What It's Like to Be Judged by 80 People

It's intimidating. Full stop.
Bast agrees.
Bast and I took part in Part 1 of the L Program last weekend, as Training Level test riders. Over 80 people were expected to spectate, with about 30-50 of those actually auditing the program and expecting to judge and give feedback to the riders and horses.

That's a whole lot of people staring, you guys.

When I arrived in the ring, most of the auditors hadn't shown up yet. Instead they all seem to have arrived at once, boxed lunches in hand. As they settled into their seats, Bast was (understandably) wigged out by all the noise and activity. His nerves led to a hilarious amount of what I'm calling "auction trot", which we showed off a lot. Basically, he was very tense in his back and moving with a great deal of energy with a variable rhythm.
Why hello fancy auction horse.
Honestly, while the whole event was intimidating for both of us, it was an excellent opportunity. I am confident enough in my work with this horse to take criticism on a (large) scale. As I want to show this horse successfully in the future, hearing feedback of all kinds is very helpful for me. While I am taking much of the advice given with a grain of salt, I'll definitely be using some of the feedback in my daily training. Plus, I feel very solid in my evaluations of my horse. Nothing that was said to me was a surprise. All of his issues are very apparent to me and are things currently being addressed.

On Bast's part, the event was stressful and exciting, but I couldn't be happier with him. Though clearly spooked and worried by the atmosphere, he handled himself like a pro. When I asked him to ignore and go to work, he did just that. Watching the videos, it's even hard for me to see just how explosive he really felt under saddle. His tension shows in his rhythm and suppleness. However, his obedience was more than I could have expected from him. He truly stepped up and placed his trust in me, and I am so very flattered and proud of him.
Love you, little horse. Keep being awesome.
When I compare Bast's performance in this clinic to the show just one week prior, it's apparent to me just how much I need to be present and actively riding each step to keep him confident and tuned in. There can be no backing off with this boy. He needs his hand held, but I can see now that hand holding is going to result in a horse who can go into any situation and get to work. That's incredibly valuable.

This event was multi-faceted in my mind, so I'll be breaking it down into a few posts. I want to document Bast's actual performance as well as the clinic format itself. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, anyone else think Auction Horse Bast is the cutest thing ever?
Cause I do! Just look at those braids!
Special shout out to Emma for braving the crowds to give both Bast and I another friendly face in the crush of people, as well as taking an incredible amount of excellent video for me to pour over!


  1. The title alone threatens heart palpitations. You've got some serious lady balls.

    And yes. He is the cutest ever. The browband bling shining pairs so well with all that flashy white!

    And those braids! One day I hope I'll learn to braid so well...

  2. Bast is so pretty! I’ve been a demo rider for the L program before too, so I know exactly how it feels to have that many people judging you. It’s worth the initial discomfort though and I’m so glad that you were able to give him that experience!

  3. he is so handsome and beautiful. I'm glad you got video. His auction trot is spiffy!

  4. He is GORGEOUS and you guys are quite the pair!! I love how much he has come along. And I think any horse might have been wigged out by all that (Remus would have sworn there pigs in that crowd) so well done to keep it together!! You guys are amazing. :)

  5. he really held it together so well throughout that whole experience. sometimes i feel like extreme atmosphere at home, where it's least expected, can actually be more challenging for a horse than at some away venue. that clinic format really wasn't my cup of tea personally haha, tho actually as an observer i did take away a few thoughts and ideas for my work with charlie.

  6. That takes a lot of guts. I think that the whole experience sounds valuable. And yes auction Bast looks great. His muscling has changed a lot.

  7. "Plus, I feel very solid in my evaluations of my horse. Nothing that was said to me was a surprise. All of his issues are very apparent to me and are things currently being addressed." THIS. This is what I try to instill in my students. There are always going to be things you need to work on in dressage especially... and half the battle is KNOWING your strengths and weaknesses. If you are in a good program with a strong relationship with your horse, nothing the judge says should be a surprise to you (even if it's not all sunshine and rainbows). As for Bast, I think the photos I've seen from this event are the best ones you've posted of him to date! He looks really sharp :)

  8. You both look amazing. That sounds a little like my worst nightmare but it’s clear you handled it really well and supported him through his nerves. I can’t wait to read more!

  9. What a good baby horse! That sounds like a SUPER intimidating atmosphere and for you both to go in there and put in quality work to showcase where you're at in your training together is really impressive! Also, auction trot is BEAUTIFUL lol

  10. He looks gorgeous in his braids and undersaddle - the clinic and format aside - isn't it such an amazing feeling when you can recognize what needs to be done and then people confirm you belief's real.


Post a Comment