As we turned up the centerline Lucky threw her face in the air. She jiggled a little sideways and was power walking. When I asked for the first trot she tied herself up in knots and went sideways down the long side. The test was ugly. It was consistent, but not in a good way! Lucky would have 5 nice strides in control and then she would hollow out and try to truck. I tried to ride the test as quietly as possible. I think that helped though because as I did my salute and walked up to the judge she smiled and said “She is a bit of a firecracker”. That put the biggest smile on my face ever because for one thing, she was totally being a firecracker, and for another the first comment wasn’t about me doing something wrong to mess up Lucky! Score! The judge shared with me a story about a mare that she has in training where most of her ride is spent saying “No, you are not in charge. No, we doing things this way. No, you have to listen to me. and No, you are not going to get me to ride you incorrectly”. It was a great to hear because she pointed out that while I might feel like I spend all my time doing and saying those same things to Lucky, the training of that kind of horse is actually easy because you do all the hard stuff just getting them to pay attention. The judge then gave me several very helpful exercises to use with Lucky before she sent me on my way. I left the ring with a HUGE confidence boost. Sure, my test wasn’t that good, but I wasn’t alone, and even better, there were ways to fix it!
I went to warm up for my second test and my friend came over to say good bye. I thanked her for her help (I cannot even imagine how bad it would have been had she not been there) and set to work on getting Lucky ready for my second test. My warm up was much better so I had hopes of a good score as I walked in to the top ring. As soon as Lucky looked around and couldn’t see another horse she went to scream. I had walked her up on a long rein and that short walk was enough to loose her body and her mind. As I silently cursed myself for trying to give her a break (I don’t think Lucky likes taking mental breaks at a show) I did everything I could to use my warm up time around the edge to get her back. When the judge blew the whistle I wanted to ask for 5 more minutes, but I couldn’t. Like it or not, this was how we were going in to the show ring. I decided to walk all the way until C and then pick up my trot in the hopes of getting her to come back to me. Yeah, that didn’t exactly work. The worst moment of the test was when she tried to bolt with me. The judge aptly commented “running” and gave us a 3 on that part of the test. While it was a very tough ride, I still felt more in control than I had at the last show so I would try and be quiet and correct on every movement. That meant some movements were great (we got 7s!) and other movements were horrible (like her trying to take off on me). The test was a total mixed bag, but I was actually pleased as I walked out of the ring. It might not have been a great test, but unlike the first test of the night we actually had good moments!
I untacked her and took care of her while I waited for my tests. I also called the Young Rider and told her I needed her for the next show (which is actually tomorrow). Clearly having someone helped so I wanted that extra support for next time. As I sat there chatting and waiting for my tests I had a few realizations. The first one was that Lucky does not like to be on a loose rein at shows right now. One of my reasons I think I am typically so successful with scared horses is because I don’t mind trusting them. I am not used to horses who are not confident, so while I thought just letting Lucky be was helping her, it turns out all I was doing was stressing her out. Another thing I realized was that I have two sides of Lucky and I need to be patient with them both. Lucky at home is so easy going, that I think I have been hard on her at the shows without even meaning to be because my expectation level is based on how she is at home. I resolved to be nicer to my poor girl at the next show. If she can’t stand still on the lead line for more than 5 seconds I shouldn’t get mad at her, just try and sooth her instead.
When I got my scores I was surprised. I think the judges were kind and gave her a 61.875% on Intro A and a 58.125% on Intro B. Solid scores considering how the tests went. It gave me hope that my pretty girl and I could be show divas someday. Overall I am very happy with how things ended up. To go from crying in a car to putting in a solid warm up in not of lot of time was more than I could have hoped for myself a few years ago. My next show is tomorrow, and I think it will go well. Not only is it an hour away from Lucky (I wonder if the local show grounds is a little too close for her??) but the Young Ride is coming with me and I even talked her in to taking Lucky in the show ring for a test herself. Lucky’s Owner and I both think watching someone be confident and quiet on her in a show ring will do wonders for me.
And for all of you wondering if I am sick of showing yet…not yet! Gen is feeling very neglected on the blog, but after the show tomorrow I have another TND next week. After that Lucky and I will take a few weeks off to re-group.