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That "edison moment". When did you "get it" about shows???

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  • That "edison moment". When did you "get it" about shows???

    Back when in my early 20s, I was out in So Cal and showed western on the old local circuits, LA County, ETI and a local club. Pretty good quality, you needed to be good, lots of good quality horses available.

    I was getting discouraged getting beat by the same people in Showmanship, WP and Eq (who I therefore did not like) and did not understand why. One day, I had a trailer snafu and arrived a little late, frazzeled and decided to wait and just enter the afternoon classes. So I watched the classes I would normally do.

    After a couple of them I started trying to judge them and...the light bulb turned on. I had those same horses that beat me all the time on top...because they were BETTER horses to start with then I had. Plain and simple. Tough one to swallow but it was right there in front of me.

    Took a good look at the horse I had when I got home (with the low ribbons as always). Just not as nice no matter how clean and well dressed. Soooo...I started taking Trail Horse lessons and learned all the obstacles and course strategy. Went on from there to Western Riding (the pattern class) and enjoyed a good deal of success with decent but not top quality horses.

    I found my niche...and even got to like those people I hated because they beat me.

    When I got older and was more established, I bought the made Hunter I always wanted-with full knowledge I would never beat the big guns. But I sure enjoyed the heck out of showing against them and getting a tri color was sweet.

    Who else wants to share?
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

  • #2
    I kind of did that with my two 4H horses as a kid. Neither of them was an ideal hunter horse but I took a showmanship clinic when I was about 13 or 14 that changed my perspective of that class and they both turned into showmanship masters. The one time I got to go to State was my senior high school year with my mom's QH. Being 15H and foundation bred, he wasn't going to win in his Small Hunter Pleasure division, but he walked out 2nd of 72 horses in Senior Hunter Showmanship. Still his claim to fame (other than being perfect).

    As for that made hunter, I'm still working on that. Ok, I'm still making it, but I'm looking forward to when he's done.
    "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"


    • #3
      Yep -- when I was about 15 I switched to jumpers. I don't race around like a lunatic, but I can be competitive and win when I deserve to. Every now and then I will go around the hunters a bit and have fun, more fun than I had when I was struggling to try to do well against better horses.

      A lot of times it is important to set a goal that fits the horse you have. When I showed QHs I qualified for the Congress team. Doing well at Congress would have been far out of our league (old foundation-bred navicular horse that had to be super-managed not to be lame -- not exactly the "congress winner" type) so the best you can do is qualify, do your best and have a good time. Our appearance there was a total win for us -- our horsemanship pattern was great, horse was not lame, and it was fun.

      I am a dabbler, I've done a little of everything. Trying foxhunting this fall -- should be fun and much more affordable than shows.


      • Original Poster

        Funny thing, when I bought that Hunter I always wanted, I bought what I liked and what won...in 1978.
        I was fully aware that the current preferred type was bigger in size and step and that the level topline nose poker of a fancy, dish faced, grey TB mare would need to be almost perfect to get a primary color ribbon.

        At that point in my life, I did not care. Believe it or not, I got more respect and friendship with that pretty little (16h) white mare who galloped around so brightly-to the point they knew her barn name and not my name-then I ever did with my nationally ranked Western Riding horse. And she did not win nearly what that one did. Oh, she got her share of pastels, a nickle short of the best ones.

        It was that signature horse we all want to get to have just once. I really enjoyed her and did not really give a sh*t about the ribbons...but, like I said, I once got a tri color and even once beat Carol Cone (who is a really nice person), on both of hers.

        I was thrilled when my trainer said I should go to WEF, that I would not win but would be competitive and it would be fun. Couldn't afford it but that was the nicest compliment anybody ever gave me.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          I "got it" when I moved from short stirrup to the pony division.

