dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Every Rose Has its Thorn (Show Recap)

 Buckle up for a long post. I thought about breaking it into 2 but decided to subject you to the whole story. 

Last weekend Carmen and I headed off to our first show since 2019. I was quite excited and felt really positive about it. We arrived Friday around lunch time. We had booked an hour in the warm up ring and Jane put her three students together so she could coach us and then prepare for her own show. It was interesting to share the ring. I was riding first, Tanya second and Nicole third.  Carmen seemed pretty relaxed on arrival. Throughout the whole show horses were coming and going and she didn't care at all. 

Carmen: oh, this again. I thought I was retired

Carmen and I had a great warm up round. We started off with me being all tight and tense and Carmen being just fine
Me: oh my god, we're going to die
Carmen:  settle down woman, I've got this. 
Once I settled and got out of my head we had a great school. She didn't spook once or get resistant. Even when Nicole and Tanya left. 

I felt really confident about the next day. 

definitely packed enough snacks

Our ride times on Saturday were in the morning and about 25 minutes apart.  It wasn't enough time to dismount and let her rest so I decided (with consultation to Jane) to do a 45 minute warm up, ride my first test, walk her out in the warm up ring, do a brief warm up and do my second test. 

Our warm up went pretty well. Just one spook but once I got her in front of the leg she felt good. There was a bit of confusion when it was time to go in because the ride times had changed and they moved my time but hadn't actually told me. It just was one ride out but it was a bit confusing. while we waited I walked her up and down the alley between the show arena and warm up arena. In the past I wouldn't have dared but she was quite happy to do that. 

My friend, Paula agreed to read my tests. I had them memorised but I like the back up. We walked around the ring until the judge rang the bell, then I put a huge smile on my face and trotted down centre line with the attitude of 'this is my magnificent horse'.   I halted, saluted, trotted off and completely forgot what to do next. Thank god for the reader. Once I started my first trot across the diagonal it all came back to me. 

Here's a video for you. I was thrilled with our ride. Is there a lot to improve? Yes. Was it a bit conservative? also yes. But she is relaxed and listening and we felt (and look I believe) like a team. 

First Level Test 2

Our scores were a ranged from 5.5 to 7.5 (on our leg yield!)  with most being 6.5-7. Our final score was 63 and the comments: capable horse and team. must show clear lengthening in trot and canter at this level.  Totally fair, but given that we really didn't have a lengthen 3 months ago (or forward for that matter) I'll take it. I was excited to get a 7 on Riders position and seat. (Yay for lessons). 

Of course I had no idea of my score before doing my next test. Which was fine. Our scores were a range of 5-7's. I was feeling the heat and excitement. This time I remembered my test but I had a brain glitch at my first halt-salute. I  saluted with my right hand, thought it was my left, so saluted with my right and then laughed at myself. 

First Level Test 3

Again, I was quite happy with this- I felt that I rode fairly well, stayed out of my head and kept her attention. Carmen was really trying too. Our score was 60.83 with another comment about the lengthens. But she also commented that Carmen was beautiful so clearly she has good eyes. 

I was excited to learn that I had scored two first place ribbons. 

Riding in the morning left me free to cheer on my friends in the afternoon. It was wonderful to be showing again and everyone was having a great time and supporting each other.  One funny moment was when a rider entered and asked Paula to read. She didn't have a book and it was a 'oh shit' moment. I ran to the barn grabbed my book and ran back in time to give it to Paula just as the rider was leaving X. I didn't know I could run that fast. 

Tanya, Nicole and Jane all had beautiful rides. They are very inspirational to watch and fun to drink with. What more could you want? That evening we ordered pizza and at on the show grounds laughing and talking and swapping stories. Paula loaned me her slinky to help keep Carmen clean. It worked a treat and, bonus, she looked like the green goblin! 

Carmen: really?

I had a great sleep and was up early and ready to tackle day 2. Julia and her sister came to help out. It was lovely to have grooms. 
show grooms for the Spanish queen

 It was a warmer day and someone had opened the window in the warm up ring. You won't recall but, in the past, when that was open Carmen would lose her mind. Like, dangerously so and I had to insist that it be closed. This time I looked at it, rode Carmen towards the centre of the ring and then turned her to let her look at it. We gradually got closer and then she looked out and realised that it was just a window. After that we were able to work in the ring without her getting upset about the window. To be honest that felt like a huge win for us, even more than the show. 

Carmen was a bit more tense but Jane helped us in the warm up and we felt great going in to ride our first test of the day. It went even better than on Saturday and our scores reflected that- they ranged from 5 to 8.  

