Our first 2 classes were with Bella Equus in hand. She is a mere 4 months old and has been unfolding into a real beauty ever since she was born. She is bay in color, but is so dark, she sometimes almost appears to be black, a trait I like as it makes her stand out a bit. Here she is getting outfitted with a special halter and lead for the class.
Because she has been in training at Bluebonnet for the last month and used to Gornio leading her, I decided to let him take the lead and I would be the chaser. The lead runs beside the foal (trying) showing them at the trot.. displaying to the best of their ability the foals natural motion. The chaser, follows behind and usually to the inside of the arena, carrying a longer whip with a baggie (Walmart!) tied to the end. Just the swishing sound of the baggie keeps the foal moving forward. Most of the time, the chaser does not really have to do much - other than be there just in case they are needed. Our first class was specifically for the foals born from the breedings purchased off of the Texas Futurity Auction the previous year. This is how we acquired the stud service - so we were eligible for this class. There were only 3 in this class and we were drawn to go first.
Entering the ring, it was apparent that I just needed to stay far behind Bella and Gornio. Bella was very excited and instead of trotting, she lunged forward at the canter and sometimes reared giving Gornio the very difficult job of controlling her .. while not getting hurt himself! I was sad that Bella did not show herself well in this class.. and we placed where we rightfully should have .. in 3rd. place.
Just a short while later, we showed back in a class called Futurity Weanling Fillies. This was a large class and again we were drawn to show first. As before, Gornio lead Bella and I chased.. only this time it was totally different. Bella acted like a different horse! After a brief hesitation at the in gate.. and a small slap with a Walmart baggie (snicker snicker) she trotted into the arena and looked like she was saying .. "I know what to do, I have been here before!" She held her head up, neck shooting straight up out of her shoulders and trotted like the little princess she is! When we came to a stop before the judge, she posed, stretched out her neck and even priced her ears.
After getting the nod from the judge, she trotted over to the side rail and Gornio handed over the reins to me. He had to attend to 3 other horses from the barn that would be shown in this class with us. I was a bit nervous.. but Bella was way too interested in watching the other fillies file in and show to bother with me. She even stood stretched out the entire time the other 6 or 7 fillies came in - one at a time.
I handled Bella from the time she was born. I groomed her, picked up her feet and her tail every day. I got to know the spots she liked scratched..and the ones she did not. For this reason, I brought a very small finger nail brush and gently scratched the base of her neck. My reward for doing this was an even longer stretch of the neck as the judge glanced our direction.
I held her lead high and ran my fingers down her neck and over her back as I awaited the announcement allowing us to relax. My heart raced. I heard them call out the first place winner, and then the second. The third place number was not ours either. But then it happened. They called it. I hesitated waiting to hear Bella's name before I allowed her to move. YES! It was us!! Bella earned a honorable 4th place in a large selection of beautiful fillies..and she even trotted out to receive her ribbon with ease!!!