A Very Busy Sunday! Robby learns a new skill!
Let me begin by saying that it was a very UNUSUAL Sunday.
Wait, wait! I need to change that!
Let me begin by saying, I am not...and have never been...a morning person. People that know me well, truly appreciate what a strange day it was when I begin the tale with the fact that not only was I going to a horse show without Mike, but that I was getting up at 6:00 am on a gorgeous Sunday morning to do so. It was a teeny, tiny show, but still!
Keep in mind that I grew up doing a gymkhana circuit in the 1970's and the photo's above pretty much show how we spent our time! My poor parents! Sharon and I owe so much to them for devoting several summers of early Sunday mornings hauling us and our gear to the various arena's in and around Colorado Springs. Then spending ALL DAY either watching us ride or being part of the show staff (Mom keeping track of times and Day flagging the starts). Once I was old enough to drive the truck and trailer myself, I don't recall many horse shows. I thought maybe I was blocking those memories (because I HATE pulling a trailer...thanks to a couple of very bad hauling horses...a tale for another post), but Sharon confirms that once she got into high school sports, she didn't compete with the horses until after college.
Suffice it to say, I spent several years showing all day at Sunday gymkhana's. Sometimes these were followed by Monday night gymkhana's at Cowtown, Thursday nights at Prairie Ramblers and Friday nights at Kit Carson. But because I don't like pulling a trailer, and my folks figured the horse showing thing was my deal, not theirs, my show career didn't resume until I married Mike. Then in one smart move, I got the great guy, photographer and driver all rolled into one package....the great horseman part, comes later!
But, back to yesterday!
It started last week, when the Krauss family (Nicole, Brad and Lily and little Blake...super nice people!) invited me to come and watch a small show hosted by a local club. The Krauss family board Robby for me at their place and I work with Lily and her new Arabian gelding, Jet. They have been terrific to work with and taken great care of Robby for me!
Lily's new guy, Jet isn't ready to show yet, but as you can see by this picture, the two of them are coming along nicely! On Sunday, Lily was taking her pinto gelding Zorro.
This show was the last of the season, and the weather forecast promised a gorgeous fall day! And there is the "trainer" in me that still feels like I'm forgetting to do something because I haven't had to rush to the post office to get my Fall Show entry forms postmarked in time! That must be why I not only accepted their invitation but blurted out, "maybe I'll have you throw Robby on the trailer too". Whoops! Where did that come from??!
It's a tribute to how much I like these folks that I was even considering this idea. I dislike showing out of a trailer. I literally grew up living that lifestyle, and I loved every minute of it! But once I discovered Class A Arabians shows where I had a tack stall and a stall for my horse, I was in heaven! I almost didn't go because I remembered that I had booked at training session at 1:00 and needed to get back in time for that. However, Nicole helpfully pointed out that they would be happy to take care of Robby for the day and get her back home...thanks, Nicole! LOL!
Just to be clear, Mikey did still help me with this show. The night before, he set up the coffee pot to go off earlier than usual. He also set his alarm clock to go off earlier (and louder) than usual. And Sunday morning he told me "good luck and be careful"....still while wearing his sleep mask.
And so I was off on my Sunday morning adventure.
And this is where my story changes from being a comedy about "Kathy in the Early Morning" to a tribute to a terrific Arabian mare, Robby. (aka Harthrob).
I never take anything but my very best horses to an all breed show, even a teeny, tiny one. Why? Because of public perception. Arabians continually have to correct a miconception (held by many "horse people") that they are a) flighty or b) difficult to train. Because of this, I never take my "works in progress" to a small event. Nope, I take my "baby horses" to Class A shows where I (hopefully) will be sharing the ring with other fairly experienced riders that will be able to control their own horses sufficiently to not run into mine. It has been my experience that the scariest classes I've ever been in have been at small shows. Not because of my horse, but because of some of the others. So, the only horse I take to a small show is one I can ride defensively on...literally, steer and place exactly in the ring where I want them to keep them out of trouble.
Robby is all that and more.
Robby is one of the best I've ever trained. She is not the most athletic, but she is one of the bravest. You could ride her into battle and count on her. And by this I don't meant that she doesn't snort and blow...but if she feels the need to do that, she'll snort, blow and suck it up and do her job. Add to that the fact that she has many years of professional training (2004-2007 with Mike and I, then turned out to pasture, until we acquired her in 2012) and I felt pretty confident that we wouldn't embarass the Arabian breed in a mixed equine setting.
But even knowing how good she is, she blows me away with her poise, self confidence and attitude.
