I took my OTTB to his third show ever this weekend (and first show of the season), and needless to say it did NOT go well.
I learned from the two previous shows that my guy hates waiting. He gets antsy, and the longer we wait the more cranky and stressed out he gets. Knowing this, I checked in with the gate keeper for our first hunter over fences class right after the class started, and we were scheduled to go fourth in the lineup. But for reasons I don't quite understand she kept pushing me back and changing the order of go, ignoring my repeated requests to go and at one point even telling me I didn't check in so I had to wait my turn. I still don't understand why she did that to me. Anyway, point being... I ended up spending about 20 minutes in a dark, enclosed chute that was increasingly crowded, and my horse had a total meltdown and began half rearing, playing bumper cars with the walls... it was a completely awful experience for him (and me), and when we finally made it into the show ring he was a frazzled, jittery mess. Halfway through the course I gave up and we slow trotted between the rest of the fences, hoping it would help un-fry his brain a bit.
The second HOF class went a little better. At this point I could care less about ribbons--I just wanted it to be a better experience for my horse. In fact, I was so focused on his mental state that I went off course... oops... but at least those final fences he was a little more relaxed. After that one, I scratched from our last class (HUS). I could tell he was running on adrenaline at that point.
My question is this: Next weekend we have another show... do we do it and try for a better experience? The good points about this one: It's only one day (no overnight), only a 45 minute trailer ride away (versus another state like this last one), it's at a barn I used to board him at so he's familiar with the location, and it's a much more relaxed and casual show atmosphere.
Let me know your thoughts. Part of me says let's do it and try to make this one better, but the other side of me says skip it and give him a long break from showing.