I would like to begin this blog by thanking all of the wonderful horse owners who have ever loaned a horse to an IHSA team to use at a meet. Furthermore, I would like to apologize if I have ever offended a horse owner by what I have written about their horse in my blog entries. My intention in writing this blog is to accurately portray what it is like to be involved in Albion’s equestrian program and as a member of the western team – so when I have a bad ride, I’m going to discuss it. That doesn’t mean that I think any specific horse is a bad horse, nor do I think less of any horse owner; I simply did not get as good of a ride as I had hoped. In addition, just because a particular horse does not perform well for me, does not mean that they are not a completely different animal for their own rider.
And now, the results of our third meet!
Overall, it was a close race among all the teams, but we came up mid-pack in the first show. Several of our riders had great rides, but they weren’t quite what the judges were looking for. Then in the second show, despite several more low placings, we finished as reserve champions! Following the trend from the last show, I drew for myself and I actually did a pretty good job. My first open horse was a young mare named Melody and I confess I was a little skeptic about her. They were only using her in a few classes and in her first class she was a very naughty girl (though her rider managed to pull through it and place second), so she got pulled for the show and I was given the alternate horse, Janie. She was a very sweet looking mare and I was excited for my ride!
Janie ended up being just as nice of a ride as she looked and I placed second in my class. Then in reining, my horse was Sissi, the horse I drew last year at Grand Valley’s show, so I was pumped to ride her again. Her owner gave me a pep talk and a lot of great advice before my class, so as I entered the arena I felt pretty confident. As I walked to center, she balked a little, but as her owner advised, I kicked her hard and grabbed her face to let her know I meant business and she snapped right into shape. With the exception of one bad canter take off, we had a great ride and I ended up with another second. With a total of ten points for the first show, I was tied for reserve high point rider, so I had to do a ride-off with one of MSU’s riders. She drew Max, a black and white paint gelding who is a seasoned veteran of IHSA shows, and I drew Aggie, a horse that we had never used before, but who belonged to a ten year old girl. Going into the ring, I was hoping my horse would be just as calm and quiet for me as she was for her girl during warm up and at first, she was – with the exception of trying to dart out of the arena gate after our first lap around.
Then, out of nowhere, she decided to play bucking bronco with me. Luckily, that lasted only a few seconds and she quickly settled down again. Then, apparently it was Max’s turn to be naughty, so by the end of the class, we had no clue who the judge would name reserve high point. But as we stood waiting in the center of the arena waiting for the placing, the real excitement started. For some reason, the speakers started acting up, making an awkward squeaking noise, which spooked Max. At first, he just started dancing around out of fear and then he decided to turn around and back into my horse. Seconds before they collided, I pulled a graceful emergency dismount and landed out of the way on my feet.
In the end, the MSU rider received the reserve high point rider ribbon, but I was happy with my ride, so I shook it off and got ready to draw for the next show. This time I was not quite as lucky with my horses. My reining draw was a nice quiet gelding named Dreamer and, although he was a good boy for our pattern, he wasn’t a trained reiner so our pattern wasn’t quite as exciting as those laid down by some of the others. Still, we placed third and I was ok with that. For my open ride, I drew Kahlua, a horse that MSU brought to the show. I had ridden her before and I wasn’t looking forward to my class because she’s very hard to equitate on. She would have been a great draw for my reining class but for open, she’s a bit of a challenge. In the end, the judge placed me third, which was a lot better than I thought we did, so I guess I can’t complain too much. Currently I am in fourth place with overall points for the region and I need two points in each class to qualify for regionals. With a double header show coming up in January at MSU, I’m pretty confident that I can get those two points. So for the rest of the semester, I plan on relaxing at lessons and just keeping my riding muscles in shape.
Outside of the arena, I’ve been busy with classes and work. I did find time to help promote Albion at the Novi Horse Expo, and I’m looking forward to a nice long Christmas break. Mr. Balloons is also excited for Christmas because he saw me shopping for a new log for his tank the other day. (Seriously – he sits and watches me while I’m on my computer every evening).
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!