So, I’ve had an interesting summer of horsey goodness. It’s been a long, arduous journey and it continues to be a lot of work, but it’s all worth the effort. Success only comes after lots of hard work. Just as in my writing journey, my equestrian journey is a long, difficult process of failure, learning, and improvement.
This summer, I finally have been able to show my horse. Granted, we’ve only been to two schooling shows, where the biggest expense is the fuel (the closest show being 3 hours away), but they have still been shows where both me and my horse have learned a lot already. I’m just happy that we’ve had the opportunity to show and am grateful to AEER for having them, since my local riding club hasn’t done much (we did have one small show this year but it would have felt weird being judged by my regular instructor). I’ve made mistakes at the shows I’ve attended, my second and third dressage shows ever in my life, but I learned from them.
The first show we went to was at Red Horse Ranch in Fergus Falls, MN. A beautiful facility and certainly big, it was our first show in two years and our second show together. I went alone but met lots of new people from the area who were more than glad to help me out. It was my first show away from home, too. I wasn’t sure how Beau would act–if he was going to do his high-tailed exuberance on me or behave. He behaved like a champ. Granted, he was a bit spooky during our tests, but we still managed scores in the 60% range, which I think was pretty generous. We won firsts in Suitability for Dressage, Equitation (Dressage and Hunt Seat), and Hunter Under Saddle. We came home and he started acting up and running out on me again, but I discovered that the coarse, deep sand making up the footing in the arenas of RHR had caused an abrasion on the heel of his left hind. It took a month to heal and he finally started behaving again too.
This past weekend, with an idea of what we were doing, we attended another AEER show, this time in Fargo, which is a little closer to home. I felt something in Beau, besides his tension about the strange setting again; he seemed to understand what was going on this time around and gave me 110%. We won two of our Training Level tests and messed up in the other since I didn’t see the judge acknowledge our salute and Beau danced around on me when he should have been standing still. This was on Test 2, where he also wanted to extend his trot on the diagonals. Nevertheless, our scores were again in the 60′s and we won the Grand Champion Training Level as well as first in Suitability for Dressage and this time a second (out of six) in Dressage Equitation. (I love the opportunity that equitation classes offer, btw, because I have so much to learn yet and the judges, at least at these schooling shows, always offer a bit of advice.) So, we added to our blue ribbons.
I’ve been hanging my blues from this summer on my wall where I keep a big framed photo of my boy to remind me that our hard work does pay off. With my writing, I can always check my sales, but having ribbons is much more tangible. Those ribbons also encourage me to keep writing as well as working hard on my riding and training with Beau. Both endeavors require persistence and courage to push through the hardships, even when I don’t feel like what I’m doing will amount to anything. I have eight blue rosette (gorgeous!) ribbons and one red-blue-yellow Champion rosette in the center to show me that success can come to anyone who works hard and puts forth the effort.
Beau deserves a lot of credit, but my instructor has told me many times that I do to. After all, I’ve done all his training. I think she deserves a medal for all that she’s done for us.
The best I can do for now is to keep Beau at his best and keep working. I didn’t realize until our lesson Monday (after Beau had Sunday off with a full massage that was well-deserved) that we’ve actually been working on some Second Level movements in our schooling and doing well with First Level. Hearing it like that from her awed me. I can’t believe we’re that far already, even after most of last year off and then recovering because of his injury! We’re both learning as we go, but I’m determined to reach the highest level.
My dream is to take Beau and myself all the way to Grand Prix, which is several years of more hard work to go. More immediately, I hope to show in a USDF show or two next summer, but the closest are at least eight hours away. This year is the year for us to learn and grow and get used to showing. I still want to go to the schooling shows next year, because the more I get Beau out showing, the better we will both be.
When I was young, I only had ranch horses in 4-H local shows and was never very good–all the kids whose parents could afford professionally trained horses always won–but I kept showing because it was fun. Now, I know much MUCH more, have a good horse (which couldn’t have happened if not for all the practice I had training my own horses all those years and making and fixing my own mistakes, something those other kids didn’t have), and I am doing the winning because I have earned it myself. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work pay off. Failure is an opportunity, not the end of the journey.
And this is only the beginning!