National Junior Championships – Part Four
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   1st Apr 2011   •   6,480 views   •   12 comments
It was the day after the cross country, and though the weather had improved slightly, the sky was still smothered with clouds – which looked about fit to burst with rain.

13 December 2010

National Junior ChampionshipsAs usual, we arrived at the show grounds early to feed the horses. Both Bronze and Finola looked perfectly happy, and Bronze’s legs were still looking good even after the cross country the day before.

After giving the horses their breakfast, I armed myself with a grooming kit and set to work sprucing Bronze up for his show hunter class later that day.

Now, showing has never been my discipline. Honestly, I’ve always found it incredibly tedious compared to other equine sports. Due to this dull outlook of mine, I am far from being a ‘show rider’, and our logic in entering the class was ‘Well, we’re here, so why not?’

Despite my scorn for showing, I ended up enjoying this class tremendously, so I’m glad that we did enter, after all.

Bronze and I had done a total of two showing competitions before this. The first was the 2010 Provincial showing championship. Yes, our first show was a championship, but since we were there to do some showjumping anyway, we once again figured ‘Why not?’. So, we entered the Open Show Hunter class – skipping the newcomers division completely.

National Junior Championships

Much to everybody’s surprise, Bronze came away from that show with a 2nd place. The judge even mentioned that it was very close between Bronze and the 1st place horse, who had already won the National Show Hunter championship at least once before.

The next show we did, Bronze didn’t manage to place. Yet all the same, nobody can deny that there is something ‘showy’ about my big horse. It was this ‘showiness’ that I attempted to bring out in him when I attacked him with the grooming kit.

After some extensive currying and brushing to get all of the dirt and dust from his coat, I went over Bronze with a sheepskin grooming mitt, which really helps to bring out the natural shine in a horse.

Once he was clean and shiny, my instructor and I took a clean rag and some baby oil. We dripped some oil over the rag, then rubbed it into his tail, and over the black points on his legs. This left his legs and tail with a lovely dark glow. Next, we rubbed Vaseline over his eyes and muzzle, and topped that with another light brushing of baby oil to make his face ‘pop’.

My instructor plaited his mane (Since it would be utterly disastrous if I attempted it) to perfection, leaving him with a neat row of plaits, which we also dusted lightly with the baby oil. Just enough to make them shine, but not quite enough that the plaiting bands could slip out.

By this stage, Bronze was both looking and feeling very fancy. He flaunted his fancy plaits to Finola, who stood in the opposite stable, but she was thoroughly unimpressed, and simply continued munching her hay.

With Bronze beautifully done up, we tacked him up – using a shaped numnah rather than a square one to show more of him, and a leather bridle with a plain noseband and browband – as well as the double reins required for Open showing.

I mounted up then, and set off for the warm-up arena, taking care to avoid all the mud that the previous day’s rain had brought.

National Junior Championships

Once in the arena, I put Bronze through his usual warm up, working on getting him supple, loose and responsive. He was still pumped with adrenaline from the day before, and with each stride he felt ready to explode. So Bronze was restless, but I persevered, and soon got him working. Thus, we entered the show arena.

I tried to find a place between horses I thought would make Bronze look good by comparison, but doing so was not easy, since every horse there looked like it had been taken directly from some sort of high class Show Hunter catalogue!

Still, we found our place and began walking, keeping a fair distance from the horse in front. At the judge’s request, the class circled the arena in walk, trot and canter. We changed the rein and lengthened the trot, then repeated the same on the other rein.

Finally, the judge had us all circle at walk or trot in the corner, and sent each horse out individually for a gallop. So far, Bronze had been behaving quite well – but by this point he began to get restless. We were the last to set out, and Bronze was certainly happy to get off his little circle and use the full arena again. He was very well behaved, but I felt his gallop wasn’t as good as it could have been. I should have asked for much more, but thankfully Bronze was energetic enough to move into a nice gallop all the same.

After that, we all had to line up and wait for each rider to do their individual shows. This, I feel, is where Bronze completely lost any respect the judges might have had for him. While in the line-up, all the other horses stood like statues, not even considering moving, unless it was to stomp at a fly, or shake their heads – and even that was uncommon.

Bronze, on the other hand, had decided that showing was not his discipline after all, and that he wanted to leave. For a short while he stood, and then he began fidgeting. I tried hard to keep him still, but eventually he was dancing around so much that his quarters ended up swinging too close to the horse next to us, so I had to walk him in a circle, then come back to the line. Again, Bronze stood for a short while – then he began pawing at the ground. I scolded him with a little tug on the bit, and he behaved. Again, only for a little while.

