I am home and, as usual after a horse show, the washer is running full time! I am not sure who is happier to be home, me or Faeryn. It took me almost exactly 5 hours coming and going….and I went 59 going and 45 coming home. There is just no definitive ‘fastest, best’ way to get to Tyler.
Tyler is absolutely beautiful country – rolling green hills, and it seems every home had masses of azalea bushes in full bloom. The show facility covers probably 100 acres or more and includes a huge cross country course and five outdoor show arenas, a covered arena, permanent tack store and a large trailer/RV lot. They must have spent a fortune on dirt work on this place since the rings are spread out over a hill and every arena has large “berms” around them which serve as viewing areas, and also to keep spectators from getting too close to the arenas and possibly spooking the horses. The footing in all the arenas was super, and they were meticulously groomed with a water truck and tractors. I was told the footing is a mixture of felt and sand.
I was concerned about Faeryn when we got there since she did not drink immediately when I got her settled in her stall with two water buckets. In fact, she did not drink anything for almost 4 hours after we arrived, and did not drink as well as I would have like the entire weekend. Luckily it was not really hot and she barely broke a sweat even after being ridden.
She was pretty calm on our ‘walkabout’ around the place and she grazed some. I decided she did not need to be lunged before I rode her. I spent a long time walking her since she spent so much time in the trailer. We walked around all the rings and everywhere we could go EXCEPT into the arenas at first. Unfortunately they’d blocked access to the cross country course – I would have loved to taken here there.
She was not sure about the water truck, the huge tractor, the large roller parked next to one ring or a few massive downed tree trunks that were scattered around as a cross between spectator seating and a way to block vehicle access to some areas. But what set her off the most was the music from the loudspeakers while they were doing the sound check for the next day’s freestyle competition. When we happened to be right next to a speaker when the music started, she did a pretty good spin and bolt. I took her to an arena further up the hill and away from the speakers and worked on getting her to listen to me. She was quite strong to begin with, but settled in and I quit before she was ‘perfect’ since I did not want to wear her out.
The next morning I got on her 45 minutes prior to my ride, since I wanted to walk the first 15 minutes or so to really let her stretch. She was calm during our walk, but when we went to one of the warm up arenas something got her wound up and at one point we went flying backwards out of the arena and down the hill. At one point she slipped on the grass and for a minute I really thought she might fall. I finally remembered to SIT DOWN on her, used my whip (carried for just such a situation, since I rarely carry one at home) and got her pointed the right direction.
Her canter felt absolutely wonderful! I finally got her where she was relaxed enough to be supple, but she was still ’up’ enough to be a bit brilliant. The gatekeeper told me I was up next and I headed to the arena – and Faeryn stopped dead and started backing up…she had to be led in by a bystander! I was thinking “Oh, this isn’t a sign of good things to come” – but when we actually got into the arena and started our final pass around the outside, she settled down and had complete focus. The judge blew his whistle and in we went. It was a clean ride and I thought it was pretty good. Friends watching agreed. So we went back to the barn and I untacked her and began the wait until our next ride, which was about 3.5 hours later. I was the last ride in my class so I was hoping the scores would be posted soon – especially since I was riding for the same judge later in the day.
I made the long walk to the show office to see if the results were posted. Truly to me that is when I get the most nervous Sometimes I feel like I’m walking to the hangman! This time, tho, it was like getting a reprieve from the governor – Faeryn had scored a 71%, had won the amateur division and had the second highest score of the entire class – only one pro beat our score. I almost started crying!
I still miss her mother, Sonnys Mona Lisa, so much, and Faeryn reminds me of her more so than Fling. There’s a certain way she turns her head to look at me, and in certain mannerisms – sometimes it’s almost as if Lisa is with me still. I tell Faeryn all the time when she is good “Your mother would be so proud!” (And also, when she is bad I tell her that her mother would be ashamed of her!!)
I returned to our stalls clutching my test (all 7s and a few 8s!), the blue ribbon and a ‘commemorative’ glass. I did not even hang the ribbon on her stall but put everything in the truck for safekeeping. (If I know Faeryn, she would try to eat the ribbon!)
So now the waiting game until time for the next test. I gave myself less time for warmup, thinking she would be more settled. Um. Not necessarily. Faeryn cam be perfectly calm and then one thing can rev her right back up. She was not spooky but she was still strong, and not wanting to bend – and this test required much more bending than the earlier test. I would have liked about 5 more minutes when we were called next. This time there was no drama entering the arena and Faeryn went to work.
It was a decent test with no major mistakes, but I knew it was not as good as the previous one. We had some awkward transitions and I did not think her walk was as good.
Despite that, we scored a 67.6—and even more amazing – won the class and were Training Level Champions of the two-day show!! (Show 1 was Friday/Saturday and the second show was Sunday.)
Again, I almost cried – and this time had my arms full as I carried my test, first place ribbon, champion ribbon, glass and embroidered saddle pad back to the barn!! Faeryn got many carrots and peppermints, got hand grazed and got much praise and pets.
I had a celebratory glass of wine with dinner that night. And wondered how I would ever top this?
The next morning it was drizzling when we got up and continued to drizzle all the way to the show. Overnight I had already decided I was going to scratch our second class to get home early. By the time we got to the showgrounds, I’d also decided to scratch the whole show that day.
Showing is supposed to be fun. Riding in the rain would not be fun. I also wanted this adventure to end on a high note. I knew we would not do our best in the rain. Plus, Faeryn had been very, very good – remember, this was the biggest show she’d ever been to, she’d been cooped up in a stall for two days after a 5-hour trailer ride, in a strange place – and yet she still went in and did her job.
Faeryn has a long show career ahead of her. I want showing to be fun for her too. (yes, I really do believe most horses think it is fun to go somewhere new and ‘meet’ new horses and see new things.)
There will be other shows.
Saturday afternoon I stood in Faeryn’s stall with her head pressed against my chest and whispered into her ear, “Your mother would be so proud.”