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About to chicken out of my first h/j schooling show in years

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  • About to chicken out of my first h/j schooling show in years

    Hi all. This might end up more of a vent than anything else, apologies in advance.

    Those of you that know me/my horse know we've had some issues. about 3 years ago I left a mostly hunter barn and switched trainers. I loved the trainer and the barn, but they were not a good fit for me or my horse. I made sure everyone knew I had no hard feelings, was not trying to insult anyone, etc... trainer was highly competent just not my style. I even sent other riders her way later on.

    I kept a volunteer positions at the barn shows, trying to maintain relationships, if not friendships. But I got a very cold shoulder and gave up after about a year. Have barely seen them since then, but I'm always friendly, even though they are not - especially the trainer, who wouldn't even say hello, and I know she recognized me. I'm planning on going to one of these barn shows with the same horse on Saturday.

    *However*, while it's been 3 years since I left, my horse has been lame for all but about 6 mos. So I've really only had about 6 mos to work with this new trainer on my horse. I've ridden tons of other horses and grown a lot as a rider on the flat, but my horse and I are in almost the same spot and I haven't jumped frequently since he went off. No one from the old crowd really knows this, and my new trainer hasn't attended one of these barn shows before either.

    I've bombed shows before, in front of people I knew and respected, but they knew my situation. I'm so terrified I'll do poorly at this show, and it'll reflect really badly on me and my trainer. After all, I've had 3 years with her, right? Obviously if I still suck after 3 years she must be a pretty crappy trainer. I have a ton of respect for my new trainer and really don't want to embarrass her when she's going to this show mostly for me.

    In addition to all of this, the barn I board at is having some major issues that are affecting my riding.

    a. The arena footing is so deep as to be dangerous, especially for a horse with previous soft tissue injuries. So we ride on the grass outside.

    b. It's rained for 3 weeks straight. I've ridden once in the last 2 weeks, a short flat. Haven't had a lesson in 3 weeks or jumped since the lesson.

    c. The trainer has her own barn and only comes to my barn for lessons, which are at a time I can rarely make. She rides my horse once a week weather depending, hasn't been able to for 3 weeks. So I've had little professional supervision for months.

    d. Even when it was sunny enough to jump, I only did maybe once a week at the most. We schooled 3' solidly, but infrequently.

    e. The field we jump in is HUGE. He hasn't jumped in a confined space in months, I'm worried about our "jumper" abilities.

    f. He has some anger issues. I'm worried about him getting pissed about having to turn and throwing a tantrum, which he has before.

    Despite all this, part of me still wants to go.

    a. It'll be our first jumper show in 4 years.

    b. There are no other jumping shows within a ~3 hour drive all year.

    c. This is the first chance I've had to do one forever.

    d. I freaking love jumping when I'm not freaking out over it.

    e. 2'9" is pretty easy for us, even on a bad day. Even amidst a meltdown we can probably go clean.

    If you read that, thank you lol. I'd love some insight or ideas.
    When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

    Official Secretary of Sass

  • #2
    Just go. If hes acting like a turkey when you're there, you can always scratch and school instead.

    Comment


    • #3
      Story first (it has a point) --one of my daughter's horse trials, her young horse lost her on fence 5 ---being the good horse that he was, he continued on the course --taking each of the remaining 20 or so obstacles nicely, and avoid all efforts to catch or corral him. He only stopped when he took the last one and trotted to the start box near by as if to say, "Can we go again?" --there were many, many photos and a video of him doing the course rider-less. It was a well-known horse trail, many high level riders, big audience especially at the water jump where the horse did a good job taking the island jump, too.

      The announcer, a British fellow, had quite a lot of fun keeping the audience appraised of how the horse was doing --"Clean over the coop --no rider interference there --or any where for that matter," "Lovely effort at the bank. No issue with balance --no one to balance," etc. etc.

      A couple of years later, we were at the same horse trial having dinner with a group of riders and trainers. The "horse that did the course alone," came up and there was some musing about what happened to him and his rider.

      My point is, kiddo was sitting right there ---no one, not one person, remembered that it was SHE who fell and HER HORSE that had now legendary status --no one remembered who it was, only that it happened.

      So my long winded point is that you should go ---if you do poorly, or the horse does, no one will remember --people only remember how they or their children do.

