Saturday was a jam packed day for me. After leaving L. Williams I sped back home to hit up a working equitation B-rated show a couple miles from my home. Incoming media! Apparently my town has several rated dressage and WE shows a year. Score.
I managed to catch the speed trials, which is probably the most exciting of the 4 trials. Many shows only offer 3 out of the 4 trials, dropping the cow trial as it’s not required (a shame, really, because I’m dying to see fancy dressage horses herding cattle). I know I will be exposing Aria to cows eventually because I actually want to do all 4 trials. Plus I know a few cowboy acquaintances that rope/pen/sort 2-3 days a week locally that would let me make a fool of myself if I asked.
First and foremost I have to mention that the vibe I got there was that everyone was just interested in having fun. It didn’t feel charged with nerves like most competitive sports do. There were about 15 riders with horses and ponies of varying levels of dressage skill but it didn’t really seem to matter because all the horses excelled and struggled in the same places. Every horse took issue with the jump obstacle but none paused going over the bridge obstacle.
It was really educational to watch and now I know which obstacles I should work on to give me an edge. Something I observed is that the horses competing had issues collecting and staying vertical enough to navigate the tighter obstacles. That could be because it was the speed trial. I didn’t see the ease of handling portion so I don’t know if that was an issue in both trials. However, my take away from that observation is that all these lovely, large dressage horses are used to doing dressage patterns and probably don’t school tighter, smaller patterns often.
Which in the end is no big deal because the air of the event was strictly fun. Even the people who DQ-d enjoyed themselves and got to finish the course. Apparently DQs are common and I’m sure I will also fall into the DQ statistic as well because my ability to remember a course is not great. But, I think Aria’s compact size will be an asset for WE. Plus we won’t even touch a speed trial or be required to canter until we hit the L2 – Novice A level.
Something else that was also heartening to see was most of the competitors were successful at the skewering ring with a pole obstacle. Failure to get the ring isn’t a DQ but it will add points in ease of handling or remove 10 seconds from your speed trial. A good portion of the obstacles require the rider to pick something up and put it or place it somewhere else within the obstacle. Not particularly difficult but I’m always dropping things and the rules state that if you drop something you have to get off your horse, pick it up, get back on your horse, and place the item in its ‘end’ location or suffer a DQ. God bless Aria’s tiny size!
After the show wrapped I headed over to the show office to introduce myself. I knew Polly Limond was the Region 2 Director and I met Julie Alonzo, the president of WE United, who came down from Oregon. I also met Barbara Price who will be president next year. She actually knows R and P really well so we got to chatting about them and hopefully I can scheme a little and get a WE clinic going at Aria’s barn. Which is totally self-serving but WE is still in its infancy in the States and needs exposure if it’s going to grow. Norco has a big gymkhana crowd, and WE is just gymkhana for dressage (please don’t kill me for comparing it that way) but also you can ride any discipline you want. What’s not to love?
Maybe I can talk some of the local bloggers into trying a schooling show once? I don’t know. Could be a tough sell for a horse that hasn’t seen any of the obstacles before. Haha. I would be more than happy to just have some moral support from the ground. I get on edge about competition because I can be very competitive, which is a flaw I hate, but I also want to win do well. I’m not sure how I will like showing and the pressure it will bring but just based on what I saw on Saturday, I think it will be enjoyable.
Everyone cheered when horses finally went over jumps and anyone that busted out flying changes in the slaloms got a round of applause or some good natured ribbing about showing off. It was a great environment. I’m looking forward to the next show on June 24th, which I should be helping at but might even try riding in since it’s a schooling show!
One last thing before I finish up, I’m really behind on blog posts. I’m trying to catch up so I apologize if you get comments on old posts!