Finally…some results! I have been so busy this week...not to mention tired.
Dreamy and I attended the National Championship Standardbred Horse Show at the Horse Park of NJ on September 28, 2008. It was fabulous!!! This is going to be a long post, so I apologize for that. Plus my loyal readers know I am not very concise. LOL! So I will give my post some subtitles to help organize it.
THE WEEK PRIOR
So the week prior to the show was chaotic to say the least. My brother got engaged in February of this year and decided to get married on September 27!!! Of all days to get married! I had been making plans to attend the 2008 show since last year…..and my plans included leaving Maine on Friday September 26. When I found out what day he had decided to get married, I knew I was not willing to miss the show, but I also could NOT miss his wedding. I mean, I actually really LIKE my brother! And all three of us were going to be in the wedding….I was a bridesmaid, S was an usher and C was the ring bearer!
So I had to pack on Wednesday night. I was able to pack about 85% of my stuff. And let me tell you, I had a lot of STUFF. LOL! Then Thursday night was the rehearsal dinner. We had to leave here at 3:30 and did not get back home until almost 10PM. Oh, did I mention the wedding was held over an hour from my house??
Then Friday night I had to trailer Dreamy to Cumberland Fairgrounds, where my friend ST keeps her horse. ST and I were trailering down together with Dreamy and her horse McKeever. I had to finish packing first and while I planned to leave here at 4PM, it was more like 5:45 by the time Dreamy and I rolled out of here headed for Cumberland. It is an hour ride. Oh and did I mention it was RAINING like mad???
Dreamy settled in at Cumberland much quicker than I had imagined. It was nearly dark, raining, and she was to spend the night in the portable stalls that the Canadian mounted police horses had occupied. The Mounties were there all week at the fair for demonstrations. ST brought over one of their racehorses to keep Dreamy company. She settled in and ate her hay (I had grained her at 4PM at home which worked out well). Then we had to unload all of my stuff in ST’s barn. She was teasing me like crazy for bringing so much with me. But really I needed it all! I was planning to show in 3 divisions, so I had 2 saddles, 3 bridles, tons of saddle pads and other tack, and all of the “getting-ready-for-a-horseshow” gear. It was muddy, dark, and rainy. And I still had not eaten dinner at this point. I think I left Cumberland at 8:30 if memory serves and ended up home at 9:30PM. GREAT way to start a busy weekend. :)
So Saturday morning we are all up early for the wedding. I get up at 5AM and take care of Sparky. She did so well being alone for two nights. I was worried about her, but I knew she would be fine since she never went off her feed! That is how you know the mare is not 100%....if she eats, she is fine! LOL! We had to leave here by 7AM to be ready for pictures at 8AM. Everyone was running behind (but WE were right on time) so the three of us have to wait around in the car for about 30 mins. The wedding is at 10:30 and goes smoothly. The photos AFTER the wedding took 100 hours, but all in all it went just fine and no one through a hissy fit.
ST was going to meet me at the Wells exit (about 20 mins from the wedding) at a Park and Ride. My mom’s husband agreed to drive me to the exit so that S would have the car to drive home from the wedding. LOL! Didn’t plan that one out too well. ST was running late, which worked out well, since I did not leave the wedding until 1:30 rather than noon so I was able to eat and be a part of all the usual reception activities except the wedding party dance. Ah well, such is life.
FINALLY WE ARE HEADED OUT!
So we finally got on the road at 2PM. ST took a great pic of me in my dress in the horse trailer. LOL! We made good time and didn't hit much traffic. We were able to take the GW Bridge to save time and we only ran into one bad rain storm. We did not bother to stop for dinner, thinking we would have time to grab something once the horses are settled.
We arrived at the Horse Park around 8PM. Both horses come off the trailer just fine. Dreamy blew out a bunch of gunk, which is a good thing. I was so worried about her COPD flaring up between being shipped to two different stables in two days and the long trailer ride, so it was nice to see her respiratory rate perfectly normal and her lungs sound clear.