Her self confidence and kind disposition has landed her the job of "intro to horse showing specialist" on more than one occasion and she's never failed to provide a wonderfully positive experience to any of her riders.
Roberta Herring on MK Highlander and Deanna Glasl on Harthrob, Estes Park, CO
The first amateur to ever show Robby was our client (and very good friend) Deanna Glasl. Thanks to her husband, Dave, I have a wonderful series of pictures of Deanna and Robby in their only show together in 2007. This first one (above) is one of my favorites because, it shows Deanna on Robby and Roberta Herring on Highlander (both clients of ours) showing what horse showing SHOULD be about...having fun while practicing your horsemanship skills!
Deanna was obviously having a wonderful time before the results were announced! But I think you'll agree that her reaction upon hearing her name called for first place, was priceless. And I think it demonstrates that Deanna had not been concerned about where she would place in the class. My very specific instructions to her were "have fun and ride like you do at home". That was it! We didn't try to "step it up" a notch or have a "game plan" to "win a ribbon". My goal for Deanna was for her to discover that showing was no big deal. You really should just do what you do at home. We always had our students ride the same way in the ring or out in the fields or down the road. We didn't ride one way in the arena and another way outside the arena. The dirt roads and fields are just bigger "arena's"! On this day, Deanna did just what I told her. She relaxed and enjoyed her horse!
The second amateur to ever show Robby was Monica Acee. Monica and I had worked together on her horse Zenith, and she took several lessons on Robby to try out the "finished version" of an Arabian Western Pleasure/Trail horse. Monica, like Sharon and I, grew up showing the Colorado and Manitou Springs gymkhana circuit in the 1970's, so Monica is a very experienced rider, but she'd never done an "Arabian show". So, in June of 2013, I invited Monica to show Robby at the Eastern Classic Arabian Horse Show in Hamburg, where she won her Western Pleasure Select as well as English and Western Trail....and had a good time! Monica went on to show her at the 2013 Region 16 Championship show where she was Champion in both the Western and English ATR trail.
And now we come to our shenanigans yesterday. Fate conspired so that Robby arrived about 15 minutes before my first class on her was to go into the arena. I wasn't really too worried about making it to that class, but I tacked her up (imagine her bemused expression at being tacked up out of the back of my Juke), offered her the chance to frolick on the lunge line (she was embarrassed that I had confused her with one of my baby horses), pinned my number on my down vest (it was CHILLY), put her show bridle on her and pretty much went in the ring. Robby was fabulous but we ended up dq'd because the club putting on the show has a dress code that doesn't include down vests, which the judge was kind enough to explain to me (see..that's why I always tell my amateur's how important it is to read the rule book before you enter the ring!!)
I turned Robby over to Lily to ride while I checked to see if I'd brought any show clothes with me. Since Lil has had a couple of lessons on Robby, I told her that she could ride her in her Equitation class if she wanted to. Meanwhile, I went through the garment bag (that I had thrown in at the last minute) to see if I had an appropriate "button down" western shirt. While I didn't have such a thing, they decided that my show shirt with the zipper would be okay since it did have a collar and cuffs...but I still couldn't wear my down vest over it...go figure. Because this was a small show I hadn't planned on show clothes and had brought that garment bag as an after thought. But since I was having to put on the show shirt, I decided to go "all in" and put my "blingy" chaps on too. Got in 'em myself! Yes. I did too!! This fact was one of the things that impressed Mike the most about my day.
While I was executing various exotic quasi-yoga moves while putting on my chaps, Lily and Robby won her equitation class! Lil told me that was her first blue ribbon ever. Way to go Robby and Lily!
Since I was now dressed "to code", I met Lily at the out gate so that I could get my spurs back and hop back on Robby for the 'senior' equitation class. While we're doing the switch, Lily asked me if she got her right side lead or not....note to self....Lil's next lessons are on how to tell what lead you're on! I told her that since she won the class, most likely she got it. Some coach I am...letting my students handle a class on their own..but wait!
It was Robby, therefore, Lil was very much not alone out there! Lily was not just riding a wonderful mare, but many, many miles of training and many years of showing. And what is Robby's new skill?? Standing tied to a trailer for the afternoon. Nicole reported that Robby was quite content to watch the rest of the goings on while munching on her hay bag!
So here's to Robby and all the unsung horse hero's out there. Validated not by the number of ribbons they bring home, but by the experiences they give! Atta girl Robby!
Harthrob (aka Robby) (Mussiah+ x Harmonney)