Because all of our meets are double headers, the average stock seat rider must draw two horses per meet, one for the morning show and another for the afternoon. As one of Albion’s reining riders, I actually have the privilege of drawing a horse for Open and Reining, so that’s four chances to get at least one good draw. Four chances. Got that?
Good, because no matter what I do, I seem to have the worst luck.
The first meet was held at the Midland County Fairgrounds and hosted by Saginaw Valley State University. Show number one went pretty well (for everyone on the team who wasn’t me, that is). We finished Reserve Champions, which is great considering we are currently one of the smaller teams in the region; however, I was less than satisfied with my rides. After watching my equitation draw, Honey, in the warm up, I felt pretty good, so I walked into my class with confidence, ready to rock.
Then, things went south. (Luckily, I don’t mean this literally.)
After just a few steps my horse started jigging around – something I had not seen her do for any other rider – and continued this for our first lap around the arena. I did everything I could to calm her down but was unaware as to what the problem was until I heard her owner say, from across the arena, “Oh no, she has spurs on.”
Apparently my draw was quite afraid of spurs, so I did my best to keep both them and my legs off of her for the rest of the class, only to place fifth. (As a side note, before mounting, we are briefed on our ride, and are supposed to be told if they have any restrictions such as spurs. Sadly, no one noticed my lovely ball-end equitation spurs as I sat waiting for my class.) As I walked out of my class, I was congratulated by a number of SVSU riders, not for doing well in my class, but for staying on a horse that had thrown every rider that had ever ridden her with spurs. Great, that’s really what I was going for. On top of that, my reining horse, Rose, was extremely herd bound, which caused me a bit of trouble and earned me another fifth.
Needless to say, I was not a very happy Katie going in to the second show. Cinders and Cinnamon, my draws, were not horrible horses, but yet again, I drew the worst of the herd. To make it even worse, most of our riders were placing middle of the pack, bumping us out of reserve and into third. If anything, the meet proved to us that horse shows really are subjective – just because one judge loves you doesn’t mean the other judge will too.
Needless to say, we spent the week riding our butts off in practice and then it was time for us to host our home meet. There were a lot of good rides, but sadly we placed lower than we had hoped. I did manage to pull off a third in reining on Kahlua, a horse that MSU loaned to us and the only horse at the entire show that I had never ridden, which was an accomplishment in itself.
Hosting a show is a lot of work, but with the help of the Albion College Equestrian Club and our friends from the hunt seat team, we were able to pull it off smoothly. In addition to the actual show, we were also able to make some money for the club by selling concessions and t-shirts, which is great considering the club funds our teams. And (I’m very excited about this!), the club painted the Rock for our meet! I can finally scratch that off of my Albion “To Do” list! (Painting the Rock on the campus Quad is a must for every Albion student – it isn’t a graduation requirement, but it’s pretty close.)
Although we’re a little disappointed with some of our rides and placings from the first two meets this season, we’re pumped for meet three at Grand Valley. (I have decided that at that meet, I will not be drawing for myself. Clearly I am not lucky. And though this may sound superstitious, my own coach is in agreement and has forbidden me to draw from now on.)
On the bright side, there are going to be some real reining horses at this show. Bring it!!