We survived show #2....barely. It was a very, very rough day. The good thing was that I was not nervous or anxious like I was a the first show so I can't blame ME for the stuff that went wrong. Also good was that Junior performed better. He was more consistent with his frame and though we blew our horsemanship pattern (details later) he was better at the pattern work. The NOT good stuff was pretty awful, though. Here's the play-by-play:
Thursday's English lesson went pretty well. I used the Myler bit and it certainly worked better than the regular snaffle. The first time I asked for the canter he caught a front hoof and fell to his knees. This is the 2nd time we've fallen to his knees and he recovered quickly but took several funny steps after. We walked a lap and he seemed okay so we asked for the canter again and he was fine. I found it easier to keep my leg position even though this is the first time I've ridden English since the May show and he didn't seem bothered by the tack change.
I got to the barn around 10:30am on Friday and rode him in his western bit, worked on keeping a frame through circles and serpentines. His lope was too fast but that is expected after asking him to amp it up to a canter the night before. He slowed down well enough. We took the horses to the grounds at about 6pm and I rode a little bit. He wasn't nearly as uptight about things. It was SOOO hot and humid, though and everyone (human and equine) was covered in sweat. I got home around 10 and still had to shower, eat, iron my show shirt and pack the show clothes. I got to bed around 11pm.
Saturday morning I got up at 4:15 and got to the fairgrounds at 5:15. It's nice to be able to sleep in your own bed before a show, but the 30 minute commute does mean you have a little less sleep. I lunged him and he seemed totally relaxed. He listened to all my commands, didn't scream like last time, and seemed quite at home. I didn't want to overwork him since it was so humid already. I led him out the out gate and he started spooking at the trail obstacles in the corner. I took him over and made him stand on the bridge (which he did NOT like) but it was a good schooling lesson. He did pretty in our first class of English Pleasure. He did much better than last time and stayed on gait, just not as consistent or polished as he could be. The big problem was that we've been drilling him so much on his pivot refusal that instead of backing along the rail he executed a very quick pivot to the right! Ooops. The bigger problem was that we were in a class of four and three were really nicely broke horses including one of my barn mates'...so though we improved from the last show, we came in last.
I let him rest in his stall with water and hay between Pleasure and Equitation. We did a "respectable" pattern according to KAT, but we came in last again. The pattern was four cones: Start at A, canter right lead to B, trot circle to the right back around to B, walk to C, canter left lead to D, Stop and back. We drifted to the opposite side of cone D but the rest was fine, even the back, but he got really cranky in the out gate and started crow hopping and I held up the line to leave.
I was so hot I kept having to take the frozen wash cloth out of my cooler and running it all over my body. I forgot my neck coolie at home but remembered four half-frozen bottles of water and the wash cloth. I let him rest untacked for the rest of the morning until the lunch break. I got him tacked up in my western stuff and brought him out to KAT. She rode him a good 20 minutes and he looked REALLY good when she was finishing up. One of my barn mates said "he looks really good!" and I replied "Of course he does, that's what we pay her for!" I should have brought my helmet and spurs so I could get on him but we only had 5 minutes left of break and it would take me almost that long to go back to the barn to get them. I let him rest with water and hay until a few classes before mine. I asked two of the barn moms if they'd be MY show moms for my western classes. It was SOOO nice to have them. They got me on the horse and ran back for my spurs and fly spray and held Junior while I put my spurs on (while mounted) and adjusted my chaps. I warmed up and he was just okay. I could tell he was hot and cranky and so was I. I went into the class and went first for the pattern. It was three cones: begin facing away from A, pivot Left at A, lope left lead to B, FLYING LEAD CHANGE at B, at C Stop and back. When I saw the pattern I wasn't happy because though we've done two successful ones, the odds of me nailing it at a cone are like infinity to one! KAT told me to do the class anyway and just do a simple change. Well.... then what do you do if your horse picks up the wrong lead to begin with? Do you switch? I didn't...I TRIED, but it was too small of a space for us to really organize a simple change so instead we had a few bounding strides and stopped. We finished 4th out of 5 and as soon as the announcer started the placings he started to act up really bad, REALLY bad! I actually had to jump off of him because every time I pointed him to the gate he started hopping and bucking and it was getting worse by the second. He was still a jerk leading him out and I ended up handing him off to my barn mom (good trade for a cold water bottle!) and decided to scratch my last class, then talked to KAT about how to work on this behavior.
It's weird, because after the show I was nearly in tears. I was so hot and tired (and PMSing which never helps) and was really wondering why I even do shows. It's so much work, it's SO expensive, and what am I getting out of it? We're not placing well. I don't have a close person to share the experience with (Cari, I missed you terribly!). Right now it feels like I'm only getting frustration because he's starting to do the exact thing I didn't want: a horse that is one way at home and a basket case at shows. I specifically did NOT want that in a horse. Sonny was like that the first time (but much better the next time 4 years later)Gigi was like that, Banee was like that in a way, and that Arab mare I showed last in Minneapolis was CERTAINLY like that. I know the golden answer is MILEAGE, but it's just so frustrating! I can't wait 6 years for him to chill out! I know no horse is perfect, but this is precicely the type of behavior I wanted desperately to avoid. I'd be fine with last place if I was having fun doing it!
I'm sorry there are still no English pictures. After the crow-hopping exit we made I just wanted to take of that hot jacket and before I knew it we were un-dressed and un-tacked and no pictures had been taken. I'm one of very few in my barn to show Western so there are many more barn mates just hanging around. I asked the daughter of my Surrogate Show Mom to take some pics and here they are. These are of my Horsemanship class which is why the rein is shorter, but I know he's behind the vertical, and I know I'm looking down too much and leaning forward, just add that to the list of stuff I'm working on. :) It's indoors so of course the lighting isn't good enough for basic cameras but here they are anyway....