          I had a decent medium who was the perfect 1st pony--quiet, safe, reliable, experienced. But he was funny colored (POA) & just not as fancy...plain & simple. He moved average, he jumped "cute" & he took some balancing to get the lead changes. So I learned when the fancy ponies had good rounds I was going to jog behind them, but if the fancy ponies had mistakes & I was good, I might be the winner.
          "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


          • #6
            I grew up doing 4-H (doing games and english and western classes) and I didn't really "get it" back then, I was so horse crazy I think that anytime I was able to be on a horse, I was happy, regardless of ribbons.

            In college, I started taking H/J lessons at a barn close to school and I was hooked! Five years after college I was leasing a nice hunter and starting to show in Indiana, but still oblivious to the "big time".

            At 28 I bought my OTTB gelding who was 5 and we started in the 2'6" hunters, and then I started to go to the bigger shows and some A's. As we moved up the ranks into the 2'9" and 3ft classes, I started to "get it". There was always going to be someone with more $ on a fancier horse and they might not even be a good rider, so I’d better figure out what/how to gauge my satisfaction on if I wanted stay in the sport long term . I'd get some ribbons but not winning and I started to notice that there were people on fancier, more expensive warmbloods (and they were also with the popular trainers). Some of these riders were better riders than I was, some were worse. I worked really hard with my OTTB, took dressage for a while to learn how to frame him up better for the flat class and we started to pin better. I also did some of the adult eq classes and found some vindication there, where I could beat the fancier horses with the less-skilled riders.

            I can remember our best class ever, it was at an indoor show, it was an equitation over fences round and it was a brilliant round, skin tingling. We took some of the harder choices and it was smooth. We got a third and I was so proud as the ones in 4, 5, and 6th were very good riders on very expensive horses.

            Fast- forward a couple of years and after 12 years of showing my guy, I had to retire him from jumping and I also was in a position to buy an expensive warmblood and move into jumpers. I just ended 3 years of frustration and sold her....and now I'm thinking I want another TB to bring along


            • #7
              My lightbulb moment was at my first rated 'C' show. Didn't have a real trainer, hacked over from my backyard, happened to meet the last woman I'd taken lessons from whose only comment was that my bridle and martingale needed to be darkened, and at least oiled before I rode in them again.

              I can guarantee that mine was the only QH on the grounds and to make sure we really stood out, the only buckskin. Palomino gold buckskin. Rotund and flashy. Oh yeah. I got it real quick that I needed a bay or chestnut TB. This was in the day when paint and spotted horses would never have been seen on an East Coast show grounds.
              ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
              Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

              "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


              • #8
                This isn't really a horse show moment, but more a "welcome to the H/J world" moment. I had ridden all of my life, I had taken lessons with various people and was a very capable rider, having broke several horses and owned more nasty, evil, straight from a dealer ponies then I care to count. I was 12 years old or so.

                I made a friend at school that rode with a H/J trainer in the area. I thought I really wanted to do eventing but figured I would go take some jumper lessons there. I had gotten a really nice little bay warmblood for free because he had the beginnings of uveitits found as he was being vetted to sell with a 50k price tag, nothing I will probably ever be able to afford! I show up with my cute little horse, a troxel helmet and cheap breeches and tall boots. I look around, everyone has full custom chaps, charles owen helmets (before GPA's were the big trend) with hair nets, J. Crew sweaters and saddles worth more then I knew they could cost! I was so out of place for the first few months until I was able to get all of the pieces of the "look" to fit in. My trainer would never have let me go to "A" shows had I not bought the correct breeches, helmet etc. I didn't end up leaving until I was 18. I'm thinking of following up on that eventing dream now at 22.

                I do regret doing everything I could to fit in with the crowd, I don't think I did myself or my horse any favors. I was an impressionable teenager but I definitely learned a lot in those years!


