Last weekend was my first experience with a reining pattern. There is a small winter series at a local club that we belong to that we have decided to participate in. I am doing the Beginner class, which is a very simple pattern that you can ride one or two handed and is the only class in the series in which a simple lead change is acceptable. For some reason, even after drilling together for 3 years, Midori and I still cannot do a flying lead change. We do some great simples, but no flies. Even watching her run around in the pasture, she'll either stay on the wrong lead or break down and do a simple. No flies. I guess that makes me feel a little better. On top of me not really knowing how to teach her to do a fly, she is lacking natural ability in the area. So basically, we are just screwed for now. Until I can find a trainer that I like to help me. Or read thru Mugwump's instructions more carefully and really put them to work. I'm generally better at learning by doing and having someone catch me when I'm not doing it correctly though.
Last Saturday was the first show of the series. I got up early and loaded Midori up to head to over there. I was on my own for this one as it was opening weekend of rifle hunting and the BF had to go try to kill Bambi. The beginner class was the first of the morning so the parking lot was pretty empty when I arrived. I had made sure my tack and boots were clean the night before and clipped Midori up earlier in the week. I got there early enough to wash her tail and one white sock and make sure she was somewhat presentable in all of her already fuzzy for winter despite being blanketed glory.
I rarely get performance anxiety as I have shown horses in one way or another for years, but for some reason this show was giving me the jitters. I guess I usually have a friend or cohort with me at shows that helps to distract me. This one, I only knew a couple of people and they were busy with their own things. So between that and it being my first "reining show" and the fact that I was going to be one-on-one with the judge instead of with my team or the rest of a performance/rail class, I was getting more nervous then I had been in a while. My nervousness of course translated to Midori and she was getting all amped up and blowing thru things. Finally they get the show started (a little late) and I'm second up. I watch the first run and it's not bad. For a beginner. At a small, very casual and laid back reining show. Certainly nothing to brag about in the reining world, but that's the reason I'm here.
As she finishes up, the gate is opened and it's my turn to enter. We walk around to face the judge. At this point I'm taking all the deep breaths that I can and actually calming down. I found it funny that I was all nervous before hand, but as soon as I walked in the gate I was fine. The pattern was so easy that I wasn't even running thru it in my head. It was beyond easy. I rode harder patterns when I was in 4-H. I had this one! The only part I had worried about at all was the right "spin" first. For some reason I have a habit (a bad one, I know) to turn left first. We get the nod from the judge and I start turning. Left. Dammit!!! I got 2 steps into it and when awww SH**!!!
I finished the rest of the pattern the best that I could. Our big fast circles were big and fast, thanks to drill and Midori being amped up. We took one more stride then I would have liked for the first simple lead change, but totally nailed the second one. We had a good change of rate for the small slow circles. The run down was alright but the stop was...just...bad. She practically fell on her face. Ugh! The back wasn't so pretty either, but it wasn't the worst we've done. I walked out decently pleased with our run, other then the stop. I KNOW she can stop better then that. I figured it was our first try and we're in the beginner class for a reason. Yes, even a reason other then the simple lead changes.
Unfortunately since I'm a dumba$$ and turned the wrong way that got us a No Score. But I looked at the score sheet and we still had pretty good marks, compared to the rest of the class. Granted it was only 4 people. I was happy with our "score", given that we would have won the class had I not been a dumba$$. Hopefully I can continue to be competitive and not have any more serious brain farts for the rest of the series! I also know now what we need to work on to improve and what I can expect going into the next show. It is a lot more laid back and casual then I expected and definately a fun and friendly atmosphere. I think it's a great way to get my toes wet in the reining world, even if my skills as a reiner are pretty much just a joke. It's fun, relatively inexpensive, a great way to get me on my horse for more then just drill and gives me something to work towards with her.