View Full Version : How close to "perfect" was your horse for first time out?

Jan. 12, 2012, 03:58 PM
Just out of curiousity....For those that have taken a horse that is green, ( OTTB primarily ), what was the deciding factor to try them out in the real world? How many of you like perfection vs, good enough to get the job done and what type of events did you start with?

What other factors did you put into your decision?

Jan. 12, 2012, 04:13 PM
If I waited for "perfection" before I competed a green horse I'd still be wallowing in my back yard, 30 years later. Part of the horse's education is actually DOING the job you hope he'll enjoy. With any luck, he does enjoy it the first time out, you both live through it and you can continue to train with a bit of a baseline of what you both need to accomplish to become competitive.

Jan. 12, 2012, 04:22 PM
Good enough to get the job done means I get to go out and enjoy myself. If I waited for "perfection", I'd still be hoping to do my first BN Horse Trial. Life's too short to wait for perfect, or even close to it, when neither horse nor rider can ever hope to get there anyway. :)My deciding factor to go to shows is whether I have the time, the weekend off, and if the horse is fit, sound, and reasonably well schooled enough to go. I do it for fun, and there's plenty of fun to be had without worrying about "perfect". :)

Beam Me Up
Jan. 12, 2012, 04:25 PM
Still not perfect . . .

It sort of depends on the event, but once they are steering/stopping I will take them out in public (lessons, schooling shows, x-c schools), as appropriate. I try to keep it low key initially, but everything you do with them is a learning experience for both--you learn more about their reactions, etc.

I do tend to hold off on USEA events until we have done a couple little h/j shows and x-c schools, but that is because I am cheap about risking the entry fee.

Jan. 12, 2012, 04:30 PM
RiverBendPol is 100% correct. Put some schooling on the horse, when the seem to grasp the idea, try a schooling event. Don't wait for "perfection". Besides, what you get schooling is often a different animal than what you get competing.

Get out, try some schooling trials. You'll either find out what you need to work on, or that your horse needs a different career!

Mine couldn't handle galloping out alone so we took up foxhunting. I still yearn to event again though......someday, someday....

Jan. 12, 2012, 04:34 PM
That's what I was hoping to hear....have done 2 little events ( hunter pace and dressage show ) last year, lessons are starting, and jumps aren't being plowed through any longer! Even if the shows aren't o/f this coming season, if we come home alive and well from anything it's success as far as I'm concerned. More Combined tests are showing up in our neck of the woods so that will be helpful to get started!

Jan. 12, 2012, 04:50 PM
Not perfect at all!! Schooling shows - and honestly all shows for that matter - are training.

Pie spooked at the white rails around the dressage arena for most of his first test... by the second test, they were less of an issue :) I think the only way to prepare for showing is to show... at small schooling shows until you feel confident enough for a 'real' show!!

Jan. 12, 2012, 05:09 PM
Define "perfect". :D

I had a more experienced rider take my girl through her first recognized event. We prepared for it well by working with good trainers and going to schooling and hunter/jumper shows as well as hunter paces.

My mare made minor mistakes in each phase, but it didn't matter to any of us. Our goal was to have her first time out be a positive one, and it was. I felt we were all well prepared and the little things like breaking the canter on the 20 meter circle and one run out on cross country were trivial and will go away with time. Even with the run out, they still finished only 4 seconds over optimum time, so sometimes it's good to be on a thoroughbred!

Everyone felt my horse was ready, and she made her debut at Novice. I was thrilled with her performance.

As others have said, it's really about giving your horse different experiences to see where their heads are at. We still have many more schooling shows in our future, but I couldn't be happier about my horse's first time out.

Even if it's never perfect, as long as horse is trying and we are enjoying it, I won't care! :yes:

Jan. 12, 2012, 05:45 PM
Different for each horse:

Gizmo: had schooled a fair bit of xc, first show was novice at the Kentucky Horse Park. Finished on his dressage score, a common occurrence in the life of Gizmo. Moved up to prelim in one year after 3 novice and 3 training events

Tobe: did a couple schooling jumped shows where he was a bit wild in the warm-up, but jumped everything. First event, unrecognized at FHI BN, won. 2nd event unrecognized Nov, won that. Then had a glance off here and there, but mostly good, though not winning recognized Novice and training.

Keebler: first event unrecognized FHI BN, finished on crappy dressage score. Had a couple SJ rails at novice, but then moved up to training and did 8 without a single jump fault.

Finn: good boy at first show (dressage) got ribbons. Did first intro Derby at Rocking Horse, eliminated. After getting him out schooling a bunch, it become quite clear that xc was not his thing. He has been doing great and getting good ribbons in local h/j shows

Tag: never evented him. Wants to be a dressage boy, so that is what he was doing.

