Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NTW Romp in the Willows 9/26/15

Well, that was not our best show ever. 

I mean, it wasn't *bad* per se - but O is in raging, flaming, out of control heat right now, and therefore things were a bit... interesting. 

I've had O long enough to know that when she gets hormonal, she doesn't play the game. As a super hormonal female, I highly sympathize with this problem - I myself have a super short fuse when hormonal, and am prone to totally irrational random outbursts of either yelling or crying. I totally get her problem. As such, I keep her on hormones during the show season for the most part. If I want her to have a level head at shows, I have to keep her on her Estrumate shots. 

When we moved, one of the things I forgot at the old house was my bottle of Estrumate in the fridge. I also forgot all of my show clothes, including the Gold medal that Gogo and I earned. When we gave our notice, our landlady found new tenants with super speed, and ushered us out as fast as possible. She then decided to cut off all contact with us when we tried to get our deposit and stuff back. Apparently what happened was that someone broke into the garage after we moved out,  and stole the landlady's lawn equipment that came with the house. She blamed us (after three years of praising us for being pretty fantastic reliable tenants), and cut off all contact with us. Which is mostly just a side story but, my Estrumate did get left behind in the fridge, and I didn't get it back. Since most of the show season was in the toilet anyway, I forgot about it. 

Until this past week. When I noticed O humping the fence closest to Dylan. A lot.

The Romp is different from the other games days in that it is largely held outside of the arena. The first class was an timed obstacle course in the arena which had several components - a bridge crossing, a flag alley, a mailbox and letter pickup, a little circle that you had to park your wheel in and turn, a backing corridor, and a set of boards that you had to drive one wheel between (that was about 6" wide). We had gotten the course on paper in an email beforehand, but there were no dimensions included - and in my mind's eye I grossly underestimated EVERYTHING. Everything was narrow, and tiny, and difficult. O has many strengths, but fine finessing of exact distances is not really one of them. She powered into the arena at high speed - and to her credit, every time we are at this venue she knows that we are going into the arena to haul ass - and fairly flew over the bridge. When we got to the go-between boards, I totally steered her right off of them, and had to turn around and try again. Being in raging heat, O's temper was VERY short, and it snapped the second I veered her around to try again. We made it through the boards, but barely. When we got into the backing corridor, which you had to drive into and then back out of, she sulled up. And we all know what happens when she sulls up... she will brace herself against everything you ask and will just. Not. Do. It. It took me ages to get her to back up... AGES. She would not do it. It didn't matter how much I sweet talked her, or even just outright pulled on her. She let me pull her nose all the way down to her chest almost - and still, she braced against me with her mouth wide open and would not move. I managed to somehow get her backwards far enough to go to the next few obstacles - the flag alley, the letter pickup and the mailbox dropoff - but when we got to the little circle, all bets were off. She totally smashed through the thing the first go around, and then stopped dead and would not move to go back to try again. This is all stuff I've been through with her before, many times. I tapped and tapped and tapped with my whip, but she was solidly sulled up, and just stood there bracing and refusing to move, aside from the occasional rear-flail. Eventually I just decided that I valued my life and I didn't need to complete the obstacle, and I just proceeded back to the exit over the bridge once again. We did end up finishing fourth in that class, which was kind of a miracle, but it was clearly not our day.

I trotted her from the obstacle course all the way out to the big field, where the cones course was set up. It was a long, winding course, and O really had her big Hauling Ass trot on. We always do really well in cones, as long as I don't steer her into anything - she is fast and can turn tightly. I almost missed the second set of cones - I flew right past them, thinking a different set of cones was actually them, and had to snake around and come back - but the rest of the course flowed well. O was trucking - REALLY trucking - and I had a pretty tight hold on her the entire go of it. To my surprise, even though we nearly missed that set of cones and had to wind all the way back around to get them, which certainly added some seconds to our course, we smoked everyone and came in first by several solid seconds. Good job mare!


After a lunch break, we harnessed back up and headed out to do the final class, a cross country course which had three checkpoints where we would have to retrieve a ribbon. By this time, O had spent nearly all of her energy on acting totally frantic all morning, so she was tired and didn't have a lot of gas in the tank. She is super pleasant to drive out places - her best feature is the ability to put her on autopilot, point her in any direction you choose, and then sit back and relax while she going along under her own steam. I didn't have much in the way of go, so she puttered along at a semi-fast speed, certainly not Hauling Ass but not dragging either. The course was a few miles long and up and down these big huge bumpy hills - it wasn't terrible for a big beast like O, but all of those poor little minis had to do the same course. I'm sure they were all exhausted at the end of it. We weren't terribly fast and finished third - O was a very good girl though, which was the more important thing.

The total times were added up, and I think we finished fourth overall. It was definitely an off day for us. Not our best showing - not horrible, by any means, but just not quite up to what we usually are capable of. These shows are just fun shows, they don't really count for much (aside from Horse of the Year points for NTW, which we were in the running for but are now solidly knocked out), but still.

