Lessons learned at the horse show

Last week was the 2011 IALHA National Championships.  We traveled to Fort Worth on Monday, got the horses settled, and started showing on Tuesday.  The show lasted until Sunday afternoon.  I’ve spent the last few days resting and catching up from being away for a whole week.  Every horse show is a unique, new experience.  This show definitely had it’s ups and downs.  In the end, we won several classes and have some great new titles my horses can claim.

Things I learned:

1.  Teamwork is important.  I’ve known this for a long time, but this week reinforced this in my mind.  It’s also important to choose great team members.  Our team worked together beautifully.  Each of us had our down moments, but the others were able to help pull us up.  We each focused on what we can do better and praised each other for the great accomplishments that we have made in just the past few months together.  By working together, we helped lighten each others load a bit.  I know that the show would not have been the success it was without each and every one on our team!Our Winning Team

2.  Crap happens.  All of us had a moment that was bad.  Each of us handled our moment differently.  I learned that I need space when I get upset.  Leave me alone for awhile and I’ll be ok.  Don’t try to push me to “get over it”.  I will, but I need a little time.  (Just for the record, I still think the judges were biased.)

3.  Take care of yourself.  It’s easy to miss some of the basic needs (like eating and sleeping) when you are at such a big show.  Don’t skip too many meals or too much sleep or you will not be on top of the game.  If you get too far down, it can be dangerous working with unpredictable horses.

4.  There are some wonderful people at the show.  I could go on and on about the great people I met this week.  One that stands out in particular is a certain trainer (who is awesome by the way) who offered to loan us a bit that we didn’t have but needed for a class.  We had read the rules wrong, and didn’t have the correct bit…he spoke up and offered to let us borrow one.  What a great person!  I hope he realizes how much that meant to us (especially after the horrid day we had earlier).  Our “stablemates” across the hall were wonderful.  We had a great time talking and admiring each others horses, commiserating about the losses, and celebrating the victories (even if we never got the wine opened).  Also, kudos to the show manager who always had a smile on her face even when we were dropping, adding, and changing riders.

5.  There are some not-so-wonderful people at the show.  I saw several accounts of horrible sportsmanship.  I know, I don’t like to lose either, but being nasty to the other competitors is not the answer.  I saw people who over-exaggerate circumstances to their favor.  Not every act of discipline is abuse.  (I’m not saying it is okay to hurt your horse, but sometimes corrections are necessary for everyone’s safety.)  Not everything is a “political statement”.  Sometimes people don’t have an agenda when they wear a specific shirt.  (Although I will admit, I broke out my Cardinals shirt here in Texas this week!)  Trainers don’t need to give their riders a “lesson” as soon as they come out of the ring without placing.  It’s all about the timing…they are already feeling defeated.

6.  My horses are awesome!  So the judge didn’t always agree with me, but every time I saw one of my horses in the ring, they were first place in my opinion.  Rather than be upset about the faults of my horses…I tend to think there was something wrong with the judges 🙂  I know we have some things to work on (and yes, my yearling filly has crazy long legs at the moment), but I LOVE my horses.  Nothing that a judge says is going to change that!

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