                • #9
                  Another "got it" moment--in the h/j world of $$$$ I quickly realized we (my family) did NOT have the $$$$ like some of my barn mates. We didn't even have $$. I did not have a matching barn color tack trunk for the tack room so I was sent to the laundry room with my offensive trunk. Which I guess didn't bother me too much (I was 9) cause I had lots of space, it smelled nice & I liked talking with the groom who cleaned tack in there.
                  "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


                  • #10
                    Love this thread. Lots of good stories. Though being banished from the tack room seems a bit harsh, Giddy-up!!

                    I think I learned the lesson as a teen, thankfully. My first horse was a QH gelding that was a solid citizen but passed on to me because he just wasn't going to place in the top three against the big gun QHs. At that time the trends in AQHA were shifting and while he was put together decently, he was small and too much the "old style" to compete with the QHs that were 7/8's TB.

                    I figured out early on I wasn't going to win against the horses that had Congress and World titles, that frequented not just the local AQHA shows but the schooling and open shows too. I learned not to sweat it.

                    We got at least one ribbon every time out, but only a couple blues, lots of white, pink, green. Didn't matter, because I always had a blast. The horse was a professional, did his job honestly, and even as a kid I appreciated that. We didn't embarrass ourselves, and he was a well known fixture on the circuit and I always received nice compliments on him.

                    I'm an adult now and haven't show in awhile, but I play groom and cheerleader to friends. I never understand why they want to avoid shows because they know a specific barn with nice horses might be there. Who cares? I'd much rather show up with my mediocre horse, look the part as best I can, put in the best ride possible, and be happy with that even if there are no ribbons involved. As opposed to purposely choosing a show that has really poor attendance and bringing home a bunch of ribbons just cause I'm one of 3 in the division. But that's just me.

                    I'm never going to have the world beater and I accepted that a long time ago. So instead I try to make the horse as good as I can, ride as well as I can, and not worry about the World Champion standing next to me in the lineup at the local open show....
                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                    • #11
                      I learned as a youth showing Quarter Horses that someone would always have a fancier, nicer-moving horse than me and I wouldn't win the hunter under saddle at the big shows with my reining-bred, how'd-he-end-up-16.3 horse. Fortunately I also learned that all the fancy horses in the world couldn't stop me from working my ever-lovin' butt off and becoming queen of the hunt seat equitation.

                      I also learned that showing a made showmanship horse is one of my favorite things, but showing a less-than-awesome showmanship horse is totally miserable. I can show a "still-learning" horse in any other event, but I had so many frustrating moments in showmanship that I no longer enjoy the training process. I happily stepped away from the showmanship, only to return if I happen to someday purchase a horse that already knows the ropes.
                      Cowboy up.


                      • #12
                        I came from an expensive QH background as well.

                        My first horse was ugly. Both in looks and temperament. She was one of those rare horses who had REALLY bonded with her owner, and she took about 3 years to stop trying to kill me for not being her previous owner.

                        Because she liked to take off and buck a lot, my instructor got creative. We did lessons in a corral with poles to go over, sidepass and back through, bridges, mailboxes, etc. She set up a trail course for me there, with no more than 3 canter strides of space. It kept my horse interested and not bucking me off, and let me regain my sense of security. I don't think I rode her outside that corral for about 6 months - but by then we had progressed to small jumps, cantering with changes of lead, etc., in that space.

