A previous post showed me with a couple of Arabian stallions that I showed in Western Classes. One of those stallions was called Azora owned by Dr. and Mrs. Davis of Smock, Pennsylvania. Well, early one spring during the “mud month” of April a couple of clients in my barn decided to go to the schooling show at the Washington County Fairgrounds. We had spent all winter riding in the indoor and the horses were pretty fresh when we unloaded at the fairground. We were showing out of the trailer. The owners saddled up Azora while I got dressed and the owners gave me a leg up into the saddle. I was dressed in a saddle seat day coat and jodhpurs and a soft bowler hat as befits a saddle seat English pleasure competitor. Off Azora and I went to t he show arena. Azora was a seasoned show horse and I expected to ride him in a few classes that day so I had planned little to none warm up. In fact, I was using this class as a warm up.
Azora hit the in-gate, bunched his neck up into my lap, ducked behind the double bridle and went all park horse show trot on me. When Azora hit the gas pedal and began to show trot I found out that the flat-as-the-dickens saddle seat saddle (that had been stored all winter) was now a sheet of ice. My rear end and legs flew back as Azora jumped forward to show trot; I saved myself from utter disgrace by grabbing the mane and hanging on for dear life. It was an advantage that Azure’s neck was within three inches of my chest; I had a little leverage that way. Azora slowed down a little at the far end of the show arena and I felt him bunch up for another go at the speed trot award down the straightaway. Quickly I pulled my rear end forward in the saddle, where it should have been in the first place, threw my feet out in front of me, and leaned back as hard as I could against my two-handed death grip on his mane. I was afraid that I was going to rip his mane out. The owners would kill me for that.
Finally the announcer called for “Walk”. Well, this was going to be interesting, I thought to myself. Without any signal from me, Azora, the seasoned show horse, came back to an animated walk. I tried to make some adjustments to my seat but I felt like a greased pig on ice in that saddle. So I kept my feet braced in front of me, renewed my grip on the mane, leaned way back, and waited for the announcer to say, “Canter, please.” Off we went like a shot at what could be charitably described as an expressive canter. The cold air whipped tears from my eyes as I struggled to see what was in front of me, I could only pray that no one was in our way. Our luck held. The rest of the class was the same. I could not stop, I could not steer, and the Announcer was the only one that had control of Azora. “Walk and line up, please.” the announcer instructed. Blowing and snorting, Azora promptly turned and walked into line up with everyone else. During the brief line up I somehow got Azure’s attention and when we were called out to receive a blue ribbon I actually could let go of his mane and steer him over to the ribbon girl. Azora truly deserved that ribbon because I had nothing to do with it except to not fall off.
(above) I rode Azora at an open recognized dressage show at First Level. A blue ribbon.
(below) Azora on his way to winning Reserve Champion at this recognized Morgan/Arabian Show
What adventures have you had showing?