Cole: first event 3 days after 1st xc school. Unrecognized BN at Fair Hill. Had a glance off due to distraction. Was in 1st place after dressage and SJ. 2nd event 3 days after 2nd xc school. Novice at Maryland over a biggish course. Had a green stop at the water. Was in 2nd after dressage and SJ. Rider time constraints mean he hasn't competed since.

Keegan - I'll let you know in two weeks. Planned first outing at RH BN recognized. I take him xc schooling for the first time Saturday. He went once with Kate a few days after I bought him. He also has yet to jump a whole sj course. I guarantee we will be nowhere near perfection

Jan. 12, 2012, 07:23 PM
Nowhere near perfect, but rideable and obedient. I like to pick events where the warmup area will be as big as possible (we have some ridiculously small ones, ones on sides of hills with trees etc). I will also try to go with a friend on a steddy eddie horse, that way you can stick by them for a while if you need to.

My last greenie (1/4 irish, 3/4 tb, hot-ish nature) I took to a winter dressage day after being told it had a big warmup. We'd had lessons at different venues and done a lot of hacking out, but I knew her problem would be the other horses in the warm up.

Due to heavy rain the huge warmup arena had flooded so we had a very small area to warm up in with three rings worth of horses. It was . . . exciting. Not helped by another greenie repeatedly standing up . . . After an exciting bounce straight up (TG for neck straps) I decided to exit the warmup while we were still ahead and ended up warming up by trotting around the driveway. Not ideal, but managed to get her in the arena and not too distracted by other horses, managed all our transitions in the right place. Tied her up to the trailer for 45min till the next test and got back on a completely different horse. Still alert in warmup but actually rideable and we won the second test :-)

Because of her nature I took her out to as many group situations as possible as she really needed to learn to chill out with others. First xc practise day was also exciting.

What worked for us was just to MOVE when she got wound up. The xc practise day I trotted her for nearly 25min straight round the whole grounds, asking for transitions within the pace, circles where I could, serpentines, moving off the leg etc. After 25min we were both pretty sweaty, so we had a long walk break while watching my friends school. Then I did a short warm up and started jumping. She was great, mind on the job etc.

My previous greenie was a piece of cake in comparison, our first outing was to an event (65cm jumps though). So it does depend on the horse.

The best thing I found for myself was to know my horse and have a plan. If I had a plan then I was more focussed and was able to ride through the greenie antics. Rather than thinking "eek, why are you leaping up in the air, please stop it, I don't like this" I end up thinking "eek! You've leapt up but I'm still on board and we really need to trot over to that tree and then we'll turn left and trot over to that corner" It's truly amazing how much this changed my riding.

Plus I didn't worry too much about the warmup. As long as my horse has been moving for 20min I'm happy to go in and start riding the test/jumping small jumps. If the warmup area is making my horse crazy then I'm better off to leave it and do what I can just to get the muscles warmed up. I don't want to disrupt others warmup more than necessary and I certainly don't want my greenie kicking/spooking/leaping into another horse.

Jan. 12, 2012, 08:42 PM
I took my OTTB to a dressage show....when I had owned him for six days. He was dead green, didn't know how to bend or canter or, well, much of anything. I went to see how he did in the atmosphere and how he approached the job.

From that perspective, he was not trained at all, but he was pretty dang near perfect -- he marched around the grounds with a bright eye but did not spook. He warmed up obediently and he went down the first centerline of his life like he'd been doing it a million years and did a quiet (if counterbent) little test.

We did our first horse trial a month later -- he'd never done a course yet, but he sure tried hard and again, I was there for the mileage, which is something you only get by getting out and doing.

If you wait for perfect, you'll NEVER get out there!

Jan. 12, 2012, 10:12 PM
We take'em as soon as they can be safely ridden and can be expected to do all three phases. We don't care much about how well, that's a future expectation. Good behavior is a big win, even just surviving and finishing with a numerical score is a reasonable win. In the worst case, just getting both horse and rider home safely is good enough.

Jan. 12, 2012, 10:29 PM
My horse was a freebie, given to me -- rather than chosen by me -- when he was 4 y.o. coming off the track with a bowed tendon.
He did his first event in the spring of his 5-year-old year: an elementary schooling horse trials with a walk-trot dressage test and 2'3" XC and stadium. He jumped clean, ears pricked the whole time, and we won a blue ribbon at that event.
I still have the dressage test from that day: We earned a 27.5 and the judge wrote "Nice horse, put time and mileage on him."
I took that comment to heart and competed him for 13 years, in 18 different states and Canada (yes, I counted once out of curiosity). In all that time, that first event was the ONLY blue we ever won. :lol: That horse did, however, carry my amateur butt through advanced at events and win many other-colored ribbons in the process.

