Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back on schedule, two years late.

Snoopy and I went to the Hollywood Charity horse show last weekend!

It was his first show in two years, and although he didn't show, he hung out and behaved like a gentleman. Well, mostly. The first day, he screamed a lot and wanted to jump out of his stall to go – I don't know, somewhere ELSE, I guess. After he'd been out for a lunge, he settled down and enjoyed his stay, except for calling out to any of his friends when they left or returned.

While he hung out, I was a working gal. There were three horses from our barn to be shown in various events. One of the owners could only be there two of the five days, one of the owners is physically limited as to what she can do, and one of the owners is a child with lovely but inexperienced parents to help. Our trainer, Tina, couldn't be at the show due to a family health crisis, which left the whole show to the other trainer, Niki. She's good, but it's hard to get three horses plus clients ready for classes that are back-to-back.

For those of you who haven't been to a show like the Hollywood Charity, certain western events require a lot of bling on really pretty horses. Here's Snoopy as an example:

For this picture (and to be shown), Snoopy was first "trimmed." His muzzle hairs were shorn, as well as the hair inside his ears, the long lashes under his eyes, and the hair around his feet. This makes the horse's outline look really clean to the judges. Next, although you can't see it, his mane was banded. This is a process of putting little ponytails all the way down his mane, which is then cut to about 2-3 inches in length. It makes the mane lay very straight and quiet, adding to the clean outline. Because Snoopy doesn't have much of a tail, he's wearing a fake tail here. Don't laugh – lots of horses wear them. It adds to the balance of the look.

Now just stick on a colorful saddle pad, and a saddle and bridle with lots of silver, and voila!

What do riders wear? Something like this:

This is a showmanship outfit, but you get the idea. Lots of sequins and rhinestones, like you've been attacked by a Bedazzler. Every time I dress up like this, I feel like visiting a karaoke bar to sing a few Patsy Cline numbers.

On show days, you clean each horse off with a damp rag, spray a conditioner on them to make them shiny, wash their face, including their nostrils and ears, and usually paint their hooves black with a fingernail polish-like substance. For a little extra shine, a dollop of baby oil on their muzzles makes them look fresh and dewy. Seriously.

So I helped Niki get the horses out, made certain they were shiny, brushed their tails, added the fake ones, got them saddled and out to the arena with their riders. After the rides, I helped unsaddle, rinsed off sweat, washed tails (fake and real), and put them in their jammies.


When we're at a show, we want the horses to stay as clean as possible and not rub the rubber bands out of their manes. So we have stretchy hoods to protect their manes, sheets to keep their coats clean, and bags for their tails (we braid the hair).

After all this was done each day, Niki and I would get Snoopy out and work him. One of us would lunge him, then she'd ride, and then she'd give me a lesson. Lessons during a horse show are interesting – you're trying to ride in the same warm-up arena with a bunch of competitors and everyone's trying to stay out of everyone's way.

The first day, only Niki rode him. The warm-up arenas were stuffed to the brim with reiners, so you really needed Advanced Steering. It's like riding among dive bombers. Out of control dive bombers.

The next day, I got to lesson during the English classes, so I was weaving in and out of big, long-legged horses and riders, all decked out for Hunter Under Saddle classes. Thrown into the mix was a small child who couldn't steer on a very patient horse. Niiiicccee.

Niki and I were alone in the warm-up pen on Saturday, mostly because it was time for the evening extravaganza, and everyone else was in the main Equidome. It was a fun lesson. Each time he was out, Snoopy was completely relaxed and seemed happy to be at work.

I'm not sure when our next show is, but I'm hoping that at least he can be shown by either Niki or Tina in the Green Trail Horse class (a class for horses with less than 10 points in trail). If I can get my lesson schedule more consistent, maybe I can go out in a Novice class with him.