For the fourth year in a row, I made the trek to the Horse Park of New Jersey for the National Standardbred Show. It is a long eight hour drive but it is always fun to see everyone. The SPHO-NJ and SBOA of NJ present it each year; I am a member of SPHO-NJ and try to support the group as best as I can from Maine.
This year my friend Shelly brought along her gelding McKeever. They came down with me the first year 2008. And my friend Tania (who came with Dreamy and me to WEG last year) came along as our support person (and she got to show my horse too! More on that in a minute…)
After bringing Dreamy down to the show for three years (2008, 2009, 2010) I decided to bring Reva this year! I knew that we would not really be competitive in the huge classes and she would have her share of baby moments, but I knew it would be a good learning experience. And having Tania along to help, I knew it was a good year to try it. Dreamy is so super easy that I actually brought her down last year in 2010 all by myself. I am not quite there yet with Reva!
Reva was stabled in NJ when I got her back in 2009, and my friend Rob was her groom. I asked Rob to show her in Mares in Hand, mostly because I dislike showing in hand and Rob LOVES it. I also thought it would be cool for him to take her in the show ring!
We had a relatively easy trip down from Maine, only hitting some traffic a few miles before the George Washington Bridge. We got over the bridge easily and rolled into the horse park around 4PM. After setting up our stalls, reuniting with all of our NJ friends, and bathing, feeding, and taking care of the horses, we all went out to dinner at the Clarksburg Inn. It was a really fun time, with lots of laughs, great company, good food, and a small bit of alcohol. ;-)
|I am third in on the right...white shirt!|
Reva was such a good girl on the trip down and when we arrived. She took everything in stride with no issues. I took her for a walk around each ring while she was drying from her bath, and while she did look at everything, she was calm and happy. My only goals for the 2011 National were to have fun and give her a good experience. So far, things were going great!
Sunday morning started bright and early, mostly because I knew I would have to re-bathe Miss Reva who likes to roll and sleep in her pee. :-/ She was looking very clean and pretty for her first class of the day, #1 Showmanship and Grooming – Adult Exhibitor in the East Ring. I had Tania take her into the class, again because I dislike in hand classes and I thought Tania would enjoy being able to show (I think she did!) Tania and Reva looked awesome! Sadly Reva was a bit of a cow and did not want to trot in the pattern, so I knew our chance of a ribbon was shot. The class had 12 horses and Tania brought Reva into the ring first. Despite the lack of trotting, everything else was perfect. I was super proud of her good attitude and that meant way more to me than any ribbon.
Rob took her into class #3 Mares In-Hand. There were only two horses so I thought we might have a shot at first. But again, she was a poophead about trotting so she ended up second. And Rob reminded me of what I was fearing: I had trained Reva to slightly park out like a Morgan while being handled but he and Tania showed her western. HA HA HA. What can you do!?!? It dawned on me just a few days beforehand that I had trained her that way and that they would be showing her in the opposite discipline, but there was not much I could do. So she wanted to park out her hind end (as I have taught her) while Rob was trying to get her to stand up more underneath herself. But what the heck…she had won her first ribbon at Nationals! Yay baby mare! (I showed Rob how I can stand her up like a park Morgan…..he was like HOLY CRAP! I think he was a little disgusted with me. Hahahaha, I am such an in-hand failure.)
|This photo cracks me up...I held Rob's horse for him while he showed Reva.....LOL!|
|Rob telling me how my horse was a cow.....HA HA HA!|
Knowing we had a bit of time before our next class in the lower rings, I decided to sneak in our dressage tests in the upper ring. I had signed Reva up for Intro A and B, knowing full well that it could be a complete disaster. While I always ride her dressage at home and her training has had a dressage focus from day one, she has never seen a dressage ring, a dressage judge’s booth, and we have never actually ridden an entire test together. Not to mention I did not know my tests until about 30 minutes before I rode them! LOL! For the record, Intro tests are SO MUCH EASIER to memorize than First level tests, that is for sure!!!!
