Monday, June 27, 2011

Downeast Horse Congress - June 17-18, 2011

I adore this show!  :-)  The Downeast Congress (DEC) at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds is one of the largest shows in the state of Maine, as it is a Class AA double judged show.  There are two judges in the ring, which means riders get TWO sets of ribbons and double year end points for each class!  Yay!  :-)  I have always had a blast at DEC, not to mention really good ribbons with my mare Dreamy.  She was the 2-Gait Double Champion in 2009 and the 3-Gait Double Champion in 2010.  

While Dreamy has always done well at DEC in both the Standardbred division and open classes, she has never been crazy about the Coliseum there, which is essentially a covered ring.  She has had her perfect pony moments, such as winning awesome ribbons in tough competition, but she has also had very naughty mare moments too.  I have since heard stories about other horses who dislike the ring, so there must be something "scary" about it that us mere humans cannot identify.  Who knows?  :-)  Plus, Dreamy is not fond of staying in her stall for three days straight and I can tell she is unhappy.  Yes, she is well behaved in her stall and all that, but when you know your horses as well as I do, you can just tell.

So with my young mare Reva in the wings, I have been toying with the idea of bringing her to DEC this year instead of Dreamy.  After two years and two double championships, Dreamy had no reason to have to attend DEC again.  :-)  Granted, if she was a happy stalled show horse, I could have done just the open classes or whatever, but why bother?  It seemed like a great way to still attend and have fun with my friends if I brought Reva instead.

After Reva's first two successful one day shows in May, I knew DEC would be a good next step.  I have been thinking of bringing her to New Jersey later this summer for the Standardbred National Show, so spending the night at DEC was a perfect test run.   I much rather find out she was not cut out to be a show horse here in MAINE rather than all the way in NEW JERSEY.  LOL!  It is much simpler to come home early from a show that is two hours from home rather than long eight hours (complete with the GW Bridge crossing, etc!)!!!

I have said over and over how much potential my Reva has, and sometimes I wonder if it is just a fluke.  But this weekend at DEC showed me just how awesome she really is.  I saw excellent growth over the two days and I am super pleased with how she did.  It really was a perfect horse show weekend in all ways.

There was a bit of rain...it wouldn't be DEC without it!  But at least this year we missed the drenching rain (such as in 2009....uggg!) and the massive thunderstorms (it blew through an hour or so after we left on Saturday night!).  I did forget to bring our awesome ribbon rack (a plastic piece of white lattice) but that was pretty minor.  LOL!

Reva's stall!
Her pretty sign.....
(left to right) Reva's stall, our tack stall, McKeever's stall, and the mini!
Reva walked into her stall on Friday morning like she had been a show horse all her life.  She was completely settled and happily eating her hay within just a few moments.  My longtime show buddy Shelly brought along her STB gelding McKeever and her mini horse Thunder.  So we set up our tack room, checked in at the show office, checked into our hotel room across the street from the fairgrounds, and said hello to all of our show friends.  Our first class that day was in the beginning of the afternoon session.  We had two classes fairly close together: Open 2-Gait Pleasure and STB 2-Gait Equitation.  Neither classes are MHA (Maine Horse Association) pointed, so it was a perfect way to get Reva into the ring without having to worry about how we placed.  I spent a lot of time riding Reva around the grounds at the walk before our class.  We went all the way around the outside of the Coliseum, around the barns, etc.  She seemed pretty comfortable with her surroundings and took much of her confidence from Shelly's older gelding McKeever. 

We ended up unanimous 2nd place winners in our first class!  Yay Reva!  There were four horses, so there was plenty of room in the ring.  I always worry about riding Reva in large classes yet because she really has no experience in large groups.  I was surprised and pleased to have started off the show so well!  Reva was very, very looky at everything, but she listened well.
Ring pics from Jeff Anderson of Eighth Generation Photography


A little looky, but very good!

We took a short break before we had STB 2-Gait Equitation.  There were five of us in that class and I ended up with a 1st and 2nd place...the other 1st and 2nd place was won by Shelly!  LOL!  I love when we end up splitting our classes like that.  We both get to win...and if I have to lose, I rather lose to her!  ;-D  Reva was very good but had a momentary bobble in the trot in the second direction.  She did not quite buck, but she shook her head down like she was thinking about it.  She was not quite as looky, but I started to realize she was looking for her new bestest friend McKeever.  And since Shelly was showing him western, there was no way to keep them together in the ring...Reva's working trot is MUCH bigger than McKeever's slow jog/pace.


Yay mare!  1st and 2nd in Eq!
Ears only a mother could love......ha ha ha!
We had a long break before our last class on Friday.  We took care of the horses, gave them their dinners, and we had dinner as well.  We rode in the middle of the evening session in our STB 2-Gait Pleasure class, and I want to say it was at about 7:30 PM. I really wanted to do well, as it was an MHA pointed class.  Reva was great going in the first direction (counter clockwise).  Then we walked and changed directions...still good.  Then when they asked us to trot, along the long side, she BUCKED!  What a poop!  LOL!  There were five of us in the class, and I immediately knew I had blown it.  I was pretty bummed.

Right before the buck...or right after.  Either way, you can see her expression.  LOL!
We lined up and the call judge, Chris Cassenti, came directly over to me.  She looked up and asked, "What happened???"  I just shook my head and replied, "Well, she's only five and it is her first time here."  The judge replied that we had been on the top of her card (meaning she had us in first).  I wanted to burst into tears.  I hate when judges have to tell you that!  LOL!