                        My first shows, I only did trail. And won, with good reason - no one practices that much! I knew my horse wasn't fancy, and the parents of some of the kids bragged about all the money they spent on their horses, which made me not want to do anything else. At this point I did, however, learn that I could compete in some classes with skill and hard work regardless of how pretty my horse was. Eventually I started 4-H, and won everything in beginner and intermediate. It was the place to be with a horse who wasn't so pretty since rules say no judging movement or looks of the horse. We were great at being steady and even, so her awful movement wasn't held against us. In advanced, we found we could sometimes win showmanship, and almost always win trail and do well bareback horsemanship both western and english. We had a chance in horsemanship and equitation, too, if there were no lead changes. My horse was incapable of an actual flying lead change - even in the field, there was a shuffle step between leads.
                        Eventually I realized that I was no longer learning anything from my horse. She was doing as well as she physically could, and my equitation was affected by her terrible gaits, and there wasn't really anything more I could learn from her. I sold her to a family with a ton of kids who she loved teaching what we'd learned together.
                        My next horse was a double registered palomino/qh. He was forward and scared other people, so hadn't stayed in any home too long. We got along great, though! We didn't always win western pleasure or hunter under saddle, but managed to be top 10 nationally in year end for hunter hack, and did win state championships in all the classes we entered. He was the least expensive and most green horse I looked at, plus the oldest. But I worked really, really hard. My trainer taught about how important appearance is... and would make us show clothing. He had me get plain black chaps and hat since those would go with any color I wanted, and he would get cheap saddle pads and sew yarn in with whatever color my tops were in a pretty design. He would then make my tops, either from scratch or sewing suede pieces onto a plain white tuxedo shirt. I learned how to go to thrift stores to get the right kind of base layer for my shirts/jackets, and add to them instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money. I borrowed a decades-old jumping saddle from him which was definitely not in style, and still won. Basically, riding with him was the reason I learned you can WIN by focusing on presentation, professionalism and practice - and don't have to spend over $100 for each shirt and have 10 of them.
                        When I was doing IHSA this carried over. I didn't have the Tailored Sportsmans, but every time I had the right attitude, I won. Well, or went over a jump without my horse, but that's a story for a different thread...
                        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                        • #13
                          I'm ambitious, hard-working, po' folks, and a total research queen. So I have had many of them long the way.

                          With my current horse:

                          Bred by me out of a $1,500 OTTB mare while I was in college. She was pretty enough but chosen for her great mind and pleasant jump. Not a fabulous athlete and not a great mover. She was as good as the best horses I had ridden as a kid.

                          I took her to a Keuring and bred to a DWB stallion for $1,000. Same as the mare: I knew more about "interviewing" a stallion owner about the horse's mind than his body.

                          The horse I got was the same as his parents and much better than anything I had ridden as a kid.

                          I paid for exactly 4 months of professional training during this horse's career: First 90 days done by a western trainer. Another 30 days with a pro to teach him lead changes because I hadn't done that myself (but had ridden *many* with screwed up ones).

                          Otherwise, I did all the riding and showing with pro help where I could get it.

                          My vets who went to WEF said "He'd be a middle-of-the-road horse there, not a total POS."

                          That was my "edison moment" and it was good and bad.

                          The bad was that I *knew* I couldn't afford to do better (or might not choose to spend what it would cost). No way am I spending $2.5 grand per week to lose because the check I wrote for the purchase price was too small.

                          The good news was that I could make a nice enough horse by myself. The other good news is that I could do what I like with horses-- teach 'em stuff and keep 'em sound-- on the cheap. Now if they just had Old Lady Big Eq, I'd be in business.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat


                          • #14
                            College! I didn't show much as a kid and even then only showed locally. I rode with nice trainers who gave me good basics, but it wasn't until college that I saw what an intense program really looked like, from the inside. The competitiveness (good sportsmanship, but in-it-to-win-it mentality) and the amount of training and riding that went into a winning performance were news to me. I never had a trainer push me to ride so exactingly, with so much attention to every minute detail, at every single lesson, every day, week in and week out.

                            I loved it. And I learned that if someone performed better than me (not necessarily in the judge's eyes - but if there was someone *I* wanted to be more like) then probably the reason was that they had practiced more, and practiced more correctly, and paid more attention to every little detail, than I did.

                            Even when there's no show on the calendar to prepare for, that's what I remember. I try to do the little things well, and consistently, and be proud of that. So far, only good things have come of it!


