Lessons from a Show

The promised theory post [Taking A Short Break].

I had excellent odds in the adult classes of the Northeast Georgia Charity show [Report]. However, that would not be the case in the all-ages championship (it was later changed to an adult championship). My plan was to override the first classes to set me up for the last class. I would pour on the flash to such an extent that the judge would have to remember me once Sam & I were surrounded by adorable munchkins.

But how? Was it a matter of how elegantly I sat? How well I managed the ring traffic to get myself seen? How up and active I could get my sterling steed? The answer was all of the above. Plus, I personally had a problem of inconsistency. I would sit up for 2 or 3 steps, then slowly wilt during the next 8 to 10 steps, sit up!, wwwilt, sit up!, wwwilt, and so on around the ring.

Resolved: I will pull myself together at the entrance to each corner. I will pull myself together at the exit of each corner. I will pull myself together at the start of each long side. I will pull myself together at the finish of each long side. And so on around the ring.

I did it. That class was probably the best I’ve ridden.

I was exhausted. As I stood in the line-up, I realized I was done for the weekend. I’d still ride, even ride reasonably well. But there was no way I could ride five more classes with that level of intensity.

The difference between 90% effort and 100% effort is stunning.

Fast vs. Forward
Sam did not come to this show last year [Report 2014], so he really was seeing the ring for the first time in warm-up. Since it was Sam, all the looking and spooking and exuberant horse behavior didn’t faze me. I was able to reassure him and use the energy to twinkle around the ring. I could even begin to see how a game horse might be fun to ride. You don’t have to stoke the fire at the same time you are trying to steer the locomotive.

In order to Get Noticed by the judge, my goal was to stay off the rail and go as fast as I could without losing form. At the trot, naturally. At the canter, Saddlebreds show at a dainty, collected canter. This I can do. This does not get anywhere near the points that trotting does. But I digress. Back at the trot, I would hold the image of the lovely warm-up in my head while trying to make his feet move through the steps faster.

In the past, I have confused speed with activity. I drop the reins and kick, instead of requesting that my horse stay in a dynamic balance. Somewhere between pulling myself together, lapping the competition, and getting more comfortable with saddle seat showing, I realized how it works. Keep doing what you are supposed to do, just do it faster. Huh.

DO faster not GO faster.

The good news is that fast is not a problem. I may be a wimp in a lot of ways with riding, but I like me some speed.

In Sum
Lessons learned or post pontification? Time will tell.

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