This weekend I showed my mare Maggie in her very first show, I did a couple of small classes last year as test runs, but this was more like the « real deal ».
She was a little nervous, tentative and very curious and talkative to the other horses when we first got to the show grounds. But Maggie still showed she was every bit the reliable little mare I have grown so fawned of.
I debated whether to post the video of our classes or not, wondering if I should edit out the mistakes, but then I realized this is what showing horses is! Sometimes you have less than a couple of minutes to show the time and effort you have put in on your horses. The hours of care and training you have done through the years add up to 120 seconds, and with all that pressure, and even just the odds, things don’t always go perfectly.
But I am realizing you can’t just look at those few seconds, you have to look at the whole picture, was it an honest mistake on your horse’s part? Did you miscue then? Is the obstacle something they have never seen before? There are so many variables at a horse show, it is impossible to truly prepare for all of them.
I realized though that if I get frustrated when it is not going well, it starts going worse, and eventually my horse will get the idea that being at the show is stressful and unpleasant, which is the opposite of what it should be.
So here is the video, worts and all. You will see some steering issues, tiny breaks in gait, a over steering issue on my part where I made her miss a loping chute and a very graceful backwards spook away from the trail gate. These are all things that can happen to anybody doesn’t matter who you are, or what horse you ride, we ride 1,000 lbs animals with a mind of their own. These things happen.
So I did not focus on the issues that I had, I took note of them and will come up with some ways of working on them at home. I am however focusing on the good things that happened. An awning flipped inside out close to the in-gate, and she did not spook, a loose horse came over to say « Hi » while she was tied to the trailer and she did not squeal and kick him, and things she was nervous about where minor and she calmed down quickly with some simple exercises. She listened intently to my cues, and followed them willingly, I could not possibly have asked for more for a first show.
Sometimes you just have to smile and laugh and love on your horse, because regardless of how well or poorly you are doing as a team, you are both doing your best at the time. We as riders just need to role with that! So when the announcer in your Pleasure Class says jog, and your horse responds to them before you ask, just correct them, laugh and get a friend to yell commands next time you ride to desensitize them! 😉