We were tired but our ride was not far off (I think 20 minutes this time). We went back to the warm up ring and I practiced our trot-halts because those were causing me trouble and we can honestly do that. Once I had 2 good ones we walked back out to do our last test. I was relaxed (also hot). I put a smile on my face as we trotted down the centre line. 

So here's where we get to the 'thorn' part. You see a pigeon got into the show arena. Part way during my ride it became upset and began to flap around frantically while making loud distressed noises. I asked for our left lead canter to begin our counter canter move, as we crossed X, Carmen just 'noped'  out.  I got her stopped and turned around. The judge asked if it was the bird. At that point I hadn't actually heard it- I was very focussed on riding and didn't hear it at all. So I said it couldn't be. Not my finest hour but, in fairness, it's not unusual for Carmen to decide she'd had enough. I tried to regroup but it became clear that it wasn't going to happen. 

 Fortunately, I was the last rider before lunch so the show committee let me stay in for a few minutes to walk her up in that area. I was so happy that I could do that - I needed to give Carmen a good experience and not her last memory of the ring be one of being scared. 

I dismounted, hosed her off and walked her to cool her off. As you can imagine I was fairly bummed. I had to do some deep thinking as to why I was upset. At first I thought it was because I was unable to complete the test and get a half-decent score. And, sure, that was part of it. But I realised that most of it was because people saw Carmen lose it and would remember not and not see her for all her beauty, sensitivity and quirky sense of humour. She is so much more than that. 

Everyone was very supportive, which was nice but I honestly thought that's all that they were being- nice. Tanya keep telling me to watch the video. Not just assume it was all shit. I didn't do that until Monday, but when I did I saw what she was talking about. I saw a horse that had been really good all weekend and dealt with all the things but just couldn't deal with this last thing. Even after the blow up she really tried to listen to me and follow my aids. 

The judge was incredibly sweet. She was very encouraging and said 'everything was going so well' and 'she's so beautiful and talented, you will get there'. After I went to thank her for her kindness. She was gracious and when I jokingly asked her if she wanted to buy a horse she said 'you take her home  because it's clear how much you do love her.'

Here it is with the pigeon of doom. Turn up the sound to hear the sound. 

In the end we had 3.5 amazing tests and came home with three red ribbons. She was well behaved and mature and we conquered a lot of dragons. 

Next time maybe I'll strap a bb-gun inside my show coat......


  1. How wonderful! I would say it is because of her misstep that everyone would see her beauty, sensitivity and quirky sense of humour. Beauty lies in those little imperfections. Like a diamond.

  2. That dastardly pigeon!!! Oh my goodness, but 3.5 amazing tests is nothing to sneeze at ♥️♥️♥️ you and Carmen have come so far! And you have built such a good rapport of trust with her, it's beautiful ♥️

    1. ❤️❤️ in the past I would have fixated on the one bad test. So maybe I’m growing?

  3. This sure sounds like a win to me. She behaved herself and expanded her comfort zone a lot and just couldn't handle that last, very scary, thing. So much progress-you are on the right track!

  4. ya know, i cheated and watched one of the videos you uploaded earlier --- the one where you saluted with both hands (: -- and was just.... ahh, SO HAPPY for you! it just looked like a very nice rider on a very nice horse doing a very convincing 1-3 test. but like... having followed along with the story for a while now, i know that it was HARD EARNED to get that sort of ride out of Ms Carmen. so congratulations ---- and even moreso for having such a *consistent* weekend, pigeons be damned!

    1. It’s not cheating! Just a preview! It was hard earned and I am proud of us.

  5. Aw, y'all look so good together and yes a team! Listening and feeling and working together. Focus on all the good and how far she and the both of you have come.

  6. Incredible pair you are! Congrats on a great weekend. It sounds like you've got a fantastic crew to show with too!

    1. They were all so amazing. It made the weekend so much fun.

  7. Congratulations!!! What an amazing weekend! THREE first place ribbons?! Who are you guys?!
    Effing birds though man... I can't tell you how many birds have ruined my rides over the years... Glad you were able to eventually see past that little hiccup, and yay for you and Carmen being so amazing!

  8. All I can say is, WOW, how lovely you look together!! Is there any such thing as perfect all the time? I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure the stars sometimes line up and give us that illusion. What an accomplishment!! Bravo!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  9. Cisco would like to commend Carmen on her reading of the flappy pigeon situation. He is all too aware of the risks those flappy murder birds present.
    Heather would like to commend Teresa on her job well done! You have come so far as a pair - and it hasn't been easy! Red goes with grey perfectly!

    1. Aw. Carmen is glad that she is understood by another equine.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.