Sunday, September 2, 2018

BVX 2018: #TeamPotato = #TeamUnicorn

Spoiler alert: This little Appy butt did well <3
For those who don't know, the BVX (Bulkley Valley Exhibition) is a Fall Fair that takes place approximately 3 hours away at a local-ish fairgrounds. The BVX is an event which show-cases hundreds of activities and a large portion of it is a horse show which lasts for four days. The grounds have several large rings - most of which are in use during the day - and offers a variety of disciplines and classes.

In addition to the horse show, there are: rodeos that take place every night, concerts well within range of the horse stables, 4-H cattle auction, magic shows, amusement park rides, tractor parades, dog shows, cowboy challenges, 4-H best of show, and a row of shops to wander about in.

So, it's a pretty busy place.

Last year when Annie and I made our sudden debut at the BVX due to the cancellation of the Driving classes, I made the commitment on bringing Spud the following year. I wanted to be able to support the driving classes (especially because they get cancelled quite a bit due to low entries), and I also wanted to keep competing Spud when I could.

He was not pleased with the cold bath, haha.
A lot of people questioned why I didn't bring both horses, but I just honestly couldn't be bothered. Bringing one horse is ambitious enough, especially when we factor in all the extra activities we do when we take part in the BVX, and bringing two would just be too much. Plus, it isn't exactly cheap to show there, and I didn't want to over-strain my budget.

It turned out to be just what I needed tho, because showing Spud is one of the easiest things in the entire world. The horse sized stalls are so big and roomy that he happily ate, drank, and rolled without a care in the world. Plus, he's such a confident little guy now that I needn't worry about if other horses left us/joined us and what his reaction would be.

The BVX started for us on Wednesday afternoon, as we traveled to Barn C to meet up with Show Buddy and her horses. Every year we team up with Show Buddy and she hauls whatever horse I am bringing and we haul the human camper. Usually, we just leave the truck and horse trailer hitched up at the barn and pick it up on the way home when we have to haul the rest of the way. So it works out well and saves us from bringing two trucks and trailers the entire way. I was a bit nervous tho, because while Annie is used to Spud coming and going (she does call for him intermittently while I am out driving him) but I wasn't particularly sure what she would think of being all alone. Five days would seem like an eternity in horse time, I'm sure! 

The Boyfriend with Spud, and Roxy... and Ella, haha. Next to a friend and her
Spanish mare!
We settled in well on Wednesday and Spud was decent to bathe - he hates being bathed and will pull back but he let me get it done and with him being so small, it's easy to manhandle him when he protests anyways. He seemed happy to be suited up in his purple slinky and fleece sheet and happily munched on his hay, completely at ease with his surroundings. I did end up getting a text message from the Barn Owner that evening and at first, I was pretty nervous because she never ever messages me, but it turned out she just wanted to let me know Annie was doing fine and hadn't even called out. In fact, the BO thought I had taken both horses... Annie was that quiet, haha! I was pretty pleased the Pet Sitter and BO were keeping a close eye on her and both of them reported to me daily that Annie was happy to putter around the pasture and munch her hay without a care in the world. It certainly made me feel better. 

Thursday morning dawned and we were all able to sleep in a bit, since Show Buddy didn't have her Dressage tests until later that afternoon and I wasn't going to be showing until later in the morning. I did show a bit sooner than I had expected, as not many people were at this fair due to the fires all across BC which prevented a large portion of regular riders from attending. Anyways, it's a good thing I was paying attention to the Halter ring and went and got Spud ready when I did because it was our turn nearly 30 min later!

We looked kinda professional. 

We had entered the Unregistered Pony division and obviously were in the Geldings category - Spud won this class and his entire division because he clearly was the cutest thing in the world by default which meant we had to come back again after lunch for the Best of Show.

Around 1:30 we wandered back in the arena with all the Champions and Reserve Champions from the other divisions and did our best to try and impress the judges. I didn't have rose colored glasses tho and knew we had no chance, haha. Spud is cute, but he is the most knock-kneed, toed-in, crooked legged little mini I have ever known. So, unless both judges had an inner ear infections which were affecting their balance and therefore skewed his leg angles, we would decidedly not be placing first.

As the judges weaved between each horse, the one stopped, looked at Spud, looked at me, looked at Spud and then looked at me again before declaring, "He's sleeping." I looked down and laughed because through the fifteen minutes of deliberating and walking around, Spud had indeed fallen asleep and was happily resting his jaw on the chain of his halter, allowing me to hold his head up.

Asleep, in the Best of Show class, haha.
Sadly, we did not win that class but I wasn't necessarily shocked by it or upset.

