Saturday, September 1, 2012

The BBW's First Show Experience: The Good, The Bad, and...

Well, no, there was nothing ugly at all about Sherm's first outing at the showgrounds!  Much, most even, was good!  There were a couple of blips, but nothing too terribly bad.  All in all, I think it was a success.

First off, we got on the trailer and got there.  Still in the trailer, Sherm did two laps of the grounds while we attempted to sort out a stall-assignment glitch.  We finally got him unloaded and settled into his stall about 30 minutes later than I would have liked, but that was fine.  He ate some hay and sniffed things for a bit; I did a very preliminary grooming, and then we went out for a walk around the grounds.

I was really pleased with how quietly he walked with me-- looking at everything, of course, and very tall (he's not as tall as he looks in this photo... or maybe I'm shorter than I think I am) as he got himself up to his full Morgan 17h in a 15h package posture.  But one small spook at something was all he gave me.  I was very, very happy with how mature he was through it all.  I particularly like how he marched right between the jump standards in the warm-up ring.  A good sign for future endeavors, I hope!

Sydney came and got him working after I gave him a second, more-thorough, grooming.  Yesterday's session with the ShopVac did get a lot of the dirt out, but a night out in pasture probably put it back in.  (This, of course, is why I elected not to bathe him-- that would have just been a wasted effort.)  He was good for her, as well, though getting a bit more keyed up as the traffic increased in all the arenas and in the stabling area.  We have quite a few pictures of Sherm being fancier than necessary-- looping in front of Syd, flagging his tail, giving his Morgan prance a try.  But for the most part, considering it was his first outing, he handled himself pretty nicely.

Moving?  Good!  Standing?  Bad!

Things got pretty chaotic up at the indoor arena where the classes were being held.  The show organizers only opened one gate for all access-- exhibitors lining up for the next class, exhibitors trying to leave from the preceding class, and the holding area (in out of the sun) for all exhibitors in the area.  Quarters were tight, and it was confusingly crowded.  Sherm held his own for the most part, but did lose his cool at the first burst of applause at the announcement of winners from a class.  I had worried about the loudspeaker, but he didn't care about that-- it was the applause that unglued him a bit.  Nothing major, just a few tight, prancy circles, but that looks huge in a ring full of half-dead Quarter Horses.

Oh, did I not say this was a QH-dominated show?  Yeah, it was open to other competitors, and some classes (like "Registered Other Breeds") allowed for some variety, but it was mostly the big hunters and  WP horses, all quiet and low in their carriage.  Sherm would have stood out like a sore thumb even without his roached mane.  So the fancy spook was really quite something in that environment!

And then we missed our first class.

Yeah.  We were waiting in the melee of "staged" horses behind another bay gelding, thinking the handler was taking him into the Geldings/Stallions class, but she didn't, and it was busy enough in there  that by the time we realized that those two were just staging for the next QH class, the judge was placing the geldings and stallions.  We'd missed it.  

But that's probably not a bad thing.  That class had somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 horses in it, most all of them much larger than Sherman.  I think he'd have lost his marbles in that big a class his first go 'round.  So it was probably not a bad deal that he didn't go.  He got to watch, then went back outside for some more waiting.

Oh, and the waiting... there was a hell of a lot of waiting.  And that's not something Sherm does very well.  So actually, he was a champion today, a blue-ribbon earner for how quietly, patiently, and kindly he stood still in the middle of such chaos.  For that alone, I am so very, very proud of him.

Syd, we're standing again.  I hate standing.

Syd was determined not to miss his next class, so she charged right in and went first, something she hates to do.  Sherm seemed a little confused to be working suddenly after so much standing around.  I really wish  they'd had a chance to walk around the whole arena one time before being judged, just so he could have gotten a look at it.  As it was, he was pretty looky and noodly-- not at all the pretty, relaxed sporthorse-in-hand he has been in so many of their working sessions together.  (That's okay; it was a halter class; they'd have had no idea what to do with sporthorse power in that setting.)  And he didn't really want to stand still after their run--  the door was open at the end of the arena, and he caught sight of the lower warm-up rings, where riders were now beginning to really rip around, warming up their horses.  The look on his face was one of, "hey, Syd, let's go out there and do that; this is boring, and we've been here for hours!"  So he was crooked and antsy, and, again, not at all reflective of the work Syd has gotten out of him at home.  But that's how showing goes.

He placed third behind a palomino and an appaloosa.  Those aren't breeds, are they?  I thought they were colors.  The judge had to ask Syd what breed he was, so I guess that wasn't a good sign going in.

He got his "set-up" right after the placings were made!

After that, Syd made the very mature decision to scratch her showmanship class with him, and I agreed completely with her call.  He wasn't quite comfortable yet in that arena, and the showmanship class was going to be huge.  She'd have had her hands full, period, but in a class where she's not allowed to touch him?  Fuggedaboutit-- it was a recipe for a bad experience.

So we all agreed that it was time to call it a day after his good, positive outing.  Back to the stall, off with the bling-bling halter, and into the hay pile.  Munch, munch, munch for 20 minutes or so, and then back on the trailer and home. 

It was good mileage for the boy, and (I think) a good experience for Syd, who really called the shots at this one.  She did a superb job of managing a wiggly, wily, inexperienced 5-year old, and did it with grace and class.  I'm proud of her, as I am of him.

A happy horse, working with a good young woman.

So nothing ugly, lots of good, and just a little oops at missing the class-- we can't even call that bad!

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