County District Disaster – Part 4

County District Disaster – Part 4

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.

8 thoughts on “County District Disaster – Part 4

  1. Ouch. I remember my first horse show vividly and it was just as bad. While I wasn’t excused I still honestly can’t think about it without being absolutely mortified and red in the face.

    1. At this point it’s just funny, but I do have one show that every time I think back on I cringe with embarrassment… sounds like I need to another blog post on that one!

  2. My trainer when she was Maclay/Medal age (like a bajillion years ago!) because they used to do Western and Side Saddle AND Driving at the ‘A’ rated shows said she did many a Medal class at 2am.

    I can barely make it past 5pm anymore at a horse show!

  3. That’s embarassing but a lot of riders have things like that happen to them. I showed hunters a couple of times but not really a hunter type person. I was never told about “courtesy circles” before doing a course so I most likely looked awful by not doing them. I was showing to get a pony some experience in a kid class (I was too old) so we weren’t really judged but I’m sure it made us look bad. Another thing I did was in dressage, the horse was trying to go out of the opening at the end and she ended up stepping over the rail with all four legs, we got disqualified. But it’s all the journey to learning.

  4. Haha aww I’m fairly positive I got dismissed from several classes with my first horse, Dino, when we were showing 4H and AQHA- for some reason he was kind of crazy at shows when we first got him (I can’t even number the amount of times he got away and ran willey nilley around the show grounds) but one day he just randomly settled down and was perfect from that day on. I know it had nothing to do with my “amazing” riding/horse training skills at the time…. lol. I’m sorry you had such a bad 4H experience! I had some bad ones and some really great ones, but I have to say I prefer hunter/jumper shows over 4H, and I prefer eventing over that, even. (Thank goodness for assigned ride times!!) But I’m glad you survived and made it back into the show pen!! 🙂

  5. love these stories! thanks for giving me a little chuckle in the middle of my day at work! 🙂

    at my first horse show, my horse let him self out of his stall… i was mortified!

  6. Oh, boy, do I ever empathize… I did County 4-H shows myself for several years so I know exactly what you’re talking about! About the only difference is we never had GAYP class, which sounds like it would have been interesting. I did Halter, Eng. Pleasure and Eng. Eq on the Flat and Over Fences, Hunter Hack and I forget what else.

    We also had a wonderful outside course with “real” hunting-type fences, like every show had back in the day (and they ought to BRING back). My only issue with that was I rode a mare (not mine, have never had my own horse) that became extremely headstrong outside the ring, so our jumping rounds consisted of gallopgallopgallopscreechalmosttoahaltJUMPgallopgallopgallop, etc. Not graceful or ribbon-worthy most of the time. This was in a Pelham with the curb cranked down, too! I’d finish red in the face and blowing harder than the horse since I tended to hold my breath when I got nervous…

    I did fairly well in Halter and Showmanship as said mare was almost completely white, and I’d kill myself the day before making her shine. She’d always manage to poop on her hocks overnight so I had to liberally apply corn starch to green and brown stains right before we went in the ring. We never won, though, and I’ll never forget the time we WERE winning (a huge class, too) until good ‘ole Maresy decided it wasn’t her day to trot back to the lineup. *DING* Ooooh, I was mad at that horse – naturally she trotted perfectly on command as we left the ring ribbonless. :-/

    Lots of 4-H memories, definitely! I’m sorry your first excursion ended so badly but really, 10:00 PM??? That’s crazy! I have to say our shows never went that late, thank goodness.

    As far as not remembering courses, as a kid I was fine and dandy. The last show I did, at age 40, was another story… major brain lapse mid-jumping round #3. Lost too many cells not being able to sleep from nerves the night before, or just getting old!

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