Reva warmed up really well. She seemed happy and sure of herself, which I was very happy with. We were able to warm up right near the dressage ring, and it was “first come, first serve” instead of published times, so I was able to walk her around the entire dressage ring between riders. She was unconcerned about her surroundings and I worked hard to get good transitions, a good trot tempo, and some decent free walk into our warm up. I entered for Intro A and figured we would just give it our best shot. We might end up with a 50%, but everyone needs to start somewhere! I am pretty sure I smiled throughout the entire test. She was SUPER good! I was amazed at how she acted like she had been entering at A all her life. For her first ever test, I was proud and happy. The judge’s first words after our last halt were, “Excellent ride!” She was really encouraging and that made me even more proud. I would not see my test until the very end of the day, after all was said and done, but I was hopeful for a good score. We ended up fourth out of eight riders in Intro A with a 63.75%! It was all 6s and 7s with a 5 on our left trot circle because she got a bit fast and crooked. Our comment was “Nice job! Work on transitions for better balance. Good luck!” Yay fancy dressage mare! Hahaha!
|First time up center line!|
|She has a good developing free walk...|
|I'm pretty sure I grinned the entire time! LOL!|
|Checking out the judge...|
|Final halt! Reva looks pleased with herself!|
|The judge really liked her!|
Instead, I decided to go back to Reva’s stall and change into her hunter tack. She relaxed and ate hay while I struggled to change into my hunter attire. It is very difficult to change into different breeches when you are so sweaty and it is so muggy outside! LOL! After plenty of laughs and groans, I managed to get myself redressed and my horse retacked. We headed over to the West Ring for our trail class. I had entered trail on a whim as well, thinking it would simply be a good way to get her into the ring. We have never practiced opening a mailbox or going over a bridge, but Reva is pretty game for anything. There were nine riders in the class, so I was not expecting a ribbon. We had to enter, cross a small wooden bridge, stop to open a mailbox and show the judge the mail, trot to a square made of four ground poles, enter and make a 360 degree turn to the left, walk out and trot over a ground pole, weave at the trot between four very closely spaced cones, halt at a cone and back five steps. It was pretty straightforward which was good.
Reva walked over the bridge for the first time in her life without batting an eye. Good mare!
She halted and waited at the mailbox while I opened it, showed the mail, and closed it. Good mare again!
We had a decent turn on the forehand in the box, but she got a little stuck. It was still a good effort, so I was happy.
She trotted over the ground pole. She was not quite sure how to do just one...jump it? Trot it? LOL!
The cones were way too close together to trot properly, so I did my best. Instead of fighting to pull her around, we trotted in and had to walk out. Her trot stride is so large that it did not seem fair to haul on her mouth just to accomplish a silly goal at a horse show. So I tried to make it fluid and Reva was very good. One of her trot strides was about the same length as the four cones…..hahahaha.
We halted at the cone and backed five steps without issue. I was so proud of her effort! No problems! After finishing the course, I was hopeful that perhaps we would place. But even if we didn’t, I was still very happy. So hearing that we were placed SECOND out of nine riders was just icing on the cake! Yay mare! Her second ribbon!
We had a lunch break, so I wanted to give Reva a chance to relax in her stall, eat, drink, and maybe pee. It was also important to me to have lunch, since usually I am so busy at horse shows I forget to eat. That is never a good thing. So Tania and I enjoyed the AWESOME horse show food while Shelly got her leadline rider ready. Such an adorable little girl!
I made sure I ate quickly though, since I was hoping to fit in my other dressage test before the hunter classes began. There was just enough time to fit in Intro B, but I would have to do it in hunter tack. That always bums me out, since I like to look good (hahaha) but it was either do dressage in hunt tack or jump crossrails in dressage tack.
Reva was very good again, happy and relaxed. I actually think Intro B is easier than Intro A, which is crazy, but again we got a “Great ride!” from the judge after our last halt. She was very encouraging in her verbal comments and I was pleased with Reva. Again, we would not find out our scores until much later in the day. I knew we had done well, but I was pretty floored when I saw the 73.13% for Intro B and a second place out of seven riders! Whoooo! We had a five on our entrance, as Reva decided to get herself all twisted up like a pretzel. HA HA HA. But the rest of the test had one 6, five 7s, and eight 8s!!! It felt really good to do so well, because while I do show in other disciplines, dressage and eventing are really my things.
