A had another good lesson last week. Gailey is as sound as she's been in a long while. We're both having fun, things are going well, and oh, no, here it comes again. Out of the mouth of my trainer: "How many scores do you need for that USDF medal? Have you considered showing this horse again? This is the soundest I've seen her in a while."
That dreaded four-letter word. You know the one.
SHOW.Yup. That's the one.
It's expensive, nerve-wracking, at times demoralizing, and other times a heck of a lot of fun. Why I'm entertaining the thought of doing this again, I swear I should be smacked up the side of the head.
I'm no good a horse shows. I suck in fact. And by sucking, I get embarassingly low scores and suffer the pitying looks of my barn friends. Why would I consider putting myself through this again. Last year, I swore was my last show. My fragile self-confidence can't handle the whispers and comments behind my back or even worse, to my face. Such as, she can't ride that horse. She needs to get a different horse. I could ride that horse much better than her.
I know what you're thinking: Oh, she has show nerves. Man, I wish it was that simple. The truth is I don't, exactly, not really, not like many people. I sleep fine the night before a show. I don't get butterflies when I ride into the ring. I don't have problems eating (unfortunately) before a show. I can remember my tests. So what is it?
If I knew that, this wouldn't be such a delimma to me. I just don't ride tests well. And my mare, for all her talent, doesn't show well. She tries too hard, over compensates, second-guesses me, memorizes the tests, then gets mad if I don't ride the test she's doing in her head.
Okay, well, I should be able to solve that, right? I wish. For some reason, when I get in a show ring, I lose my judgment (I know what you're thinking--Ah, ha! She does get show nerves.). I ride the tests pretty accurately, I just can't seem to get a good handle on whether or not the horse is forward enough, round enough, through enough. My subconscious tries to send me signals, but my conscious mind ignores them.
My trainer and I have also come to the conclusion that I am often saddled with reverse prejudice. What's that? Well, in dressage there's a lot of talk about non-traditional dressage breeds facing breed prejudice in scoring. In my case it's the opposite problem, the judge sees this big beautiful mare floating around the outside of the arena, and thinks what a lovely mare (truthfully, I can't tell you how many times, they've also told me that as I ride by before my test starts), As soon as we enter at A it all goes to H@#$ in a handbasket. I stiffen (okay, I know, show nerves), she stiffens. I hang with my hands, she opens her mouth and pulls. Her head goes up, she plows on her forehand and speeds up.
Meanwhile, the judge's expression has gone from one of expectation to looking like she's swallowed a lemon.
I swore after the last two years, I'd never put myself through this again. I spent more time hiding in my horse trailer or camper and crying than I did having fun. This is supposed to be fun, right?
I really want that medal. I've done this for too long not to get one lousy little medal. Okay, I could borrow a friend's upper-level horse, zip through the tests, and be done with it. But I really want it with my horse, the horse I bought as a baby.
What am I getting myself into? Is it really worth it?
I'm not sure. Those trails behind my house are beckoning to me, but so is that medal. What should I do?