After many hours of practicing followed by many more hours of practicing, Sara and Mater travelled to the Gordyville Arena in Gifford, Illinois for their debut on the Paint Horse show scene. They left at 5:30 in the morning Friday to arrive there by early afternoon. The show wasn't until Saturday, so they had time to get used to the arena and get him all groomed up and looking his best.
This show was the Illinois Paint Horse Club's Paint-O-Rama, which is a large show with four judges. All four judges keep their eyes on the horses and riders and judge independently of each other. The good thing about a multiple judge show is that you get you get points from each judge - if you do well. The bad is that you now have that many more eyes watching your every move. Every inch of that show ring is being watched, and if you and the horse mess up, it's sure to be seen.
The first class up for Mater was showmanship. This is Sara's favorite class. After going thru the pattern without any errors, she had to present the horse to the judge for inspection. This is where the horse has to stand squarely and quietly for the judge to do the inspection, which is where they walk around the horse. The combination of a strange arena, a loud PA system, and an unfamiliar person walking around him was too much for lil' Mater, and he couldn't stand still. ---Results: No placing from all four judges.
Next class was Novice Amateur Hunter Under Saddle. This was a class that her trainer urged her to enter. Sara had her reservations, as most hunters are tall horses with these big sweeping strides. Mater is short and is a great western pleasure mover, which is a lot more relaxed and easy-going than a hunter's pace. They practice the extended trot and the canter at home, but typically in their western saddle, bit and bridle. He's only been tacked up in his huntseat attire a handful of times, and only just recently. But the trainer knows best, right? And he did great. He just went along and extended his stride just like those big huntseat horses. He was the most consistent in the ring, albeit the smallest. ---Results: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th.
Next was Novice Amateur Huntseat Equitation. This is a class where you ride a pattern, with each horse and rider taking their turns to show to the judges. Mater did well, but Sara could feel that he was nervous again. It seems lil' Mater would rather perform in a group than take center stage. But he kept it together as long as he was moving. ---Results: 1st, 3rd, 3rd, & 3rd.
Western Pleasure was next. Sara was a bit intimidated, as she was up against a multiple word champion and few others that had competed at the world show. But Mater Mater Sweet Pootater did his job and they got their names called in the winning lineup.
---Results: 3rd, 3rd, 4th, & NP Lastly was Western Horsemanship. Like Huntseat Eq, this too is a pattern class. Mater's nerves had calmed down by that time, and again, he went out and did his job as he's been trained to do. ---Results: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd & 2nd.
Mater made Sara proud. This is a horse she bought almost sight unseen, as green as grass, and trained herself. He's come a long way, and he's promising to go a lot further.