Nibbles’ first show is in the books and was a positive experience for all involved – goal accomplished! The weekend wasn’t without its highlights and struggles though so a blog post or two is in order.
My sister, Leah, and I arrived at Nibbles’ training barn in the early afternoon on Saturday. Trainer E was still teaching lessons for the day so we set out to find Nibbles ourselves and start cleaning her up. The plan was to load her and her barnmate at 6:00pm that day. It took us a while but we finally spotted Nibbles who was missing her fly mask and had her fly sheet halfway off. Oh, mare.
Nibbles looked amazing and actually quite clean. Still, this was her first show ever and my first show with my own horse in it in 5 years so I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to make her shine. Into the bathing stall she went and two thorough baths later, she emerged looking quite brilliant if I do say so myself.
Elise had a lesson show up late so we ended up with time on our hands to kill. Tack was cleaned, necessities were packed, obviously we needed to have a photo shoot.
Finally it was time to load the trailer. Shavings, hay, grain, brushes, all the tack, extra pads. It turns out the one thing we really needed but forgot was chairs. I’ll take it.
Pony got wrapped (and stood quietly, yay manners) and loaded. She took maybe 10 minutes to get on. It was a step up she’s never seen before and, to her credit, her last trailer ride was 8 hours. She’s never been a trailer that she returned home on except her breeding inspection so I can’t blame her for not being thrilled.
At the show grounds, we quickly lost daylight but the mares settled in quickly and without drama. We were pleasantly surprised with how mellow they were. We took them for a walk and let them see the scary white dressage arena. Nibbles had never seen one before, let alone been ridden in one. It was a non-issue. We put them in their stalls and said goodnight, making a pitstop at Panera to finally feed ourselves around 10:00pm.
Sunday morning couldn’t arrive quickly enough. Surprisingly, I slept pretty well considering how excited I was. When we arrived back at the show grounds, I opted to talk Nibbles for a walk around the grounds. Remember how mellow she was the night before?
lol nope. Let’s just say the rope halter was the only reason I could fly that kite. Hand walking involved a lot of spinning, a little baby rearing, and some screaming (Nibbles, not me). Trainer E came prepared and we gave her a dose of (show legal) Confidence EQ. That seemed to take the edge off.
Nibbles was not the first ride of the day. I got nominated as running braider so I helped get her student’s pony ready. I guess I forgot to snap a photo but trust me when I say this pony is adorable. She also has a monster mane and managed to shake out my braid the first time. That’s never happened before. I redid the braid and that lasted the rest of the day.
After that, it was Nibbles’ turn to get braided. She was good for her mane but wiggly for her forelock. Luckily, my fingers remembered that they could braid anything, standing or otherwise, so we got it done.
Trainer E had mentioned the night before how calm the warm up usually is at Woodbine. Famous last words, when we took Nibbles out about 20 minutes before her class, there were about 20 horses in a moderately sized area. You could see the gerbils in Nibbles’ brain start to panic so we opted for a different warm up ring that no one else was using. Given it was right before her first test ever, Trainer E wisely picked her battles and decided the warm up area was one for another time.
Up next: the actual tests!