Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Reserve Ride

I'll get right to the punch line....diva had a reserve ride last night! OMG I cant believe it. (that's second place for some of my none horsey friends). The second was out of 17 horses. And then a 4th out of 19. And another 4th out of about 9 horses in the most competitive class I went into of the night with her. So overall I'm extremely proud with her performances. I rode Bourbon as well, for a 7th place ribbon. That was probably very fair as I had a tough ride on him being only 2 among horses that were 4 or under and more broke. I still have to find my seat with him and that only comes with practise which is hard to do with him in TN and me in WI. BJ rode him much better than I in an open class! All told, my horses were always in the ribbons. Something to be very proud of for sure.

So with that out of the way, I can rewind. The day was filled with washing, grooming, double checking tack and the general show prepping activities. The only difference is that its being done in 100 degrees! Arggggh I don't like to 'glisten' this much. I brought my portable water heater so the baths were warm. And I helped Jane trim Justices ears. Our plan was to leave at 3 for the show. But by 1pm we were both getting the show gitters. However between us taking showers and eating something we left on time as planned.

We parked near the warmup ring and unpacked our tack and set up our things. I was very happy for the new folding chairs Scott bought me for the trip and used one all night as my main station. Then the big decision. Orange or pink? What color to wear in the ring. I decided to do orange as that is Scotts preference and would match my coat and tie with flame colored ribbons on Diva. I guess we'll either burn bright or crash and burn. So flames seem very appropriate for the upcoming result. When Stacey saw me braiding she commented on the colors. LOL. Okay maybe it was a little loud. But the judges won't miss me. Besides it's vols colors of Tennessee tech! That couldn't hurt me.
Diva waits patiently at the trailer.

Bourbon waits not so patiently at the trailer too.
When Bobby pulled up I was surprised to find Bourbon among the herd. And the fact that I would end up riding him after all. I wigged out. But in Rhonda's reassuring words (thanks Rhonda) was a good thing that I was riding, as that meant he was ok! I took those words to heart and tried to get mentally prepared to now ride two horses. Oh did I mention their classes were almost back to back to back. D then B then D. Good thing I picked orange, as pink would not have looked too good on B, a sorrel horse (yes folks I own a horse that isn't black!) Although my flame theme was now starting to worry me a bit.

The warm up ring was filled with riders going round and round. Western, English, trainers (many famous in the walking horse ranks) amateurs and youth. I recognized many faces and horses. Nice horses. Very intimidating. But then I thought, how cool is this. Just ride and try to have fun. I took Diva through the DQP station where they check her shoes. And of course I passed. Then I tacked her up and began to warm her up. Circles, circles...I did them Scott! And then joined in the relentless warm up carosel. The earth was nice and I could hear divas gait, it sounded good. The dirt is red brick in color. That gets on everything. Coats, boots, saddles, I bet I'll be cleaning that off for months to come.

Then they call my first class, a novice class. Everyone begins to line up and file into the ring. It's a long aisleway and you go through an archway type opening and through the people walking, past the flowered winners circle area, then through the gate and into the ring. I could hear my heart pumping, then the blast of cold air hit from the air-conditioned arena as I entered. And divas feet were pounding with my heart.... 1 2 3 4. 1 2 3 4, as we gait into the arena. Scott told me to show her best with the first impression and keep it up from there. I was hoping to not disappoint. She felt good, and just was eating the ground. I had to slow her as I think the cool air was giving her a boost of energy as well. Or maybe she knew we were showing and was enjoying the ride as much as me. My nerves changes to a smile that I couldn't refrain. Here I am. I'm doing it. And she feels good. Consistent, shaking, walking. I went through the gait calls, flat walk. Running walk. Reverse. Flat walk. Running walk...and then into the line up on the west side. As I parked in I looked up into the stands and thought she couldn't have done much better than that. I couldn't have asked for much more. She had an almost flawless ride. I was proud of her...and all the work that got us to this point. Then the wait in silence as they tally the judges cards. And you wait and wait. The announcer came on and said, that the person who won this class would never be an international novice again. How pivotal of a moment. The number was called, but it wasn't mine. To say I wasn't disappointed would be have to have hope right? But my disappointment was short lived as 972 was called for reserve! That was us! OMG it was us! I couldn't believe it. I grinned all the way to pick up my red ribbon, and was met with a smile and congratulations. And as I exited the ring it was Connie Waldo who was first to congratulate me with another smile. She had even coached me from the ringside...which was so appreciated since Scott wasn't here to do that job. When I got back to my tack station, Carlan and Stacey were open mouthed to see the red that's great. You did great in that huge class. Maybe it was the novice class, but I'll take it. And it gave me the confidence to keep moving forward for the night. I also found out later that one of the judges had placed me first on his card. There are three judges, and scores combined for the final awards. But that felt really validating. And at the International. Just wow.

I won't bore you all with the agonizing details of every ride. But I will share that we were always in the ribbons. And there were some very very nice horses in my classes. I am proud to be among those I competed with.

Lessons learned
- one or two classes a night is good...that ring is large and the workouts long
- support comes in various forms...god delivers amazing people at the right moment
- hard work can pay off
- be prepared for anything, including children running and jumping in the stands (yikes)
- you have to at least try or you'll never know
- technology rocks! streaming and texting Scott was there with me every moment

I'm exhausted. Hope to rest more today, and get diva to rest too. It's been a long week and many new adventures and stressful situations. She is very resilient. We have only one class tonight. That will be good.

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