‘ranch.’ The obstacles were to open/walk through/close a rope gate, trot through upright poles, then over a pole, lope off and over some lope poles, walk into a box, do a 360, lope to L of poles, walk into L, back out of L, walk forward and over the narrow bridge, walk over to and through the water obstacle, to the corner to a pen, dismount and lock your horse in the pen unbridled, exit pen, wait ten seconds, go in and rebridle horse and lead it out.
Trainer and Joey won the open division all three days. There was one day where I thought Annie, the 5 yr old mare that Trainer rode, had a better ride than Joey and should’ve beat him, but the judge scored Joey higher. Day one we won a breastcollar/tshirt/hat, day two a headstall with a tie down, and day three a purple bucket with shampoo, a grooming mit and some brushes. It was really exciting to see Joey win all three days, and now Trainer and I are joking that he’s undefeated. 😂 Luckily Joey is none the wiser because our next show is another one of these and I’m riding him in the amateur first and will likely ruin his perfect record. Even if that happens, I feel good about taking my baby horse in the show pen under saddle and doing something fun with him.
Another fun aspect of this show was that Beka, formerly of The Owls Approve, came up to visit with us on Saturday and took the following pictures of my best boy. She got some really good ones despite dying batteries and the incredibly gray weather.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled with Joey for being exactly who I thought he was. Trainer has always reserved judgement on how he thought Joey would act out in public, but I was optimistic that he would be similar to how he’s always been with me. I’m excited to see that I raised a solid citizen (even if a bit spoiled…) who is turning out to be the kind of horse I can take somewhere and genuinely enjoy my time with him.