Only a minute later, Bronze was pawing again. This time, when I twitched a rein at him, he simply changed to the other leg and pawed with that instead. So I gave him a little kick. This made him stop pawing, but then he started dancing again, and I had to circle him.

When he fell back into line, I thought he was finally going to stand, since he seemed calmer. But no – Bronzey began pawing again. I twitched a rein at him, and he stopped… For a while. Then he resumed his pawing with vigour.

This time, when I twitched the rein at him, he decided to tell me exactly what he thought of standing in a boring lineup amongst boring show horses in a boring arena.

Without any warning whatsoever, Bronze went up on his hind legs.

Having felt Bronze’s truly malicious rears, this one felt small to me, but my instructor tells me that he was nearly upright.

"It was a very impressive rear." She told me later, "He even pawed in the air for a while." She added, demonstrating by flapping her hands around in the air.

When he went up, I was taken slightly by surprise, but I managed to lean forward and give him his head in time so that I didn’t unbalance him. We got a number of horrified gasps from the crowd, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of how out-of-place my rearing horse must have looked amongst those other statue-like show horses.

When Bronze finally came back to the ground, he was far happier to stand, and I was patting him and grinning like an idiot. I knew that we were completely out of the competition then, but I couldn’t have cared less – it was all worth it just for that rear!

Finally, it was Bronze’s turn to do his individual show. We showed some trot and canter on each rein – lengthening when we changed across the diagonal – then we showed our gallop, and this time it was a good one! Bronze behaved beautifully, and thoroughly enjoyed being allowed to move around the arena again. After the gallop, he halted beautifully, and stood just like the well behaved show horses when I dropped my reins – which for some reason all the show riders seemed to do.

Well, after that we were asked to leave the arena, amongst a large crowd of other horses, but it didn’t matter. Bronze pranced and jogged over to the gate, and I took my energetic horse over to my instructor to see what she thought. She said that Bronze had actually looked very good – but because he was looking eventing ‘fit’ rather than showing ‘fat’, he wasn’t quite ‘hunter’ enough amongst the crowd. Also, his ill-mannered behaviour had obviously not helped.

But we were all very proud of the big horse and his newfound craziness, so we popped him over a couple of jumps in the warm-up arena to burn some of his energy and prepare him for his first showjumping class the next day. He went very well, and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

We took Bronze back to his stable after that. And after untacking him and giving him a bit of a grooming, we fed him his lunch. With Bronze taken care of, we had Finola to focus on. She was also scheduled to start jumping the next day, and since she was competing in the 1,30m division, which was the highest class at the show, she had to go for a vet check.

We plaited her, then waited in line until it was our turn. I trotted her in-hand for the vet to see, and after he had passed her, we put her back in her stable. We returned later to feed the horses their supper, and the 1,30m course was already set up in the main arena – ready for the next morning...Our first day of jumping.
T W I  
Good job Bronze and Polo! Sounds like you both had too much fun. xD
  Apr 2, 2011  •  5,155 views
Dark Star  
Oh Bronze. He obviously knows what he wants to do and it isn't the showy classes. He makes up for it in Jumping, X Country and Dressage though. Good Article, cant wait to read jumping.
  Apr 2, 2011  •  5,120 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Too bad you didn't get a picture of Bronze rearing. That must had been impressive compared to the other horses who were just standing there.
  Apr 2, 2011  •  5,162 views
Hhahaa That so funny! Madeira has only reared once with me and thats when I smacked her with the crop because she stopped out at a XC schooling. I was terrified! Hahaha.
  Apr 2, 2011  •  5,119 views
T E M P E S T  
I could just imagine Bronze rearing while all the other horses were standing still...
  Apr 2, 2011  •  5,168 views
Haha! Can't really picture you in a Hunter ring Polo! Not too sure why... I guess you just seem like such a hard core eventer! lol. Glad you had fun though. :)
  Apr 2, 2011  •  5,138 views
Sounds like you had fun. Bronze adn Polo must be amazing horses!
  Apr 3, 2011  •  5,117 views
He looks lovely all prettied up! Sorry to hear he acted...well, like a horse, on you when the judge was around but hey, what can you do? Maybe he's just not destined to be a hunter. )
  Apr 3, 2011  •  5,145 views
Prarie Rose  
It sounds like you had a great time. I hope to show in the future too. It sounds like so much fun.:)
  Apr 3, 2011  •  5,129 views
Sounds like a lot of fun!! I can't wait to read the next part!!
  Apr 4, 2011  •  5,120 views
Loved this chapter, I love Bronze's personality! You describe him well enough to picture! Good writing!
  Apr 6, 2011  •  5,138 views
Untamed Heart  
Sounds fun!!! Sounds like my horse... only in western pleasure!
  Apr 8, 2011  •  5,136 views
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