Your first schooling show. If things don’t go perfectly, here’s what to do:

Dale Forbes:

Dear Riders,

It’s Saturday night before the big (schooling) show.  I had a moment, and thought of some things you might not know.   I’ve made a “hope for the best, be prepared for the worst” list for you.

Nothing dire, but as mistakes ALWAYS happen, it’s a good idea to know what to do.  We’ll assume it’s a recognized show with all the rules intact; though your schooling show may be a good bit less formal, you might as well practice for the real thing.

1. You’re leading The Beast out and remember you’ve forgotten your number.
What do you do?
Go back and get it. Even if someone is leading the beast on a halter, it must have its number on.

2. You go to the warm up arena and The Beast looks like it’s going to buck you off.
Can you longe?
Yes.  But only with straight side reins, unmounted.  No other artificial aids allowed (no running reins, martingales, V-shaped item) and nothing when you are up. Be careful Your Beast is not upsetting Betty’s Beast.

3. When you are longing The Beast you like to have as many boots as possible on it; is that okay?
Yes, as long as they are not the kind with tacks.  Remember, you can’t have ANYTHING on the legs when you go in the ring.
Have your groom take them off.

4. The Beast still looks too frightening; can you ask your local cowboy to buck her out a bit?
No.  John Wayne is only allowed to ride on long reins (as in your groom getting from place to place). If he is not signed in as your coach or trainer, he can’t school the horse.

5. You’re showing second level but you’d like to warm up in the double, as The Beast has a nasty habit of romping about in a new place.  Can you do this?
Yes, with caution.  (Generally yes, but it is up to the discretion of the TD (Technical Delegate).  Not advised if you are showing training level. . . Double bridles are officially allowed at third level.

6. You’re ready to get on–can you use spurs and whips?
Yes, except no whips in some qualifiers or international competitions.  But be aware there is always a maximum length for each. (Whips are currently allowed up to 120 cm, 47.2 inches, including lash. Shorter is okay if you want.)  You are not allowed to use two whips in the arena. (!!)

7. You go down the center line to salute and The Beast halts crooked or steps back. Do you make a correction?
Not generally.  Get it over fast and go on, remembering to work on it at home.

8. You go down the center line to salute and The Beast gets stage fright and tries to exit. Do you make a correction?
By all means. As long as it is done kindly and without temper.

9. You go left instead of right and remember you have gone off course before the judge realizes it. What do you do?
Turn around, make eye contact, and say, “I’m off course.”  Correct your error and go on.  (-2 points, no big deal.)

10. You think something funny is going on but can’t quite place it and suddenly you hear a whistle/bell. What do you do?
Stop.  The judge has alerted you that you’re off course: you either nod and smile if you remember where to go, or promptly (a quick trot)  go back to him/her and say: “I’m lost.”  He/she will explain your error and new starting point and send you on your way.(-2 points, also no big deal.)

11. The Beast attempts to buck you off. What do you do?
Stay on! (Then smile and navigate.) Get back on course as soon as possible. Judges have ridden Beasts too.  They have sympathy for this kind of thing. (-2 and we’re all glad you stayed on.)

12.  The Beast leaps (or steps) out of the arena. What happens?
You’re eliminated.  You make plans for the Grand Nationals (jumping steeplechase).

13.  Despite your good work and good hopes, The Beast really does not want to play the same game as you today and has shown it at every move.  You fear for your life.  What do you do?
You are allowed to leave early, but will get no score. Turn down the center line, stop in any place you can and salute, uttering the words after doing so,  “Please excuse me.”

Except for the last, I have done every one of these.   And several times in tests that I actually did well in.

Always remember: if one thing does not go perfectly, the next might be better.
Be on time, look your best, RIDE!!!!

I’ll be there.  D

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