Harley, R, and I arrived at the show farm right on my schedule. 10:30 am, with 1:00 ride times. Plenty of time to walk the facility, get un-spooked, get my bearings on where I needed to be and when.
I put Harley's knotted halter on, and we went walking. I giggled as the barn horses were all startled by the new horse on the farm. We were the only trailered-in horse/rider at that point. Some activity in the show ring, and lots going on around the barns. A few folks were riding in the warm up area, some dressed to show, some not.
Harley gained all kinds of googly-eyes. "OOoohh.. He's pretty!", I heard from a handful of folks. I was convinced they were only speaking of his grey color. I beamed proud when he took the whole place in stride, with only a few snort-breaths. He didn't spook at the jumps, or the standards. He didn't seem bothered by the harsh winds, and didn't hardly notice when the other horses rode by.
One young girl and her mom, each on their own horses, were in the warm up area (not dressed to show), and the younger girl about looked like she wanted to jump off her horse as I hand-walked Harley by them on the rail. R reported he later heard mom tell the girl, "They're probably here for the show, just getting used to the place. I'm sure you'll be fine, nothing will happen." *giggle*
We dressed to ride, Harley in his black & white beauty (with purple polo wraps and his R.E.S. boots for the warmup). I took him to the warm up area, and longed him under gloomy skies and undirectional wind bursts. A few folks watched us from the warm up arena fence, and a few more lurked in the barns nearby. No wild reactions still from my baby superstar. He stayed quiet, calm, and unphased by everything. The farm had its fair share of bees, and while he swatted legs and tail at them, he still stayed quiet. A show worker told R, "The other trailer-in pair had a flat tire on the way here. They were supposed to ride at 8, but now we're putting them directly after lunch. You'll ride second after lunch instead of first."
The lunch break came, and I hopped on him in the show arena. Someone walked up , and told me, "The scribe is going to ride a few tests for the judge and then you'll go." I responded, "So if the scribe is riding, how many tests? And what about the other two riders that are also before me? What's going on?" She responded, "I don't know, I was just asked to give you the message. You'll have about fifteen minutes in here to ride, and then you need to stand outside and wait your turn."
HUH?! Tension was building just a bit. Instead of my perfect preparation, my timed arrival, perfectly timed warmup, now I was supposed to "put Harley on ice"?! I did the math in my head. With three other riders, even two tests a piece, that was going to be about another half hour to an hour. The clouds grew even darker, and it was obvious it was going to rain, I just didn't know when or how much.
As things in the arena picked up, and the judge arrived, I found the barn owner. "Uhm, what's going on? When am I riding now? Am I after all three of these folks? I timed Harley's warmup so we'd be ready for the judge. I don't mind a little wait, but I'd like to know what's going on so I can prepare him for his best, not standing in the rain getting cold waiting." She answered, "I don't know myself at this point. Let me go talk to the judge, and figure out what's going on." It started to sprinkle rain around the covered show arena, and there was nowhere to stand out of the rain.
R informed me.. "The scribe is riding someone else's horse to give the mare good show experience. The last two times the owner has tried to show her, the mare has bucked her rider off, hard." I glanced over, and found a BIG paint-colored mare, assuming "That can't be a crazy horse. I wonder where she hides it?" as the mare let out a big yawn, and stood quiet on a loose rein. Hmm...
The owner came back and informed me, "Okay. The judge was the one with the flat tire, not the other trailer-ins. The scribe and you are going to switch off. She'll ride one, you'll ride one, and repeat. So, you'll be in the ring in about 2 to 3 minutes, and you'll probably be done riding in about 20. How's that sound?"
I hopped on Harley, and as the scribe finished her Test A, I rode Harley in. A little walk, a little trot. A volunteer offered to call my test for me, and I accepted. I rode by the judge, we exchanged bright smiles, and she blew the whistle.
As I rode down the long side towards R and "A", I realized I had a half-dozen folks watching from the short side. I glanced towards the barns, and realized another crowd was watching from the barns and warm up arena. Wow.. Harley has an audience. I smiled big at R, and said quietly, "Let's do this!"
Chest out, shoulders back, calves on Harley's side, I turned left sharp, straight up centerline, rising trot, judge, barn owner, fill in scribe all watching at my front, and a crowd behind us... It just felt like it was going to be a great test.