Several years back, another boarder tried to talk me into going to one of the semi-local gymkhana shows. “You’ll be fine!” she said. “Sure, your current tack is OK!” But I would have had to get a ride, and then there’s politics beyond that, and.. it was just too much headache.
Then they ended up scheduling a show at the local arena that I can ride to. Several things had changed by now: one of my good barn friends was going (at the ‘just for fun, not even remotely competitive, we might walk things!’ level), I had the NATRC ride scheduled for the weekend prior so Fetti ought to be appropriately schooled and maybe a little tired still if I planned things appropriately, and they changed the rules so you didn’t have to be in all English or all Western tack.
So: endurance tack with dressage reins on a Haflinger. Rider in Western shirt, black knee-patch breeches, and English field boots. I only had to buy the Western shirt because I no longer comfortably fit in my old English show shirts. Win! Why the endurance saddle, you ask, after all my saddle debating? Well.. I am a vain person. There would be pictures. It shouldn’t matter for this, either, just a moseying little show where we had no desire to go fast or win things. Also, rainbow braids because it was Pride weekend and it felt appropriate. I’m not one for big crowds or parades. We can do subtle decorations.
Fetti found her brain fairly quickly in the round pen Saturday morning, and our ride over was uneventful. I worked her again in a round pen when we arrived, then signed up for classes and.. waited a really long time for things to start. We arrived promptly at 8 (good, briskly trotting mare!) and didn’t actually go in for our first event until after 10. I hopped on at the picnic table behind the trailer and walked over to the arena. My boyfriend was able to stay for the first event, but because of how it was set up the photos aren’t very good. We trotted in, zig-zagged through the poles with polite leg yields, turned around at a walk, zig-zagged back with polite leg yields at a controlled trot. An excellent start. (End result: sixth place!)
Back to the trailer where my friend L had her horse tied and Fetti had her hay and water just on the ground, as if at an away check – seemed just as easy to hold her and do that. Nearly another hour passed and it was time to get on for our next event. My boyfriend had to head out by now, so we were on our own. Back to the other picnic table behind the trailer, I hopped on, gave her a cookie, we walked off. She spooked, bucked, I was thrown off balance by the spook and I had no chance of sticking the buck.
The good: no one saw it! Even better, we were close enough to the trailer that I called for L, her husband heard and came right over, and bless her heart Fetti was still standing right next to me. He helped me up, L checked on me and we evaluated. Nothing broken. Head a little sore, but not any more than expected; it was hot out already and I’d been fighting a headache prior. Hip a little sore, but moving. Nose a little sore, and when I reached up to verify it was in fact fine, my gloves came away with a bit of blood.
OK: I did not pass the ‘nothing broken or bleeding’ test, proceed to the bathroom with running water and mirrors (!) and evaluate further. Further evaluation showed a small cut on my nose from the nose piece of my glasses. Then I pulled the phone holster off my hip, evaluated underneath, and found, sigh, a definite bruise and a bit more blood. At least the phone is fine? (LifeProof cases, y’all, I landed on that thing and it hurt me far more than it hurt the phone.) L retrieved bandaids, we stopped the bleeding, pieced me back together, and un-bent the glasses back into a usable shape.
We were not going to be done on that note. I did not get back on at the picnic table. I’m not completely dumb. I retrieved the pony and we headed back to the round pen, where she got to work at a brisk pace. It didn’t matter if we made it to the second event of the day or not. Manners were required and they were evidently not entirely there. Brisk trot, brisk canter. When I was satisfied that her brain was intact, I hopped on, and we worked the same thing under saddle. Someone from the arena started hollering over about it being my turn, and her brain seemed fine. Why not? We moseyed over. We walked in. We walked the pattern. I may have said some unkind things under my breath as she was resistant to the leg and our straight lines were anything but. We walked past the final timing line. They brought the drag into the arena before we exited. I swung off and walked her out. Why push it? She probably would have been fine, but it wasn’t worth the risk.
This got long! Part two to come.