Ah well. I have sympathy for her hormonal state. I get that way too, after all. When we got home, I turned her out and she promptly galloped off, kicked P in the face, slammed into the fence closest to Dylan, and started peeing on herself. Mares.....

On a slightly unrelated-but-actually-related note: I've written about this before, but I am getting a little bit tired of the politics behind these fun shows. They are supposed to be just that - rinky dink little fun shows. When I first went to one last fall, I won pretty much everything, which was really fantastic and super fun for our first go. The organizer of them had a lame horse then, but she went well out of her way to make sure I knew that she had the best horse in the club and that I just had a lucky break - I would not be so lucky the next time around. A few months later, she asked if I would help organize the fun shows, because "we have the two best horses in the club!" which I thought was an odd qualification. I mean, she didn't really know me, she didn't know whether or not I would actually be useful or helpful. I helped her for a bit, and then she dropped the bomb: if I was helping, I could not show. Well, I *wanted* to show, I didn't want to sit on the sidelines - I wouldn't have agreed to help in the first place had I know. So I did my best to graciously back out, and while I'm pretty sure they were angry with me, they only grumbled for a minute before moving on without me. Since I was told that I couldn't show if I helped to organize the shows, I was surprised to see that the organizer herself was showing anyway at the first fun show. Not surprisingly, she won a lot of the classes and was Champion. At this show, she was once again showing even though she was the organizer, and once again she won most everything and was Champion again. The local club keeps track of points, and the horse with the most points at the end of the year wins a huge trophy and the honor of being Horse of the Year. Our ongoing joke was that the organizer (who was used to regluarly winning Horse of the Year herself) felt threatened by the noob (me), and decided to try and take me out of the points by finding a way to keep me from showing. When that didn't work, she decided she was going to show herself anyway. It's honestly just a joke, but sometimes it feels strongly rooted in reality. 
Maybe this is just because I come from the bigger circuits, but this stuff just isn't allowed anywhere else. The organizers design and set the courses, and can easily custom make them well suited to their own horses' strengths, not to mention the fact that they know the ins and outs of every inch of the courses - whereas the rest of the competitors don't have a chance to see the courses until the day of the show. And because we all know that they are going to win everything anyway, it seems kind of pointless to even bother going sometimes. This show was clearly not our show, and we got beaten fair and square, but I can't help but feel that there is an awful lot of unfairness going on outside of that. I don't mind getting beaten fairly, if someone had the better horse that day, but when things feel rigged it just... doesn't make it very fun. There were even people shouting "rigged!" during the awards ceremony, several times - it was meant in jest but I surely wasn't the only one who felt it was more rooted in truth than not. 

I wish they'd hire a proper organizer for these things. But, that costs money. If they'd hire a separate organizer though, we could all get our butts whooped fairly, or win fairly. I don't mean to sound whiny about it either, I just... I dunno. I like everyone on a level playing field. I like the best person to win because they were the best that day. I don't like it when things are seedy.

Maybe it's just me though.


  1. It's not just you. Organizers of events should not show in their own events. Period. If they want to participate, they should not be in the running for ribbons or year-end awards. That shit is just petty and selfish.

  2. Ugh, politics!

    Our dressage GMO permits people who organize the show to also show in it, because otherwise we wouldn't have anyone to organize it. (Obviously, we don't do this for the USDF rated show- only for schooling shows.) I think dressage is a little different- you can't alter a course to suit your horse's strengths or anything. The most you can do is try to schedule yourself at a time that suits you! Fortunately, everyone in the club has a very "we're all in this together" mentality and it's not very political.

    Maybe you could broach the subject of hiring an outside organizer, especially if you have the backing of a lot of club members? Maybe people would be willing to pay more in entry or office fees?

  3. Welcome to the horse world, lol!

    It's frustrating, that's for sure. I think you guys did well despite O's raging hormones, so that is something to be proud of!

  4. I don't like the politics with the organizer showing in her own show. I agree with Stephanie; it's different with dressage or something else with a set "course." But this woman has the power to set the courses and then win them. Not cool.

    You're very kind about the hormones. I hate mares and get annoyed when they use hormones as an excuse to misbehave. I have done horse shopping with the gelding only filter on.

  5. Not just you!! That is absolute BS!!!!!!! She shouldn't be allowed to do that, but since it is just fun shows whoever steps up and tries to fight her on it is going to look like a sore loser... that sucks! I hate when people are greedy and take all of the fun out of it for everyone else. :(

  6. That is frustrating! It would give me great pleasure to give her a massive run for her money and then act like it was no big deal. "Oh, I lost by 0.5pt when everyone knows it was completely rigged in your favour? Ha, imagine how much I'd win by if I had been trying today!" The other thing to look forward to is being the organiser and competing, cos apparently you can do that, hahaha!