Thoughts on a Show Weekend

Labor Day 2014

This was a hard weekend.  I’ve written this for all of us that have gone to a show and not had the perfect ending.

In Houston, Texas summer temperatures hover around 100 degrees. Perfect weather for a horse show, right?  While today was officially Labor Day, I labored all weekend long. 

I’ve grown very accustomed to the sound of Rebekah Wesatzke’s voice.  I work well with other people, but there seems to be a symbiosis between Winterfair, Rebekah, and me.  While Rebekah is at the World Equestrian Games soaking up the best of the best in dressage, I’ve been fortunate to have bronze, silver and gold medalist Jason Canton to help me.  We 3 are still figuring each other out.  Add to the mix 3 students at their first recognized dressage show, and the pressure was really on. 

When I signed up for this adventure, I felt prepared and ready to show.  Why else would I spend the kind of money a recognized show costs?  As I went to bed each night, I ran through my tests in my head.  I watched high scoring rides on YouTube.  I even watched my past rides.  When mentally preparing, it had never occurred to me that I would come in last place. What fun is that?  I like to imagine in private that I rock the world–or at least the small world of dressage for those 6 minutes in the ring.

So this weekend was a reality check; I’m putting myself and my horse out there in the public eye to be JUDGED.  At the end of the day, judging dressage–for all the rules and regulations–is subjective.  We always hope they slept well, that they had a great breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The judge can be moved to be generous or moved to be stingy. 

In the end though as Rebekah told me “ride to please yourself”.  So, how do I do that?  I have my friends, my family, my clients, my coach plus many more.  To say that Saturday was a low point is an understatement.  I recognize my strengths and weaknesses.  Unfortunately all I seemed to show in my tests  were weaknesses.  I was unable to please myself let alone take into consideration how I must surely have been a frustration to my coach.  I wanted to scream, “Trust me! Really I CAN ride.”

Now this is not all doom and gloom.  The three students that I brought to the show did very well with lots of smiles and hugs all around.  But my first ride of the day on Sunday found me “riding the hand brake”.  I thought I left that behind on Saturday.  One class was left to make a difference.  Easy for my husband to say, “Just relax. Have fun!” 

Somewhere, somehow I finally decided to really ride and, of course, the judge noticed.  She noticed to the point that at the end of my freestyle she asked “Why didn’t you show me that earlier? You really surprised me.” I’ll have to choose to view that as a compliment.  What a way to end the weekend!  It was not my best score ever, but I guess in the end, I did “ride to please myself” and in doing so surprised the judge.

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