Yesterday was our local association's opening show. I have not had my horse off the property for over a year and a half. ( I was not able to show last year due to focusing on starting a side business)
I was not able to show yesterday but I did decided to take my horse to the show to hang out and just get out for a bit. Well everything went fine, he loaded & unloaded great, no problems there at all. He looked around for a few minutes when we got there and then went about eating the amazing grass supply in front of him. We chilled out like this for almost an hour. I then went back to my trailer and tacked him up, no real problems there other than wanting to keep stuffing his face.
The problems started when I took him up to the small round ring to ride for a bit. He was horrible to say the least. I tried to start off by just trotting him, but he went right into a canter and wouldn't stop.(He also would occasionally do a little "pig" squeal and bolt for a stride or two) I finally got him to walk, but as soon as I picked up the reins (and only slightly at that) he went right into a canter again!! I finally got him to trot on a loose rein, but the whole time I was using my upper calf muscles to keep him slow. He was still very tense up front, chopping on the bit, inverted and not wanting any contact. ( I also used a copper mouth D that I typically would ride him in at shows, he normally goes in a rubber D)
He then had a bit of a rest as some long time family friends saw the show from the road and came to visit, I haven't seen them in years so I chatted with them for a bit while I sat on him. Well he pretty much relaxed for a little bit, but then after they left I went down to the grass area (where the horse ring is at this show). I tried to hack him a bit in a bit circle, it was like we were starting all over again!!! I finally got him down to a reasonable trot (but he was still tense through his neck), I got him over a vertical and then called it quits for the day, I was exasperated and embarrassed by the way he was acting.
My horse was never this bad at shows, yes he gets quick when I jump him in a big ring at shows, but he was never this tense. If he did get tense it was only for a couple of laps and then he would pretty much chill out. I also felt like I didn't have any breaks while riding him at the show. I don't like that feeling of almost being on the verge of no control what so ever. I would ride him in the rubber D but I am really scared that would be even worse as far as cantering & jumping.
My big dilemma is that I was supposed to go to a Clinic this coming Saturday, this would have been my first clinic and his as well. I am now very, very uncertain about going to this clinic, I feel that I would have to work SOO much on just keeping him under control that it would end up being a waste of the clinician's and my time. I am at a loss of what to do, I look up to the person that I would be having the clinic with, but at this point I know I would be making a complete fool of myself. I also am now very, very down and am feeling like the worst rider...EVER. I actually feel like I don't do anything right lately with my riding and this is just the icing on the cake.
I did talk to someone that is on here (we talked via facebook), she was so sweet and helpful, and I am truly grateful for her suggestions. I also wanted to extend & vent my frustrations and emotions to the rest of COTH. I also am very open to other suggestions and IF you were in the "boots" I am in would you just say no to the clinic and go for one at a later point down the road? ( my goal this year is to really work on getting him off the property more)
I would take him to the clinic. It's helpful to have someone on the ground to help you through your horses issues. You want aids to get your horses attention and help him relax, right? Go to the clinic it would be money and time well spent. I wouldn't worry about looking like an idiot, horse training isn't always pretty.
Last year I took a horse to a show ground he has been to about 50 times BUT this time I brought another horse along. My guy had a coronary/stroke/seizure when he was seperated from his new trailer buddy, the rider barely managed a voluntary dismount, and between the two of us we could barely get him back to the trailer safely. Nit wit. Well, okay, he's just a herd bound weeny who developed a life and death bond to his trailer buddy during the course of their 50 minute trailer trip. And I love him dearly, but could have killed him.
A few weeks ago, a jumper mare I was on developed a "look, the martians have landed" obsession with some livestock over the fence line behind the jumper ring at a show. Could have killed her too. I swear these animals are trained, they just forget.
Actually, I don't remember his exact wording but Charles DeKunffy mentions a few times in his books that NO MATTER how well your pony is trained, the wild beasty can come out at any time. I try to think of Ziegfried and Roy when I have these problems.....
Take him to the clinic! If this *is* a new problem, you will hopefully get some extremely useful feedback and advice. If it isn't, and he doesn't act like a freak, you can work on other things.
One of my best clinic experiences, my first with my current horse, was when my horse and I were both hideously awful. We learned a lot and the clinician ended up really liking my horse. Use the clinic and enjoy yourself!