Somehow the second judge did not see the buck, so we ended up placing 2nd with her and then 5th with the call judge.  In the moment of the line up, I was bummed out.  But then as I was talking with Shelly, it dawned on me that Reva had just had a "baby moment".  So what if she bucked?  She was a super good mare otherwise!  The ring is sort of scary under the lights, with the sides draped in darkness, the crowd in the bleachers, and here was my baby girl being on her best behavior minus one little (OK, it was big...) buck!  And it came to me that the call judge really must have liked her...so much so that without that buck she would have won!  So she has potential!  LOL!  Another friend of mine was the ringmaster for my class and told me the judge was "complaining" out loud that she had to redo her entire judging card after Reva bucked and was bummed out for us.  So instead of being upset or angry, I really had to laugh at my young mare.  I am sure we will have many more "baby moments" like that in the future.  :-D

The next morning was our in hand classes.  I HATE IN HAND.  But I know it is a good way to get Reva into the ring.  Besides, the STB In Hand class is pointed and she has done well in it so far this year.  We were the first class of the morning at 9AM with STB In Hand.  Overnight Reva apparently became attached at the hip to McKeever, so she spent the class calling to him and being generally worried about where he was.  She was not 100% paying attention to me, and she slobbered all over EVERYTHING, but oh well.  We ended up 2nd and 4th out of five Standardbreds, which I was happy with since her manners were not exactly stellar.  We stayed in the ring for Open Halter, but placed 7th out of 7.  She was MUCH better, but still not the good mannered mare I know.  We chilled at the in gate for a few classes before we had Open English Horse In Hand.  Again, she is not really cut out for this class of mostly Saddlebreds, but her behavior was MUCH MUCH better.  We placed unanimous 5th out of 5....ha ha ha.  I do have to say that pink is her color, so I rather like the 5th place ribbons!  ;-)
And we did the Downeast Open In Hand Championship class, and by then Reva was a totally calm mare.  We placed 5th out of 6.  More pink!  LOL!

Gotta love this pic...lots of green slime all over my coat!  She would not stand still either.

We went from this....
...to this.  It was nice that she calmed down.


Finally being good while we trotted in hand.  No leaping....  :-D
We had a long break until our last class, the Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure Championship.  I was nervous!  I wanted to do well in the placings, and I wanted Reva to have a good trip.  But pushing aside my competitive drive for ribbons, I firmly decided I just wanted Reva to go well.  No bucking, just a nice easy ride.  I figured if I could get to the final line up feeling that she had behaved well, that was worth more than any ribbon.

Hi Mama! I like being a fancy show horse!  ;-)
I did not warm up near McKeever, which made her look to me for her confidence.  I knew she would do OK if she was with me rather than looking for him.  She definitely tensed up for a moment going to the right (the second trot), but I was expecting it.  I was right there with a steady seat and hands.  I stayed calm and just smiled the entire class.  It was fun and I wanted to portray that.  It is a pleasure class after all!  LOL!




When we came into the line up, I felt on top of the world.  Reva had been perfect.  At that point I did not care if we were unanimous last place because we had accomplished my goal.  When the announcer asked us to retire to the rail, I was just sitting there grinning like an idiot.  It took me a good 5 seconds to realize I was alone in the center of the ring!  LOL!!!  I joined Shelly and McKeever on the rail, and Shelly told me I had won.  I thought she was just being encouraging, but I looked at her and she said she had seen the call judge's card.  I started to tear up, because I was just so proud of my mare.  When they announced us as the champion, I did begin to cry.  Our win picture might not show it, but there were tears streaming down my face.  I am such a sap when it comes to my horses, and winning out of four riders is not that huge of a deal for most people, but to me it was.  My friend Shelly was reserve for the call judge, which was great.


Victory pass!  Yay mare!
I played around with the black and white...
I realized it was not unanimous, so I waited to see what the other judge gave us.  We got 2nd place from her and Shelly was champion!  WHOOOO!  So we split the championship class, exactly as we had split the eq class.  It was so awesome!!  For some people it can be hard to show against a good friend, but Shelly and I have always been very supportive of each other.  We always feel that we rather lose to each other than anyone else.  So while a small part of my competitive side wishes we had been unanimous first (LOL), I am very happy for Shelly.  Her gelding did a wonderful job going western and I am proud of them both too!

Our final placings for DEC 2011:
  • Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure Championship - Champion (1st place) and Reserve (2nd place) out of 4
  • Standardbred 2-Gait Equitation - 1st and 2nd place out of 5
  • Open 2-Gait Pleasure - double 2nd place out of 4
  • Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure - 2nd and 5th place out of 5
  • Standardbred In Hand - 2nd and 4th place out of 5
  • Open English Horse In Hand - double 5th place out of 5 
  • Downeast Open In Hand Championship - double 5th place out of 6
  • Open Halter - double 7th place out of 7

SO PROUD of my girl!

She loves hugs!  And she deserves them!!!
It doesn't get much better than this.....  :-)
Our ribbons!

Overall, Reva had the most points of all the Standardbreds in the division!  :-)  Yay mare!!!  I am super pleased with her attitude and behavior.  Yes, we had a few baby moments, but that is to be expected.  To actually win a championship at a AA rated show was amazing!!  I am proud of my little BIG mare!  :-D

4 comments:

Dressager said...

Oh, no, baby moments lol!
Awesome overall!

Now That's A Trot! said...

Aw, what a good mare! Congrats!

I am loving the STB stall banner too!

Laura said...

Wow!! Reva was so awesome at that show! Your hard work with her is paying off already...! So proud of you guys... :-)

Great pictures too - you look really happy in them and Reva looks great too. Congrats to your friend Shelly too!

Kate said...

Thats fantastic! Go Reva!! You've got a lot to live up to with that mare now ;)