Sometimes, sportsmanship stinks.

How do you like the alliteration? I have to admit, that was one of my favorite words from English class. And for the teachers that read this, perhaps you read that “alliteration” and “onomatopoeia”, are obsolete words (thanks common core!) and no longer relevant. Figures, I liked both of those now irrelevant words. Okay, back on to topic –

Whitman went to his first show last weekend. He was a complete and total rock star. I was not certain at first that it was going to go so well. We took the stock trailer and I thought I would be nice and let him turn around and walk off the trailer. Well, Whitman went with a Wile Coyote move and walked straight off into space, not realizing that it was about 16 inches to the ground. He attempted to save it with a big push from the hind end, but really just looked like he was having a mid-air seizure. Yes, folks, dressage is a classical art that is comprised of thousands of years of history and is an endeavor to achieve equestrian perfection. Whitman just did not get that message. If you know Whitman personally, you are aware that he is 50% amazing dressage athlete with breathtaking gaits, and 50% complete moron – hence, the barn name of NitWhit. However, that was the low point of the weekend.

Whitman was enthralled with the show grounds and all of the horses off doing “important and serious” work. He was quite vocal, but went out and did his work Friday night and was able to hack around on a long rein. Many of the objects that normally spook other horses did not phase him. Evidently, the curly eared devil had not forgotten the trailer exit incident, so anytime there was a shadow over the ground or a change in footing, Whitman went with a wobbly impression of the Spanish march over it. We are nothing if not dignified.

Saturday went really well. He was a very good boy, but a little tense in his first test. He tried to leave at the open end of the arena and then when I put my outside leg on to stop it, he had to leap back in. After that he fell apart for a few minutes in his canter work and I was trying not to crack up. In an act of questionable vision, the judge gave us a 65% – which I considered to be about ten points high.

Our second test was about 1/2 hour behind schedule which meant that my baby horse was pretty exhausted and we spent a lot of time walking around the warmup arena. Bless his little performer’s heart, he was amazing in the ring. Bold, attentive and the trot work was great. I was absolutely over the moon with him. Then the scores were posted and he received a 60% for a test that I thought should have approached the high 60’s. The comments were fairly snarky from the judge as well. I wanted to have a bit of a fit and tell her just where she could shove the “6” for gaits she gave us in the collective marks. Especially, since the Arab cross that went later in the class had just had his headset gear (illegal in real competition) removed before he entered the arena. I have no qualms with Arabs, but forced head sets are not part of dressage. However, being an adult, I had to suck it up with some minor eyebrow raising. Mind you, poor sportsmanship has no place with children either. Its just a lot easier to model good sportsmanship when you are winning.

I sent the video of the ride to three people whose opinions I highly respect and who would provide honest feedback and took a hard and somewhat objective look at the video myself. There are some aspects that could certainly be improved on and some work to do before our next real show. Having had Whitman since he was a weanling and having done all of the riding myself (with some awesome instruction), I am willing to concede that perhaps I am a bit sensitive to having my horse critiqued. I guess I will have to put the temper tantrum on indefinite hold.

Whitman spent Sunday sacked out in his stall. If he was not eating, he was stretched out in his stall snoring and groaning. I keep joking that Greenpeace is going to show up at any minute to push him back in the water.


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