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pmcperformance — March 27, 2019

Let’s go on an adventure!

Today I’m going to take you on an adventure of my obsession!

Mdm Chair, Toastmasters and Guests Let’s go to a horse show!

After many months of practice, practice, practice it is time to hit the road and show what a great human horse team we have become.

We typically leave the barn at 6:00 am for the 4 hour drive to Orangeville where we want to arrive early and get settled into our stalls before the competition begins.

The first priority is to make the horse stalls comfortable with a bed of clean fluffy shavings, buckets of fresh water and hang up hay bags so they always have what they need.

Since the horses have been cooped up in a trailer for the 4 hour drive they get taken out to exercise while their stalls are getting prepared and they get familiarized with the show grounds. Next they are treated to a nice sudsy bath to get clean and shiny and then on to the hairdresser. Yes, I said hairdresser. Our coach meticulously bands or braids the horses manes and trims them all exactly to her specifications and clips or shaves off any stray hairs including excess leg and chin hairs. It takes precisely 63 bands to do our horse Reba’s mane. Then a clean slinky gets put over them to keep them clean for the night and ensure they don’t rub out the bands. A slinky looks very much like a super hero spandex mask that covers their face and mane.

Seems like a simple adventure so far, are you still with me on day 1?

Day 2 – Competition day has arrived and this is our chance to dance to showcase what a great partnership we have built and practiced. We are up and at ‘em at 5:00 am to exercise and warm up the horses. Clean their stalls, feed them breakfast, review our patterns. Then there are still some touch ups that need to be done before entering the ring.

The horse gets their hooves painted a nice shiny black, their bodies get wiped and brushed clean and their fake tails get braided into their real tails. Yes indeed the horses wear an additional 2-4lb tail to make sure their tails look full and beautiful. These horses shine from tip to tail!

Next is preparing the rider. Each discipline requires a different type of attire. Always long pants with leather or suede chaps over them, boots and long sleeved shirts or jackets topped off with a clean, good fitting cowboy hat. In some classes you can wear a loose pony tail down your back and in others your hair must be in a tight bun below the rim of your cowboy hat. Keep in mind that all of these shows are in the heat of the summer. The last show was in 41 degree heat with all of this clothing on.

Now that horse and rider are polished and prepared it is finally show time!

You will get approximately 1:45 seconds to execute your pattern with the goal of being better than the 12-40 other riders you are competing against. Standing out in order to get the judges attention can be difficult. There will be anywhere from 2 to 4 judges in a class to rank you. In what is called the Trail Class you ride through various obstacles such as a gate, bridge, poles or boxes trying not to tick poles or misstep in any way. In some classes such as Western Pleasure the movements of the horse are what is being

judged, for example how far they reach their front feet out or how well they hold their head. In another class called Horsemanship the judges are watching the rider’s, judging their position, movements and ability to execute a proper pattern.

So at this point of the day let us recap our adventure. We’ve been up since 5:00am, cleaned, primped and polished ourselves and our horses. Laughed and bonded in the fellowship of our teammates in the barn with us all day. Put on loads of show clothes in ridiculous heat then realistically waited hours for our draw in each class and for all exhibitors to take their turn, typically performing 2-3 classes per day. Would you believe we rode through lunch and dinner and it is now close to 9pm and we need to eat something before we collapse!?! Dusty, dirty and sweaty we slink into Boston Pizza and refuel our bodies. Now sleep quickly so we can repeat it once again the next day and the next day and the next day and you guessed it for 5 days!

Although this adventure seems boring to some, painful to others and simply just not worth it to most, we do it time and time again without complaint and always with more enthusiasm and determination each show and each year; training and trying to be better than we were the last time. Improvement through competition is our ultimate goal with the great bonus of laughing and working with friends, family and having loads of fun along the way.

The most hilarious part of this adventure is in the end, we are all vying for a ribbon, preferably a red one and points, that if accumulate enough will result in a year end award! All of this based on a judge’s opinion in a moment in time amongst many other horse and rider combinations that will hopefully make the months of practice worthwhile.

This is my adventurous obsession!

Written by Shawna Kirkwood, Competitor and Horse Show Mom

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