Sunday dawned rather cool and gloomy, with sprinkling rain and ugly road closures due to the marathon, so I had to head out through the wet predawn via detours from my usual route. It wasn’t raining when I got to the barn, but it was still dark, which always makes hooking up the trailer a challenge. It was one of those times where it was alllllmost lining up the ball and hitch, and I thought maybe I could just jiggle it a little, but somehow the whole thing slid off the chock, and was, thankfully, resting on the top of the hitch. I was able to get the chock back under it, crank the foot back down, and jack it all back up, and pull the truck forward and finally get things lined up after a whole lot of cursing. (Thankfully alone in the dark before the lesson kids arrived to get ready, because there was a LOT of cursing during that whole episode.) It seemed a rather inauspicious start to the day.
Then I went out to get my horse. Whose lead rope was not on the fence by the gate, which was odd. Until I walked out and found it still attached to her. Um. I had the feeling I was going to have to have a talk with either Holly or rCally, and given the tight management ship Holly runs, I had a sneaking suspicion it was Cally. Which was confirmed when Holly came out to tell me that the horse had whipped around and bolted off while being turned out. Bad, bad pony. Another somewhat inauspicious note to start the day on. Along with the fact that the show start time had been moved an hour later and no one had told me, until I was at the barn getting the horse ready. I could have slept a whole nother hour! 6AM is so much more civilized as a wake-up time than 5AM!
But off to the show we rolled in the drizzle, me driving even more like an old lady than usual on the wet curvy roads, followed closely by Holly and the two ponies doing the first class of the day — leadline! So sure to be cute. I parked, got us checked in, and kept an eager eye on the weather radar. It seemed to promise that the drizzle was going to end, but it seemed to keep on drizzling. Holly’s husband arrived with their adorable little daughter who was making her show debut in the leadline, and a box of warm donuts, and set up a tent for everyone to congregate under while getting ready. I was all dressed and tacked up by the time leadline started, so I led Cally over and we watched the first class, where our riders were 2nd and 3rd, then thankfully a friend showed up who actually does sidesaddle as well, so she helped me mount and get my apron situated properly, and we were able to walk around a bit and warm up and get a feel for things.
We were getting a LOT of comments as we were walking around, including a whole conversation with one of the other competitors in my “Classics Pleasure” (read as “adults over 30”) about how amazing it was to see in person, as she’d only ever seen it in movies. Which seemed to be the whole reaction by everyone, we must have had half a dozen people ask about it, so I was in a rather cheery mood before we went in the ring for our walk-trot debut aside, as I figured we’d at least look very good doing it!
I hadn’t even trotted before we went into the ring, because the only warmup area was grass, and it was slippery wet, and I didn’t want to take a chance. So we had walked around and gotten nice and supple, then trotted her a bit once we got in the ring. She wasn’t looky, she felt focused, and was going great. I figured we had this walk-trot thing, even though it was only our 3rd time aside. I mean, she looked super fancy!
Then we reversed and the judge must have gone crazy because it was a walk-trot class, and first she asked for a sitting trot (fine, it’s what I’m doing anyway up here), then a posting trot (totally fair, if super hard for me, but glad we covered this in my lesson on Wednesday), then a lengthening of the trot (WTF, this is ostensibly beginner-ish adults, and I’m in a sidesaddle!). I mean, Cally knows how to do a trot lengthening, and does it quite nicely, but firstly it’s not something I can sit easily even in a dressage saddle, and secondly, I’m used to having two legs to use as aids in getting there. So I basically gave a bit with the reins and let her go a little more forward. Holly said later than it was a really nice Medium LOL
But I guess it was good enough because we ended up 2nd in the class, and headed back out onto the rail for walk-trot and/or/canter. I kind a figured I might as well go for it and try the canter, especially as the go-as-you-please was called for as we were heading into the corner and it set us up nicely. So off we went, cantering in the harder direction and looking like total badass ladies.
Unfortunately I opted not to canter the second direction because they called for it in the middle of the long side and I was worried that I’d end up on the wrong lead, even though we’d probably have been fine, because I could more or less cue like normal for the right lead. But even though I wussed out there, it must have been good enough, because we WON THE CLASS!
And that was good enough for champion in the division! Which was shocking, because it was our first time showing aside, and while we did some Pleasure classes when Cally was green for the milage, she really does not go like a pleasure horse. But as Holly said, what looks more pleasurable than a horse that goes around nicely carrying a lady aside?
Cally seemed supremely delighted by all the attention she was getting, the multiple barnmates taking our picture, the people coming up and asking us about sidesaddle. She’s just a ham, really. But she was foot-perfect and we’re definitely going to be doing more sidesaddle next year. And Cally might even get to go do some “real” Sidesaddle with Holly!