Since you need four open shows and 8 scores to compete for USDF national awards, that’s my goal this year for both Faxx and Faeryn. Faxx went to his third recognized dressage show of the year this past weekend. It was an Arabian show that had a Sport Horse division and also offered one day of dressage, with classes for Arabians/Half Arabians and also classes open to all breeds. It was a hot, tiring weekend. It is really tough to show and volunteer at the same show – especially three days in a row! On Friday, as soon as I got to the show grounds and unloaded all my stuff, set up my tack room and got Faxx settled with his hay and water, I had to head to the outdoor arena to help set up the dressage arena. It was already hot, and trudging back and forth through the hot sand, which was radiating the heat and sun, was very tiring. It took us about 2 1/2 hours, and then I had to go change clothes and ride Faxx for a bit, and I had to finish braiding his mane, since I wasn’t able to finish it at home – just as I was about 2/3 of the way finished, first Mike came in and started dishing up FEED to take to his endurance ride, which got Faxx very distracted, as you can imagine. THEN our yard guys came and were buzzing around the barn with mowers and trimmers. At that point it was definitely a losing battle, so I just threw him in the trailer and left to go to the show! By Friday evening I was tired and by the time we ate, it was past 9 when we got back to the hotel, and it was up at 5:30 since dressage started at 8 and my first ride was at 8:15.
On a side note – I was horrified when I watched Faxx’s rides from the April HDS show – he was opening his mouth – a LOT and was very ‘backed off’ the bit the entire show. I had to ride him VERY carefully the whole show. So, I changed Faxx’s bit last week – I’d tried every snaffle bit I owned, probably spent over $400 buying a whole assortment of NEW Sprenger snaffle bits over the past year. He had gotten much better about taking contact until the April show. I thought it was just show nerves, but the behavior continued at home the following week. I finally tried him in a Baucher bit only because it was the only bit I owned besides the double that I HADN’T tried him in. I never would have thought it would be the cure, but it seems to be. Not only was he better at home – he passed the acid test — he was nicely connected at the show.
On Saturday I rode three tests – two in the ‘open’ show and one in the Arabian division. He won all three classes, with scores of 66, 68 and 69. He missed a lead in the first test, which was the 66. He was a very good boy and super connected. I was very pleased with his performance and he also got 8s on gaits in all three tests. I rode my three tests almost ‘back to back’ so I could finish as quickly as possible so I could help score dressage tests. Then, when the show was over, I helped take DOWN the arena – which, fortunately, was much easier than putting it up. I was totally beat by the end of the day and didn’t have time or energy to practice with Faxx in-hand. In fact, that night I was wondering how I was even going to be ABLE to run with him Sunday since my hamstring muscles were really cramping up from all the squatting and bending I’d done the day before putting up the dressage arena. But, at least we finished earlier Saturday and we also could sleep 30 minutes later! 😉
I felt bad because Faxx did not get out of his stall nearly as much as he normally does at a show – because I was so busy with volunteer duties. the stalls were only 10×10 which is not very big for a horse Faxx’s size! I will definitely get him a double stall at Regionals, since we will be there for five days.
Sunday morning were the Sport Horse in Hand classes. Faxx has won four regional championships in Half Arab Geldings Sport Horse In Hand. He’s gotten very bored with showing in hand, tho, and has not been showing as well as he did when he was younger. It does not help that my foot started hurting (bone spurs!) so I didn’t even get to work with him last week. I scored other sport horse score sheets until it was time for me to show Faxx, and then when I was done, I went back to scoring (but did not score my own and, in fact, didn’t find out until much later in the day how I even did!)
He definitely showed better in the first class – the open class – and just dogged along behind me with his neck stretched out like a camel in the second (amateur to handle) class. He did win the open class, and was last in the amateur class — but had a high enough score from the first class to win Reserve Champion. All I cared about was qualifying for Regionals in July. I am going to have a professional show in in the open in hand classes for the first time ever – and he is going to get a fire lit under his butt and learn to trot like he means it when we show again! LOL! As my friend watching said, “his in hand trot didn’t look anything like his under saddle trot!” No kidding! Part of the problem is I am 5 feet tall and can’t run very fast – but a large part of it is Faxx’s total and absolute boredom with the whole in hand thing.
So, I put him away, went back to scoring in hand sheets, and tried to figure out when I should get ready for the sport horse under saddle classes. You never know how long rail classes will take! As it was, I figured it about perfectly, although as first I thought I was going to miss my first class since someone erroneously told me my class was about to go into the ring just as I was getting on Faxx. Talk about a heart attack! There were two classes, but if I missed one, it needed to be the amateur class, not the open class, since I could qualify for either open or amateur classes with points from an open class. And the one i _thought_ was missing was the open class, which was first. It was a false alarm, tho, and I ended up having about 10 minutes, which was perfect. By this point he did not need much warming up!
I hadn’t had time to get him in this arena as much as I should have and he was quite looky at the far side – so I had to cut across the arena when we got to that end. There were only 7 people in this class, so there was enough room to maneuver. I am definitely not used to riding in group classes – this was only the third show we’ve competed in them. Even tho he was completely counterflexed down at the ‘scary’ end of the ring when the canter was asked for, miraculously, we got it right. His trot work felt fabulous – he was very steady and when they called for lengthening at the trot, he gave me just enough, and was very even. I was not surprised when we won the class. Our next class was right after this one – and there were 3 more people in this class — just enough to make it really tough to find a good spot on the rail, since Faxx is so big, he covers ground faster than most horses. This made it very tricky to avoid the scary end, and give us enough room to maneuver between horses. He was a bit fussier in this class, too – he had had just about ENOUGH by this time. I was frazzled from the mental pressure of having to constantly watch for other people, and I kept getting trapped between horses with not much room. We blew the canter leads BOTH directions, but still managed to place 4th….giving us plenty of points to qualify for both the open and amateur Sport Horse under saddle classes at Regionals this July in Waco.
Faxx’s next show will be the HDS show in two weeks where we’re just showing on Sunday. It’s too hot for two days!