Jan. 12, 2012, 11:42 PM
Just out of curiousity....For those that have taken a horse that is green, ( OTTB primarily ), what was the deciding factor to try them out in the real world? How many of you like perfection vs, good enough to get the job done and what type of events did you start with?

What other factors did you put into your decision?

Who cares about perfection when first competing!? I get them to a show ASAP the moment we can even trot jumps.

I started my new guy with the local h/j day shows (We never got around our first show (ran right out the in gate as we cantered by)) and then went to our first and only ever BN (finished with something like 156 penalty points - all but the 36 in dressage on XC).

Jan. 12, 2012, 11:59 PM
You can't wait on perfection, especially since when you take them to a show it is a whole different beast, you might have it picture perfect at home but in a new environment everything could come apart. As long as the horse is safe and you feel secure in making it a good experience, go for it!

The first proper show I took my horse to was also the first time we (either of us) rode a full xcountry course, not ideal but I know my mare and she was a rockstar. This year I plan on getting her out to a lot more lessons and a couple shows because she definitely needs work on relaxing in a new environment.

Jan. 13, 2012, 05:09 AM
My TB mare started going out in public before she was trained to be ridden. My trainer would take students to local schooling shows and if there was room on the trailer my mare would go to hang out. She went to probably 2-3 shows to hang out. She was actually ridden by my trainer in two pleasure classes in the fall of her two yo year at the scary fairgrounds. Have to say still haven't hit perfect, but for the most part, I feel like I can throw my mare on the trailer and go do what I want from CT's to hunter paces, fox hunting to team penning and have fun.

Jan. 13, 2012, 08:16 AM
Michael Page used to come to my barn as a kid every winter for clinics. He famously brought his own liverpool, and this was always the big test for the green beans. He would tell us, "You just have to survive and get to the other side."

Ralph Hill also have a similar philosophy in a cross country lesson. I was on a big green horse (my beloved Jack), and I was worrying about Jack's lack of cross country experience, and he said something to the effect of, "You just have to go and do, they'll learn as you go." Jack was jumping some training fences by the end of the lesson. :-)

Jan. 13, 2012, 09:23 AM
Perfect enough for me to be reasonably confident that it would be a positive experience for all concerned.

Jan. 13, 2012, 09:51 AM
Perfect is boring! If the can stop, go, and turn I am pretty happy to take them out in public. Often, I will take them with older stablemates that are competing, and just let them hang out, maybe hack them around the show grounds, and just let them get an idea for life and being in public. It's so much fun, and they gain a lot from it.

As for competing, well, below are some videos from Vernon's first outing as a young 4 year old. This would have been April. We bought him the previous November. At that point he kinda sorta had the very basic idea of w/t/c (I mean, REALLY basic) and had hopped over some flower boxes and tiny Xs. He spent the winter with us in Aiken, but a large portion of that was spent getting over bruised feet. Most of his schooling was teaching him the basics of correct flatwork (you can kinda see it in the dressage...I was delighted that we got both leads!), and doing simple gymnastics. He learned how to pop over little ditches and banks, but that was just because we were lucky to have those out in our schooling field in Aiken. At the point of the show, he really had never cantered a fence, had never been in an indoor, never seen a dressage ring, and, other than the little bit he played over in Aiken and a trip, in hand, to a xc school, he hadn't yet gone xc. For the record, Vernon was an EXCEPTIONAL youngster. He was VERY easy and loved going places. I'm not sure every baby would have been so quiet and easy! BTW, he won this little outing!

Dressage- http://youtu.be/po0_OHI46S8
Show jumping- http://youtu.be/qU6FN_UZ9xI
XC- http://youtu.be/F224gB6Uqy4

Jan. 13, 2012, 10:05 AM
I enjoy reading everyone's experiences!
I'm still not sure if he'll become an eventer but I think with more exposure he will be ok. Gets nervous when out at new places but seems to trust and listen and that makes me happy. Jumping is coming along ( meaning he's approaching, and willing going over instead of knocking everything over! ) He's a beautiful mover naturally so if all else fails, dressage is going to be his thing, but I hope not

Jan. 13, 2012, 10:33 AM

My mare: 50 in dressage my first time out (first time in a dressage ring and was a lot smaller than I thought, so most of that was me. She also had a fear of strange looking jumps so we took her elementary (18") level so I could make her jump from a standstill, if needed. So...no refusals, but no real height.

Mare I rode with over the summer before last and last winter: decent dressage score, but she was very interested in everything around her so not as round and through as she could be. Clean stadium and cross country. Level was beginner novice.

