Well, Hank and I had been getting ready for our first driving show. I admit, the closer it got, the more nervous I got. Had I been taking Summer I would have been fine. I know how she reacts to new situations. But Hank...I have never driven him off the property and never driven him in a situation I was about to take him in. On the good side however, it was an Arena Driving Trial, not a Combined Driving Event. You do basically the same things, but in an arena setting. So it is more controlled for green horses and novice drivers.
I had been driving him quite a bit and felt pretty good that he was going to at least not kill us. And I was right. However, there were a couple of times I was very glad I had a helmet on. (smile)
We left Friday morning (July 24th) as it was a one day show in Tyler, TX at the Texas Rose Horse Park http://www.texasrosehorsepark.com/ on July 25th. It is a very lovely place. VERY "fru-fru". You saw no one there with a western saddle on, only English riders.
Once we got there we unloaded and got the ponies comfortable in their stalls. After a brief rest and a look around, we took turns harnessing and hitching up for each other. We got June off and then Barb helped me with Hank. She didn't harness her pony as she is kind of my instructor and wanted to help me. I have to say, Hank was a pretty good boy. There were a lot of things there that were kinda scary to him, but he handled it to my approval. They were going to do the dressage test outside as they thought the indoor arena might not be big enough. But my oh my, that ground was horrid! It was WAY to rough. But, Hank was wonderful. We imagined where the letters were (as they didn't have them out yet) and drove our test. Barb was very proud of us. I told her after we were done, if he didn't place at all, I was very proud of his results just on Friday. He calmed down and respected my reins. After we unharnessed, I helped her harness her pony and off she went.
After everyone tried to drive on the "dressage field", it was determined that it was WAY to rough by everyone. Even folks driving horses and large carriages. The show manager and some other volunteers measured the indoor arena and thankfully it was plenty big enough for the dressage tests.
It was a little hard sleeping Friday night. My mind wouldn't shut off. What is nice about driving shows is, your horse is comfortably stabled in a nice barn and you are housed in a hotel room. So not like what I am used to doing CTRs! LOL
We got up and headed to the farm at about 6:15am. Barb's test was at 8:10am, June's was at 8:30am and mine was at 10:35am. I harness up about 9:30 to warm him and settle him down. At 10am was my safety check on my harness and cart.
At 10:35, we entered the arena. I actually dressed up a bit and was thankful that I was wearing a vest with my sateen shirt. It was hot and I was sweating like crazy! We entered and I drove him around a bit. As we were fixing to pass the judge, she asked me if I was ready, and we started our test. I tell you, I couldn't have been more proud of him. He looked like he had done this a 100 times. He executed every thing I asked. If he was crooked or anything, it was pure driver error. Once we completed our test, all I felt was relief. With dressage, it is like golf, the lower your score, the better. Barb and June always seem to get low to mid 50's. So I was hoping for a 60. I would have been thrilled with that. About 2 hours later, they posted my classes scores. Would you believe, I got a 47.4! OMG! There were 5 ponies in our class and Hank and I came in second! Once again, I cried. We accomplished something neither of us had done before. Now my thoughts were of the obstacle course and the cones course. All I had to do was try and run a clean course. This means, don't knock any of the tennis balls off the barrels or cones.
Once our test was over, I unharnessed Hank and put him up. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt for the next two events. I had about two hours to rest and get a bite to eat.
About 45 minutes before my next event. I was hurried by Barb to tack up and get ready to enter the arena. I knew I had awhile before my turn, but did as I was told because I had never done this before and didn't want to do anything wrong. Well, due to hurrying and tacking up, it seemed to upset Hank. When I started driving him off, he was REALLY acting up. To the point, I couldn't stop him. This actually scared me because he has never acted like this before. He wanted to canter so I did my best to keep him at a trot, but still couldn't stop him. I drove by the barn and hollered to June that I needed Barb, there was something wrong with Hank. When Barb came out to the field we were on, I took him straight to her. She told me that I was tense and to calm down. That he was feeding off of me. I told her that he has never acted like this before. Then she checked his mouth as he used to get his tongue over the bit. Well guess what? His tongue was over the bit. He was trying to get away from the pain. It must have happened when he was fidgeting with me bridling him. Once we corrected the problem, he became my sweet boy again. But during this whole incident, I was so thankful I had my helmet on!
About 25 minutes after this, we entered the arena for our obstacle course. We didn't haul butt, but we ran a clean course. Both June and Barb were eliminated after their obstacle courses. Barb did the wrong course first and June did a letter backwards. So I was relieved when I was told that I was safe.
About 1 and 1/2 hours later was my time up for cones. Barb is a dear friend, but once again, she was trying to rush me to re-harness and hook up. I told her not yet. I told her that I was just as anal as she was about doing my equine things on time, but Hank is not the type of horse that you rush. And I was right. I re-tacked him and hitched him and then just stood in front of his stall and let him watch the action. He was so relaxed. When I saw the person that was ahead of me head for the arena, then I started that way as the cones only take a couple of minutes to do. Well, we ran a clean cones course. I did go over my allotted time by 3 seconds so received a -1.5. But I was okay with that. For every tennis ball you knock off is a -3. I'll take the 1.5 over even a single 3 any day!
The others that scored a higher dressage score than I did, needed to make up for it in the obstacle and cones to try to knock us out of 2nd place. Well, they didn't succeed. Some of them hurried and received several faults compared to my little -1.5. And Hank and I took home a second place ribbon and some great memories!
Thanks for reading!
BTW. forgot to mention, no one in my class was eliminated, so I was competing against 5 other large ponies the entire time. Way cool! (big grin!)