Show Day With A Trail Horse

Cash and I attended our first [and only] show this summer. When I first bought Cash, I thought I would enjoy going to open shows a lot more than I actually did. I went to a total of three speed shows shortly after bringing Cash home. I realized over the winter that I enjoyed my horse a lot more without the added pressure of perfecting things for shows. 

The first barn I boarded Cash at was putting on this show, and it was only 10 minutes from my parents house where Cash lives. I ended up getting a stall and hanging out all day. I put Cash in a lot more classes that I realized…and some of them were definitely interesting! 

Cash is usually very laid back and handles trailering and trail rides like a boss. However, Cash immediately sensed this wasn’t our normal riding environment. I think he was a little excited to be around so many horses! I put him in the stall before registering and unloading my tack. I don’t have a single saddle rack, so I used my “redneck saddle rack”…which is a sawhorse. The kids got a kick out of that. As the halter classes wrapped up, I changed into English attire and saddled up. Cash hasn’t been ridden in his English tack since sometime last November. I didn’t think anything of this. I also forgot that I don’t actually have a curb chain for the bridle…I had always ridden without one without much trouble. Cash’s high energy combined with no chain made for an interesting warm up ride. 

Trailer packed and ready to go! I forgot how much stuff is needed for a show versus a simple trail ride. Another reason I will probably stick to the trails. If you do not have a saddle rack, a sawhorse works great! I also use a set of plastic drawers to keep my trailer tack room organized. Its light and easy to grab out of my actual tack room.

Cash took off into a canter multiple times and was much harder to stop than usual. I decided to lunge him first to work through some of that energy. At some point he decided to take off and drag the lunge line through my hands, giving me rope burn. On top of that, I hadn’t realized my phone had fallen out of my pocket. It wasn’t until I started lunging again and heard a crunch that I realized I didn’t have my phone. 

After lunging we had the chance to warm up in the arena. He was definitely ready to run. I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it through our first class, English pleasure. I almost scratched, but thought I shouldn’t quit without at least giving it a try. As soon as the announcer said to enter at a trot I knew I was in for a wild ride. But, I complied, and asked for a trot upon entering. Cash immediately went into a canter and I circled him around. Of course that circle had to be around the judge. On the second lap around him I apologized and said I would leave the ring. He plainly pointed out the missing chain causing my lack of control. Obviously I didn’t have time to explain that I’ve always ridden without a chain and without issue, so I just told him I was aware and got the heck out of there. 

Despite being made a complete fool of, I patted Cash’s neck and told him we’d try again later. I always make sure to smile and laugh at myself at horse shows, rather than getting upset. I used to get so worked up over horses misbehaving, but that is miserable. Instead, I’ve 1.) decided that I don’t care what others think, and 2.) I’m there to have fun, not win. 

I ended up scratching our English equitation class as well. I figured that was probably best for the safety of other riders involved, as well as my own. I had a while before my next classes, so I gave Cash a break to chill in his stall with hay. Things moved along and I changed over to western tack and attire. Side note: my “attire” was jeans and a t-shirt. Show clothes weren’t required and I took full advantage considering I don’t actually have show clothes any longer. 

The next class I did was a ranch trail pattern. The pattern was pretty small, so I had already decided we were going to skip the loping part. Cash was so hyped up that we, again, looked absolutely ridiculous. I told the judge right in the beginning that this is a learning experience for us. I have practiced working a fake trail gate before, but Cash wanted no part of it that day. Next, we needed to trot through cones. I still don’t know whether he skipped one or just ran it over! Lol. Then we were to lope to a box, stop, and do a 360 spin. Now, Cash can in fact spin when he wants to, but not on command. Therefore, we wrecked another part of the pattern. At least he walked over the bridge and stopped at the mailbox appropriately. Overall, I’m sure our pattern was cringeworthy to the judge. But hey, it was worth a shot! 

Cash did alright in the ranch pleasure class until we had to canter. He ended up getting a lead wrong and attempting to gallop around the arena like a loon. Again, I’m sure it was entertaining for some, and cringey for others. 

By 6 PM we finally got to the speed classes. I wasn’t sure how Cash would do considering he was falling asleep by that point. He had tried to lay down multiple times with his saddle one. Once with me on! I toyed with the idea of pulling him and heading home. Instead, I chose to run all three classes at whatever speed he wanted . Some people will say I baby him, and maybe I do. But I never want to miss what he’s trying to tell me by pushing him. At 24, he’s not always up for what he used to be. 

Helmets were optional for those over 18. Although I’m over 20, I chose to wear one anyways. I’m so used to wearing one now that it just feels unnatural to ride without one! I walked around with it one for most of the show and didn’t even notice. Also…hat hair! Lol.

Despite closed eyes and droopy ears, he perked right up when he saw those barrels. I walked him into the arena, and he immediately picked up a fast trot. He knows the routine so well that I usually don’t even cue him! I simply guide him. We took our courtesy circle and he took off! I watched the videos my mom took later, and I’ll just say it felt a lot faster than it looks. I also noticed in the video that I didn’t even kick Cash once during the runs. I guess I am fine with whatever speed he chooses. In the end, we’re having fun! Sure, I could push him and shave a few seconds. But, I don’t feel the need too. 

After a VERY long day, we packed up the trailer and headed for home. After our short 10 minute drive Cash unloaded and was happy to be home. I ran through our evening routine and ended up turning him out overnight. 

Unfortunately, I was too busy focusing on Cash for pictures. I was able to have mom snap one towards the end of the day. She also videoed my barrel and down and back runs. I’m not able to attach the videos on the blog, but use the links below to watch them on our Facebook page or Instagram page! 

At the end of the day, I’ve realized that Cash truly is best at trail riding. It’s also what I enjoy the most! He may not have all the fancy footwork or be able to trot pretty, but he can get me through any terrain safely. I don’t foresee any more shows in our future, at least for this year. But, I do see LOTS of trail riding and time spent enjoying my horse. 

2 thoughts on “Show Day With A Trail Horse

  1. I have had more than one show like that too! Some horses just don’t seem to take well to the whole showing thing. That is great when a person can find an activity that they and their horse enjoy together. Happy trail riding to you and Cash! I don’t think there is a better way to enjoy nature than from the back of a horse.

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    1. Thank you! I agree – trail riding is the perfect way to relax and enjoy nature. A fun show every now and then mixes up the scenery, but once or twice a summer is plenty for us.😊

      Like

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