Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Golden State Mule Show, my First Show!

My first show ever, at the Sugarland Horse Park in Woodland, was an absolutely phenomenal! I had a great experience and successfully showcased all my skills, everything I have been working on this past year, and my love of riding, which was exactly what Laura and I desired that I should do.  Although I was the only person riding in the walk/jog class, and there were no other youth in my classes, it was still an amazing experience, and Laura thinks that I rode well.

Saturday: Western Pleasure Walk/Jog

 My first class, the 16th of the day, wasn't until late Saturday morning, and I only had one class a day, so I didn't have a stressful show weekend.  Before my class, I watched the cutting and cow working, which I really enjoyed.  There were several champion cutting mules there that have done well against horses, just like Laura's mules do well against horses in dressage.  Dyna's half brother was even competing there.  Ruby's owner, Casie, rode Ruby as cutback, someone who diverts the cow back to the person competing if the cow gets too far away, in the cutting classes to warm her up for me.  Shortly after the cutting began, my parents arrived, and not long after that, it was time to get Ruby ready for my class.  I tacked her up in the saddle I would be using, got dressed in jeans, a show shirt, my helmet, and a western belt buckle, the mounted and waited near the gate for my class to begin.  Laura and I discussed what I would do, and I watched the Bridled, Green, Amateur, and Donkey pleasure classes.  The time ticked closer to the moment I would enter a show ring for the first time, and though I wasn't extremely nervous, I was a bit tense.

I was so tense and concentrated so hard that I forgot to smile until near the end.
 Finally, it was time for me to enter the ring.  I squeezed Ruby into the jog and began tracking to the left in the arena.  She started out a bit fast, but after passing the gate or the first time, we both relaxed more.  After I had jogged around twice, the announcer asked for the walk.  I sat deeply in the saddle and complied, making a smooth downward transition.  Before long, I was asked to reverse, which was easily done, then jog around once more before halting and backing several steps.  She nearly broke gait after reversing and jogging, but I kept her going.  Finally, I lined up before the judge.  Everyone was happy with how I had done!

My first blue!
 The show ran late that night, until well after dark.  I enjoyed watching the other cow working classes, some of which were like a combination of cow working and trail.  While I don't remember what that was called, it looked like a lot of fun. The last class was the cow sorting, also an exciting class.

A picture of the cutting!

There was an eerie, spooky, dilapidated old building on the property; it looks like it has been there well over 100 years.  Just in time for Halloween! I love spoo

Sunday: Trail Walk/Jog

 My trail class was later in the day than my pleasure class had been; it was in early afternoon.  In the morning, I watched the English classes, which consisted of pleasure and hunter hack.  Hunter hack is a class I would like to try in the future, and I plan on preparing to do it this coming spring.

 Before the English classes had finished, I began getting Ruby ready and warmed her up over several poles and on several circles.  I also practiced a side pass over a turn, then rode over to the arena where the trail classes would be held.  I had gotten the map that morning, and Laura and I wanted to walk the course together to discuss what my plan should be.  Casie and her son joined us.

Side passing
It wasn't a very difficult course.  It started with a jog circle to the right over three poles, and then a straight line to two narrow coins that marked a figure eight.  In between these two obstacles was a halt, and the figure eight was started to the right of the first cone.  After the figure eight, I had to walk to a bridge and then over to a side pass pole.  Then, I side passed to the left pushing her haunches around the turn and over the next pole, stopping nearby a bowl of candy on top of a barrel.  To complete the course, I had to grab a candy from the bucket and show it to the judge(no complaining there; free candy=a happy me).  I had practiced everything on the course except for the bridge, but I believed that the bridge would be very simple.  Laura and I discussed my plan, pointing out the places I should add more leg, the places I should make the transitions, and the tracks I should take to the obstacles, and I visualized how I would ride the course.  I felt extremely confident, much more so than in the pleasure.

Right after my class!
 When I finally entered the ring, I rode the course exactly as I had planned.  I made a wide, even circle over the poles, going over them at the same point each time around and keeping a steady rhythm.  Ruby didn't slow down going over them at all, nor did she bump any of them.  She halted from my seat when I asked her to, and made a wide figure eight around the cones, not cutting in at all.  After the figure eight, she walked when I asked and stretched while going over the bridge.  Finally, I was able to side pass nicely over the two poles, pushing her haunches over the turn to the second pole.  When I exited the ring, I was ecstatic!  It had felt incredible, as if I hardly had to do anything to get Ruby to do what I wanted; we were in perfect harmony.  From the moment I entered the ring, I couldn't keep the grin off my face, and the euphoria lasted for hours afterward.  I was on top of the world!

 Laura was proud of how well I and done, too.  She said that I showcased  the skills I have been working this past year perfectly, and that my love of riding really showed while I rode in the ring.  Even people I didm;t know really well congratulated me on well I had ridden; mule people are always kind and supportive, which is what Laura says makes the mule shows great.  I couldn't have been happier with how the weekend had gone, and I can't wait until my next one!


  1. yay congratulations - you two look phenomenal! i love your show shirt too with the matching saddle pad - looks very sharp on Ruby! congrats on feeling so confident in the show ring too. sounds like you had a great plan and executed it well! :D

  2. Congrats!!! You did amazing. I can't even get Nilla to side-pass over a pole, let alone sides, turn, and sides again. That's pro! I hope you got ribbons. I'm planning to show mule shows next year so maybe we'll be together at a show!

    1. Thanks! Yes, I did get ribbons. Side passing will come for Nilla in time, I'm sure. It's not easy for many horses and mules, but Ruby had been doing these kind of things for years. I hope I do see you at a show and that Nilla has a great season. :)

  3. Congratulations! Sounds like it couldn't have gone much better for you guys!


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