I can't post pictures until tonight..but I thought I would type a bit about the show right now..
I showed two times, once on Saturday morning and once on Sunday afternoon. I chose the brown and black plaid skirt with brown derby for Saturday and the Christmas plaid skirt for Sunday..with a top hat draped with a bit of tulle. Everyone who talked to me about showing aside made such nice comments on my outfits and my (hand-made) stall decor!
Saturday, we were scheduled to be the 6Th class, but due to the bad weather, some of the usual exhibitors did not come to this show..and 3 classes were cancelled prior to mine. I barely had time to get up and warmed up before I was on my way into the ring! Oliver was quite revved up and I was nervous...but we hung in there with each other. Missed a canter lead..stop and restart. A bit jiggy at the walk and as usual, he wanted to move out at the trot and I held him back. It was very cold, very windy and yet Oliver was quite the gentleman! Anke, his former owner came all the way out there...even though she was not feeling well, just to see us show. I think she was pleased. We took 3rd place out of 4 riders.
Sunday was a 'BIG' day for me though. My Father came out to see me show along with my oldest brother. Another friend named Cherryl also got there just before the class and as I said earlier, I was going to wear the Christmas attire.
That morning, I arrived early and cleaned Oliver's stall, fed him and got organized. In the arena just in the next barn, a larger Arabian show got into full swing a hour before ours did...and that morning they had THREE sidesaddle classes! The first one was for junior riders..1 entry. A stunning 1/2 Arab (other half Saddlebred!) and this boy got the best of both worlds! Nice size, a nice trot and a refined head. I watched this girl closely, especially at the trot. She sat the trot and no matter how big he got (going just under level at his best), her body just seemed to move ever so slightly from front to back with each stride. She never bobbled to the side or even up out of the saddle. I later found out that this was only her 5Th time to ride aside and her very first show. She looked amazingly well balanced at the trot and I felt so envious.
The next sidesaddle class was 3 ladies riding Western. I enjoyed it, but with the different saddles and such a small trot, I found little to compare to what I was having issues with. The last class I watched was another 1 horse entry. I lady riding a nice grey Arab aside. Again, I watched intently at her trot. she also sat the trot and bounced a bit more than the previous riders, but she still looked so much more secure than I. As she did her final victory lap, I noticed that she too was using a Western type sidesaddle - even though her attire was English. If I had it to do over again, I should have hunted down the first girl and her trainer, looked at her saddle and asked a lot of questions.
I went about my business gathering information to write the article about the show and talking to people about ads and events ..until it was time for me to get ready for my class. I saddled Oliver and lunged him for about 15 minutes. Kelli, my trainer arrived. We took him back to the stalls and while I was dressing both my Brother, Father and husband arrived. They took quite a bit of pleasure in watching me mount Oliver (not so lady like!) Once I was situated, I walked Oliver out to the practice arena. We started to walk. I knew I was extra nervous because of my special guests..but as we eased into the trot, I again felt so insecure. I tried, like the young girl on the 1/2 Arab, to just lean back and grip the horns with my legs and sit the trot, but constantly found myself being bounced up back / side to side and to my horror.. once my right leg came dangerously close to coming off the leaping head! I felt like I was coming unraveled. Poor Oliver was getting a bit testy as well..but stuck with me. I tried a few more times after getting his girth tightened to tourniquet strength, I am sure!, raising my stirrup leather another notch and actually leaning down and having Kelli pray with me! Her prayer was sweet and kind...inside my head I was screaming "OHHH - Please God - don't let me kill myself right here in front of my brain surgeon Father...who does not even like horses!"
I sucked it up, positioned my behind and legs the best that I could and as always, was the last to enter the ring....
Bounce - bounce - bounce... keep a death grip on the horns..
bounce bounce bounce... come down centered in the saddle..
bounce bounce bounce...stay out of this poor horses mouth and just let him do his job! bounce bounce bounce.. and before the "ALK" part of walk was out of the announcers mouth..we were walking!
"Canter your horses please - Canter"..no problem with this and today we picked up the correct lead.
Walk... change directions and trot.
I waited as long as I could without being penalized ..but again we started to trot. The first 3 were good..and then my backside started to explore the width and depth of my saddle again and I had to pull him down before it got out of hand and I got into trouble. We did not make it around the arena one full round before they called for the walk and canter. On the last canter, Kelli reminded me to smile..and for the first time in that class I did. I even relaxed and looked into the audience to see my Father. He was grinning ear to ear...something I don't think I will ever forget!
We trotted into the line up...and took our ribbon. We earned last place.. I say earned - because it was really hard work and a huge challenge.
Since I have only ridden in one sidesaddle...and even though I started on a different horse, I really did not ride a full trot on the other one..so basically I have only experienced one horse..but I sure would like to know what I am doing wrong..or what I need to change..or at least how I can get myself more secure at the trot. It is not something I can expect someone to diagnosis for me over the Internet. I have heard rumors that there may be a sidesaddle clinic in San Antonio during a show that I am scheduled to cover..and if so, I will surely enlist in it. I love what I am doing...but just really want to do a better job..if for nothing else, I want to do it for a horse who has been so patient and kind to me. ALL the credit goes to Oliver.