And now for the long awaited epic conclusion of my first major horse show as well as the show that made me scared of showing (almost) forever. As the record states, after doing remarkably well in mare halter I had managed to make poor riding decisions in hunter hack and gone off course in hunter over fences. All that were left were Hunter GAYP (Go as You Please) and Hunter Under Saddle. Easy peasy…. not really.
If you have not had the joy of showing 4H or open shows in general, let me give you a quick run down of how the scheduling works. They have one ring for halter and under saddle classes – which includes what will probably become a 1-2 hour showmanship class, as well as walking horses, western pleasure, saddleseat and finally hunter under saddle. There’s a ring devoted to jumping, and a ring devoted to speed games and western trail (which will probably take approximately 6 hours to run through all the competitors).
Show veterans knew that you might as well plan to live at the horse show, because it will last all day and there is no hope of escape. If you want dinner, you bring it in coolers or grill it by your trailer. And you will need coffee morning and night, because it’s not unusual to be showing in the big indoor arena after 9pm.
I however, was both exhausted and surprised when I started my GAYP class at approximately 10pm. Lydia was equally surprised, and at this point she was 100% over it.
Before the GAYP class, I did a lot of planning in the warm up ring.
Ok, so if this is GAYP a lot of people will be trotting since they are still in the walk/trot level and I will really stand out in my amazingness if I canter… but if I canter she may get too fast and be out of control? So maybe I should trot. But maybe I’ll get a ribbon if I canter.
In the end I decided to trot – at least that was the plan.
I think in some GAYP classes they call for the walk, then trot, and then “Go as you please”. My memory serves me that this one did walk and then immediately GAYP, but maybe they were just trying to save on time so they didn’t have children showing angry horses at midnight. The walk part went alright, as in we stayed at the walk so I was pretty pleased with myself. Mostly I was just starstruck at riding in the “big arena” that I had only watched better riders show in at the NC State Fair every year. To me, this was a huge deal.
Perhaps that’s where my head was when they called for the GAYP part. I started to post for the trot, but what I got from Lydia wasn’t exactly a trot. I began hoping that the “Go as You Please” part of the class left some room for interpretation.
You see, before I got Lydia she was a dressage school horse at a big lesson barn. She had some fancy buttons, but I didn’t know how to push any of them. I just knew that when she got mad, she would side path at the trot or canter… and after a long day of showing 4H with a bad rider – Lydia was mad.
Our “Go As You Please” was basically a very dramatic side path at the trot for about 3-4 strides, and then a mini airs above the ground. I remember this as a mild and elegant capriole, but I think the judge interpreted it more as a rear. After about one large lap of sidepass sidepass HOP! sidepass sidepass HOP! I heard the announcer come over the large speaker.
“We’re going to bring everyone back down for a walk for number 110 to settle down her horse. Number 110, please control your horse.”
Guess who was number 110?
I was mortified.
I wanted to die. Instead of just riding with the badness and hop it would stop (my usual habit) I started jerking her in the mouth. We got back to a walk with relatively little difficulty and all seemed quiet, so they started the class back up.
“Go as you please riders, go as you please.”
Sidepass sidepass HOP! Sidepass sidepass HOP!
“Walk please. Number 110, you are excused.”
Excused? Excused?!? What the hell is excused? My face fell. I saw them opening the gates and my trainer call for me to exit the ring. We did, and I think I got about 10 steps back towards the barn before I burst into tears, and needless to say we scratched Hunter Under Saddle.
So that was my first and last 4H show, and it was several years later with a different horse that I started showing again at a very small open schooling show level. It’s been a long road, but I’ve learned how to show now without completely falling apart.
I’ve also learned to always canter in a GAYP class. Always.