I took Dreamy for a long walk around and let her stretch her legs. I put her in her stall and allowed her to eat while I got her bath stuff ready. I gave her a bath and put her back to dry. I end up spending time socializing and getting to know some of the SPHO-NJ members. It was nice to finally get to meet some people, seeing as I have been a member for almost two years! :)
I think I may have been too social (oh big surprise) because by the time we got the horses cleaned up and braided it was nearly 1AM. I was utterly exhausted and HUNGRY! I had some snacks with me, but they were of the traveling variety, so nothing was very nutritious or filling. Having had a few gumdrops and some Chex mix, I decided to try out the shower in the LQ of the horse trailer.
I should have just gone to bed dirty. But no, I wanted to clean up. There was no hot water, so I decided to just wash my hair and my armpits and call it good. Well, I had taken my contacts out and just reached for the bottle closest to me (of course I had forgotten my own shampoo or towel). I started lathering my hair and it dawned on me the shampoo was really not sudsing well. OH SH!T! I have to look very closely (read: I am blind without my contacts) and I see that I have slathered CONDITIONER all over my hair. I never use conditioner, except maybe once a month and even then only on the ends.
So just picture this: I am exhausted, stuck in the smelly bathroom of someone else’s borrowed horse trailer LQs (literally I am stuck since my bed folded out in front of the bathroom door), I have conditioner all over my head and I only have freezing cold water to rinse with. Oh yeah, I was in a good place, that is for sure! Luckily I was able to laugh about it and asked ST if she could PLEASE get the horse shampoo in the back of the trailer for me. So I washed my hair with my horse’s shampoo (hey, if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for me!), dried myself with paper towels, got into my PJs, and went to sleep.
Oh but I forgot my pillow and sleeping bag! Now I brought the entire TACK ROOM for my horse, but do you think I remembered any comforts of home for myself???? SO again ST goes out and got these teeny tiny pillows from the truck, found a horse cooler for me to use (actually it was brand new which was pleasant) and we tried to get some sleep now that it was almost 2AM.
So it is obvious that we did NOT plan our evening well. We should have eaten something and gotten to bed MUCH earlier. And oh perhaps I should have paid better attention to my own packing.
Show day dawned bright and early. We awoke at 5:15 AM and finally forced ourselves to get up at 5:45 AM. There were horses to be fed and classes to be ridden in! The weather was not great, as it was drizzly and the sky did not look as though it might clear up anytime soon. We had planned to show from the trailer, but there was no way I was tying my horse to the trailer to get soaked all day, nor was I putting her ON the trailer when there was a perfectly good stall available I had paid for. So we ended up showing from our stalls, and because there was an empty stall in between the two horses (more on why later), we paid the extra to use it as a tack stall.
Everyone else started with Showmanship and In-Hand classes. There were 6 of these classes and they ended up taking over 3 hours to judge! I am SO GLAD I made the decision not to do in-hand with Dreamy. In the first class alone there were 23 horses! She would have been so naughty because she hates being patient in in-hand classes. That was one of the best showing decision I have ever made.
Instead, while everyone else was in the indoor doing in-hand (many classes were moved indoors due to the rain), I decided to tack up and do my first dressage test early. Dressage had no times, but instead it was first come, first serve. So I wanted to do my Training level 1 test first thing at 9AM when dressage opened.
Dreamy warmed up well but the ring was a MESS. The rail was OK but the rest of it was deep slop. It was nearly impossible to do any circles or turns. I had to settle for trot and canter work on the rail. Not ideal, but Dreamy was being an angel because she was TIRED!
Training 1 went OK. We were a little shaky in the left lead canter and I HAVE TO remember to keep that outside rein! But overall Dreamy was spectacular. The dressage ring footing was better than the warm-up, but it was still muddy. I was so hopeful for a better-than-60% ride. Dreamy was still coming over the back and accepting the contact so well. I am SO HAPPY I took that lesson with Suzanne a week beforehand!!! It helped SO MUCH!
