I know I've probably had a good bunch of you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation to see how Spud did at the BVX in his Driving Classes. I won't spoil the fun just yet, so continue to read and you will be greatly rewarded!
|Finishing getting ready, Saturday morning.|
He was fine to tack up, and even puttered Jamie and myself over towards the Driving Ring, which is a solid (somewhat level) slab of grass. He had been in this particular ring two years ago during a clinic (wherein he reared and we ended up being ponied by the instructor... I also like to call it the Walk Of Shame).
I made quick work of the session, as I wanted to retain as much forward energy as I could, but I also wanted to ensure I did not have a freight train on my hands. He was light on the aids, slightly resistant to the right bend (which is a reoccuring theme) and cantered (as well as galloped) willfully.
I tucked him into his stall for the night and washed down my harness at the wash racks before heading to watch the rodeo and concert.
|Warming up as it sprinkled rain.|
Spud did not seem too phased by the weather, as he was bright-eyed, alert, and seemed happy to be out. However, as soon as I pulled his slinky off, he began to shiver. I knew once we got to the ring and started moving he'd be fine, so I tried to go as fast as possible. The rain started to pelt down as I made my way to the ring, and it looked as if we were destined to have a miserable morning.
I arrived at the ring nearing 8:15am, as start time in the Show Book was at 8:30am.
Spud and I puttered around the arena, and my nerves started to get to me. He hadn't been in the arena with other driving horses since our one clinic two years ago - was I setting him up for failure? Would he spook? Bolt?
As these questions rang through my mind, I pushed him forwards into a trot and worked on our slow trot, working trot, and strong trot. He responded beautifully and his bend to the right was much more improved than it had been a day ago.
A friend of mine who was showing her Draft for the first time entered the arena and I used that opportunity to gauge Spud's reaction. When none came, I exited the arena with high hopes and a smile on my face.
Unfortunately, the smile soon dimmed as the announcer spoke over the loud speaker that the driving classes would not begin until 9am, as there was a mistake in the PrizeBook which was handed out to spectators. Myself, and the four other competitors let out an inward groan and sat with miserable looking faces in the rain.
It was a bit of a frustrating situation, as we all were wanting to go and get the events underway so we wouldn't be stuck in the rain all day. Thankfully, the rain began to let up so we weren't too worse for wear.
Prior to the classes beginning, the judge did come up to a few of us and mentioned that in accordance with HCBC regulations, under section 16.5"All vehicles must have a solid floor". However, due to the fact this particular show is quite low key, and over half the competitors had mesh floors, she allowed us to still compete.
I wasn't particularly sure how well we'd do, as I signed up for a multitude of classes we had never performed or even really read about. Hooray for preparation.
At 9:30am our first class was called: Driving Turn-Out. It is a pretty self-explanatory class, based off of the unambiguous name. I haven't looked it up, but the judging is something like 70% on the fit, condition and appropriateness of harness and vehicle, as well as the neatness and appropriateness of attire; the remaining 30% is based on performance, manners and way of going.
The class went through walk, trot, strong trot, slow trot (which is basically a collected trot), and back up before lining up in front of the ring-master.
Prior to calling the placings, the judge and her scribe walked individually to each carriage and gave a run down of what the class is all about and if there were any changes to be made (to harness, vehicle, attire, etc). When she came to me, she glanced at her clip board and said, "Comments for you... oh I have none. Thank you."
|Looking both sheepish and excited after a particularly good Dressage test.|
I was ecstatic, smiling the entire way out of the ring. The Boyfriend greeted me and promptly patted Spud for a job well done.
Our second class ran shortly after our first, which was 1st Year Driver: Pleasure. There was also an Open class that apparently I could have also entered, but because in normal shows with riding horses you cannot cross enter, I wasn't aware of the possibility. In addition, I felt more comfortable in the 1st Year class since I was a 1st Year competitor.
There was only myself and the woman with her Draft in the class. She lives in the next town over and we've been a source of support and information for eachother, since we are both attempting to work our way to CDEs and other competitions. For reference, the closest CDE is nearly 11 hours away. So in a way, going out to a CDE to compete "for fun" or as a trial run is not feasible. We both wanted to ensure we did our homework and prepared both of our beasts appropriately, as this particular show also had a "mini CDE" for the competitors.
