The First Horse Show of 2013 – Part 4

I knew as soon as I walked out of the ring that nothing was going to be gained by doing my second test. So many people had scratched though that there was only 5 people in my class. 5! That meant a guaranteed ribbon…and we all know how I love my ribbons! I wanted one so badly, but as we walked back to the warm up Lucky stayed in ball of tension mode. I knew before I even walked back in to the warm up that I had to scratch my second test. It wasn’t fair to Lucky. It is one thing to push through when you have a tense horse and you are riding well, but I was riding TERRIBLY. The worst I have ridden in a long, long time…and it is not like I ride that well in general. I brought her back in to the warm out of hope that she would relax, but I knew that as soon as she did I would call it a day. I tried to just walk her around, I tried to give her a long rein, I tried to use her training to get her to focus on me. I did get her body back and listening to me, but her mind was elsewhere at this point. I had fried my poor ponies brain and with my rider suckyness I couldn’t get her back. We went up to watch tryingtorides second test and I decided to stay on her just to see if just watching someone else and relaxing myself would help her.


Unlike before our first test, Lucky had now decided there was a boggy man in the field behind us. She would spin around trying to get a better look at it. I knew know that my days of letting her look at things had to stop so I kept turning her towards the ring again. It was a very stressful 5 minutes of me turning her back and her spinning around again. I finally decided that it she could just face the ring for 10 seconds that would have to be good enough. Eventually she managed to stop trying to find the boogy man behind her long enough that I got off. I had to hand walk her back to the trailer, and even with me on ground she was convinced she saw monsters. The great thing about Lucky is that she doesn’t spook, so even though she was clearly distressed and stressed out, she was manageable. We did need to do a lesson on personal space on the way back, but just like when I was riding her she was trying to not be crazy.


I untacked in record time and was looking at her hot self debating if I should take the 3/4 of a mile drive back to the farm and cool her off or try and the show grounds when Lucky did something I have never seen her do. She shook her head so hard that the lead rope I had been loosely holding while I put stuff away popped out. Were at the back of the trailer and Lucky trotted right up the ramp on to her spot. She had gone so fast my first reaction was that she was going to fall, my second was to laugh. I know that was a very bad training moment, but in her defense she is supposed to self load when we are at the back of the trailer and I do let go of the lead when it is time to load up. Dom did teach her to do that, it is just that normally I know I am asking for her to do it! I thought about backing her off and making her wait, but she literally let out a massive sigh and started eating her hay…I just didn’t have the heart to stress her out. I said goodbye to trying to ride and went back to the farm to cool her out and hose her off.


Even back at the barn she was tense, which is so not like her. I started to get really upset, and even started to cry that I had ruined everything. At the end of last year Lucky LOVED to show. All winter I had worked on getting her to listen to my body and in the one ride when she really needed me to be there to feel secure I totally stopped riding from the chest down and turned in to a giant handsy mess. Lucky might have been a little tense, but that bad ride was ALL my fault. I took my time making she she was cooled out before I turned her out again. As soon as the halter came off she took off away from me, something she never does. I ruined everything, Lucky didn’t even like me anymore.


I went back to pick up my tests and was not surprised I came in last. I took my pink ribbon and my test, but was surprised by my score. I got a 57.86%. I wasn’t even 10% away from 1st place. The ride had felt like a 40%, so I was honestly shocked that I broke 50%. When I read through the test I was shocked to see lots of 6.5’s. The comments were spot on and things like “unbalanced rider”, “too much from hand” and about 10 different ways to say how tense and resistant Lucky was, but none of them was cruel. Every comment was accurate and she even had some nice things to say like rhythmical, and straight. She even gave us an 8 on our second center line with the comment of beautifully square halt. That is why I like to show dressage, not only do you get feedback, but each movement is scored on its own accord. In the summary comments she even said “attractive horse with potential”. I let Lucky down. A lot. I rode terribly. Lucky wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t deserve to be treated the way I rode her.


It was our first time off the property in months, Lucky was in heat, there were massive thunderstorms that afternoon, I wasn’t feeling 100% and about a dozen other reasons why we may not have had a good day. I don’t know. I have another show this Saturday (the close ones are all right by each other this year!) so I immediately went home and e-mailed the secretary to see if I could drop down to Intro C and Training 1 (she got back to me right away saying I could). I am going to try and bring someone with me to remind me how to ride in case I forget. I also signed up for a fix-a-test clinic. My big fear that I shattered Lucky’s confidence and ruined all the hard work I put in to training her this winter. I will never forgive myself if I did that. All I can do now is get better and use this as a learning experience.