TMO kept insisting that she was fine. She was clearly hurting at least a little though and kept rubbing her joints. She took a few tentative steps towards her Granddaughter and gave her a big hug. Once I saw that she was okay, I walked TM over to my truck, clipped on the lunge line and set to work getting her to listen to me. At this point TM was COVERED in sweat she was so upset. As I mentioned before she does not like to do anything wrong. She knew she messed up and she was beside herself.
As a rule, I don’t lunge Thoroughbred’s at shows. I had to make this exception though for safety. TM went around and around me at the trot, but getting her to listen enough to walk was out of the question. Oddly enough, she also wouldn’t canter. I changed rein and tried it again. When she still wasn’t listening I stopped and went back to the in hand work instead. Finally she started to listen to me and was stuck to my hip like glue.
I walked over to the table and told them that I too was going to scratch my riding classes, but that I wanted to stay in the In Hand Trail. I love OTTB’s, but one of the hardest things for them is to be still. Since letting her move around had been a total bust, I tried a new tactic. I was going to stand and she would learn how to stand still as well. I walked over to the fence by the show ring and parked TM and I where there was no one else around. When she put her head in the air, I corrected. When she moved a foot, I corrected. When she just stood still I put a reassuring hand on her neck and told her she was good.
It took her about 20 minutes to go from leaping crazy horse to just nervous. She was still sweating and her eyes were big, but that was not the end of the world. When the real trail class ended I lined up for the In Hand Trail class and kept up the same rules…Standing got comfort and moving got corrections. By the time my number was called TM was getting tired and was totally in to me.
TM is NORMALLY very sensible so I had been dreaming of winning the trail class, but with her having the issue just an hour before I wasn’t sure what to expect. I put on my biggest smile and confidently walked towards the first obstacle. TM was her normal stellar self during the trail class. She did knock into poles at the box and stepped out when backing an L, but overall she did great. I knew it wasn’t nearly enough to win with the loss of points for the L, but I was pleased when we ended up placing 4th out of 9!
I took my ribbon and looked at my much calmer horse and had an internal debate. Getting a ribbon made me want MORE ribbons. I wanted to ride! I didn’t even see 6 people with English tack so all I could see was ribbons…and lots of them for my riding class. I had to remind myself that ribbons are not everything…even though I love, love, love them. I made the mature decision to go home even though she was calming down.
I want TM to LIKE showing. I want her to think that going out and about is fun. Even though it was a gut wrenching choice for me, calling it a day when TM calmer was the right thing to do. TMO came back to the trailer and helped me load TM up. As she turned around to talk away she said, “Well I guess my riding days are over”. I immediately asked her what she meant by that. She answered that there is no way she could have hung on to TM if she had exploded like that under saddle and since TM is such a sane horse that she wasn’t going to ride anymore because if TM could explode and hurt her she had no options left.
Hearing her say that totally broke my heart. She also said that clearly TM isn’t camp horse material. She said that she didn’t feel comfortable having anyone ride her and that she was going to let the mare be a pasture pet. I looked at TM and looked back at TMO and asked her if she would be okay if I still rode her. She took a moment to think it over and asked if I really wanted to keep riding her.
I, of course, answered with an enthusiastic yes. I might have had one of my most embarrassing shows ever, but that didn’t mean I was ready to give up on TM. A lot of the problems we had at the show were MY mistakes. I should have gotten there earlier, I should never have suggested a lead line class, I should have practiced more going on field trips before the show, I should not have let my emotions about the trailer being stuck get to me, and the list goes on and on. While her explosion was disconcerting because she gave me no warning, she did stop before she stepped on TMO.
So even though this was a BAD show for me, it has actually led to good things. I get to ride TM for as long as I want now! Yay! Sure, we have a lot that we need to work on, but with time I think that she is going to be a VERY fun horse for me to work with. First task is to get her to a show and have me be able to get on her!