Monday, September 13, 2010

More bitless driving: the Harrow fair show

My favorite show of the season. The 156th Harrow fair driving show. The Harrow fair I do believe ranks amongst the top 5 oldest fairs in north America.

I can't begin to explain what happens to this sleepy little hick town the week the fair starts being built. It starts the Monday before labor day weekend. Carter shows drive up with all sorts of carnival rides and booths. I drive through town in the morning that would usually consist of half a dozen cars parked on the side of the road. Suddenly theres people walking and talking to each other and pointing in the direction of the agricultural grounds. Greasy food, carnies, a handful of cattle and poultry, a bunch of tractors and a parade make this town alive for one week a year. One week a year I can't find a place to park right in front of a store, one week a year I see people I haven't seen since last year, one week a year I wait until the Friday of labor day weekend for the driving show.

I can't explain it, it's an exciting show. Right next to the midway on a baseball diamond enclosed in a snow fence ring we drive horses round and round and round in circles for some pieces of fabric with a placing on it. Oh and money, the fair winnings are pretty good.

Carriage class - Syd wins 2nd

Indigo was good too and bitless as usual. Of course when we get there it starts raining. Not hard just strait down. I was harnessing up and a friend comes by with a BIG yellow umbrella. I told him to come stand over me as I harnessed. He was worried it was going to bother Indigo but nope, like usual she didn't even bat a lash.

So I started driving. Where we warm up is grass and it got kind of dicey. Rain plus grass equals a possible disaster when a horse takes a turn and slips when pulling a carriage. The day before the show I drove Indigo. She has been so good driving I didn't expect any different from her, but she was in heat and being a royal pain in the you-know what, even going as far as spooking and trying to give a half hearted buck. No go girl. She got her spotted white butt worked for nearly 2 hours until her attitude was adjusted. When I first started to warm her up she gave me a head toss and a hop and I thought "oooh no not today!". A few more head tosses and hops and she realized I was gonna work her like I did the day before if she didn't smarten up, and she did smarten up just in time for the rain to stop to enter our first class, ladies drive.

Carriage class - Syd wins 2nd

We took second out of 16. Let me tell you that was a scary class, we were pretty much horse nose to the cart in front of you all the way around the ring. I don't know how there wasn't an accident. Indigo handled herself wonderfully with all the excitement, the rides they were doing safety tests on, flags and commotion of spectators gathering around the ring. Rewind a few years, just a month and a bit after I first got Indigo and brought her to this show to do a 4-H demonstration and she was a monster, screaming, dancing around and making a complete dramatic scene and fool of me as someone held her and she kicked out and hopped around like a yearling being separated from it's mama for the first time. Shes come a long way.

A long way indeed because a couple classes after my first one lil' red cowgirl took the lines for the little britches drive.

Faith's carriage class

Silly me I made the mistake of holding the whip.

Faith's carriage class

I use my whip a lot when driving, not to encourage my horse to go but to have it properly bend in turns by touching the horses sides, shoulders, hips etc and discourage the horse from dropping a shoulder or leaning on the shaves for turns. My whip is not particularly well balanced so it is a little hard for lil' red cowgirl to hold and drive at the same time.

Backing up

The judge commented on how she would have placed first if she had been holding the whip, not me. That is when lil' red cowgirl looked at me with a smile, her second place ribbon and said "Thats ok, it's about having fun!" atta girl.

2nd prize

Sarah also drove and got fourth but unfortunately my photographer ran off with Lil'red Cowgirl to get her face painted for the next class she was in.

Then on to the pleasure class before the lunch break.

Carriage class - Sydney

I love my well rounded mare. English, western or driving she takes it all in stride and has placed in every single class she has been in this year so far! I kept getting compliments on her from spectators, several even hollering over the fence to ask me to ask me what her name and breed was wile I was in my class driving her.

Sydney and Indigo - carriage

I couldn't be more happy with my spotty white horse. So well behaved.

Unfortunately lunch break means little to me in regards of the "lunch" or "break" words. We had a costume and lead line class to enter.

