We arrived around 2:45pm Saturday. The show was already going on, and there were riders and horses scattered around the two warmup arenas, and the main show arena. I found the office, acquired Harley's number & stall assignment, and went back to unload. Settled in his stall, he immediately dove into his hay, more interested in his belly than in the chaos outside that stall. Hay, water, and shavings all over the stall floor, and I left him to relax a while. R and I ventured to the main arena, and we snooped a bit. Watched a bit of some rides, but I was fairly distracted. Surveying the crowd, the horses around, and the bleachers of people.
Just how much noise does it make when they walk around? How many banners are on the walls? Do the people outside the arenas wander around a lot during the tests?
I was given the "green light" to practice and school in the main arenas around 5:00pm. R and I headed back to the stall, and found Harley still munching hay. I tacked him up, and headed to the show arena. I hand walked him everywhere I could without getting directly in anyone's way. A few of the instructors wandering around coaching helped us out, sitting and standing at the judge's table, rattling plastic bags and papers, and calling out tests and instructions to their students.
We walked back to a warmup arena, longed a little, and I hopped on. Harley was quiet, and relaxed. He didn't seem concerned with the people walking around, the other horse/rider sets riding around him. Back to the main show arena, since that's where the tests would be Sunday, and that's what I was more concerned with.
There were two dressage arenas set up in the main ring. A 20x40 and a 20x60. A huge warmblood in a double bridle with a very focused rider took off at an extended trot down the long diagonal of the 20x60. They were headed straight to us. The horse's front knees and ankles flipped out as he trotted my way. Yikes! I'm not going in that arena just yet. She'll totally flip her lid if I get in her way with my little man. The 20x40 had a small girl on a little paint pony, instructor calling out some stern words. Trainer and child had a major disagreement over their earphone/mic speaker communication tools. Child's parents appeared to be watching on outside the arena. I glanced at the trainer, and said, "Sorry, but I'm crashing the party. No way I'm going in the big arena and interfering with that big horse's trot." Trainer said to me, "That'd be awesome, actually. Maybe motivate her (pointing at Child) to work harder." Trainer and child argued some more, and it became apparent Child was having an emotional hissy fit. Knowing this would be good for Harley, I entered at walk, and quickly picked up trot. Trainer called out, "You see that grey baby there? He's being quiet, even in a scary new place. Your horse is FINE! You are the problem! If you quit every time you have a slight problem, then let's sell the horse and your tack, and quit the sport. You can't quit just because he argues with you once. Now shut up, and RIDE!" Child looked at me with a sad longing face, and I just shrugged my shoulders and trotted on by her.
Harley's ride in the small arena, over walk and trot, was fantastic. Finally big warmblood left the 20x60, and a TB-type mare & older teen were riding. I joined in the fun, explaining to that teen's trainer Harley's youth and inexperience. "Oh , you'll be fine. We'll stay out of your way. Don't worry." I rode Harley through all three gaits, and even had some nice canter on contact. He was "on".
No spooks to work out, no boogers to iron through. No wild rides to sit it out. Just a quiet young Quarter Horse, acting like he'd done it his whole life. I patted him part way through the 20x60 ride. "Harley, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were Ransom. God bless ya, baby boy. You're doing great." *I almost cried, but I made it through. R saw my face, and knew... "He's doing great, babe. You look pretty awesome, too...*
Would Sunday be as great as Saturday? Sunday opened up with Intro B Open test first, 20x40 arena. A decent break, followed by the Championship test in the 20x60. I'd done all I could do. The training was done, the teaching was past. No "lessons" left to cram in Sunday morning. It was all down to the "big deal, main show, fancy class". I unsaddled Harley, gave him his supper and cookies, put a neck sleezy on, and his sheet, and smooched him goodnight. "Sleep well, my super star."