You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil
I experience this with my horse every now and again ON property, lol. He's an OTTB, and I ride him in a pretty big field; it's probably 5 or 6 acres. My guy is usually pretty chill, but there are some days he just comes out FRESH and never really settles down. Fights the bit, kicks up in the hind end, inverts his neck ... but it's almost never 2 days in a row.
My point, is go to the clinic! It was probably just a freak thing, and your horse will more than likely be fine. If anything, I agree with those that say maybe the clinician can give you tools to deal if the problem is still there. Good luck!
I would say do the clinic and take him to as many places as you can. If anything it will be more beneficial to you if your horse acts up so the clinician can teach you how to deal with your horse when he does that. If I were you I would take him to every local podunk show you can just to ride him around so he gets used to it, also if you have any friends with barns see if you could take him there, that way he gets used to going to new places.
I have had issues like this with my horse! And I have very low confidence and get very nervous quickly! So I can feel your frustration...HUGS!
But I agree - go to the clinic! I don't think that you are wasting the clinicians time, you are the one paying, aren't you? And even if things go badly, you can always excuse yourself and go home and work on some of the things that she suggests. But if you stick to it, you and your horse will get back into the showing and things will relax
Like other people have said, sometimes horses are just like that. I have had these days at home with my dead-to-the-world TB. Just work through it!
also if you have any friends with barns see if you could take him there, that way he gets used to going to new places.
Even if you can't get to every possible show I think this is great advice and a good suggestion. The biggest challenge I think alot of riders face with getting their horses adjusted to new places is just getting off the property as frequently as possible. I think the majority of horses would be a little up if going off the property for the first time in over a year. If they learn that going off the property is a regular event and no big deal they tend to take it as no biggie.
Definitely go to the clinic That's the great thing about clinics anyway, your there to learn and challenge yourself.
My mare can be the same way if I don't keep her going...off the farm that is. She is a VETERAN show hunter to say the least, campaigned her most of her life, she's been to all the big indoors, but if I don't keep her going off the farm, she will act like a 4 yr old at her first show. I learned that the hard way. Now, even if I'm not showing, I will trailer her at least once a month to my trainers, off the farm to ride at a friends etc...some horses just have to keep going to stay chilled.
I'm sure your horse will be better the next time out.
I would definitely go to the clinic, but try to give your horse a little lunge first (at the place where the clinic is being held if possible), and also try to get there a bit early so your horse can settle in.
"I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." --Vincent Van Gogh
Agree with working him a little harder for a few days before the clinic.
I'd either longe him at the clinic early, or get on, walk around the ring for 10/15 min so he can see everything, trot a fig 8 to check for soundness, then pick up a canter and canter a large circle at one end of he arena til he settles. Then reverse, and canter that direction til he settles. Walk for about 10 min to let the adrenaline drop, then start a regular warmup.
I would take multiple bits if you have them - even if they aren't ones you normally use. As long as they fit the horse it won't hurt to have mreo than needed.
If you start at 10 and intend to lunge first I'd be there by 8:30 at the latest. You will have a chance to take in the surroundings, tack up, lunge, rest, lunge some more if needed etc.
BTW, I'm 100% for going no matter what. If you are at all worried then explain to the clinician what happened and what you are worried about before you get started. Most folks are willing to help you get through issues. This will be a perfect learning opportunity...unless of course Mr. Horsie decides to remember his job and behave this time Then again, it's a win win if that happens so.....
Sure it would be lovely if your horse was perfect at the clinic, but on the other hand, what better place for your horse to pull the same act he pulled last weekend than when you have a pro you respect right there to help you work though it? Going to the clinic sounds like a win-win situation.
Also, FWIW, I am a huge fan of turnout - not just letting the horse out in a field, but chasing it around a field, arena, whatever, to get the yayas out at home before trailering to a clinic/one day show. That way, even when the horse is looky/tense at a new location, the reactions generally aren't as major. Better on the joints than lunging.
ETA, I should have read 2tbs post before I wrote mine - great minds think alike I guess
definitely go to the clinic !! lunge him a bit before you go, or when you get to the venue lunge him there, then ride. you don't want your horse to be perfect in a clinic. you need to expose the problems and issues you have so the clinician can give you the best advice he/she can give to solve the problem
we all have hard times like that, bad days the break the camel's back, you could say. we all feel like the worst rider in the world some times. i definitely have had i-hate-my-riding phases. dont worry, there's always a day where everything turns around it probably seems like it wont come any time soon, but don't lose hope!