Turns out, it was as low-key as Niki had described. There were three of us (from our barn) showing, Christine with her horse Bubba, Sue and Gracie, and me and the Snoop Dog.
We got our horses ready, then Niki schooled Snoopy and rode him in the Green Trail, after which I rode in Novice Amateur. For those of you who aren't sure what a trail competition looks like, we are given a piece of paper with the course drawn on it, like this:
At home our poles are kind of beat up and everything's plain, although we do put potted plants and silk flowers around to teach our horses not to eat them. I can name more than one horse who's taken a nibble while stopped at the gate, and at least one mare that picked the whole bush up, pot and all. Guess she wanted take-out.
So anyway, how did we do?
Mostly okay. It was, by no means, that Disney-movie moment where we suddenly do everything perfectly. But we didn't suck as bad as we could have. The lines on the course where we loped or jogged, we did pretty well. I was worried about loping the wheel – it bites me every time. I get three good poles, then either dive into center on the last one, or miss it entirely. This time, we hit the same spot on each pole and kind of sailed around like we knew what we were doing.
It was the slow stuff that needs work. Our first obstacle was the gate. You pick up the rope in one hand, back your horse and then walk them through the gate, making a U-turn. Finally, you back them to the original post and re-hang the rope.
My problem with this is, I have short arms. This was not an issue with Frostie, because she is small and we can get close to the gate without having her feet hit the feet on the standards. Snoopy is large, so I have to find that place where his feet aren't going to take out the course but I can still reach the rope. We were super clumsy with it, and by "we" I mean "me."
During the backup, we had to back around a corner. Snoopy had done this about a dozen times, so when it was time to do it for the judge, he went, "Hey, I got this" and turned before I asked. I didn't know how much to correct him. Should I have walked him forward and asked again? I made a mental note to be quicker in my reactions when he gets anticipatory like that.
As we walked over the final poles, I thought I was aiming us over the "X". Turns out, I wasn't so much, but Snoopy saved our butts, good trail horse that he is.
I still don't know where we placed overall (the trail classes were open card), but I felt good about our performance. We didn't take any pictures because we were all too busy showing.
But Niki was very proud that I was able to put on my big girl chaps and do it.