Saturday, March 7, 2015

When the goal is not to win

By Gayle Carline
Horse Owner, Author, and Non-Competitive Competitor

Last weekend, Snoopy and I went to our first horse show of the season. We were not in any shape to go, for many reasons. One is that we haven't shown since August, and neither of us were in shape, mentally or physically, to wind our way around a difficult trail course. The other reason is that Snoopy has been on lay-up since September. 

At first, it seemed that he had tweaked his left hind deep flexor tendon. Walking and meds brought him back to full mobility - briefly. Then we noticed a change. He walked, jogged, and loped to the right like he always has, but his left lead was different. It was like riding a washing machine that's off-kilter. We were worried about his back end, and about doing anything to hurt him, so the vet came back out.

It turns out, Snoopy's front feet are starting to show wear from the way he uses his back end. I guess having a fused joint, metal plate, and six screws, eventually messes with your entire body. He's on some anti-inflammatory meds, Adequan, Cosequin, and prayers, but the vet assured us that we weren't hurting him by taking him over poles, or loping on his left lead.

I wasn't planning to go to this horse show. It was in Del Mar, which is a couple of hours away from me. This meant my trainer and I had to stay in a hotel. At first, a couple of other people were going, too, then they started waffling. In the end, I decided that, expensive as it was, I wanted to go to the damned show. I had no grand illusions about winning. I wanted to go play.

He was actually dancing in the crossties.

Snoopy was as excited as I was. He had a hard time being calm in the wash rack and fairly jumped into the trailer. We ambled our way south, to the Del Mar Horse Park, and schlepped our stuff into the tack room. Niki (my trainer) longed Snoopy almost as soon as we got there. He was crazy-happy-thrilled.

We showed on Thursday and Saturday. On Thursday, the weather was perfect, the sun was shining, and our course was in the outside arena. On Saturday, rain clouds threatened, so they moved us into the covered arena. Each course had its challenges. Mostly, I was worried about Snoopy's left lead. Would I get what I asked for? Would he keep loping on that lead? When we showed last, in August, he broke on one lead or the other each day. 

My friends think he looks like a Mexican wrestler in his jammies.
(We keep his leg wrapped in the stall because it tends to swell when he stands around too long.)

The short answer is yes, for both courses. My goofy black gelding gave me everything he had, without one argument. It had never been about winning, it had been about fun, and I had a smile on my face every time we hit the show pen. We left before it was over, so I don't even know how I placed. I can be a competitive gal, so enjoying this show for the fun of it, soaking up each moment, trading stress and tension for laughter and lightheartedness, was a new experience for me.

Saturday's course. A lot of transitions - bless his heart, he did them all!

I liked it.

How much pressure do you put on yourself at a show? Or do you always go to have fun first?


Mrs Shoes said...

I love that you left happy, not even needing to know the results. THAT'S the real true joy!

Laura Wolfe said...

Congrats on enjoying yourself and doing your best! Your horse looks like a sweet boy:)