Moe and I got a late start to the show season this year. We trotted down centerline for the first time in May, just as the end of the spring season was winding down. We had a nice show in June, and then I spent July ferrying Marrakesh and Gina back and forth to the vet. The dressage club doesn’t hold any shows in August (because it’s hot and disgusting), which meant that I had limited options to qualify for a year end award.
The year end awards here are based on a points system; horse and rider pairs earn points based on their placings at shows. Both schooling and rated shows count, with rated shows earning more points. The club requires a certain number of points for year end award eligibility. Since Moe and I only go to schooling shows and because we got such a late start on the season, we were only halfway to the required number of points.
That’s how we ended up at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City on Monday. The dressage club hosts a schooling show during the fair; it’s a truly unique experience!
I persuaded my friend next door to go; she convinced another friend to go, too. My neighbor and I started the day at 5:30 AM, loaded the horses in Space Trailer, and headed to Oklahoma City at 7:00 AM.
There were lots of extra details at the fair that aren’t a thing at regular shows. We had to get general admission tickets for ourselves and health certificates for the horses. Stabling was required, and bedding was ordered through the fairgrounds. Livestock could only enter through one gate (that wasn’t well marked). Once you were unloaded, the truck and trailer had to be parked half a mile away from the barn.
Things went pretty smoothly, though, and all three horses and our tack were settled in by 9:45 AM. Moe and I rode at 1:28 PM and 2:00 PM, so we had a lot of time to kill.
The Oklahoma City fairgrounds are set up pretty well for horse shows. The stabling, warm-up ring, and main arena are all connected in one big long building. There was a small arena with an adjacent warm-up between our stabling and our warm-up; it was hosting the North American Trick Riding Championship, which was a lot more exciting than the dressage show! Those riders had sparkly breastplates, spangly outfits, actual glitter covering their horses’ rumps, and they were doing the craziest shit I have ever seen. I don’t know much about the sport of trick riding, but it seemed to consist of absolutely tearing ass for one lap around the arena while performing some insane gymnastic feat. I saw riders hanging off the side of their horses, standing up on the horse, and doing some wild trick where they dropped behind the horse and used the momentum to spring up into a handstand!
After I decided I would never have enough core strength to take up trick riding, I took Moe on a walk. We checked out the arena during a break in tests; he was unfazed by the stadium seating and air conditioning. We ambled over to the road that ran between our barn and another. It was full of people who were there to check out the fair. Several of them, adults and children alike, stared at Moe like they’d never seen a horse before. So, of course, I invited them over to pet him.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone living in Oklahoma is familiar with horses and livestock. It’s not a densely populated state, but Oklahoma City (and Tulsa) are decent-sized urban areas. All of Moe’s admirers were decidedly non-horsey and a few seemed a little afraid! Fortunately, Moe is a friendly and tolerant horse and isn’t easily spooked. It was really fun to chat with people while they petted Moe.
I asked one little boy if he could guess how old Moe was- he said, “Nine, like me!” When I told him Moe is 23, the kid’s grandfather gaped at me and asked, “Is that in human years?!”
Another little boy saw us walking by and asked me (or possibly Moe?), “Hey! Do you live in a barn?” I talked to him about where Moe lives while he patted Moe very firmly on the face, right between the eyes. The boy’s mother told him, “Yes, pet him right there! That’s where horses like to be petted!”
Two little girls shyly sneaked up while I was talking to one kid and furtively petted Moe’s shoulder. I said hello to them and their mother asked if she could get a picture of the girls with Moe. They did, and the girls ran off giggling excitedly.
I eventually returned Moe to his stall, watched my neighbor’s second ride, and cleaned my boots. I got on around 1 PM to warm up. Moe was poky and un-supple. He mostly worked out of it by time we rode our first test. That horse has done enough dressage tests in his life that he knows what the long, skinny arena with the low white rails edging it means. First 1 wasn’t too bad- our canter transitions (both upward and downward) were above the bit and a little unbalanced, but everything else went okay. We scored a 63%. First 3 was much better from a balance and connection standpoint, but I had two errors because I couldn’t hear my reader. Without the errors, my score would have been a respectable 64%.
We netted a first place and second place for our efforts. The ribbons awarded were Oklahoma State Fair ribbons, which were pretty cool! I hosed Moe off and stuck him in his stall to let him relax while my friends and I explored the fair. I ate all sorts of fair food: chicken in a waffle on a stick (pretty good), corn on the cob (delicious), bratwurst (very good), fried peaches (okay), a funnel cake (perfection). We walked around the shopping area and midway, then returned to pack our stuff and horses. I gave Moe half of my funnel cake, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
I hope my friends and I will make showing at the Oklahoma State Fair an annual tradition! It was a fun day, and really, how can you not go to a show that includes funnel cakes?