I am exhausted today after yesterday's show; it was a great day, although I have to admit, showing really isn't my thing! The day started well - Echo was perfect when being plaited - as you can see from the photos, she had to have rather a lot of plaits! Her mane is so thick that the number of plaits was well into the twenties. Luckily, I decided to use bands rather than thread, so it only took me an hour and a quarter. However, I then realised that having plaited her mane, showing etiquette requires that I would have to plait her tail as well. I was seriously running out of time by this point.
I had groomed her thoroughly the day before and absolutely smothered her in coat shine, so she was pretty clean. Her back legs needed re-washing and her tail needed a little rinse, but otherwise she is pretty good at keeping herself clean. However, it's the little things that take ages when preparing for a show, and I am a little out of practice. I ended up missing the first of my classes - it was a shame, but there was just no way I could get there in time.
We did, however, make it in time for the 'In hand cob' class. I had been a little dubious about whether to enter or not. Not only does she not fall under the two descriptions of 'trimmed' or 'traditional', but I had also been reading some information on the Internet about what constitutes a 'cob'. I read that, in order to be classified as a 'lightweight cob', the horse has to have at least 8 and a half inches of bone below the knee. A heavyweight cob then has to have 9 inches or more. I measured Echo below the knee this week and found that she only has 7". However, having already entered the class, and as it is just a small show, I thought I would have a go anyway.
She was impeccably behaved. She walked beautifully round the ring, striding out with her ears forward and looked fantastic. There were some stunning cobs in the class, most of whom were coloured. We were called in 5th, which I was not surprised about. When I was asked to take Echo up to the judge, she asked me how old she was and checked that I would be entering the coloured class. She then said that I shouldn't really enter a 'cob' class, because Echo is not a true cob, as she doesn't have enough bone. She said that however much she likes the horse, she cannot place it highly if it does not have enough bone. I thought this was really nice, as she clearly liked Echo and her reasons were what I had been expecting anyway. We ended up sixth, which I was pleased with - we still got a rosette and had got some very good experience.
The coloured class was about half an hour later, and Echo was equally well behaved. She stood perfectly when required to (there is a LOT of standing around!) and was excellent to lead. She did seem a little bored by the end though, and didn't have her ears forward as much as she had done before. We ended up fourth. The coloured that won looked rather like a 'pot hunter'. It was a Shetland stallion that would not have looked out of place at HOYS. The judge was mesmerised by him, and it was no surprise that he was first. However, it was less clear why the horse in second place was so favoured. I don't want to sound bitter (although I am bound to be slightly biased!) but looking objectively at the two of them, Echo had much more clearly defined (and nicer) markings, had better paces and was just generally more attractive.
It was this that confirmed my dissatisfaction with showing. Even though dressage can be subjective at times (certain judges will never place people like Carl Hester below first place, no matter what kind of test he does), at least you get marks for things that you actually DO. I used to win dressage competitions on the little cob I used to compete, even when we were against big warmbloods. Yes, if the warmbloods had done immaculate tests, we probably wouldn't have won, but the pony used to be absolutely foot-perfect. More often than not, our accuracy and his willingness to try hard would come through in the end. Showing just seems to be so subjective; one of my friends was told yesterday that her horse had unattractive markings. I don't think that is very fair. I am perfectly aware that I would probably not be saying this if I had been placed first in both classes!!
I had a great day, and was incredibly proud of my beautiful horse. In my opinion, she was undoubtedly the best horse there!