Something very weird happened to me at the show this weekend. I’ve been showing for over 15 years, and the following has never happened:
I signed up classes appropriate for my horse and my riding level. I brought a well trained, seasoned horse to the horse show. I listened to what my trainer said, didn’t go off course and rode competitively… and I pinned well in every class.
Not only did I pin well, but I picked one of my two divisions and said “I will shoot for a tri-color in this division.” I didn’t scratch classes because I was too tired to make it through another round. I brought my A-game to those classes, and I straight up won Reserve Champion because I deserved it.
Not because the points were split all over the place. Not because there were only three horses in the class and one of them was a three legged donkey. Because I rode well, my horse listened and stepped up like a bad ass when I asked him to. Basically, we did really, really well.
I don’t write all of that out to sound like a braggart, although I realize that it does look like I’m very thoroughly patting myself on the back here. Instead, I need to let y’all in on a little secret about me.
I’m not a very good rider, and I’m an even worse horse shower.
My whole entire show experience has been strung together with duct tape. When I showed Elvis at all of those open shows and hunter schooling shows, I won ribbons because I took a lot of short cuts or the classes were so small and low quality that just getting over 12 jumps in the right order could get you a champion. Plus, I used to get so nervous that I couldn’t eat, talk or really even ride until it was over. Over used to be the best part of showing.
Showing Simon has been better, but marginally. When we won before, it was because the division was small or pretty much set up for beginners. In the hunters, any low ribbon was usually a gift from the judge for trying hard and having a horse that jumps cute… not because I nailed my distances, strides and lead changes. We have had so many shows where I came back and wrote to you all about the amazing learning experience and strides towards improvement we made. All of that was true. Each show was a huge learning experience, and we did improve.
If I pinned in the jumper ring on him, it was by the skin of my teeth. Either the classes were super small, or I narrowly escaped falling off because my horse always has my best interest at heart and will never buck if I’m unsteady in the tack. He not only takes a joke, but he takes an entire standup comedy routine. We usually got ribbons when we entered the jumpers, but it was rarely pretty.
There were some not so nice moments this weekend and times where I leaned and chipped (videos tomorrow!), but honestly… I was pretty damn solid. When my trainer yelled, “HEY MAYBE SIT UP AND TRY GOING STRAIGHT SOMETIME” we came back the next course sitting up and going straighter. I didn’t do my trademark Lauren move, stand-up-in-my-stirrups-in-a-rollback-and-balance-on-my-hands, and I didn’t come close to getting turned off my horse. Which is saying something, because I’ve been turned off my horse more than once at a horse show.
Tomorrow I will share all the nitty gritty details with y’all about the courses I entered, our placings and the places where we did well or need to improve. As always, there is room for improvement. That’s how riding is. It’s never complete.
But damn y’all, I actually showed up and performed and did really well. Today, I just want to soak that in a little bit.