On Easter Sunday it was the Easter show at the stables. It’s a chance for everyone to get together and have a friendly competition where all levels are welcome, and some (all?) of the entry fees go to charity. There is a walk-trot dressage test and a walk-trot-canter, each of which is open separately to pony club, junior or adult competitors as well as various show-jumping competitions from the pony club trotting over a pole only raised at one end, up to the Chase-me-Charlie that goes sky-high by the end of the afternoon.
I was not competing. Partly because we were not working well enough together to do a recognisable 20 m trot circle on the bad rein, and partly because I’d never watched a show and wanted to know what to expect.
Because we’re a long way from jumping yet I focussed my attention on the dressage arena. This was much less popular with spectators, so I was able to spend most of the day virtually alone in the tiny spectator gallery, seated right behind the judges at C with the perfect view of the arena and straight down the centre line. In fact, if I leant over the rail and squinted I could see what the judges were writing, but I didn’t try to read anything because it didn’t seem right that I would see their feedback before the riders did.
I was surprised to see that 99% of the riders had proper jackets, stocks/ties, pale jods, hairnets and long boots. I thought, because it was an informal charity fun day more than a competition, that maybe 50% would be looking the part. Clearly I was mistaken.
Some of the riders were fellow livery owners and some were lesson-riders on school horses and ponies. It was interesting to see people I’d been riding with bring out their skills. I liked watching different people on the school horses I’d ridden in the past and the ponies I’d groomed and tacked up when I was helping on Sundays.
Most of all I liked that even within the walk-trot dressage test there was a really wide variety of ability. One of the early walk-trot tests of the day inadvertently included lots of canter, one of the little kids got lost in his test (even though he was using a caller) and consequently had 2 goes at his 3-loop serpentine and one of the last walk-trot-canter tests was on a horse who had a severe aversion to the judges’ table and could barely be persuaded to approach that end of the arena at all. His rider managed to get a just-about-recognisable attempt at the test out of him, but that she got anything at all was entirely a testament to her skill and will! At the other end of the scale one of my favourite people on the yard won the junior walk-trot and came second in junior walk-trot-canter. Her tests were a joy to watch. The winner of the adult walk-trot was one of the new owners of Springy, a horse I would have bought if they hadn’t got there first. It was really nice to watch them together. He’s looking a lot more confident these days and I think he’s settled really nicely with them.
So I think I’ll be having a go at a walk-trot test in one of the upcoming shows. During the summer there are more of these, roughly one a month. I’m not ready for this month, but I think Drifter and I will be capable of it by May. Unfortunately I’m pretty busy at work in May (i.e. expect to be stressed and exhausted) so we might wait until June if my energy levels aren’t up to it. I think we’re going to prepare for the May date and see how we go. Final entry is only a few days before the competition so I’ll be able to see if it’s a sensible prospect and decide then. So watch this space!