Mare I started rode with last summer: Had her in work for a month , after a year off, and after taking her out to a few schoolings and seeing how good and calm she was, I asked my trainer if I could take her to a local schooling show. We rocked dressage, one refusal in stadium - my fault, to much half halt on the only straight line on the whole course. One refusal in cross country- a bank up and the face was painted to look like a brick wall so she just got surprised by that a bit, I think. That was intro level (2').

End results? My mare completed up to Training before I retired her. That was her max for eventing, though she could jump higher, she could not do it well enough that my trainer felt it was a good idea to aim her towards a solid jump combination. The first mare I rode, I also competed in the 3' division of a winter series jumper show before she was sold to an adult amateur who is enjoying her immensely. This last mare I jumped 3'6" stadium and Training level cross country - including helping me with my Trakhener issue, and is going to Aiken with another student to compete Training this winter, and went from a $2,000-ish sale horse after that first show to roughly a $30K sale horse (she is uber talented and uber forgiving).

Jan. 13, 2012, 10:45 AM
Perfect enough for me to be reasonably confident that it would be a positive experience for all concerned.

And that sums it up ... perfectly.

Jan. 13, 2012, 11:45 AM
New to eventing rider, rather than new-to-eventing horse, but... we did pretty well. The horse was an experienced low level eventer (Trump, linked below) who'd topped out at Novice because of vision issues that gave him troubles with water obstacles; he would not, for love nor money nor carrots, jump into water. He could get spooked by certain types of jumps (more in S/J than XC), but if you talked to him a lot and pushed him forward, he'd usually jump with no trouble. We did elementary, had an OK but not great dressage test, and went clear on XC and SJ, so ended up in 4th place. That was my one-and-only horse trials and I wish I could have done more.

My mare (see link below)... well, I never evented her, but she was 1st or 2nd at every horse trials she was entered in, at elementary, BN, and N (all unrecognized). However -- before she did her first trials, she went to a lot of X/C clinics and had some dressage show experience, so she wasn't exactly green. She required (and still requires) a very attentive ride in dressage as she could get looky/spooky, *loved* XC (though she tended to go very, very fast) and was a willing, hot jumper. With both of us unable to jump, we just do dressage now and she's pretty good at it.

Jan. 14, 2012, 02:36 AM
You can't wait till perfection. Perfection puts too much pressure on you and the horse, and perfection requires experience! Thats just my 2 cents!

Jan. 14, 2012, 07:13 AM
I'm having one of those "wincers", you know, thinking about something in your past and it makes you just wince thinking about it. I had a green horse, I was a green rider and I couldn't wait to go. It was predictably disastrous, (wince) but it was not for lack of trying on my part. That horse, to whom I owe an endless apology, is now doing flatwork only with a new owner and loves it. Turned out OK, but had I waited for things to be perfect, I too, would still be wallowing in my backyard.

Jan. 14, 2012, 08:19 AM
We had some gastro issues to settle out first, then DH was in the middle east last summer so Thunder the Wonder Pony (OTTB) got a four month trip to boot camp with a professional. He did one BN, moved up to Novice and finished his stint with two very successful training runs. Came home, settled back in and DH just did his first schooling dressage shows here, and won his class with a 30. (Love Mr. PM but after 20 years he still has trouble figuring out the diagonals!)

Once they are safe for public comsumption go for it. It's not ever about perfection, it's about the journey.

Jan. 14, 2012, 01:31 PM
If he gets nervous at new places why not take him to some events and just lunge, hand walk, and make it a positive experinece. Then go and just ride at the walk around the area. Again make it positive so he learns to relax more. Those are easy, and cheap, ways to get exposue to the public where you can control the level of external stimuli your horse gets.

Jan. 14, 2012, 01:45 PM
The first time I do anything -- with or without a horse -- my goal is simply to show up in the right place at the right time and then, hopefully, not get eliminated.

And if I get eliminated, so what? I still made it there on time. :)

My horses are not expected to be perfect. Mine come along slowly, with particular attention paid to their mental states. Sometimes, they're pretty mental, and I'm well aware that an outside observer might question WTF I'm doing. But we get there eventually, and we get there without holes in their training.

Don't worry about how it looks or what others might think. Set realistic goals, well within your comfort zone, for the first several outings. Just being there is going to be enough of a test. After that, you'll know how you and your horse are in new/pressure situations and you'll be able to set your sights a bit higher.

Good luck. :)

Jan. 14, 2012, 08:51 PM
I ditto everything said from steady older horse to just getting them out, with my new OTTB coming 5 has been hunting all fall and today went to a little hunter/jumper show and marched into the indoor and jumped around with no peek or looks!! LOVE IT!!

Just go do it!!
And have fun!!!