And while I was very proud of Reva’s first ever dressage scores, I was beaming when Rob handed me a reserve champion neck sash! We had ended up as reserve national champions at Intro level during our first ever dressage show! Yay!!!
As soon as I finished our dressage test, it was time for our Hunter Over Crossrails class in the Schooling Ring. We were allowed to warm up over the fences, so after some brief trotting, I took her over the small crossrails. The course was very easy, just one counter clockwise circle over the four crossrails. We trotted the course, but I want to say each related distance was about five canter strides. In our warm up, Reva was fine over the first one and then stopped at the second one. She went over it the second try, but then got very excited for the last two. She bucked and careened around. Of course, at home we have only done one jump at a time, so entering this class was just for experience. We ended up going towards the end, and of course, Reva had to knock down the first crossrail. HA HA HA. But after that, we jumped the last three just fine and she remembered how to pick up her feet.
|Baby was NERVOUS...right before the bucking and rearing! You can see me talking to her.|
I was not mad at Reva, as she is young. Maybe I should have scratched when I heard there were 18 horses in the class. But I was PISSED that the ring master was so irresponsible. When a rider is off their horse (granted, I did not fall off, but made the choice to dismount before Reva made the choice for me…) I firmly believe a ring master must halt the rest of the class for everyone’s safety.
I was fuming but decided to just go into the East Ring to warm up for our last three 2-Gait classes. Reva was a bit tense, but she calmed down easily. I tried to just relax and let it go. So what if the ring master sucked? I still had three classes left and was optimistic we would do OK.
But then I heard there would also be eighteen horses in the 2-Gait Green/Novice Horse class! Seriously?? I asked if it would be split, nine and nine, but again the answer was no. I can understand that the 2-Gait Hunter class was not split, since it was open to all levels of horses, but I thought it was crazy for a class specifically for GREEN horses to be so large. Other riders were asking for it to be split as well, but the management still said no. I immediately got off Reva and scratched the last three classes (2-Gait Green/Novice Horse, 2-Gait Adult Equitation, and 2-Gait Adult Equitation with a pattern). There was no reason for me to bring my young mare into a class where I was setting her up for failure. It was not about a ribbon. Hell, I would have been pleased as punch to go into a split class of nine and leave with nothing but a GOOD EXPERIENCE for my mare. I still am very disappointed that safety was not a priority, but there was nothing I could do right then in the moment but shut my mouth, be ladylike, and take care of my horse. My goals for the National show were to have fun and give Reva a good experience. I personally did not see entering a class of 18 green horses as giving her a good experience.
There ended up being large numbers in the 2-Gait Adult Equitation classes as well, so I felt good making the right decision for my horse. I was not mad at her or anyone else, but just very disappointed. I took care of her, untacking and hosing her down, and she was happy to be in her stall with lots of hay and cookies. Reva did so well for her first time in NJ at the National show. Three seconds, a fourth, and a reserve national championship is pretty fabulous no matter what.
It began to rain and then thunderstorm, so Tania and I loaded the up our tack into my trailer as fast as we could. We helped the show management pick up, grained the horses, had a yummy dinner of Chinese takeout back at Helene's house, and got a good night’s sleep. We left for Maine at 6:00 AM on Monday morning, and the ride home was super easy. Reva was very tired and a bit dehydrated when we got home, but sucking down three buckets of water and a dose of Banamine to be safe, she seemed to perk up.
Thanks to Helene for her hospitality at the “Gregory Inn”, Tania and Rob for showing my horse, Shelly and Tania for being such great traveling company (and Shelly did excellent with her horse McKeever!), and the SPHO-NJ for putting on another successful National show!
|BFFs!!! With Shelly and McKeever (on the left...)|
|My big sister! Helene (on the right)! Everyone wants to be Swedish!! :-)|
|Slumber party at the Gregory Inn!|
|HA HA HA HA|
|Don't ask.....ROFLMAO! I found the stick horses in the HP of NJ office! Look, it is my GREEN horse! HA HA HA|
- Reserve National Champion Introductory Level dressage (out of 11 horses!)
- 2nd Mares in Hand (out of 2)
- 2nd Trail (out of 9)
- 2nd Intro B (out of 7) with a 63.75%
- 4th Intro A (out of 8) with a 73.13%