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Bel Joeor Sale and Giveaway!

Amanda from Bel Joeor is hosting a big sale on her Etsy site and a giveaway on her blog!  She makes beautiful saddle covers and bags.  I highly recommend checking out her shop and entering her contest.  

Ossipee Valley Fair MHA Show - July 15, 2018

While my focus with Ellie is dressage and eventing, I do want to someday try some Morgan shows with her, therefore she needs to know how to conduct herself in a big ring with other horses.  There are plenty of little Maine Horse Association shows around (including a bunch at the same venue where we do some of our dressage shows at the Hollis Equestrian Park), but I have not yet wanted to spend $20-30 a class to have her be a pain in the ass haha since most of the shows are rated A and B. After several successful dressage outings, I finally I felt comfortable bringing her to an open show but then it was a matter of which one do we try?

It worked out perfectly to bring her to a little show at our local fairgrounds on the last Sunday of the fair.  We have no dressage shows in July, so this was a cheap and close to home way to gain experience for her.  The horse show has always been only open to 4-H kids in the past, but this year they affiliated with MHA and held a Class D show.  There were maybe 15 horses there in total, so I think bringing in a few adults and non 4-H kids was probably a good idea to keep the show viable.  It was only $10 a class and fifteen minutes from the house, so I figured it was worth it.  All my classes were before the lunch break, too!  My husband always pulls his cattle at this fair and we brought our little red show steers last year for the full four days.  (It is not often that cattle show up on my blog haha, but if you have ever wondered about working steers, you can learn all about it from my post last year!)

I knew not to have high expectations for this show.  The fairgrounds are pretty darn busy, even with the show ring tucked into a corner of the grounds.  There were 4x4/ATV qualifying races at 9am when the horse show started, so having the super loud engines being revved up was quite unsettling for Ellie.  The folks who were camping out for the horse pulling and 4x4/ATV races were right next to the side of the horse show ring, and of course any redneck male with an engine likes to rev it up and drive it all over to showoff.  Uggg.

Ellie was much calmer when we did a walk around into the show ring.  Because the ring is tucked into the corner of the grounds, you cannot walk along the outside of the far end.  It is just a weird set up.  And the ring footing.....well, let's just say the fair committee doesn't put time or money into it.  I knew what I was getting into before I got there, but I guess I still wasn't totally prepared haha.  Ellie was like WTF this is NOT a dressage show!  Haha I guess we are both becoming dressage queens.  

The class list and entry form both said an 8:30 start time, but neither the manager or secretary had arrived by 8:20, though the steward and judge were sort of standing around the secretary's booth looking confused lol.  When the manager did finally come screeching in around 8:30, she was pretty frazzled and seemed irritated there were six of us in line to sign in.  I didn't do a pre-entry in the off chance I changed my mind, so I did have to pay a small post entry fee.  She didn't even want to see our Coggins or vaccine certificate, just grabbed entry forms and checks in order to get everyone squared away.  At one point she said, "Well, this show doesn't even start until 9!!" to which I wanted to politely point out that indeed the paperwork all said 8:30, but I wisely just kept my thoughts to myself.  Whatever, lady.

I personally don't like in hand classes, but I thought doing two back-to-back would be a good way to settle Ellie.  We have worked on standing square, trotting in hand, and turns, so I felt like she would be fine.  Nahhh, she thought it was a waste of her time and had a hard time standing still.  She wasn't rude or naughty just a bit amped up and clearly confused about what we were doing.  We ended up with a fourth in Halter Horse/Pony, Open out of five (three quiet, been-there-done-that QHs placed ahead of us haha) and 2nd in English Horse in Hand out of four.
view from our trailer parking - Ellie is on the far left
Ellie really wasn't happy until we tacked up about twenty minutes later.  It was almost like she finally "got it" and understood why we were here.  Like, ok Mom, I know what you want me to do now!  There was no warm up ring or area, so I did my best to walk/trot/canter on a 30ish meter circle off to the side near our trailers.  No one else did any warm up beforehand and just went straight into the ring after mounting up (!!!), but obviously my horse needs a little time to get situated.  She was actually really REALLY good, staying calm and focused, trotting quietly and taking both canter leads when I asked.  We were parked/warmed up on the opposite side of where the booth and in/out gate were located, so I made the choice to move her over to the other side one class ahead of time.  She was looky but kept her composure quite well.  There were several minis there and she was not sure if they were her new BFFs or something to be intensely terrified of, so that was kind of interesting haha.

