Sorry I have been neglecting this blog of late. The past few weeks have been spent in preparation for Tanbark horse show. Tanbark is the biggest, most prestigious Saddlebred show in Minnesota. It is held at the state fairgrounds, at which Louie had never shown before.
Well I have to say, Louie was a really good boy. He was such a trooper as I clipped, bathed, and trailered him to the show all by myself. Then he was stabled all by himself, locked in a stall for 3 days, and was really very well behaved. It was really hot all week, and it was good that we were stabled right by the wash rack, Louie got baths several times per day.
Our first class was the Saddlebred Hunter Country Pleasure class, which did not go that great for Louie. It seemed to be good in the first half of the class, and we got through the left lead canter without issue (which we had been struggling with over the past few weeks- Louie had been changing leads and quitting on me- naughty boy!). I think I kindof let my guard down and the second way, Louie kindof took over and started making the decisions for me. He was charging so fast in the trot, I felt completely out of control. In the canter, he switched his hind lead on me going around a corner, so I pulled him up and re-started him. He took one stride of the right lead, then completely changed to the left lead (well, he did a 1-tempi!). It took me about 1/4 of the ring to get him re-started on the correct lead. And, it happened right in front of two of the judges. Naughty boy! Additionally, he was cutting the corners, and would not get into the gate-side end of the arena at all. I think all of my trying to push him to the outside may have contributed to the lead change issues. Well, that was our "throw away" class as we had planned. We placed 5th out of 6. . .
We had a nice schooling ride the next day, and I worked on controlling him at higher speeds and getting into the corners. Our second ride, in the Saddle & Bridle Hunter Seat Classic went much much better. We had two tiny bobbles in that class. Once he broke from the trot and took a stride of canter (when I tapped him with my whip for cutting the corner- I saw my opportunity to fix that issue and I did! never had a problem after that, so it was worth it). Then in the right lead canter, I was trying to slow him down and make him canter a little "nicer" and he broke to the trot for one stride, then hopped right back into the canter. I don't believe the judges saw that, but we had overall a much nicer ride, and I rode smarter, finding more space for myself in the ring and staying away from the other horses much better than in the first class. We still ended up 3rd out of 4, but I was happy with his performance.
Our final ride was the Saddlebred Hunter Country Pleasure Stake class. Louie did a phenomenal job and I couldn't have asked for a better performance out of him in this class. The only thing he did that wasn't ideal was that he took a few steps back after the reverse. Our extended trot could be better, but I think it would have been better if I hadn't had to run him off his wheels the whole time to keep up with the others. It's hard to get a good extension in comparison to a trot that is already almost at the edge of his capabilities. His hand gallop was great, though the ribbon girl suggested that I sit down in the hand gallop (what? no. . . ). Overall, this was a really great ride, I had fun, and could not be more proud of how Louie did in this class. We still managed to place 4th out of 5. . . I wish the judges would have liked us better, but I think the big difference in the horses who placed was a more flashy trot. Oh well, we had fun, it was a good experience to show at a big show and I'm glad I can say I did it at least once in my life.