Costume class - pirates

Arrr, pirate lil'red and Indigo.

I think lil'red cowgirl was a little put off about the extravagance of the costumes at the Ridgetown show. I told her mom to tell her about the costume class at the fair. She diligently went to work thinking up something Indigo and her could blow away the competition with.

Costume class - pirates
I tied and clipped the pirate hat to her bridle with my number clip. She only tried to shake it off once. We pretty much literally stole it from a little boy (lil'red cowgirls little brother) who bawled for the whole 10 - 15 minutes wile this class went on until the hat was returned.

Of course the judge could not make a decision so every entry got a first place ribbon and a five dollar bill.
Costume class - pirates

Even though lil'red cowgirl can ride Indigo by herself the lead line was for 12 years and under.

Then another tack change for the obstacle course. Unfortunately I did the patten backwards. Oops, driver fail!
Driving the pattern - Sydney

Then it came time for showmanship. Lil'red cowgirl was up first in little britches, adult handler to be at their side. She had me help her to get down her squares for showmanship. For those of you who don't know showmanship is judged 80% handler, 20% horse so you don't have to have a horse that has textbook conformation, you just have to be able to control your horse without touching it and know your pattern.

Showmanship - Faith

We practiced four squares and lil'red cowgirl had it down pat, even when I joked around and tried to trick her by jumping back and fourth over the "Imaginary" lines on the horse that indicate where you are supposed to cross over to the other side of the horse so the judge has an unobstructed view of your horses body.

Showmanship - Faith

Going back and fourth over the imaginary lines to try and trick lil'red cowgirl is exactly what the judge tried to do. She didn't let him get to her though and showed him she knew her squares.

Showmanship - Faith wins first!

It paid off with a first place ribbon. Good job!

First prize!

The day wound down with showmanship for me. 16 entrants in that class.

Sydney in showmanship

Since Indigo's mane is long I braid it for halter and showmanship. I want the judge to see the conformation of her neck. I refuse to pull her beautiful mane and make it short in the name of show ring fashion.

In showmanship it came down to conformation. The top five had our pattern down perfect. We ended up with a fifth.

September 3, 2010

What a good girl Indigo. Until next weekend for the Cottam show...

All images in this post by Robin, check out her blog for other images of the 156th Harrow fair.


Jen said...

Sounds like you had quite the successful show :o) Major points for Li'l Red Cowgirl's wonderful attitude, and I hope it always stays that way. Indigo's mane looks beautiful...can't imagine shortening that lovely mane just for a show - good for you!

Golden the Pony Girl said...

You guys look amazing! Makes me want to learn to drive if you get to wear snazzy clothing like that! :) I love how you represent without a bit in all the disciplines you do! Did they ever give you a hard time?

lisa said...

Great job! I love the mane! I have never been one to want to show but you and Indigo sure made a great team. I loved your outfit in the first set of pictures!

Jessie McCandless said...

Whoo hoo! Congrats on an awesome show!!

robinsnest3 said...

Great story Syd! I'm sure we can credit some of lil red's great attitude to your teachings. :) I think my favourite shot is Indigo in the pirate hat!

Shirley said...

That's wonderful! Indigo is such a good girl, that's a lot of classes for her to do when she's in heat and "thinking" of other things. She looks great- you did a really nice job on her mane. Way to go!

achieve1dream said...

Aww you guys did sooooo well!!!!!!!! And looked great! You're making me really, really want to learn how to drive lol. Someday down the road I really want to learn how and to teach Chrome how. Very cool pictures. Congrats on the places and for having fun!

juliette said...

You, Lil' Red, and Indigo did so well! What a great post. You all must have been tired by the end of the day - and now another show next weekend? Wow!
I like Indigo's mane. I am not a mane puller either.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are really good ! I have done backward patterns a few times also. Good luck on your next show!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Awesome photos! You and Lil red cowgirl look wonderful! Sounds like a successful and fun day, too.
Indigo is beautiful and very special. :)


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