The driving club here in AZ, Arizona Driving & Carriage Society, has put on yet another wonderful driving show again this year. For once I got to enter and compete in it. We went to watch last year and there was things to learn, people to see, horses to watch and turnouts to admire.
This year the number of entries was down, but hopefully the club will host another one next year. It takes money to put on an event, pay for ribbons, order shirts, print programs and competitor numbers, secure a facility and on and on. Payment for everything comes for the most part, from the entry fees.
The judge had come in from out of state and was very, very awesome. She knew what she wanted to see and placed the classes accordingly. Some of the other competitors said she offered tips to them, maybe I'm lucky because somehow I only got one. I had competed in one of the games classes, then went back into the main ring. There was a considerable amount of dust on the breeching of my harness. She merely touched it, made a disapproving sound and I knew... Note to self! From then on I was sure to wipe everything down with a wet rag before coming back into her ring. Little things like that are sometimes what makes or breaks you in a class.
On a happy note, Gary had sent a whip for me to use with one of the other competitors. It is a nice whip and a good fit for us. It also made for a bit nicer appearance in our turnout, which I really, really need to work on. My sweater, a cowboy hat and borrowed gloves just doesn't cut it.
Our first class of the morning was working pony. There were four entries and we headed in. Kat was a bit wound up and fresh, even though I had lunged him before putting him to the cart, driven him around the facility's track and worked him good to warm him up and wear him down a little. He was still, anything but consistent in his gaits. He had all the gears and wanted to use them at will. He sped up and slowed down in the slow, working and extended trot, he cantered a few strides a couple of times, and like I said, was anything but consistent or steady.
His walk was nice, we all reversed and it started all over again for him. Before the judge asked for a walk the second time he started to throw one of his tantrums. He leaped forward, bowed his neck, arched his back, did a four point landing and was about to get rowdy when I urged him on and gave him his head. He gave it up, walked on and at least the judge hadn't seen it. We got fourth of four in that class and honestly, I didn't expect anything more because we didn't deserve to place any better than that. Not exactly a great start, but we can always improve, right?
From there we went over to the games ring and was going to do the your route, my route class. Until I FUBARED in a big way! One driver goes one direction then the other driver goes back through the course the opposite direction. Without even looking at the course map, I headed into the arena, finding the numbers, plotting my course as I drove in to salute the judge. We headed off through the start finish gate, found our way to cone #1 went through it and headed for #2. As soon as we went through #2, I heard a whistle blow. WTH??? I stopped Kat and looked at the judge. "What did I do?"
"You went through cone #1 the wrong direction." I looked at the cones. The white one was on the left, red on the right. At least they were- looking at them from THIS direction... and it still took me a minute to realize this. "Awww crap!"
The judge was kind enough to let me finish the course as practice now that we were eliminated, which I also flaked out on and skipped the last cone before going through the start/finish, thanking the judge and heading for the gate. I guess if you are going to screw up, you may as well do it in a BIG way and do it right! Why wait? Yay me! *Facepalm* Not one of my finer moments... not at all.
From there we headed back over to the main arena for the Ladies to drive class. While we were waiting Kat was standing around and finally urinated. I had parked him in the middle of a muddy spot so no biggie. He had walked right into the mud without hesitation. He's finally starting to just move forward where I put him, trusting me more with things like bridges, water, mud... Going into the Ladies to drive class were 7 entries. Hopefully things would go better now that he got the pee & vinegar out of his system.
Besides us, there were two minis, a Morgan, a half-Arab, a QH horse (?) and a Trakehner mare. The minis and I stuck to the inside where we could not only be seen but also not get in the way of the horses. Kat was much better this time around, he was steady in his gaits and more consistent in his paces. He did better, but in the lineup was when the judge touched the breeching and noticed the layer of dust. We still managed to get 5th place, and I was pleased with that. I was glad that he was settling down and working like he should and knows how to...
When Jr was ready they went in for the Gentlemen to drive class. There were three entries, JR & Kat, Kevin with his Haflinger and Bob driving his team of Morgan cross ponies. It may have felt like Kat was wearing down and JR thought he was losing momentum, but when they asked for the extended trot- Kat was letting them fly. From the rail, it looked as if Kat was still going strong.
Which was about when I realized I hadn't told hubby what my cues for extending him were, that the edges of the arena were a little deeper, it would be easier for Kat to stay towards the inside and a few other things that may have helped. As it was they kept it all together and placed second.
There were a few more classes before the lunch break and as we took Kat back to the trailer for a well deserved break, hubby was trying to talk me into dropping the last two classes of the day- reinsmanship and the scurry. I was debating about dropping the reinsmaship class for a couple of reasons. One, I would be competing against people who had been doing this a lot longer than I have, and two, Kat was getting tired. I figured we would give him a break and when we hitched up again, see what we had to work with and then decide what to do.
We unhitched and watered Kat again before tying him to the trailer in the shade. We headed off to find something to drink and nixed the idea of unhooking the trailer and going for food. It wasn't that far and we could have gotten something more substantial, but sometimes you just don't. So we found a seat, had a good chat with a few of the people who were at the clinic last weekend and enjoyed the day. It was starting to get a bit warm, which was far from the rain they had been forecasting all week...