Warrenton Horse Show is one of the older horse shows in the country, at a lovely old showground in a little town in the heart of Virginia horse country.  It’s a USEF Heritage Show, and I love that sidesaddle is a great way to go show at some of these lovely, classic old venues.  So I was very excited to send my entries in for Warrenton over labor day weekend.

Holly and I both went, and we looked over the entries online the night before, and since it was Hunt Night, the classes were a little different than usual horse show classes.  But it was something like 10 classes, none of which were showing more than 10 entries.  So we figured we’d go early afternoon, be home late afternoon.  Perfect!  We were braided and rolled out around 8:45, with Holly driving, since I said I felt like I’d done a lot of long hauls to shows this year, I’d be thrilled to pay the pro to do it for a change.

It was an easy drive there, but boy was I glad I’d had her drive, and we were in her big truck with 4WD, because she had to use it to get through the mud into one of the parking areas.  It was also interesting to get parked, because it was like horse trailer tetris in there.  I have never in my life seen so many horse trailers wedged into such a small area.  Even if we’d thrown up our hands in the waiting at some point and wanted out, there was no moving.  But at least we managed to get a nice shady parking spot, out of the mud and away from too much noise.  Every time I checked on the horses during the day, when we’d go to get them off for a walk, they’d be napping, so not too bad.

They napped for quite a while.  The Cleveland Bay classes were finishing up when we checked in, and there were quite a few really lovely horses.  If I was looking for a different breed, that would be the first one I looked up. So we had a seat in the lovely old grandstand and watched some of the Junior Field Hunter class.  It was such an interesting mix of horses, some of who looked like they might not have seen many ring courses, and quite a few who might not be “show horse” fancy but I would totally have snapped up and happily ridden.  I was kind of obsessed with a little cobby chestnut who was just loping around with a poked out nose and totally knew the job and took care of her kid.  And more than a few who looked like they also were show horses, and put in lovely, lovely rounds.

We had lunch, did some shopping, watched some more, refilled haynets and watered and walked our horses, watched some more, got a wildly inaccurate time estimate, chatted with friendly folks in the stands, watched some great rounds, rinse repeat.  It was a lot of waiting around, and if I hadn’t been waiting to show myself, it would have been a blast–the Field Hunter classes were fun to watch, and the Pairs classes were amazing.  There was some fabulous riding, lovely horses, and a whole lot of spectators having fun. I haven’t ever seen that many people having so much fun at a horse show, even at WIHS, and it was wonderful.

What was not so fun was tacking up in the dark, which we basically had to do, because we finally went in the show ring at 10PM.  I would not have minded that if I had realized it was going to happen that way.  Even the other ladies who showed up and were like “this always runs late!  We never go before 6!” didn’t seem to have anticipated it being quite this late.  I am a night person anyway, and would happily have slept in and rolled in to the showgrounds significantly later if only the prize list had clarified start times for things a little better.  Like perhaps “Hack divisions not to start before 4PM” or similar would have been an immense help in planning our day and avoiding our horses sitting around for hours and missing dinner.

Needless to say, mare who’d been at the show all day and had not had dinner at 10PM was perhaps not in the best mood.  She wasn’t being bad, per se, just not particularly enthusiastic about being tacked up and asked to work at a time when she’d normally be out in the field sleeping in her favorite sand pit.  I can’t really blame her.  Those of you who ride mares will know the Mare Is Done feeling.

It was not our best showing effort.  She actually wasn’t phased by being under the lights and wasn’t spooky about all the people around the ring, but was super curious about them, so I tried to keep her on the quarter line rather than on the rail so she didn’t have so many picnics to try to scope out.  We started off pretty nicely, actually, until we missed our first canter lead right in front of the judges, which was just heartbreaking, because the trot was so nice.  Then because I’d had to correct her, she was all fussy and cranky.  We were 7th, but at least purple is pretty.

The flat portion of the hack went significantly better, and I was actually thrilled with how she went.  And we jumped nicely into the line in the hack, I just need to be better at keeping us straight, and not looking down at the fence, because we managed to be super crooked, add, and sort of jump out in a heap.  Not pretty.  Hand gallop to halt was pretty nice, though, and she got lots of pats for not killing me.  5th there, fine.

I was on the fence about even doing the over fences, because I knew she was Done, but I was the 3rd rider to fill the class, so I figured I’d go in and see how we did, because she does love to jump.  We had a great approach to fence 1, saw a great spot, and even Holly thought we were nailing it.  And we once again mangled it and sort of chipped into a heap.  The line at 2-3 was a wobbly, choppy mess, and I just could not get her ahead of my leg and focusing on to fence 4, so after a circle, I pulled up, waved to the judge, patted Cally, and retired.  I probably could have cowgirled around the course, but it would have been hideously ugly and completely unnecessary, and neither of us would have learned a thing.

We untacked and basically threw everything in the dressing room in a heap because we couldn’t see a thing, and were headed out by 11PM.  We got home at 12:30AM, and basically pulled the horses off the trailer, pulled off their shipping wraps, and turned them out.  I was a terrible horseman and just turned my horse out still braided (we took out the tail braid) on the thought that at this point, she just wants out with friends and to sleep.  As did I, even though I’m used to a late night.  I rolled out the next day to unbraid, and sort out the mess that was the trailer.

Cally earned a few days off, and we were planning to do a little sidesaddle jumping lesson because I haven’t had one in ages and obviously sorely need one.  I also want Holly to jump Cally aside a bit, so she can maybe do her over fences at MDHP for me, to give her a good go with perfect distances, and I think she’s jumped her aside exactly once.  Sadly, weather has not cooperated with that plan, because instead of doing that lesson right now, I’m looking out at a very wet yard, and Cally is getting an extra day off.

But Maryland Horse & Pony is next week, and most excitingly, on the drive back from Warrenton, we decided to sponsor the Sidesaddle division there as a barn.  I took care of arranging it, and am very excited to help support the division and hopefully let this become an annual thing for us, since it’s a favorite show.