Snoopy and I went to a horse show this weekend, in Burbank.
It was the last show of our season, The Pink Show, which honors the exhibitors who have survived cancer plus remembering those who didn't. Everyone wears pink and the show does a lot of fundraising for the City of Hope.
The weather was supercali-freakin-miserable. In the high 90s. Hotter than blazes. A dress rehearsal for Hell. Hot. The horse show tried to keep us all in bottled water, but even they ran out. The first day I rode, it felt like the world was spinning by the time I dismounted. The second day, Niki got a touch of heatstroke. I'm saying, it was bad.
We did our usual classes, Green Trail and Novice Amateur Trail. It's a great combo, because our trainer, Niki, rides Snoopy in Green first, then I ride in Novice Am. I get to feel more confident, since he's seen the judges and the course and everything by the time I show.
It was a really good show. I obeyed most of my two major rules:
1. Ride every obstacle. (No defaulting to auto-pilot.)
2. Keep my eyes on my horse at the gate.
I say "most" because on the first day, I got him through each obstacle at the correct gait and on respectable lines. It was going fairly brilliantly until I got to the very last maneuver (isn't that always the way?), a back-up into a chute.
In the warm-up arena, there were poles to walk over at the chute's end. In the show arena, there were no poles. He backed straight. Then, in the briefest of nanoseconds, I thought, "Hmm, no poles. Am I done? No, we need to walk out." In that-much-time, Snoopy swung his hip left and tapped the pole with his hind foot.
Seriously, Snoop? Whaddup with that?
We got a 4th and 5th in the class, which wasn't bad.
But that was nothing compared to the next class day. I was feeling pretty confident. The course seemed easy. We walked in between some cones, then backed to the gate. I opened the gate and walked him through. We straightened and I asked him to back up so I could close the gate. That's when it happened.
He was attacked by a fly. Niki had sprayed him nose-to-tail, but a fly landed on the inside of his leg and Would. Not. Let. Go. I pulled back on the reins, but Snoopy kicked out with his back leg, trying to get rid of his tormentor. I wrapped my legs around him and pulled. That's when he turned his head and tried to bite the damn fly, slamming our bodies into the gate standard.
I pushed away from the standard and got him to back up, latched the rope and sent him jogging out, which finally loosened the pest from his leg. The rest of our course was as divine as I'd imagined. We hit every stride, our lines were great, and even our left turn in the box was smooth and flawless.
We coulda been a contendah.
It was one of those things you can't help or plan for and it was still fun to ride.
One of the fun parts of the show was the Trail Classic. I didn't participate but my friend Christine and her horse Bubba did. Out of 40 competitors, they came in 7th! So cool!
The whole experience made me realize how much I love showing trail. No matter how awful the conditions, no matter how early I had to get out of bed to drive to Burbank, no matter how much physical labor is involved (I muck my own stall, thank you), I still have great memories of it all.
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If you or anyone you know is interested in Snoopy's memoir, stay tuned. This Friday, we're having a special!