So today, I competed in my first ever showmanship competition, Kansas State's yearly held Little American Royal.
The Little American Royal is a livestock showmanship contest held by the K-State College of Agriculture at Weber Hall, on the Kansas State University campus. It gives students, both experienced and beginner, the chance to learn how to properly show and ground handle a certain animal. The divisions are 'Experienced' and 'Novice', with the ability to show any of the following animals: Swine, Beef Cattle, Dairy Heifers, Sheep, Goats, and Equine. Due to my overwhelming passion for horses, I chose the Equine division.
Never having done this before, I was placed in the 'Novice' division. This meant that I was given a partner who was in the 'Experienced' division, and who was able to help me learn how to handle the same horse they would be using as well. My partner was named Marlana, and a delight to be sure! She was very kind, and very very patient with me. She never said one harsh or mean word, and helped me remember to keep calm and just have fun.
Now...showing horses is much different than showing the other animals, in that Equine is the only species you have to show with a pattern involved. You don't get the pattern until the day of the show, so you really have no idea what you'll be doing in the show arena. The video below is an example of a pattern that you have to show the horse with...and it's not nearly as easy as it looks.
Within all patterns, you have a walk, a trot, a pivot, a back-up, and an inspection, the order of these is up the to the judge. For our pattern, we had to set up our horse at cone #1, walk them to the judge, set up and be inspected, then trot to cone #2, walk to cone #3, back up 5 steps, do a pivot, and trot off. For those who don't know, I thought I would go over some of the moves.
A pivot is where the horse has to make a circle, keeping one foot planted while moving around. The preferred foot is the inside foot, but either is acceptable. The pivot can be anything from 90 to 360 degrees, and then some. It's very difficult to keep a horse moving like this, without them stepping out of the pivot, and moving the planted foot.
During the inspection process, you have to 'set-up' your horse, which means getting their front and back feet square. As well as doing this, you have to follow the quartering system, which is what you see when the girl moves back and forth in front of the horse while the judge walks around.
The Equine contestants were given just under a month to get their horses ready for the show, and every minute counted; they were babies. Most of the horses were two year olds, with a couple three year olds thrown in the mix.They were halter and lead broke, but didn't know anything that they needed to when it came to what was needed in the show ring.
Over the course of my time, I fell in love with my little 2 year old filly, named Freckles Supreme. Marlana and I just called her Freckles. Yup, she's the granddaughter of Colonel Freckles. She was a super fast learner and so great to work with. She was very mellow, and always wanted to nuzzle and love on you. The picture above is of her, and I really will miss her.
Over the course of our weeks with them, we had to teach them to read our body movements, not our vocal or lead rope commands. Some horses understood and caught on faster than others. We taught them to pivot, trot off, walk and stop with us, and back-up.
Today we showed, and all our hard work was put to the test. I didn't place, but I still had fun doing it. Maybe if I had stopped my pivot when I was supposed to, and not have continued around another time, I would have done better, lol. But my nerves got the best of me, and my brain went haywire. But I had fun, made some great friends, and learned to do something I didn't know before. I made a special hair tie for today, using a concho and some ribbon I had on hand. I'm thinking of maybe making these and selling them...I don't know yet.
Below is my show gear today, nothing fancy, but I did get to keep the Tee shirt, and all the really great memories. I'll definitely try again next year!