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Be excellent to each other

This installment is about Mav's debut at third level. However, there has been lots of talk locally about bringing in more people to showing. How do you make showing fun and inviting for newcomers?

Overall, I think people are intimidated by being judged. Putting yourself out there is hard. Hoping your horse behaves, remembering your test, and hoping you fit in are all legitimate concerns. Locally, we have a summer camp happening this year to Introduce people to showing. I think it's an amazing idea and I hope I can somehow be part of it.

Personally, I work at ensuring people feel comfortable. I never fail to wish the next rider a great ride (sometimes they look confused by this), I don't expect a response, people are in the zone at that point. But it doesn't hurt to be friendly and kind. I also put our journey out there to show it's doable for people. It's hard work. It's not cheap. But it's rewarding. It's all about putting out the best test you can on any given day and seeing where it falls. Some days you are at the top, some days the bottom, some days in the middle.

Shows are also expensive. The smaller shows in the area help by being less costly, but there really is no getting away from that. Money only stretches so far, so shows are competing for the entries available in the area. I now choose a few shows I intent to go to each year and pick venues based on the overall show experience.

The show. Off we go with excellent ground crew member and her horse. Warm up day goes well and there are basically no pictures of this day. It was uneventful. He looked at the flowers. He trailered well. He was more relaxed than he has been before on warm up day at great local facility.

Show day 1. It's cold. Like freezing cold. It's still frosty as we warm up. He's tight in the outdoor in the cold. Bouncy, and wanting to suck behind me. We worked through it and headed to the ring.

Super Husband came to watch and cheer us on. I'm training him up for when Freddie arrives. I know he's behind the bit here. His Friesian neck likes to accordion back on itself. He's a tricky mess of tight Friesian and fresh TB sometimes, but that's often what makes him fun, and frustrating. The puzzle pieces do not always want to fit.

Then we had to wait. A scheduling error meant we stood around for a while.

Turns out this was ok. Mav went in and stayed with me. Did both his changes nicely and while he was a little tight so I couldn't get the trot as big as I'd like, it was clean and I was thrilled!

On this day, we were at the top of a decent sized open class. Thrilled with his third level debut, we were off and ready to both sleep before another go at it.

Day 2 of showing, it's raining. We have to warm up in the coverall that was recently damaged in a wind storm. It's not ideal. But we roll with it. The far section roof had blown off and was flapping a bit in the wind. The area was flagged off, but Mav thought it was a bit weird.

He's very tight again but we work through it. Later we will come back to this. It's a piece he's missing. He copes with the damaged roof, which is more important.

He's again great in the ring! clean test.

Pc Marion photography

Also there was a horse he grew up with. His good buddy Duke. Duke recently arrived in our area and initially Mav had no idea who he was. He was not interested. Then we stood together for a picture and he sniffed him, he clearly recognized him. For Mav, this counts as great excitement as he's not usually interested in other horses other than to play face chew and poke them until they squeal. When I got Mav, he was smaller than Duke. Apparently that has changed.

Pic just because. Pc Marion photography

Mav after his test, being Mav

With a very respectable 70+% score on Sunday, Mav let me know he's ready for this challenge. But I also know I need to fix a few things before I can get more in the ring.

I think we need to remember everyone has challenges. It's a difficult sport, we need to encourage each other and realize it's never easy, even if it looks like it is.

But, on this weekend, Mav left with two first place ribbons and his favourite cookies so we both call that a successful outing.

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