So one of my daughters got a new horse on Dec. 31. Our trainer acquired the horse and called us to come see it the day it was brought home. We didn't really have room for another horse but I decided to go look without my daughter. (My daughter's last horse was put down for attacking people, so she's been sort of 'catch riding' whatever's available). I liked one of the two horses, and brought her to test ride him the next day. He was far from perfect, but had a lot of potential and we brought him home on a care lease for the show season.
He's been patterned in gaming but is VERY ratey and dives into his turns which has been difficult for her. He had never been shown in performance, and she wanted to show him. Their first two shows did not go well, with both of them melting down before the end of the day.
Today, the last performance show before fair, she rode. She decided to ride all classes except trail, but including hunter hack, which she had never done. While she did not place well (they're still having trouble with the left lead), he behaved like a perfect gentleman ALL DAY LONG, and she did not melt down once!! We had the perfect judge, fair, didn't gloss over anything, but also gave lots of encouragement along with constructive criticism. They made it through the whole day without once diving for the gate, rearing, crying, or refusing anything at all! When we got this horse, he would take down not only the rails on the jump, but the standards right along with them, but today, after months of her teaching him to go over and NOT through the jumps, he jumped quite well in hunter hack.
The judge made sure to mention to her that although she did not achieve her left lead, it was clear that she never quit trying to get it, and gave her some credit for effort. I am just so proud of both of them. The one goal for the day was to get through with no melt downs, and not only did they do it, they did it with a SMILE!!
How they did it: My daughter finally realized that she doesn't need to 'warm up' for forever for every class, and did a brief warm up, then just chilled by the gate. Her horse entered every class much happier than usual. At lunch, she completely untacked, and gave him a haybag stuffed with alfalfa (a special treat), to munch on and then let him be. I was upstairs announcing all day, so she had to do the whole show entirely by herself (she's 11, did I mention how proud I am??) and didn't have me there to melt down to/vent at.
Here's to hoping that this is a sign of great things to come from the two of them in the future!