Sending horse to a show with trainer, when you cannot attend
Would you do it? It's a weekend when I have to work.
The last show (my horse's first dressage show - former H/J horse whose last show was probably 5 years prior - dressage show was in November 2012 so first one in about 5 years), my horse was a freaked out mess.
I did not show (trainer rode) but I played groom. First show day was used for schooling and the 2nd day of the show, he showed. My trainer managed to get through one test (I had to stop watching because I've never seen my horse so scared ) - the comments were hard to read and probably hard to judge as my horse really just wanted to get out of the ring. The 2nd test, either because he figured he better just get through it or he was so tired, he did a beautiful test and was rewarded accordingly. To be fair, a dog show was going on at the same time as the horse show so lots of noise from buildings adjacent to the ring with lots of barking but you couldn't see what it was as the building closed. Still, I said "we're done showing!!" in the emotion of the moment.
Now it's time for the next show. Oh joy! Trainer says horse is ready. It's a work weekend for me so I can't go to the show - would you let your trainer take your horse without you being around? I DO trust my trainer, I never thought she'd get around that first class (he was so bad) but she did. It's just I'm a helicopter owner and a little paranoid about not being around to keep an eye on things. I actually hated my horse at the show - he was really overwhelmed by everything and never really settled down in the stall. But I figure he won't get better if he doesn't get out.
It does get better, right? He's 13 and should be 'better' at a change of scenery. Maybe he'd be more calm without my hovering around and adding to his upset?? I don't know.
I guess my answer depends a lot on how many shows are available in your area, or put another way - if you want to be there, can you show just as easily next week or soon after, when you don't have to work?
As a former hunter person turned dressage rider (my 12 year old horse's first dressage show was Nov. 10th!) I know I really enjoy opportunities to immerse myself in my new discipline, and I love to show. My horse is really easy going so I elected to do the rides myself, but I also enjoyed just sitting in the stands with my trainer during other rides while she gave me some commentary on what was going on in the ring in front of us. I am a visual learner, so that was super helpful to me, but I don't get nervous so I could do that without winding anybody up, horse or human.
If you think your horse will likely have a better experience going solo with your pro, I see no reason not to send him; you can arrange to have a video made of his rides so you can "see" him go and then get your trainer's comments afterward as well. On the other hand, if you feel strongly about being there to watch in person, I think it's perfectly legit to tell your trainer that you'd prefer to show on a weekend when you can arrange to be there, and pick another time.
Good luck either way!
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
I always evaluate these things in terms of liability. Are you confident of your horses safety and if the horse hurts someone else, are you confident about your personal liability in the matter? I tend to not let my horses go into situations where I have no control...but that is me.
One would hope that anyone setting themselves up as a professional trainer would have appropriate insurance. That's why, when I had a broken arm and a horse not quiet enough to be ridden one handed (!) and wearing a cast, I did not get, as my friends suggested, a "guts for garters" talented teen rider, but turned him over to a pro. I ain't got the liability insurance for a fellow ammy to be playing with my horse.
As to the present question, if you trust the trainer, I don't see any problem. For me it would be more a question of (1) I need to do it MYSELF; and (2) how much is this gonna cost? At this time of year, presumably time is not running out for any kind of qualification, so unless you really feel the need for the trainer to 'git 'er done' and get the horse more exposure, I'd wait and do it myself, but that's me. Under the scenario you've outlined, it's totally up to your feelings and your bank account.
Why cant the horse just go to hang out? Obviously he/she doesnt like it anymore than you do just yet and so forcing the issue IMO just creates possible problems.
Couldnt the horse go to lesson there and you could come and relax and have fun?
Last year before last I rode a mare that had pushed off her owner AND their last trainer from showing her. I asked how many times they tried? They said two! LOL BOTH times they had her in the ring acting like a crazy.
Emotions get in the way all around.
So I told her do 3 shows of lunging, walking, stalls, and ride on the NON show days just around. I schooled her on a show day and had one bad ride where I had to get off and lunge but no biggie told them "next time" and we tried again at another venue. After all I didnt have a show time to be at so the horse knew I wasnt going to pressure her.
Next show she was a champ.
Last year they showed the entire year without a problem with their young rider. Some horses dont fit up for showing in the first one or even 5 shows. Pressing the issue can make things just miserable IMO.
Good question on shows available: locally, which is all I will do, we have 3 rated shows a year. They do 2 separate shows per each rated show, so Saturday is 1 A rated show, Sunday is 1 A rated show. One in January, one in March, and one in November. So I don't get a lot of opportunity to get him out.
I do totally trust my trainer to take care of the horse. I'd feel better if she took a groom along, not sure she will.
My goal is to get to the point where he is very used to being there (it's always the same venue) so that I can show him someday. I'm a bad show-er (shocking, I'm sure ) so I need him to be very, very used to everything!
Send him! He has already demonstrated that he needs the mileage, and you trust your trainer. Chances are he will be better without you being there, and if not, that's valuable information for you to have.
It sounds like your primary goal is him acclimating to show life and having a good experience. He needs to go to the show.
If I were your horses trainer I'd pay a grounds fee, and hand graze, wander, and let him watch the warmup ring. Some shows will let you hand walk around the test arena before competition begins, so I like to take green beans early.
Riding on a loose rein at a walk would be an added bonus for the day.
Yes, he needs to get out as much as possible. Personally I'd be starting with schooling shows and just letting him tag along with more experienced, relaxed horses - giving him a chance to walk around, graze, and chill out. As others have said, the tests here are not the priority. A safe, happy horse needs to be able to travel to new places without freaking out, so this is an important part of his development.
If you are so emotionally invested that you "actually hate" your horse when he acts nervous at his first show in years, it is probably better for you not to be there. What did you "actually hate"? That he was scared? He's a flight animal. Try to change your reaction to his fear from "I hate you for this, you are embarrassing me!" to "let me help you be brave, you can be a rockstar!"
Horse shows should really be about giving THE HORSE a positive experience. He does not owe you a score, you owe it to him to make his day a confidence building one. If you make the day about that, you won't take it personally when he gets a lower score but will instead be elated that he finished better than he started.
If this is hard for you, stay home. You are probably driving both the horse and his trainer nuts.
You've had overwhelmingly positive responses, so let me tell you this as food for thought. I sent my horse with my then trainer, whom I trusted implicitly, to the last show of the season one year when I could not attend. He used to be quite difficult away from home (this was several years ago now).
I still hear from other competitors about how he was lunged for hours at 0 dark 30 before the show started each day, and why did I send him when I couldn't be there?
Lesson learned. Note the "then trainer". Note the "trusted implicitly". Not that your situation may be different, and I hope it is--just be careful.
From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.