                            • #15
                              I'm a middle aged re-rider and just now figuring things out. This has really been my first year of showing and even got to do a couple of rated shows. I am definatley hooked but know if I want to move up through the levels I am going to have to work me and my pony's @ss off to do it. I am fortunate enough to have a nice moving Halfie to work with. But she came with alot of baggage that we are having to work through just to do training level. Trainer believes she could go up to third level if we can overcome "her issues". By then I will have finished college (yes I'm also a re-student)and be able to afford a youngster to send off to training.

                              Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


                              • #16
                                It's funny, as a kid my first horse was this ridiculously athletic and mentally unstable little Arab gelding. I was certain that everyone else's horse was just as weird as mine, but that they all rode better than I did. I worked my ass off, ate a lot of dirt, and vowed to someday ride as well as everyone else.

                                Then, when I was in the Navy, I was given an old TB gelding who loved his job and knew how things were supposed to be done. My first show with him, we were champion in our division. And I hadn't had him long, so I was really the same rider that I was on the Arab. And that's when the light bulb went off for me, that having the right horse for the job was really important, and that as important as hard work is, it's really only part of the battle.

                                That being said, I still enjoy the quirky ones, but now I don't take it so personally when we don't do as well as everyone else
                                "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                -Edward Hoagland


                                • #17
                                  Maybe this is the difference between jumpers and hunters.....my story is the reverse of several others above me

                                  I grew up in the always-hunters-before-jumpers program of yore. My trainer was a real "old school" type guy and really earnestly believed that the best ride should win the ribbon (nevermind how typey your horse was....or wasn't). I got a cute solid bay appaloosa cross when I was 8 or 9. He had a really nice jump but moved a bit like a hackney. If I really nailed the round I'd end up in the pastels. Never won a class on him in the 3 years I showed him. It always confused my trainer when I rode best but got beat by a fancier horse (or pony)

                                  Next came my quarter horse project who I started in the children's hunters, then moved into the junior hunters. My trainer would stand at the back gate and say, "now go in and win." And when I hit every single distance perfectly and still came in 7th out of 10 he would mutter and rant under his breath about the inequity of it. Nevermind that my quarter horse, while lovely, had a back a mile long and was nowhere near the mover the purpose-bought fancy hunters were (he's the one on the right in this photo: http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...94686761HkNrZR I'm sure everyone's scratching their heads about how much he screams "junior hunter"). I did okay, and with a really brilliant round (when everyone else had an off day) we would end up high in the ribbons, but never won a class. I just thought that was how horseshows went.

                                  Then came the day I was finally allowed to do my first jumper class and we won every class in our Children's Jumper division along with the championship. My first blue ribbon, my first championship, and the first time my nice rounds didn't result in a muttering trainer That horse went on to be a true horse of a lifetime, taking home a tricolor at just about every show from that point on. He took me through the Junior Jumpers and into the big GPs: http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...94686761uiFhRt

                                  That first jumper class was my lightbulb moment where I realized that I totally and completely loved the objective nature of the jumpers. And I also realized that any backyard horse could walk in and compete with the highest $$$ horses out there. That lightbult moment shaped everything I've done with horses since.
                                  Flying F Sport Horses
                                  Horses in the NW


                                  • #18
                                    I'm with you PNWjumper -- no way am I going to seriously do the hunters again unless I luck into a really nice horse. I've been there, I've paid my dues being a good sport losing on a substandard horse, I moved on.

                                    The switch to the jumpers was the only way a poor kid with an average quarter horse could ever be competitive at the A shows. And we COULD be competitive! I am just ridiculous enough that I enjoy shows more when I have an actual shot at winning if I do well.

                                    With my two hackney impersonators currently under saddle, I would be better off setting my money on fire than taking them to an A show and showing them in the hunters. It would be less hassle with my toddler and I'd have the same to show for it in the end.

                                    It is by no means unfair, it's just not the game I've chosen to play.

                                    I like the jumper courses better too, more fun to ride. Not easier, necessarily -- nailing a perfect hunter course is hard -- but more fun for me personally.