By Jennifer Klitzke
In an unexpected turn of events, Gift of Freedom (Makana) found her way to the Three Ring Circus schooling show held at Carriage House Farm in Hugo, MN on May 28, 2012 and sponsored by St. Croix Saddlery.
And how’s that, you ask? Well, I woke up at 5am to give Indy, my six-year-old Spanish Mustang a bath before his second schooling dressage show, when I noticed a gash under his chin where the bridle would fasten. “Oh, crap!” I thought as I cleaned up his wound. Then I wondered if the show manager would let me switch horses as long as we rode the tests we had entered. Being 5:30am and our first class at 7:58am with an hour drive time, I took the gamble and cleaned up the other horse I have a current coggins on: Gift of Freedom. The only problem is that Makana doesn’t trot and this is a large trotting horse show.
“Oh, well,” I thought, “we’ll go for the experience.” So I quickly got Makana ready, and we were on our way to the largest show I’ve ever been to—over 200 horses entered. Makana rode in place of Indy in Intro A, B, and C dressage tests with 24 horse/rider teams in each category. We drew a lot of attention as the only horse that didn’t trot, and as a result, I had several great conversations with people about gaited horses and dressage training.
I even met one family who’s daughter shows their Tennessee walking horse at a trot and has done very well at recognized shows. She said her horse’s trot is super smooth. Now that would be ideal, a smooth trotting horse. Compare that to my warmblood who practically sends me to the chiropractor every time I ride him! So if you have a Walker that trots, maybe traditional dressage shows are in your future. Gaited dressage clinician Bucky Sparks says his Walking horse stallion can trot on cue without it disrupting the flat walk and running walk, so I know it is possible to train a horse to trot and gait. As for me, I bought a gaited horse to gait and a trotting horse to trot.
We had terrific weather for the show. The Carriage House Farm facility is top-class with dust-free rubberized footing in the indoor and well-drained ag-lime footing outdoors. The show was extremely well organized for the number of trailers transporting over 200 horses and hundreds of cars filled with spectators. Amazing!
Makana seemed to enjoy being there as much as I did. I giggle because we had skipped Intro level when we began showing at dressage schooling shows a couple years ago. Now we are schooling second level and here we were showing Intro level. Makana did the best she could. After the first ride, the judge commented, “I have no idea how to judge your tests because you didn’t show a trot.” After our last ride she commented, “Nicely ridden. That’s a very nice, obedient, supple gaited horse.”
We finished all tests in the 53-56%-range and about middle of the score board—not bad for a horse that doesn’t trot!
Gift of Freedom and Jennifer Klitzke were the only gaiting gaited duo among a hundred entries at the Three Ring Circus Schooling Show held Sunday, May 28, 2012.