I took my OTTB mare to her first show this weekend. I wasn't expecting to come home with a bunch of ribbons. I just wanted to have a good experience for her first time. I've ridden her for a year but didn't buy her until late winter. So her schooling wasn't consistent until more recently. But she'd gotten very quiet and responsive in her flatwork thanks to all the time we spent exclusively in the walk/trot. I was even riding her on a loose rein. So I thought she was ready to go.
We were there with some other people and horses from the barn. And she seemed to settle in just fine. She was spooky in the warm up ring. Normally at home or on the trails she doesn't spook at anything. But after walking around a couple of times she was fine. Her trot during the warmup was faster than usual but was controllable. But I was not able to keep and loose rein. Same with the canter. We were able to have a second chance to warmup before the undersaddle classes. There were a heck of a lot more horses than in the arena then there were in the earlier warmup. I think this is what made her so hot. She was blowing around the arena like I wasn't even there. I didn't even dare canter. That would've made it much worse.
Anyway our first class was Eq. She was calmer for the pattern, but again not as calm as normal. We went past our marker for the cone because she didn't want to stop. But her backup was very good as well as her turn on the forehand which I never taught her to do so I was shocked. Our walk-canter transition was terrible but the canter itself was calm and smooth. Our sitting trot was borderline. And she tried to pull the reins out of my hands during the halt. So some good, some bad. There were only six people in the class so I knew we had sixth since we completed the pattern. But we didn't get sixth or any other place and we wern't Dq'd either. What happened you ask? Well, we were in the lineup waiting to here the results of the class when two people out of nowhere started yelling at the announcer that they were in the class but didn't do the pattern. There's a rule about being late and not being able to show. But the judge allowed it anyway. I was not to thrilled.
Then there was pleasure. Well we blew that big time. My horse had gotten hot again and blew around the arena like an idiot. And we couldn't get a spot on the rail because we were going so much faster than everyone else.
Last class was hunter hack. I don't know what the problem was, but with the exception of a two, every horse refused the jumps. Even my horse who has never even thought of refusing a jump. She loves jumping. This was the one class I thought we had a chance in. It turned out to be our worst class. She hesitated at the first jump but she did go over. She was heading toward the second jump and then just before it she darted off to the side. I came so close to falling off. I was holding onto her neck trying to grab the reins while she galloped off. I was able to stop her and readjust myself. But that was so embarassing.
I took her back to the jump at a trot. She tried to refuse again but I was ready and made her go over. She was doing fine at the hand gallop until she tried to dart in another direction. But I made follow the pattern. She halted just fine and did her back just fine. Our rail work was the same as in the pleasure class. We got second by default as only one other person in my division did hunter hack and technically we completed the pattern. I was so glad when I was done.
Even though I had a terrible show I didn't take it out on my horse. I hate it when I see people do that. The poor horses don't understand why you're upset and punishing them. So I watered her, untacked her and then took care of myself. Then I sat by the arena to simultaneously sulk and cheer for my friends who were still showing.
I'm taking her to a show this coming weekend. I've decided that all the schooling in the world at home won't help her get over this. The experience is what she needs. I've also thought of maybe trying Rescue Remedy to help take the edge off. What do you guys think?