Once More into the Show Pen

A Horse & Rider reader and blogger shares her experiences returning to showing after a long hiatus.

The year I was a scrawny 10-year-old, back in the 1960s, I showed my little black mare, Lucky, at halter in a class of five at our local county fair.

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I still have my beautiful little fifth-place pink ribbon, which I proudly displayed with my “win” photo, later placing it next to that photo in my tattered old scrapbook.

I didn’t venture back into the show pen until my 50th year. Having hauled my younger daughter to a million Quarter Horse shows (or what seemed like a million), then safely tucking her away in college, I decided I’d take her retired show horse (who whinnied eagerly every time he saw the trailer moving) and try showmanship.

We were quite a pair! He was sleek, lovely and polished, while I was not-so-sleek, awkward and somewhat clueless, stumbling from maneuver to maneuver. He pulled me around my first pattern, stopped and set himself up, and I swear he winked at the judge. In the meantime, I fumbled around with the chain and kept shuffling my foot position.

Still, we were so in tune–thanks to the horse, not me—that when the judge asked me a question and I coughed instead of answering, the horse looked straight at the judge and coughed, too.

Upon being excused, I turned toward my equine partner to start my pivot and my hand was shaking so hard that on the video it looked like I was shanking him. By the time we’d finished the 360, my knees were so trembly that the horse had to gently bump me to get me unstuck and moving.

Now here’s the interesting part: The experience was one of the highlights of my adult life. I’ve shown several times since, and I plan to show again as time, finances and joint health allow.

I’m hooked!

Find Lisa’s blog at campcreekcattle.blogspot.com. For more information on returning to showing, see the January 2010 issue of Horse & Rider. To order back issues, call 877-717-8928.

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