Friday we had no classes, so I was able to wander around the shops and watch several of the Dressage Freestyles, which are always fun. I did pull Spud out later that evening to drive him and get him out of his stall. He was, as always, happy to be out and worked quite well. I took the opportunity to ride through my Dressage test and after completing it twice successfully (albeit with some minor inaccuracies on my part) and practicing our turning cues, we called it a night. Spud was tucked into his stall and I managed to crawl into bed at a decent hour before the show the next morning. Unfortunately, sleep was a broken thing, as someone had the bright idea to play bagpipes alongside the campers almost all fucking night. It ended up almost causing a fist fight the next evening, as a lot of people were pretty fed up with the noise and insensitivity of the player, given the fact a lot of us camping were competitors and desperately needed some good shut eye in order to actually, yanno, show the next day.

The default ribbons still count!
That aside, Saturday morning dawned and it was pretty brisk but thankfully not raining like it had the year I had brought Spud before. The show program stated that Driving classes were scheduled to start at 8:30am so I had rolled out of bed at ten to 8, knowing that I had slept in (damn bagpipes), but also knowing that Spud wouldn't require much of a warm up (especially if I needed him to last for several classes).

The Team rallied as I struggled to get things together - the train had kinda fallen off the rails and I was silently panicking when I put my show coat on to have TWO of the three buttons randomly pop off. It was really weird, considering I had worn the jacket for Halter and didn't have any issues. Part of me thinks being so top heavy puts a strain on the jacket buttons, but even then the bottom button shouldn't have popped off. While I fiddled around with it, friends threw Spud's harness on and tweaked his braids.

Anyways, I tried to close it with some safety pins but they kept slipping out of the fabric and wouldn't hold properly. They weren't very big pins either, so I ended up scrapping the idea and just figuring my lap apron would cover most of it anyway. I was partially right, and just hoped like heck the judge wouldn't be paying huge attention! Time was running out fast, so I threw the rest of my show clothes on, hitched Spud to the cart, and started to make a bee-line for the Driving arena.

A blurry warm-up photo
Imagine my surprise when I got there and just like the year before, no one was there. I rolled my eyes and inwardly groaned, realizing that this would probably be a repeat of the year before and prepared myself for another wait.

I saw one of the organizers in the ring and called out, asking what time we were starting, as it was now 8:20am. The organizer called back that the judge wanted to start at nine and did I want to come in and warm up. It was early and I kinda snapped back, "Not for 40 minutes, I need my horse to last me the whole day." She shrugged and wandered away.

The Boyfriend wandered over to see what was going on and I lamented my frustrations and he assured me that it was only another half an hour and to be patient. So, I shrugged and decided to head back to the camper and fix my jacket at least while I waited.

Thankfully, the jacket was easily fixed with a friend's mom's sewing kit and by the time we got everything reorganized it was nearing 9am. So back we headed to the ring, only to find no one was ready... still.

I'll save the repetitive typing and just say this - we ended up starting closer to 10am than 9 and I finally snapped after I was asked if we could wait for one more competitor who SLEPT IN. Uhm, no. I'm sorry but this is a SHOW. I understand the driving portion of this show is pretty lax and I respect they aren't completely stuck-up show snobs, but come on... I've been waiting since 8:30 to show, like was stated in the prize book.

Finally in the ring, doing our thing.
We ended up going ahead without the other person (who ended up joining us for the second class of the day) and our first foray into the ring was Driving Turn Out.

Like in years past, this class is primarily judged on turn out (duh). This means your cart and harness should fit your horse, your clothing should be complimentary to your horse, horse should be bathed and braided well, etc.

For this class, Spud was pretty fricken hot. I think he knew what the show ring was all about and he had no problem dragging me around the ring, haha. Thankfully he was manageable and still was obedient with my requests.

We placed 1st out of 2.

Our circles left much to be desired but at least I'm consistent in the
egg shape regardless of being on a horse or behind it?? haha.
Second class was Dressage. It took quite a while to get things organized and paperwork ready to go, so when they asked who wanted to go first I jumped at the chance to just get the class going. Spud and I had a pretty decent test - I wasn't happy with my circles but otherwise the rest of it flowed smoothly. For not working a ton on Dressage this year, I felt it was a respectable test and Spud met me more than halfway like the good pony he is.

We ended up with a 71% and won first place out of three. The second and third place entrants tied with a score of 62% (I don't remember the exact percentages but those are the round numbers).

I was so pleased with the 9/10 for presentation!
Moving on, we managed to putz through Pleasure Driving, which is judged much like an English Pleasure flat class would be. Spud was starting to slow down a bit and was more lazy than I would have liked. However, he still was good and we placed 1st out of 3 again.

