Formerly known as HandiRiders of Sioux Falls, HorsePower, the group putting on yesterday's fun show, provides equestrian therapy and programs for people with physical, emotional and cognitive challenges. The show is an annual fundraiser for them. Given the turnout, hopefully they did very well.
Not taking the boys meant that although I was still up before the sun to make it to the show for the opening class, I did have an extra hour or so to sleep. The rain had mostly stopped by the time I pulled in to the show grounds, and Eric and co. had the six horses he hauled settled already and were starting to bring in tack. I exchanged good mornings and made myself useful filling water buckets, taking the opportunity to study the turnout as I did.
Horses and riders of all shapes and sizes were represented - QH, or at least stock-type predominating, which wasn't surprising. I was surprised to see only one "traditional" still spring-shaggy (and adorable) pony, although there were a couple of really lovely POAs. There were also appaloosas, a Gypsy Vanner, a number of Arabs and half-Arabs, paints, and I think a couple of Morgans. Competitors ranged in age from toddlers to gray and somewhat more creaky, but everyone regardless of age had a smile on and seemed to be having a great time.
Classes were full for the most part, with the number of adult riders equaling, possibly even surpassing, the number of kids. The pace, with only six horses and most of them going western which was later in the afternoon, was more relaxed for Eric's crew, and the there was plenty of time for visiting. The horses munched hay and dozed, even the one newbie that Eric hauled along strictly for an introduction to the show atmosphere.
The announcer was... let's call him quirky. He chatted informally over the loudpeaker with the judge, cheerfully mangled names of horses and riders, and had a habit of berating any riders who weren't right on the heels of the previously entering horses in their class. His chief concern seemed to be pushing forward as fast as possible to the part of the day involving games. I've never been at a show at which the next class was being actually called not just to the gate, but into the ring while the horses from the previous class were still lined up and waiting for placings to be called.
Apparently it's a more common practice at the local open shows, but if the exhibitors and the gate person had paid attention, it would have resulted in some serious traffic jams given the size of the classes.
The judge - well, the ways of judges are baffling and mysterious at the best of times. And there were some tough classes.
There were a LOT of equitation classes, generally split into at least three age groupings, although which were going to be judged singly and which on the rail was difficult to predict in advance. Watching the classes that Sunny and I would have been in was interesting and educational - the ring was crowded, with 10+ horses being the norm. It would certainly have been trial by fire.
The push throughout the day to hurry to judged classes along in order to get to the timed events and games to me, at least, seemed like a case of misreading the turn-out. Stalls started clearing almost immediately following the first (and most competitive) game, egg and spoon. I'm not sure exactly how many exhibitors stayed around for the speed events, but the number was definitely small, and the spectators had for the most part cleared out, as well.
All in all, the show organizers did a great job, and I sincerely hope they turned a profit for their cause - if nothing else they certainly succeeded in providing an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday.