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Adventures of a first-time Show (horse) Mom: Part 2 – Be on time, no really, we’re waiting

As we covered in Part 1, I haven’t actively participated in a horse show in decades. Even with somebody else planning every detail of our show outing, I still felt incredibly rusty. But the show must go on (see what I did there!?)! As the show date approached we quickly crossed things off the show prep list. Transportation arranged, check. Coggins and vaccinations records sent to the show office, check. Registration in and paid for, check. Tack and grooming supplies packed and ready to go, check. Horse is mentally and physically ready, TBD.

Then the big day arrived and we were off to our first show! Not only was this Kairos’ first show, it was also his first-time off property without his big brother. I worried about separation anxiety and whether he would be able to focus. Kairos worried if there would be hay on the trailer. Regardless, I packed some SmartCalm Ultra Paste just in case. Spoiler, he was fine and I put my mom-anxiety away once I realized he couldn’t care less about not having big bro along for the trip. In fact, I think he was happy he wasn’t being bossed around.
Getting to the show and getting ready was a non-issue so I’ll fast forward to the embarrassing moments because that’s the fun part!

As I mentioned before, I grew up as Hunter/Jumper. When I was showing, your class started at 10 AM and you were draw number eight which meant that you’d show sometime after 11 or even 12. Horse show time was a huge part of planning your grooming schedule and ringside appearance. Yeah, apparently that’s not a thing in the Dressage world. We were handed our show times as a list that showed times like 9:22 and 10:13. I laughed a little in my head and went on with grooming and watching Kai & Sara warm up in the field. 9:22 came so we decided to head over towards the ring. Once we got there, a stern ring steward was waiting with a look of utter exasperation and disapproval. Apparently, they were waiting on us. When they mean 9:22, they mean be there absolutely no later than 9:15 to make sure you’re ready to be in the ring as soon as the test before you is done.

Lesson learned and we were appropriately chastised and sent on our way to start the test. I stood eagerly at the side of the ring holding my breath and grooming supplies just praying that little Kai didn’t make a dramatic departure from the ring. I didn’t realize I could hold my breath for an entire test, but it turns out it’s totally doable! Thoughts flew everywhere. Head down, no not that far down. There’s no grass in there stop looking for it! Pay attention. Nice transition, keep it going! Good tempo. What was that? Wait, what test are we doing? Is there a fleck on his saddle pad!? The internal monologue went on for at least 30 minutes. In real time the test was over in less than probably three minutes.

Sara & Kai did an amazing job and all four feet remained in the ring at all times. Yay, woot, OMG he did it, *loud whistle*! All iterations of excitement came tumbling out of my mouth as soon as they finished their final salute. Apparently, that behavior is also frowned upon. I looked around in utter excited and joy only to find more looks of exasperation and disapproval looking back at me. So at least we’d officially made an entrance and established ourselves as “those people.”

We quickly left the area to avoid further judgement and to collect ourselves for test number two. Kai was settling in just fine to the show life and put on the airs of a true pro. Sara took him out into the fields to keep him loose and moving before we had to move to another ring. Test time number two quickly approached so we made our way to the next ring.

A new ring meant a new steward and a new judge and a clean slate. No longer would we be the newbies who were late and had unacceptable outbursts of excitement. But Kairos had other plans. This ring was apparently home to an extremely scary judge’s box and that took precedence over good behavior. He repeatedly tried to inform Sara that there was a monster that was going to gobble him up in that little red hut, but Sara stuck with him and told him to get his butt in gear. We finally found ourselves in the ring and started the test with a giraffe neck and googly eyes firmly set in place. But despite scary judge monsters and another late start, they finished the test and left the ring. I subdued my congratulatory excitement (maybe it wasn’t a great test but we weren’t excused either!), and we made our way back to the trailer.

We did it! A show day in the books and plenty of learning experiences done and noted for next time. Dressage turned out to be a totally different world than I was used to, but the fun and excitement of show day was still there and I was running high. There were hiccups along the way, but Sara successfully got Kai through both tests and we left with two ribbons to show for our efforts. Watching baby Kai do his first tests was an amazing experience and this horse show mom couldn’t be happier. We have our notes for next time and can’t wait to show the world that “those people” are actually pretty good at this Dressage thing! At least that’s what Kai’s mom tells him every night…

Posted in Stories & Adventures

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