The class ran like a typical Pleasure flat class - judging the horse on it's performance and showcasing of being a pleasure to drive (as well as a minor percentage for the attire, dress, and fit of the harness and carriage). Gaits were: walk, slow trot, working trot, and strong trot, as well as backing.
Placings were called, and once again Spud and I earned another red (1st place) ribbon.
Feeling like things were in a serious roll, I was excited for our Dressage test. I entered into a Training Level test which features walk, trot, halt, and back. For not practicing much with the geometry of the ring, I felt we did OK, but it certainly could've been better. My 40m circles were oblong and I felt pretty blah about the free walk we attempted. Thankfully, I had some pretty bang-on transitions and our final halt was magnificent.
|Not my test halt, but one of the other classes.|
A small break occurred while the cones course was set up, vehicles were measured, and everyone learnt the course. Myself and the Draft lady were pretty new to all of this, so we asked more questions than probably was necessary.
I don't know if it's typical to put all the competitors into one category (the two minis, two ponies, and one draft were all in the same class), as it gives the minis an unfair advantage of being able to be quite precise around the course since we have much more room for our turns despite the cones being closer together. I assume in larger competitions, the horses go by height and are seperated as such. It was not the case in this particular show, which made me feel a bit bad for the Draft lady, since she was not as speedy as the Pony lady.
Myself and the one Pony lady were the only two to have clear rounds and due to the fact that her pony was much taller than Spud, she was able to trot faster than us (there was no cantering allowed during the cones course at this particular show, so the ponies out-trotted the minis fairly easily). We placed a well-deserved 2nd out of 5 for our efforts.
Next up was the obstacles course which took quite a while to set up. The unfortunate thing about this show was that there wasn't many people helping with the Driving section and it certainly showed, as I waited railside for a majority of my day. I helped out where I could, and enlisted the boyfriend to hold Spud so I could lend a hand, but most drivers were stuck to their hitches due to not having a groom or secondary hand.
Obstacles ran pretty smoothly. It was basically a cones course with some obstacles in it, including a pole where we had to keep one tire on one side, and the remaining tire and horse on the other. Another obstacle was backing through a gate (note: Driving people call a set of cones a gate. So two pylons with balls on each are a 'gate') and touching a pole with our tire before being able to proceed forwards again.
Again, due to the trotting rule, we placed 2nd out of 4. Both myself and the Pony Lady had clear rounds (although the Boyfriend said I was pretttty close to one cone!).
More waiting and then the next class, Barrels, ran. I was kind of confused because I literally assumed we'd be running barrels, much like rodeo horses do. But no, it was more of a short marathon course - I believe other Driving people call it "cool runnin's" or something like that? Anyways, the object was to trot through the cones "gates", then pass through the middle "gate" where you could begin to canter in the barrel obstacles, head back through the middle "gate" to the next set of barrels, then back through the middle "gate", trot and go through the remaining cones left in the pattern.
Spud was pretty good for cantering through the barrel obstacles, even though he had never done anything like that in his life. It was commented that him and I are a good team.
In this class, we placed 2nd again - the Pony lady placed first. I believe three of us had clear runs, but Draft lady was DQ'ed in the end due to not going through the "Start/Finish" gate prior to starting.
As the day wore on, I began to get grumpy from not eating anything all day or drinking anything. It was nearing 3pm and I could feel Spud was beginning to get a case of the "blahs". I promised him we had one class left as the Boyfriend fed him ketchup chips and I devoured a hot dog.
The last class of the day was 1st Year Driver: Reinsmanship. Just myself and Draft lady were in it and after working on the rail, we had to do a short pattern which involved trotting two circles one-handed. I have never practiced one-handed before, but it was pretty easy for the most part. We placed a 1st out of 2 in that class, which was a fabulous way to end the day.
|Pretty sure this guy is our biggest fan tho.|
I collected my ribbons and headed back to the trailer, ready for some cold Ice Tea and a shower. It was such a long day, and I thanked Spud a million times over for what was one of the best shows I've ever had. His performance was bang on (save for the last class wherein he became a little flat and resistant due to his tiredness) and we have some good homework to dig into for next year (working on nailing that slow trot a bit more!).
I have pretty big plans for this little guy now. CDEs, here we come!
*For those who are curious, I was not eligible for a high point due to the fact I did 1st year driver classes instead of the open classes. I was asked a few times from some horsey friends, so I figure I'd add that.