Our first riding class was Hunter Pleasure Equitation, with one class in between, and then MHA English Pleasure Horse and Adult Equitation back to back.  I figured we could do the first class and see how she acted; I had no problem scratching the pleasure and second eq class if needed.  There were two other riders in Hunter Pleasure Equitation, so it was a perfect sized first class for her.  We entered the ring and began to trot, and Ellie and I were in between the two riders with plenty of space.  Unfortuantely, before we had even made one lap of the ring, the rider in front of me fell off.  The horse was upset to have left his trailer mate, so he turned and galloped towards us along the fence line.  I was like OH SHIT! what in the actual eff can I do without getting plowed into???  So I pulled Ellie up and moved her to the inside of the ring.  I figured the horse would stop in the corner behind us where his buddy was tied and someone would grab him and that would be that.  


The horse bolted back towards us and I decided to get off.  As I was jumping down, the announcer called for us to dismount.  Yeah, no kidding.  I moved towards the in gate, thinking I wanted to be as far away as possible from this train wreck.  Thankfully, the rider was unhurt and after galloping about madly for several laps along the far side fence, the horse was caught.  I have to hand it to Ellie, though.  She was totally calm and unfazed by any of it, so to me, she had already surpassed my expectations.  A young girl by the in gate held Ellie for me while I remounted, and we restarted the class (the rider who fell off opted to excuse herself - probably a smart move).  Ellie was like, welp, OK, that was weird and just started trotting again like nothing had happened.  We nailed BOTH LEADS despite having to canter from the rail (instead of a 20m. circle) and she was just perfect.  We won the class!

cutest trot
you can see the ring is ummmm, a bit rough
She was also quite good in MHA English Pleasure though I got slightly complacent and she picked up the wrong lead going LEFT!  Our "easiest" lead haha.  Ah well, totally my fault.  I knew at that point I had blown the class of three, so I just gave her a good ride and took my third place ribbon haha.  The judge commented, "You looked great other than that wrong lead!" so I was thrilled.  

We stayed in the ring for Adult Equitation, and this time it was just two of us, and I had already beat the other rider in the previous eq class.  We nailed our leads again, although this time she ran into her right lead canter a bit because I was determined NOT to let her pick it up incorrectly.  I didn't care as much about the fact it took six trot strides to get the canter, because she has just started to step into the canter here and there, so to me the lead was more important.  And of course, they ask you to canter from the walk in shows like this, which we haven't even thought about starting yet, so we had to trot a little into the canter.  

love her!
We won the class as I suspected we would, and I was sooooo proud of Ellie!  She definitely was fried a bit in the morning when we arrived, but she settled down so well in the riding classes.  We were done just before lunch and it was exactly the experience I had hoped for!  I could not have asked for a better horse and the fact we got five out of six leads correctly in the show ring (plus all the canter leads in warm up correct - which accounts for four more times!) was really encouraging.  I almost did the walk/trot classes with her instead of the WTC, but I knew this would be a small enough show that we could just do WTC.  I really don't want to baby her at WT when I KNOW she can canter.  Plus, the fact that we have done a canter at a show in Intro C (albeit about ten total strides in the entire test LOL) would have made some folks complain had we done walk/trot because you are not allowed to show walk/trot once you canter at an MHA show.  Which is funny because you can do Intro B (walk/trot) and Intro C at a dressage show...but I digress!  Even though I am not remotely trying for MHA points and year ends, I did not want to give any of the regular complainers anything to bitch about.  I'll just leave it at that! 😝  Though I will say it is nice to not be stuck at walk/trot!!

