Tag Archives: horse show

Competition: the Rhubarb Connection

13 Jan


In a book I read awhile ago by Gary Zukav (“The Seat of the Soul”), he suggested competition was the root of violence.   I didn’t understand this when I read it, so it stuck with me.  We compete in horse shows and fairs, and I wasn’t sure how that related to violence.   Our competition involves prancing horses or growing vegetables that compete against other people’s vegetables.  Last year I grew leeks that outdid all other members of the onion family to win the Big Rainbow Ribbon of onions at our community fair.  But I suffered humiliation at the hands of my rhubarb, which received a red danish.

I woke up today finally getting the competition/onion family/prancing horse/violence/rhubarb connection.  It is strange to perform and rank other humans against each other and give some a big prize and put them in descending order.  Or put their work or vegetables in descending order.  No human being is more important or less important than any other.

Do animals compete in nature?  Sure they fight and battle and have dominance and territory.  But they don’t  wreak the violence that humans have done on a large scale across the planet.  They don’t accumulate power beyond what is necessary for survival.

I am not going to stop taking part in shows or putting my rhubarb on the spot at the fair, but I will stop competing.  I am going to work on participating with a different frame of mind.  Maybe I’ll stop competing entirely in the future.  I’m pondering and still not sure where this will lead.  There’s something bigger at work in the world and a change of consciousness is pretty much the only thing capable of saving our world.


Katie Wins a Year-End Award

16 Nov


Katie was the proud winner of this year-end award jacket, which I ended up wearing since she can’t wear a jacket.  She also won a blanket, tailbag and even a large jug of shampoo!  The shampoo is almost as big as she is and should last until the next millennium.

I am not a Dressage Queen

20 Oct


I am not a dressage queen, as you can see from my snazzy T-shirt over blue long underwear took.  You, too, can have this look at your next show.  I will explain how.

If you don’t know what a dressage test is, it’s a driven or ridden pattern in arena marked with letters.  You trot, circle, halt (or fall off) at various letters.  The test is approved and published by a prestigious horse committee of some sort.  They reached into a jar of letters, pulled them out randomly, put on blindfolds and stuck them on a prototype arena.  These letters are not alphabetical.  You enter at A, but the next letter is K.  There’s an M and a C and an E and a B  and an F all sitting there in no logical order for you to memorize.

Then you need to look at a test and memorize what to to between or at various illogical and memorized letters.  If you have a reader reading your test out loud you can only hope they don’t suffer from any form of dyslexia or happen to sneeze and lose their place and cue you to the wrong letter.

Then there’s a thing called a judge’s stand.  It’s a fancy table, sometimes with a scary canopy, at the end of the arena where the judge sits. The committee spent long hours figuring out how to make this table as scary as possible for a horse.  As your horse rounds the corner towards the judge’s stand they must pass the scary object and not spook.

So I decided to memorize ADT training test 1 (which I had already memorized since I never have advanced beyond this level) and take the outgrown riding pony to the show for a dressage test.

I packed a nice wool hunt coat to wear over my long underwear shirt.  I got to the show and put on the hunt coat and it was several sizes too small.  I had grabbed my kid’s hunt coat.  Every hunt coat looks pretty much the same until you put it on.  The sleeves were just below my elbow and it wouldn’t button.   Then they called me to go warm up.  I had to wear the long underwear shirt with my number on the back.  Not the classy impression I was hoping to make.

Pony entered the arena for some ground driving warm up and proceeded to whinny and  act like a giraffe with her head up.  This is not a spooky pony, but horses were whinnying in the stalls attached to the arena.  She calmed down in a few minutes and I hitched her up.  Off we went.  I should also admit that I had only driven pony three times this fall.  At a walk, mostly.  So I wasn’t sure what would happen when I asked her to trot.

I got a trot briefly, then an unauthorized walk.  I got her going again with my whip and was looking for the mystical letter X which lays in an ancient vortex in the center of the arena between the letters B and E, which are glued on opposite walls.  The holy grail of X was there somewhere, but apparently not where I was, as I stopped short.  But it was a nice stop.

So I saluted with my whip.  The judge looked at me with no response.  Oops.  I gave a big nod.  The judge nodded back and  we took off at the working trot.  We had to do an arena-wide circle.  I knew this could be bad.  But I had no idea how bad until I saw my own tire tracks.  The circle had an extra bulge like a a solar flare ready to shoot off the sun and decimate humanity.  The second circle lacked the bulge but was reminiscent of the Hindenburg before its fateful demise.