After Training 1, I had planned to go back and hang out before my under saddle rail classes. Well, all it took was one look at my tack to realize that I did NOT want to clean it all and then have to clean it all again after doing Training 2 (which I had planned to do around lunch time). I had not yet memorized Training 2 since I had never ridden it.
So I stood for a few minutes memorizing the test, hopped back aboard, and ended up being the second ride of the day. LOL! There was still no one else warming up for dressage. The main part of the show was still on the first in-hand class of the day!! My Training 2 test went even better than T1, and riding up the centerline for my last halt I knew we had done well enough for a score at least at 60% if not a bit higher. I never imagined how well we would actually do!
I did not end up hearing my placings for dressage until almost 5PM, when I was hosing Dreamy off after our last rail class. Now, because my REAL focus is dressage and eventing, I hoped to do well in the dressage classes and the hunter stuff was really just for the heck of it. We ended up scoring a 64.3 % in Training 1 for a second place and a 72.3% (HOLY COW!) in Training 2 for a first place. I think there were four riders in each test.
I actually burst into tears (and had myself a good cry) when they announced the scores because all year we have struggled at Training 1 and my goal has always been a 55%....earning the 59.1% at the Sept SMDA show had been so exciting! These scores at Nationals was really such a culmination of hard work, sweat, and tears. I know that is a cliché but it is SO TRUE. My fellow blogegr and SPHO-NJ member (who I FINALLY GOT TO MEET!!!!) NTAT had to burst my bubble (just kidding!) and say that the National scores are usually inflated a bit. She says she takes 5% points off the total and feels that is more reasonable. Well, I'll be willing to take off 4 % points.....for a 60% and a 69%! :P LOL!
So many things finally came together for us. We finally figured out "steady connection to the bit" and it was like riding a different horse. We simply nailed the tests, despite the rain and the mud. I knew we had done well before I even heard the results...and Training 2 was spectacular. I came down for the last halt with tears in my eyes...I am so proud of my mare!! We scored three nines on T2 and even a 10 on the last centerline and halt. Everything came together and it was an amazing feeling. I am still kind of in shock!
The judge was funny when she mentioned she thought I needed a smaller saddle pad. She said my horse was too pretty to have so much of her covered up! :) I ordered the pad from Smartpak about a month ago and it sat in my office until the day I packed the trailer. I never really looked too closely at it. But in looking at the professional pics, I would have to agree the pad is WAAAY TOO BIG! It is all laundered and nearly perfectly clean and will be on Ebay very soon! LOL! :)
We ended up with a second place in Adult Equitation 2-Gait Senior Horse (out of 25 riders) and two fourths....one in Adult Equitation 3-Gait Senior Horse and one in English Pleasure 2-Gait Senior Horse . I think one had 11 and the other had 13 riders...or something like that. We did not place in English Pleasure 3-Gait Senior Horse (our first 3-gait class ever) as we shied/spooked during the first canter at a rider who had her whip out straight...broke for a stride into the trot, then back into the canter so it was quick....but still it was smack dab in front of the judge. :( Other than the one incident, Dreamy did not break the canter, did not pace, and maintained a nice 3 beat canter, so I was pleased without having to win anything! :)
I chose to scratch from my three jumping classes because the outside ring was a MESS and I was not comfortable jumping her in the 12" slop. A few riders did jump (all of them young riders...I believe all of the adults scratched) but I think it was a poor idea. I figured there would be other shows, other Nationals, and it was not worth jeopardizing my horse for the chance at a ribbon. I think it was a good choice.
So we ended up with a first, two seconds, and two fourths out of the 6 classes we rode in at Nationals. I am beyond pleased with the Dream Girl. She is literally my Little Horse That Could.