I think I will try to fit in these types of shows as much as I can (though maybe minus the in hand crap classes), in order to continue giving her opportunities to experience new venues and open classes.  

If you turn on the volume while watching the video, you can hear engines revving in the background.  And that is with them ON the track, so you can imagine how loud it was when they were all starting them up next to the ring and heading over.  I have no idea why they had to start and rev engines a half hour beforehand, since it is not exactly like ATVs need to be warmed up like a horse LMAO.

I sent my entry today to do a Training 1 test and Introductory level 2-phase at another new-to-Ellie venue for the end of July, so that is our next adventure!  


Carly said…
What a good girl for handling that atmosphere--especially the loose horse!
I was super impressed, and that loose horse spooked me more than Ellie hahaha! ;-)
Martidoll said…
holy cow I would have been frazzled with all that. Great job both you and Ellie both! WHEW! :) Great exposure though. And she is the cutest :)
Holly said…
Good job keeping your brain Ellie and good for you for getting her to this place! And that trot photo is adorable!
Amy McKenna said…
That show sounds like a good experience for Ellie though! Lots of different sights and sounds and she maintained composure! What a good mare!
Sara said…
Ellie is unflappable these days! A lot of horses would have lost it at the loose horse. Good girl Ellie!!!
Laura said…
Gotta love the fair/fair type shows for exposure for your horse! I've shown at fairs a lot and had both good and bad experiences. My horse can handle atvs and engines, but has a hard time with draft horse and jingling harness. lol And one fair had some sort of antique well drilling machine running just outside the back of the ring - it had a big extended arm thing, with a piece that would get pulled up on a wire, and then wham! down onto the ground. None of the horses liked that, so the judge had to kindly ask the old-timer to turn it off!
KateRose said…
Another awesome show in the books! That's great that she kept her cool with the fall/loose horse situation. :)
Right!? It was a bit of a hot mess hahaha and I definitely had a moment of "oh shit, what have I DONE?" haha!
Thank you! She amazes me at times, that is for sure!!
I knew it would be a bit of a cluster and worth exposing her to, so I am glad it paid off!
Well, unflappable might be a bit of a stretch haha, because she still likes to randomly spook at the wheelbarrow if I park it in a weird spot hahahaha. But yes, she is definitely a good mare with a fabulous brain. I could NOT believe she was so unfazed by the crazy loose horse. He was out of control and it made me more worried than it did her!
Whew, that does sound like a bit much even for the most well behaved horse! I think Ellie was upset about the engine noises because she couldn't actually see where it was coming from. She seems to do well when she can stop and look at whatever it is that's worrying her, and she lets it go. I feel as though if she can handle a fair show, she can handle any of the big Morgan shows LOL!!!
L.Williams said…
Congratulations on an awesome show!
So many ribbons! Sounds like a fun show even if there was a bit of drama.
Yes! I was pretty surprised she was so ho-hum about it!
The number of ribbons is the most fun part of this type of show hahahaha. #ribbonhoforlife
Liz Stout said…
Sounds like a fun show - and what a GOOD girl, Ellie! And I hear you on the redneck men and engines...major eye roll from me every time they do it!
emma said…
wow congrats! she looks great in the pictures and i just love how sensible she is <3
Oh yes, I am surprised my eyeballs didn't POP out that morning haha.
Thank you! She definitely has a great brain!
Nadia Novik said…
Omg she is SUCH a good girl!!! Those shows can be so stressful for all the reasons you noted, but also so worth it. Glad you had a good experience. Ellie is proving to be a solid pony for sure!
She was definitely a super star that day! I had a moment of ohhhh crap what have I done when we first arrived haha, but it worked out well for her and was definitely a positive experience.