December 18, 2017

My First Horse Show

My First Horse Show

            When I was a kid, my friends and I decided to go to the local playday. We had never been in a horse show before but how hard could it be? I had owned my horse for over a year and we had come a long way from our very dicey beginnings. I looked at the requirements printed on the Playday premium.- Attire- Long-sleeved shirt, tie, long pants and boots. Well heck! I had most of those things already! The only thing I was missing was a tie so Mom took me to the local tack store and bought one. My “show outfit” consisted of my best pair of jeans, my only pair of boots, one of my brother’s old shirts and my brand new bolo tie.  I was ready to show!

            I wanted to go in as many classes as I could. Of course they all cost money, two dollars and fifty cents for each class! I had saved most of my allowance and babysitting money, so I had enough to go in most of the classes. I decided to enter – Bareback Equitation, Western Equitation, Western Pleasure, Trail, Speed Barrels, Texas Barrels, Single Pole, Pole Bending and Keyhole. I got my Mom to sign the entry form. I was all set!

            The only problem was that I didn’t have a clue what to do for each class. I got a book on showing horses from the library and all my barn friends shared their knowledge. The book helped some but I’m not so sure about the friends. We were all pretty much the blind leading the blind, but we had fun! I knew I needed more help so I talked my parents into letting me go to a horse show to watch. My brother dropped me and my friends off early in the morning. After watching the seemingly endless halter classes, we got bored and decided to wander around a little. Then we stumbled onto the trail arena. Now that was interesting! That one class- Trail- fascinated me. I watched those horses and riders for hours. I could do this one! Belle was a great Trail horse! We could go over or through anything on the trail. She would bravely stomp through any puddle or stream, over curbs, logs and sticks on the ground. Trail would be our class! I already pictured the blue ribbon hanging from Belle’s bridle.

            The big day came and we arrived at the show grounds after a long ride to get there. (Yes, we rode our horses to the show. How else would we get there?) After not placing in the first few classes (Wrong leads? What’s a lead?) it was time for the trail class. Finally my chance to shine. The judge carefully explained the course- Walk over the logs and bridge-check, jog through the cones- easy, pick up the slicker and put it down again- no problem, lope left lead from cone A to cone B- hmm that lead thing again-well give it a shot, walk through the tractor tire-simple, side-pass over the telephone pole and you’re done. Ok, fine, all pretty straightforward.  We can do all that. Oh wait-What? Side-pass? What’s a side-pass?

            Some very quick conversations ensued between us stable mates. Together we decided how to handle the side-pass obstacle. I waited, watched and finally my turn came. Belle and I stepped onto the course. She bravely stepped over the logs and onto the bridge-check. We weaved through the cones at a nice, slow jog- easy. After picking up and putting down the slicker-no problem- I cued Belle for lope. Off she went on the left lead! (Not that I knew that at the time!). She stopped promptly at cone “B”. Then we continued on to the tractor tire which proved to be as simple as I hoped it would be. Only one obstacle left- the side-pass. I stepped Belle over the telephone pole, looked at judge and said, “I don’t know how to sidepass.” I then stepped off the pole and walked off the course. This was how my friends had decided to handle the obstacle, not do it at all. I knew I had blown it. My only chance for a ribbon and I hadn’t even tried.

            We all lined back up for the announcing of the awards. I was pretty bummed but we all waited together while they went through the placings from 1st to 5th. When they got to fifth place the announcer called “And in fifth place- Cheryl Rohnke riding Belle Star.” I had gotten a ribbon in Trail! Even after I gave up, I still placed! All my friends cheered and I stepped forward and got my ribbon. I was so happy and proud. All my “work” was paying off after all!  I could win at horse shows!

After the awards were handed out the judge approached me. She said that if I had done the side-pass, I would have won the class. She wished me luck and wandered off to judge her next class. I would have won the class! Those simple words made my day! But of course they did bring about some questions. Why didn’t I at least make an effort to side-pass? Why did I listen to my friends and just quit? I had watched all the other riders’ side-pass. I figured out the cue, so why didn’t I even try?

Because I listened to my friends, that’s why. When you are 12 years old and at your first show without parents, a trainer or anyone but your friends, that is who you rely on. At the end of the day, they would be who I rode home with. Tomorrow we would be back at the barn complaining about who won and figuring out why we lost (Because we didn’t have fancy outfits, of course!). After that, we would be working to improve our horses and ourselves for the next show. And together, we would all learn to sidepass.

Later in life, after receiving lots of instruction, I would train another horse for Trail. Together we ended the year number 2 in the nation. It just goes to show that you can make it if you work hard, do your homework, get the proper help and don’t give up!

We welcome your comments and questions. Tell us about your first competition or a special memory from your first barn friends.

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.

 

Comments

  1. I was older–sixteen–when I showed for the first time. To this day, my memory has the place huge, gorgeous, and teeming with horses and rider, though that’s probably not even close to the reality. It was a lesson barn open show, and I was riding my favorite lesson horse. My parents, not entirely on board with the horse thing, only let me enter one class–Beginner Horsemanship–which I won. A blue ribbon and trophy my first time out! They were so eager to prove me wrong and end the insanity, the parental units let me show again the following year in TWO classes–Intermediate and Advanced Horsemanship–and I won them both. Don’t ask me how or how many other riders were in the classes or any other details, as it’s all a haze of excitement after 45 years. I just remember the utter joy of posing for pictures with my trophies cradled in my arms. All hope my parents had that I’d “give up this horse thing” were dashed.

Trackbacks

  1. […]        The big day came and we all arrived at the show grounds after a long ride to get there. (Yes, we rode our horses to the show. How else would we get there?) I was getting frustrated after not placing in my first few classes (Wrong lead? What’s a lead?). Finally, it was time for the trail class.  My chance to shine. The judge carefully explained the course- Walk over the logs and bridge- jog through the cones- pick up the slicker and put it down again- lope, left lead, from cone A to cone B-walk through the tractor tire-side-pass over the telephone pole and you’re done. Ok, fine, all pretty straightforward. We can do all that. Oh wait-What? Side-pass!  What’s a side-pass?     Some very quick conversations ensued between us stable mates. Together we decided how to handle the side-pass obstacle.  When my turn came, Belle and I stepped onto the course… To read the remainder of this article go to-http://crktrainingstable.com/?p=912. […]

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