Another Dressage photo :D
It felt good to finally get on a roll with the classes but it came to a sudden halt as the conjoining ring aside the Driving arena is a logger sports exhibition. The planning of the grounds wasn't really thought out, but at the same time Spud really could have cared less about the chainsaws revving so I wasn't sure why we had to completely stop but I guess I kinda understand given that driving is a bit more dangerous than regular riding.

Anyways, the organizers wanted us to wait 30min or so until the logger sports completed their one event before resuming. I resigned myself to waiting until they boomed over the loud-speaker that Driving would be back "around 1-1:30".

I looked at my phone - it was 11:50am. Oof.

We headed back to the camper, unhitched Spud and fed/watered him while we made ourselves some food and hung out waiting.

Halt at "G" and give Pony butt scratches for a job well done.
Horse showing is forever waiting, I swear.

Back over to the arena at 1:00pm and waited until 1:30 for things to start going once more. It was frustrating that things were running slowly, but I did understand the Driving portion of the show is spectacularly lacking in support and volunteers. Everyone was trying to get things going, but at the same time, no one really had urgency in any of their duties. So, therein the frustration lied.

I did everything I could to assist and often unhitched and rehitched Spud multiple times throughout the day, leaving him with the Boyfriend to hold while I ran around and helped set up the cones and barrels courses.

When we resumed classes, we started with one of the funner classes - cones! For those who don't know, cones classes are very much like cross country rounds - they are timed and knocking down a ball situated on a cone is considered a "fault" and penalties are incurred with each ball you knock. Each cones course has a "start/finish" line and it is important drivers cross it prior to beginning and when finishing. The red number must be on your right, and the white number must be on your left. Drivers must also salute the judge before beginning.

Saluting to the Judge.
At this particular venue, as per HCBC regulations, competitors are only allowed to trot the cones course. In other venues we would be allowed to canter, but for some reason they don't let us here. They also keep everyone in the same group, which means VSE's (minis) have to compete with ponies and horses... Which, is kind of a bummer. If we are only allowed to trot, pony's have a large advantage since they have longer legs than minis and are much more nimble than horses.

Anyways, our first cones course had a bit of an oopsie moment - I was so excited to finally start the "fun" classes that I trotted Spud right past the first set of cones. Oops! We managed to swing back around and do the course without error, but the amount of time we spent looping back around to get that first gate of cones cost us. We ended up 3rd out of 3, which was a bummer but the lesson to pay attention was learned, haha.

Cones course - we did this course for both the regular
class and stakes.
The next class was a stakes cones class and Spud did great - we completed with no knocks and no time faults. They lined us up in the arena to call out the placings (stakes classes do not have ribbons), and the announcer stated that the difference between 1st and 2nd was the matter of one whole second. I threw my hands up and laughed, cursing at the lady with the pony (in a friendly way, haha), assuming she had beat us by one second.

Imagine my surprise when they called my number as the 1st place winner!

Typically the cone "gates" are closer together, but the amount of
volunteering was limited, so they left them at a certain width.
Knowing Spud had beat the pony, I felt pretty good about our chances to beat him again in the remaining timed classes. The year previous I had brought Spud, we had gotten 2nd in all of our timed classes because we just couldn't keep up. This year, Spud was stepping forward and we had the ability to turn as soon as we jetted through the cones whereas the pony took more time to turn. The difference a whole second could make was evident, and I was excited!

Next class was our cones obstacle course - it had a pole laid out and a section to back up. The pole was laid within a cones gate and the object of it was to pass overtop the pole with your horse and left tire on one side and your right side on the other. It's a lot harder than it sounds, as most of us attempted to do it at a trot so we wouldn't lose valuable time. The first time we attempted it, Spud did pretty good but then kinda stumbled and wandered over to the right side. Darn!

Obstacle course.
The area we had to back into was also a gate, which meant we had to be careful not to knock the balls off the cones. Once the shaft of our cart was parallel with the poles, we were allowed to go forwards again. We didn't have much trouble with this, thankfully!

We completed the event with a time of 1:55 and one fault (the pole) and then the Judge said we could do it twice... I was kinda confused because it was supposed to be a show but the Pony lady had gone off course and the Mini lady had committed cone murder. So I wasn't sure if it was because I was winning everything or they just wanted people to have fun??

We weren't supposed to canter, but Spud tried to anyway.
I didn't mind too much, because I like the cones stuff, but at the same time I wasn't so sure about the "second chances" thing, because that's not really how showing works?

Anyways. It didn't end up mattering because we did the cones course again and managed to go clear with a time of 1:54, which won us the class. Pony lady managed to go off course again and Mini lady although she went clear, was too slow.

Barrels course.
Up next was the "Barrels" course which is part of the Arena Driving Trial and is the "mini marathon" portion. I was most excited for this, because once you finish the cones portion and cross the middle gate into the barrels, you are allowed to canter. And we cantered like bats out of Hell!!

