Well she's a yearling only by number. She just broke 16 hands behind/15.2 in front and will be 16 months on the 11th. Help me.
Anyway, I am waffling around but have finally decided to bring my yearling to the state fair along with 8 other old-as-dirt school horses who are actually competing. She's 'showing' in hand thanks to an 18 year old 4-Her but its really about the experience....I wanted her off property a bit before inspections next year. She has been in stalls during inclement weather and is thoroughly handled, though is largely a pasture horse and I'm nervous about her pacing/weaving/becoming anxious...or learning it from another horse. She'll be there 3 days, two nights all together and I plan on hand walking the life out of her.
Do you have any tips to make this experience a non-lethal one? Tips for finding the right time to braid? I know she's not too young to be getting experience but since this isn't a yearling SHOW I'm hoping the environment is still right. Or should I just pack quietex and pray I kid, I kid.
I may not be the best person to take advice from, but I recently started showing a yearling for the first time ever (for the both of us.. I've never shown a horse this young before) and was very impressed by some extremely good behaviour.
It's a filly I bred and raised myself. Lots of handling and I made a solid effort to introduce her to a lot of "scary" stuff relatively often throughout her life. I ended up breaking my foot a month before the show, and did send her to a professional handler for a few weeks beforehand since I couldn't do anything remotely mobile while on crutches. I think this in itself was a good move. It was at a busy show barn with lots activity and new horses coming and going all the time. When she was pulled out for her "lessons", she learned that she was expected to do what was asked of her despite what was going on around her.
I did braid the night before, though in retrospect could have done it that morning considering she stood like an angel for me the whole time (I think she even fell asleep). I guess it depends on your horse. If your girl is fidgety I'd probably get the braiding done the night before just in case, but if she's pretty mellow you'd likely be fine to do it that morning. I braided the tail once we got to the grounds.
Throughout the day(s), I spent a lot of time just walking her around and letting her look at everything. We practiced standing quietly during the other classes. The only "bad stuff" she threw at me was a bit of separation anxiety from her barn-buddies (called a few times, then she got over it), and wanting to see EVERYTHING all at the same time. I had to remind her a couple times that I was in fact still beside her and rubber-necking was not an option. Pretty harmless stuff.
I'm no expert but I also just took my son's yearling Half Welsh to a fair to show in-hand. It was his second time off the farm and his first time off the farm alone. I braided the night before because I was alone and knew I'd have my 2 y.o. son with me in the morning before our class. He was super and stood tied in the aisle the whole time.
It was just an overnight but I hand walked about an hour after we got to the show to let him see the sights and took him out about 30 minutes before his class to hang out by the ring.
He was so quiet my son even helped me brush him in the morning before our class. Everything went well with my gelding...so much better than I was expecting. Because he's not a sale horse he's been turned out all summer and basically ignored yet 2 days before the show I caught him, practiced trotting in-hand again (first time since May), clipped him (again first time since May), etc and he was a saint. I am so happy we decided to keep him for my son.
I think for the bigger, rated shows, a professional handler is a great idea and I'm also toying with the idea of sending one of mine off to a professional next year but that is largely because we have NO rated line classes in my area.
I think if you plan on giving her plenty of your time and making sure you aren't stressed out about getting stuff done it makes the whole atmosphere more relaxed. It will largely depend on her temperament and how well she deals with a new environment but keeping yourself as low stress as possible I think helps keep her relaxed. It sounds like you've given it some thought so just have fun!
Thanks for all the advice. I think I will braid at home...bathe at home...do whatever I can so that she can just hop off the trailer and get her practice. If it was a 'real' show I'd definitely get a handler but since its a state fair, I'm too old
I was waffling between using a chain and not. I'll take your advice. I'm hoping she'll be the horse I know and behave herself. I just am so terrified since it is her first experience away from home and i want it to be positive.