Sunday, August 25, 2013

First horse show! Still alive!

Title says it all.  ;)

My barn hosts USEF rated shows several times throughout the season.  Despite being rated, they're usually low key (because again, I live in the middle of nowhere).  Which is perfect for green beans, because they get some "big horse show" exposure in small doses, without having to go anywhere right away.

I had Soon out on Saturday for only a few minutes.  Unfortunately, while he is dead quiet everywhere else on the farm, the one corner where the temporary stabling/schooling ring is the scary one, and gets him pretty upset for whatever reason (probably the flags flapping in the wind, who knows).  So Saturday he started off super quiet, hanging out by the side of the ring for the first few minutes, before he decided the whole in gate/schooling area/tents were not for him.  He and I walked back to the barn before he caused a scene, and he did his best post-parade impression past the spectators.  Great.

He was amazing undersaddle on Saturday night (my last post about his sweet canter), and I decided today I'd hop on him earlier and spend some time on him at the horse show.  I got on him today just before noon, did some walk/trot work in the indoor.  Again, he was super quiet and relaxed, despite the coming/going of people and horses from the adjacent stalls and the activity going on just outside.  After getting some good stretchy trot at the end, we ventured outside to see if he could learn to be a show horse.
WHOAA crazy race horse....

 He walked out a little hesitant, but he did what I asked and walked to the area where he had a meltdown the day before.  It only took about 90 seconds for him to remember that he had said meltdown, and decided he had to repeat it.  So after a very brief "airs above the ground" demonstration (he has a pseudo levade! LOL yeah...Maybe collection is going to be easy for him afterall), we did a lot of walking in circles and trying to go forward instead of up.  It took him a few minutes, but he eventually figured out that he was not at the racetrack, and the only thing I was asking him to do was chill out.  So...after an "oh" moment, a lot of sighing, and realizing that he was the ONLY horse that was worked up and it was stupid when everyone else was sleeping...he decided to go to sleep too.

We hung around out there for a good 30 minutes or so, the majority of which he was walking around on a loose rein, head down, or stopping to stand and watch the action in the show ring.  Several horses came and went from the schooling ring, and did some of the warm up jumps around him, and he didn't care.  Good boy!  After a couple little naps and some more relaxed walking around, we called it a day.  I was beyond happy with him and his progress, just in that 30 minutes alone.  The wind was whipping around like crazy, ribbon and other parts of stuff on the temporary stalls were flying around, strange horses were coming and going, jumping around, trailers driving by, etc, and nothing bothered him after he figured it out. 

"Are we done?  I'm bored."
I am very impressed with his brain.  Even before when we had issues with that part of the farm and he was ready to explode, he didn't.  That is pretty huge to me.  Some horses don't wait or care what your input as the rider is in that situation - they're gone.  He had the opportunity to bolt, or rear, or shy, or just generally be a big asshole, but he didn't.  He would get very upset and do his little racehorse dance, but I asked him NOT to kill me and he obliged.  Today, finally, we had that breakthrough moment in the scary area, and he relaxed and walked around like a seasoned show horse. 

He just keeps impressing the crap out of me.  Very proud of my boy.  :)

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