      Continue to speak well of the trainer ---and the facility --only good came come of that. I think you are a class act.

      Comment


      • #4
        You need to separate out the issues in your own mind.

        First and most important are issues related to both health comfort and fairness to your horse. Can you take him to this show and have it be 100% a positive experience for him? Is there any chance he will get injured or you will give him a bad ride? If so, scratch. It might be worth risking a horse's well being for a high stakes event, say your Olympic round. It is never appropriate to risk your horse's well being for s barn schooling show. Question: if this show was at a neutral venue would you feel prepared?

        Second question is about your social anxiety. Why do you feel such a need to impress these people? Once you leave a barn you are no longer in the club. Nothing will bring that back. Trying to keep volunteering there showed you that. It doesn't matter whether you do well or poorly. Nothing will make them include you in the inner circle or love you again. So if you go you need to go as a stranger who doesn't care who anyone is or hope that they will be friendly. Question: can you attend this show with the same set of social or emotional expectations as if it were a neutral venue? If not, you probably aren't ready to go. Also are you bringing a trainer or barn buddies or going solo? In this kind of situation where you are feeling social anxiety in advance having a group from your barn attend your first show will really help. I think it is perfectly reasonable to avoid show venues that induce social anxiety especially schooling shows which are often smaller and more personal or idiosyncratic than big rated shows. Is this really the only schooling show within a 3 hour radius?

        Third question is for your trainer. Are you genuinely worried you won't represent her well? Tell her. Probably she doesn't care what the other barn thinks, and knows that actually getting out and trying is a whole step above not trying at all. She also knows that having a good show personally is just as good in the long run as getting ribbons. Is she coming to coach you? If not no one will know who your coach is. If yes, then she will make her reputation by her insightful and useful guidance to you onsite

        But you need to separate your legitimate worries about the fitness of the horse from your equally legitimate social anxiety.

        It's fine to scratch because horse is not fit. It's fine to scratch because you are not comfortable with the management of a venue. But you need to know which is which and be clear why you are dropping out.

        Otherwise your social anxiety will over time cause you to either exaggerate the unfitness of the horse or it will cause you to overlook real problems with the horse because you are dead set on impressing your old barn frenemies.

        Comment


        • #5
          Honestly I would not go if you are so worried about what everyone will say or think about you or your horse. It would suck all the fun out of it. But I think you are taking it way too seriously...people generally worry about their own performance and horse and aren't there to judge you. People that overly criticize are those who are insecure in themselves. If it was me, I would go and concentrate on schooling my horse and accomplishing my own goals for the day. Everyone who has ever showed has had a horrible experience one time or another (especially if the horse is coming back from injury.) It shouldn't keep you from trying again.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
            You need to separate out the issues in your own mind.

            First and most important are issues related to both health comfort and fairness to your horse. Can you take him to this show and have it be 100% a positive experience for him? Is there any chance he will get injured or you will give him a bad ride? If so, scratch. It might be worth risking a horse's well being for a high stakes event, say your Olympic round. It is never appropriate to risk your horse's well being for s barn schooling show. Question: if this show was at a neutral venue would you feel prepared?

            Second question is about your social anxiety. Why do you feel such a need to impress these people? Once you leave a barn you are no longer in the club. Nothing will bring that back. Trying to keep volunteering there showed you that. It doesn't matter whether you do well or poorly. Nothing will make them include you in the inner circle or love you again. So if you go you need to go as a stranger who doesn't care who anyone is or hope that they will be friendly. Question: can you attend this show with the same set of social or emotional expectations as if it were a neutral venue? If not, you probably aren't ready to go. Also are you bringing a trainer or barn buddies or going solo? In this kind of situation where you are feeling social anxiety in advance having a group from your barn attend your first show will really help. I think it is perfectly reasonable to avoid show venues that induce social anxiety especially schooling shows which are often smaller and more personal or idiosyncratic than big rated shows. Is this really the only schooling show within a 3 hour radius?

            Third question is for your trainer. Are you genuinely worried you won't represent her well? Tell her. Probably she doesn't care what the other barn thinks, and knows that actually getting out and trying is a whole step above not trying at all. She also knows that having a good show personally is just as good in the long run as getting ribbons. Is she coming to coach you? If not no one will know who your coach is. If yes, then she will make her reputation by her insightful and useful guidance to you onsite

            But you need to separate your legitimate worries about the fitness of the horse from your equally legitimate social anxiety.