As I headed back to K or was it F the working trot had no momentum, except during a brief canter and lurch after I tapped her with the whip.  Pony generally doesn’t have momentum unless there is food involved.

But her trot was pretty.  This trot earned her many blues as a riding pony and when she collected today she was lovely.  I remembered to nod with my salute at x before exiting the arena and took a deep breath.  I had survived my test with the green pony who just needs better steering and conditioning.  We got a score of 64 which seemed generous, but I will take it.

Always a Bridesmaid

28 Jul


Katie again placed second in trail class to a talented paint horse.  She saw a gelding looking at her in the paddock next to the course and suddenly forgot how to pivot.  But she mastered the rest of the course, including a real mailbox from which we had to get the mail and show it to the judge.  We also placed second in showmanship behind a flashy and well-behaved paint horse (there were a few of these at the show!) who obeyed his handler, unlike Katie.


Katie Didn’t Win the Shampoo

9 Jun


Katie went to an open horse show today and came home with a second and fourth in halter and second in trail-in hand.  Those were good placings, but her pasturemate outdid her by winning a bottle of anti-fungal horse shampoo!  You could only receive this special prize if you won a blue ribbon.  However, since Katie has no fungus, she was OK with Gypsy winning the big prize!

It’s Show Time

19 May


Katie got all cleaned up for today’s show.  It was her first time going to one since last summer.  Needless to say, she was a bit hyper.  The in-hand trail course was more advanced than usual, since people had complained it was too easy last year.

Katie could do it all at home.  But at the show, she felt obligated to snort, toss her head and prance.  Because it was the kind of show where you accrue points, all exhibitors had to wear a hat.  Yes, there is logic to that.  It is called proper Western or English attire.  Which must be worn even if you are just taking your mini in trail class.

Not having shown seriously in many years, I just set a hat on my head.  This is a major mistake.

We were flying through the trot pole formation when my hat began shifting.  My hat acheived lift off, and Katie simultaneously did as well.  I remembered then that I was supposed to pin the hat to my hair with bobby pins.

Too late.  Katie jumped the ground pole for a major point deduction and her level of pranciness revved up two notches now that a dangerous  and life-threatening hat was somewhere behind her on the trail course.

As distance from the hat increased, her performance got better and we finished the rest of it well- pivoting 90 degrees,  sidepassing down a log, crossing a bridge and trotting cones and heading in a straight line for the exit markers.

We finished third in a large class.  Katie’s more well-behaved pasturemate, Gypsy, placed second.  It was a good finish, and next time I will wear a helmet with a chin strap instead of a hat!

Looks Aren’t Everything

2 Apr



In the miniature horse world, the desired look is a mini Arab.  You’ve all seen Arabs- they look like the Black Stallion floating across the pasture with tail flying, arched neck and dishy head.  They’re sleek and shiny.

I have a different kind of miniature horse.  He is shaggy and wider than he is tall.  He is often mistakenly thought to be pregnant.  He has a leg at each corner, just like a Thelwell pony.  He’s a red dun with tall black socks and a wide shaggy tail.  It’s hard to tell which end is the front in winter.

Every year, when we take him to the miniature horse show at the Fair, he places at the bottom of the pleasure driving class.  If there are more than six horses, he doesn’t place.  They only give six ribbons.  The sleek, slender mini Arabs win.

But after he leaves the ring, some fair-goer always says something like this: “I thought he was going to win.  He was my favorite.”  or “He was the cutest.  I like him best.”

People come up and ask to pet him.  Kids hug him.  They ask what breed he is and why he looks different.  They ask if he’s a Shetland pony.  People remember him year to year and come looking for him.  He’s cuddly and likes his fans.

My little horse is also good at things that take brains and aren’t judged on type or looks.  He always places first or second in obstacle driving at the show.  He can pivot the cart 360 ( or 270 or any degree) and the cart wheel never leaves its spot.  He can do advanced obstacles, like backing the cart into a box or around a tree.  He can crawl under or go through any fence, too.  He can open tubs of treats with his teeth and push open any gate you leave partially latched.

This is the kind of mini I love.  He’s not in style, but he’ll safely take you over any terrain, and not spook if a giant dump truck passes you on the road.  If the cart gets a flat, he’ll stand while you pump it up with a noisy electric pump.  He’ll get you out of tight corners, and you can count on him.  He will babysit kids and teach them to drive.  He will then test and teach them as they learn.  But he will not hurt them.  He takes his job seriously.

So mini Arabs are pretty, but don’t discount the shaggy old minis of yesteryear.