Spud was SO ON IT. This guy loves when we do tight turns and a few times I felt the tires of my cart skid in the grass. Damn, pony was on friggen fire!!

I have tons of media to share so... enjoy the spam haha.

Go, Spud, Go!!

Back to trot thru the cones.

It came to the surprise of no one that we also won this class, haha. Even when the Judge let us run it twice (not sure why??), which I didn't mind because we managed to save an extra second of time on the second go round. Good boy, Spud!!

Last class of the day was finally there - Reinsmanship. By this time, Spud and I were both super fizzled out. It was nearly 4:30 and we were just done. We went around the ring but I knew we didn't place as well as we could've earlier in the day. We earned a well deserved 2nd out of 3, mostly because we just didn't have it in us anymore.

They had us all come into the ring and announced High Point and Arena Driving Trial Champion, which were awarded to Spud and I. They also announced there were a few other prizes that they forgot to give out during some of the classes (usually every year random classes have prizes and ribbons) and it turned out Spud and I won every class that had prizes, lol. So, we came home with two big bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a feed tub, a lunge whip, and a neat little bag for our High Point prize.

After presenting us with the high point prize and congratulating me, he
lifted Spud's hoof and shook his hoof, haha.
The Judge congratulated me, told me I "cleaned house, girl!" and that I "needed to start showing down south!" (at the bigger shows and CDEs). I thanked him for his time and told him I wanted to, and certainly would look into making it a bigger plan for next year. The amount of fires in BC always seem to ruin my late-Summer plans of going down South and unfortunately, I just don't have the finances to go this year.

Overall tho, the BVX was a HUGE success and Spud made me so very proud. We paraded back to our camper with all his ribbons and he got many cookies for his performance.

It's like he knew just how well he did.
Friggen rock star <3
A lot of people stopped and congratulated me and a few made comments about how well I've done with him and that my hard work has paid off. It made me smile and hope that all the work I am now putting into Annie garners the same results.

This pony, you guys. Sometimes I really do wish he was 16hh (but then he does some real pony shit that makes me glad he's only 34", haha).

(I do have a ton more media so will probably be doing a media-only post in the near future of the rest of our BVX experience!).


  1. Congratulations! What a wonderful show.

  2. Congratulations! Great show guys. And Spud couldn’t look any cuter or more pleased with himself. Love that last photo it looks like he’s very proud of he should be.

  3. I love how sassy and proud of himself he looks in his ribbon picture! And those canter pics are too much. Sounds like a super, super fun show from a reader's perspective, but I probably would have lost my shit multiple times having to deal with those schedule changes.

    1. He's the sassiest, haha. A lot of people don't believe me, but it's true.

      Ugh... I almost lost my shit

  4. I don't know which is my favorite - him napping in the in-hand, the butt scratches, him zooming like a tiny, professional barrel horse, you smiling and the judge looking like he got the biggest kick out watching Spud, or how smug he looks with his ribbons! This was so much fun to read, but I agree with Carly that I probably would have wanted to pull my hair out with the delays (and bagpipes... lol) Congrats!!

  5. That looks so fun! Spud is definitely one of my blogger crushes. :)

  6. Such a good little potato! Judging from the look on his face in that last picture, I have a feeling he thinks he's 16.hh!

    1. The best potato!!

      ahahaha. This is true - he probably does think that.

  7. gosh Spud is such a star!!!! there are so so so many great pictures in this post - and he looks like such a proud little ham in every single one of them! so glad you had such a stellar day of showing with him - congrats!

    1. He certainly has come a long way from the scared little auction pony I bought!

  8. Congrats on a fantastic show ( minus the bagpipes ;) )

    1. Thank you!!!
      And ugh... the bagpipes were awful

  9. Yay! So happy for you guys. Sorry to hear the show wasn't run a bit better, sounds frustrating! Glad Mr. Potato was rewarded for his efforts with so much lovely satin :D

  10. Congratulations! You had an incredible day!
    Spud is just the absolute cutest! And it must feel really nice to hear such nice things from everyone!

  11. This was so fun to read! What a good boy he is and so many ribbons on top of it.

    1. He is a pretty fierce competitor despite his stature, lol!

  12. He shook Spud's hoof! I DIE. I loved this whole post so much. It really makes me want a little pony to drive one day.

    1. I died when he shook his hoof, hahaha.

      And you should :) They're spicy little things, but they are so fun!

  13. Omg this looks like SO much fun! Also I love the photo of Spud showing off his ribbons. What a total ham! Lol!

    1. He certainly is very... charismatic, lol. Love that little guy <3

  14. Congratulations on all your success!

  15. somehow i missed this post but due to your recap i found it. I want a Spud to drive ;)