            It's fine to scratch because horse is not fit. It's fine to scratch because you are not comfortable with the management of a venue. But you need to know which is which and be clear why you are dropping out.

            Otherwise your social anxiety will over time cause you to either exaggerate the unfitness of the horse or it will cause you to overlook real problems with the horse because you are dead set on impressing your old barn frenemies.
            I've showed enough that he should have a net positive experience. I'm not there for the ribbons, just the miles. It should not be a physical concern, he is sound and mostly fit. Physically, he can go.

            I'm pretty sure I'm not super concerned about impressing anyone. I'd like to, sure, but I don't think it's a big reason. Unless I'm unknowingly lying to myself, which is a possibility. I also don't think I'm out to be snuggle bunnies again, but the trainer especially is highly connected and has a very far reaching circle. She is a very good person to have on your side, I'd like to maintain at least a professional relationship with her and the others. The issue is mostly the total rejection I've felt for what I feel is no reason.

            I'm definitely worried about representing my trainer well. I've certainly talked her up enough lol. I do plan on telling her, but if someone came to me with that concern I wouldn't tell them if I actually would be troubled... I don't have faith that she'd tell the truth over making me feel better... maybe? I don't know.

            I don't even really know if my horse is as ready or not as I think he is. I'm muddled and confused, and considering pulling out for that reason... but I still want to go so badly!
            When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

            Official Secretary of Sass

            Comment


            • #7
              If I’m reading your post correctly, and you have only ridden once in the last two weeks I would not go to a show. Not really fair to the horse if he’s been sitting just to bring him out to a show and expect him to jump around and act civilized. I wouldn’t go simply because it sounds like you’re not set up for success... not because of what other people might think or any of the other reasons you listed.

              Comment


              • #8
                Agree with above post . It sounds to me that you feel that you are not prepared to the level that you would like to be. If you felt differently, the old barn people wouldn't be an issue.Take the pressure off and skip it. More shows will come along and you will feel more ready and confident.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Go and school if you don't want to show. Meh. No one and I mean no one who matters in the world is looking for a chance to look down on you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sounds like it's going to be a pretty negative experience. Don't go.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Shows are only fun if you are prepared and both you and your horse feel confident. Nothing you have posted makes it sound like you are confident that you and your horse are fully prepared. One short ride in 2 weeks and no jumping in 3 weeks? Even on the steadiest, fittest horse, this is unfair. It'd be like if you were a runner and wanted to do a half (or even quarter) marathon but only ran 2 miles in the last 2 weeks, with a 7-8 mile run 3 weeks ago. It's just not fair to either one of you, but especially not the horse. You said your horse doesn't do well with shorter turns and are worried he will "throw a tantrum" when asked to turn in a ring with a rail... what makes you think this won't happen again at this show? If you get there and its in your horses best interest to scratch, will you feel comfortable doing that or will you worry about what people will think?

                      You also said you want to maintain a positive relationship with the trainer at this barn, but she doesn't acknowledge you. So the positive relationship isn't there. Let it go. Show when you are prepared, and find fun things to do when your horse is more fit/prepared.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by grandprixer View Post

                        I've showed enough that he should have a net positive experience. I'm not there for the ribbons, just the miles. It should not be a physical concern, he is sound and mostly fit. Physically, he can go.
                        OP: this sums it up for me.
                        Just stop overthinking, it's a schooling show, not Finals.
                        Go, see what your horse feels like once you're in the warm-up, then show or scratch accordingly.

                        Foxglove We need that video posted here.
                        Please 😁

                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is going to sound rough and will likely offend some of the other posters on here.

                          Go!

                          Here's why...

                          1) The facility is nicer than where you keep him, worst worst case you get to practice with your horse over jumps in a safe and solid place that he knows

                          2) Weeny-dom is a slow rolling boulder down a hill. You give yourself an out, when you don't need one, what happens next time? And the time after that? This isn't the Olympics but it is a great most local option where even under worst case scenarios you can ride your horse and practice. Don't get me wrong, there are many reasons to skip a show, I did it a couple times this year for high heat, too soon after a blip on our radar etc. But skipping for other people's thoughts... that's a no.

