Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A First Horse Show: The 2013 PALS Fun Show

The kiddos were THRILLED to ride in their first horse show over the weekend! The program that the girls take their lessons through, PALS, does mostly therapeutic riding, and once a year they hold a big show to celebrate all their clients'--therapeutic and recreational--accomplishments over the past year. Although it's non-competitive, it IS a real show, with an announcer, and judges, and numbers on a placard safety pinned to your back and everything. The kids also spent the couple of lessons before the show practicing show procedures and etiquette--giving verbal commands loudly enough for the judges in the middle of the arena to hear, circling and reversing and backing their horses, lining them up, etc. I don't usually pay too much attention during their lessons, but on the drive to PALS for the show, I did hear Syd behind me nervously repeating to herself, "I need to keep control of my horse, and I need to smile," so I'm pretty sure that was a big part of the prep lessons, too.

They had no trouble remembering that last rule!

One of my many favorite things about PALS is their emphasis on rider safety. Will is mostly free of sidewalkers during lessons, but for the show she had "horse buddies" with her, one to keep a loose hold of the horse's lead rope, and one to walk next to her:

Syd started her lessons young enough that she had THREE sidewalkers once, one to hold the lead rope and one on either side, and they actually had to keep a hand on her when she trotted, but she's a hugely confident rider now, and during both girls' lessons their sidewalkers are mainly helpful now as sort of personal teaching assistants, helping the girls with technique and reminding them of proper form while their instructor maintains the lesson.

Some of the main pieces of therapeutic equipment in the ring are these nifty elevators that will lift a rider up to the level of their horse's back to make mounting easier. The girls have LONGED to ride these elevators, but of course never have, so imagine their glee when they discovered that since there was a mix of therapeutic and recreational riders in every class, it made things nice and even to have everybody mount using the elevators!
Syd waits her turn to mount Cody using the ELEVATOR!!!
 The girls weren't nervous at all to ride in front of judges, an announcer, and an audience. Frankly, I think they had the time of their lives:

After their show, they lined up while the judges came over to congratulate each of them personally, tell them some specific things that they did really well, and give them a ribbon and a trophy and a high five:

Syd, in particular, was almost comically pleased and surprised to have a real live ribbon and trophy just for her:

In the end, I had a couple of VERY happy, VERY proud little riders--

--who LOVED their ribbons and trophies:

I think they may have caught the horseback riding bug BAD now.


Tina said...

That is so AWESOME! It looks like the girls had a great time.

We are a little jealous over here.

Congrats girls!

julie said...

It was just an incredible experience. Does your E have access to any horse shows?

Tina said...

No :0(

I keep thinking about getting her into 4-H, but I don't think she will enjoy it and we don't have a horse (or one to borrow).

I feel a little disloyal about finding a new trainer for the winter (Emma's doesn't have an indoor arena), but we might just have too. No horses makes for a cranky girl.

julie said...

It probably wouldn't be bad to have a summer trainer and a winter trainer.

Our town also has a chapter of Pony Club, but at a different stable. I feel like it's probably too advanced for the girls now, but maybe next year. We'll have to skip the 10-week summer session at PALS again this summer because they don't offer enough make-up classes to cover the weeks that we'll be traveling, but if the Pony Club schedule looked workable, that might be a good time to try it out.

Anonymous said...

Julie, this is Cindy their instructor and I stumbled upon this page when I searched for PALS Fun Show pictures. I LOVE this post and its insight and hearing about the girls' experience! Do you mind if I post a link to it from the PALS Facebook page so others can enjoy it as well? I think the volunteers might really like seeing a parent's perspective. What a wonderful blog! Take care, Cindy

julie said...

You're so sweet, Cindy! Sure, you can definitely share. I'd love the other volunteers to know how meaningful the horse show was to the girls, and what a great time they had.