Rider Laurie Berglie writes about horses at her blog, The Sassy Grey, and is also the Baltimore Horse Examiner for Examiner.com. She last wrote at Retired Racehorse about her OTTB mare, Misty Mystique, in The Diva That is Misty Mystique.
Although I’ve ridden for most of my life, I wasn’t very active in the show ring. I entered my first show with my Mustang pony at age 12 and subsequently competed about once a year in local hunter shows or 4H until age 17. At the time, we didn’t have a horse trailer, so coordinating hauling efforts were difficult. However, during those 6 or 7 shows, I amassed a small wall of ribbons and some low-level competition experience.
Then came college… and marriage… and graduate school… and then Misty Mystique. I was 25 when Misty, a feisty mare fresh off the track, entered my life. At the time, I didn’t know much about the ways of the OTTB, but I read like a maniac and asked questions to anyone who would help. Before I knew it, Misty was going nicely and I tentatively wrote the date of our first show on the calendar.
This was fall of 2010, which meant 11 years had passed since I had set a foot or hoof in the show ring. But I loaded up my Misty and off we went.
The show I had chosen to enter was pretty low key, but there was still a substantial amount of commotion, noise, and general hustle and bustle. As soon as Misty heard the announcer over the loud speakers, she went into full racehorse mode. My friend was walking her around and Misty leaned her head into Kelsey’s arm, curved her neck, and did that sideways jig that racehorses will do alongside their lead ponies.
However, after only 10 minutes of semi-confusion and snorting, Misty completely relaxed. As she watched the youth English riders hack around the ring, you could literally see the light bulb going off. OH! This is different!
With Misty fully tacked and me outfitted in my show attire, I was given a leg up and walked into the warm up ring. Now, according to my friends and family in attendance, two things were glaring obvious at this point. I looked like a ridiculous ball of nerves and Misty… didn’t. She walked around with her head high, taking everything in, but she wasn’t silly or hot or out of control. She definitely looked like the green horse she was, but we were totally fine as we completed our walk/trot class.
In the end, our class was pretty large so we didn’t place, but that didn’t matter. The entire day had been a success, a genuinely good experience for both of us. Kelsey commented later how impressed she had been because, “Misty really took care of you out there.” And she had. I had practically shook with nerves while my green OTTB had been as steady as a rock. And that is worth all the blue ribbons in the world.