They called for the class. There were to be four of us in the arena. One rider looked confident and happy. Another two looked terrified in their own hesitant ways.... One I think because she was a novice rider, and another because, based on tack, she regularly rode in speed classes (hard to tell). Finally, there was us. Cheerful, happy, and smiling at the gate crowd, and the ring steward and judge as we wandered into our class. For lack of a better description, we'll call "speed class rider", SC. I don't know the lady, and if she finds the blog, I'm sorry, but I need to explain the class, and without you, I can't do that.
SC rode in my "left side blind spot" for nearly the whole first direction in the arena. We entered at a walk. No problem, until I realized SC was riding with her horse's head just a foot or so inside of Harley's left hip. You what?! Okay.. so I can't slow down and halt to let her go by, I can't turn to the inside to circle away from her.. I'm pinned, at the wall. Harley was unmoved by this, and I am still grateful for his peace. As we picked up the trot, Harley eased up into a quiet jog. SC's horse got cautiously closer, then she must've eased up on him, as he slowed again, right into Harley's "blind spot". Oi vey...
Back to the walk, change directions. SC took a good solid turn around 180, so I took my time changing directions. Finally, I had some space to work with Harley, while paying attention to the judge and what he was looking at. As I'm later told, the judge watched us, a lot. Why? I haven't the slightest idea.
In for the line up. I took my time, and when Harley realized he was headed into a bunch of halted horses, he insisted on breaking to the walk, and would NOT pick up trot back to the crowd. Oi... As soon as we halted, he started to flex to the right. uuuuh.. drat! *laugh* I lightly tapped the left rein, and he came back to center. I tugged on both reins, and he lowered his head and neck for a nice stretch. I scratched, patted, and quietly praised him. The class was successful, as far as I was concerned at this point. No major wrecks, no accidents, no spooks, no wild eyed Harley, just a quiet walk/trot ride under pressure.
Judge walked up to me, looked at Harley again, and asked if I'd like him to cut off the loose curb strap under his chin. I smiled, "No, but thanks."
He placed the class. It was weird. I got third of four. Arab horse/rider #1, terrified #2, me #3, SC #4. I walked out, and Jen almost immediately told me, "He should've been #2. The #2 rider broke gait, but I guess the judge didn't see it, or wasn't paying attention."
So Harley placed #3, "but shoulda been #2." As for my thoughts? I was delighted he was so quiet, peaceful, and attentive to me in the ride, utterly unmoved by all the action.