I’ll will tell you honestly that Starlight and I came home with a fistful of ribbons from the Empire State Paint Horse Club’s Paint-O-Rama. And among that fistful are a blue and a red.
|All polished up|
But focusing on ribbons would only tell you a tiny bit of truth about our day, and it does not tell the real story.
The real report would tell you that, competitively, Starlight and I were mediocre in halter and abominable in riding. But it would also tell you that I’m proud of every shampooed, blued, Show-Sheened, braided and powdered hair on Starlight's fat little body, from the whites of her pasterns to the tips of her pointy ears.
She did everything I asked from her at the Chemung County fairgrounds, including displaying patience for all the pre-halter class scrubbing and fussing, performing like a pro in those classes and standing like a saint during all the waiting.
She also watched scooters and bicycles zip by, dogs running, playing and barking, plenty of flapping things, some very anxious, whirling, rearing young horses who were repeatedly getting their faces jerked with chains, and all the rest of the activity that makes a horse show, and she never spooked, shied or deviated from the course I requested.
Except when she just plain ran out of gas.
|Before the halter classes.|
She did that in our first riding class, after cantering around the 150-foot arena in deep sand a couple of times. She just stopped cantering and would not pick it up again. We tried it once more, in a second class a few minutes later, and she stopped cantering even sooner. At that point, I knew she was exhausted, and we scratched from our last two classes.
I didn’t mind doing it. As you can tell from my posts, Starlight is a good pony who does what I ask unless she has good reason not to, and I could tell from her lack of energy and total dullness in those classes that she had given what she could and was just used up. We had trailered to the show at 6 a.m., been in multiple halter classes, warmed up in three different arenas and had lots of long waits in between. And then she was asked to perform in a huge, deep arena.
Obviously, I had not conditioned her well enough for the physical exertion required at this show.
And while other horses did not appear to struggle with the footing as much as Starlight did, I can tell you that the lower arena at the Chemung County show facilities is too deeply sanded. This would be especially hard on a pony like Starlight, who has only worked in the grass this summer, except for one clinic in sand of the correct depth. Pushing her to keep trying would likely have resulted in an injury.
|"Let's see, is it heads up/heels down or heads down/heels up?"|
So, I put her back in her rented stall and let her drink and eat and relax, as my husband and I scurried around again, lugging, packing and cleaning, until it was done and time to put said tired pony on the trailer to go home.
She whinnied all the way through Elmira.
Oh! And the blue ribbon? It was for a class that required no skill or even good conformation. It was simply the “Tobiano Color” class, and the judging criteria calls for identifying the horse that is most closely half white and half colored. Hey, THAT we can do! We got that.
|The short kid in class.|
A side note: Starlight had a mysterious effect on a big huntery critter in front of us in the second class. She trotted up behind him when he was cantering slooowwwwly and he suddenly started bucking. Now, just because Starlight is new at shows doesn’t mean I am, and I can tell you for certain we did nothing to crowd this horse.
And my dear husband, who was as great a saint as Starlight was yesterday, said he overheard the rider saying, after the class, “I don’t know what happened. That little black and white one came up and he just went bonkers!”
|The official groom|
He added it was said without blame, just surprise. So, although I do think Starlight’s little black and white presence influenced that buck, I have no idea how, since she didn’t do anything or even get close enough to be a direct cause. But my apologies to the rider, who, unlike us, was probably having a good class until that point. Incidentally, that was the second horse that bucked in front of us. So, out of two classes, two different horses abruptly bucked in front of us. Hmmm. What is Starlight saying to those horses? Maybe: “Get out of my way, you skinny giant. Roly-poly alpha pony mare coming through!”
One final note. Although I don’t think I’ll show again in that deep sand, the Empire State Paint Horse Club did an excellent job on the show. It’s part of a two-day fall futurity, and it was run very well. My compliments to them, as I can only begin to imagine the work that goes into making a horse show work.