                          3) There is such a thing of manning up. Especially over a height that you're competent over. And the horse not having been jumped in two weeks isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Just don't jump 30 warm up fences.

                          4) You might actually have fun and a good time. TRY to see the positives in all things. Enjoy and breathe and smile every 10 mins or so.

                          5) At the end of every day you learn something. Some days you learn more than others. So why not dive in and challenge yourself.


                          Em
                          "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Both Scribbler and Xctrygirl are right-Search your real feelings and then face them. You are currently giving your old barn and trainer too much space in your head. They sound like they are sorta crappy people to not even acknowledge you. Thats just Third grade BS and you should be glad to be done with that crew. I speak from experience though and I know it is hard. As for embarrassing your new trainer-get that promptly out of your head too. Every single person on this bulletin board has rides that they hope there is no video of. Every single one. It's a fact of our sport. Positive, good-intentioned people understand that and lift up. Negative, insecure people focus on that and bring down. Surround yourself with the right kind of people and I bet all of these worries will dissipate and you can remember that this is a hobby with a wonderful creature that you love!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Victorius has a great point.

                              Here to encourage you is a GOD AWFUL ride of mine from circa 2004. And boy did I learn a ton that day!!!!

                              Mainly.... not every gelding takes correction well.

                              1:40 is where it gets good.

                              Enjoy!!!

                              Em

                              https://youtu.be/ekBOVyr-h3k
                              "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The only ones in that arena are you and the horse, period. Show in a lower division to keep your confidence

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The Centaurian

                                  He was a neat horse. I sold him to a lovely girl who got him for her (literal) whole family. Sister, mom and eventually kids all rode him and he passed away at a decent age after a glorious life. I am so proud of him.

                                  Funny enough they bought him off the pic that my ex (VERY professional equine photog) got over that fence when we finally got over it. LOL.

                                  Gotta love great Thoroughbreds.

                                  OP- I would so love to jump in and show this weekend too to support you, BUT I have had one 13 min ride this week after 9 weeks off (today) from my freak accident at Devon Fall Classic. I am with you in spirit but I can't do that to my horses. But I want to for you!!!

                                  Get it girl!!!!

                                  Em
                                  "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Victorious View Post
                                    Both Scribbler and Xctrygirl are right-Search your real feelings and then face them. You are currently giving your old barn and trainer too much space in your head. They sound like they are sorta crappy people to not even acknowledge you. Thats just Third grade BS and you should be glad to be done with that crew. I speak from experience though and I know it is hard. As for embarrassing your new trainer-get that promptly out of your head too. Every single person on this bulletin board has rides that they hope there is no video of. Every single one. It's a fact of our sport. Positive, good-intentioned people understand that and lift up. Negative, insecure people focus on that and bring down. Surround yourself with the right kind of people and I bet all of these worries will dissipate and you can remember that this is a hobby with a wonderful creature that you love!!
                                    Amen. So well put. I need to print this out and post it in my tack room, to read before every show/clinic/new thing to try! It's so easy to stay home where things are familiar. Hard to put ourselves out there. And xctrygirl, you didn't look that bad!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by shortenyourreins2 View Post

                                      Amen. So well put. I need to print this out and post it in my tack room, to read before every show/clinic/new thing to try! It's so easy to stay home where things are familiar. Hard to put ourselves out there. And xctrygirl, you didn't look that bad!
                                      Thank you!!!!!
                                      "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        OP, you have received lots of great advice worth considering. At the end of the day it is a personal decision that only you can make. In our area, we have a show every week within a 2 hour radius. To me, there would be no point in going to a show when the horse hasn't been ridden in weeks, ditto for the rider. But that might not be the same for your case.

                                        I would suggest you have a honest conversation with you trainer and ask her if it is a good idea for Dobbin to attend the show seeing that he has had weeks off, or if it would be better for the horse if you set your sights on another show in the future when you both were better prepared.

                                        As for your concern about what other people think, like earlier posters said, it isn't worth tying yourself up in knots. The trainer you left might be well connected but there is no point in trying to "preserve" a relationship that no longer exists. The best strategy is to take the high road. Be professional and courteous, when you see your old trainer, but don't be devastated if she doesn't respond in kind. It is life. She has moved on. It is time for you to move on too if you haven't already.

                                        Comment

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