Had this (not so) brilliant idea to walk him around the arena before the classes started, as we got there early. The poor kid almost had a coronary. One end of the arena (LARGE arena. At least 40x100m, if not a bit bigger) had mirrors that were really foggy. He just lost it, and started towing me around the arena. And when a 1400lbs, 17.3hh horse decides that he's not staying in a corner, not much you can do about it! Towed me (and I do mean that. I was skidding) all the way down to the letter B before stopping, so we spent the next 15 minutes trying to approach that scary corner, before we got kicked out. Fan-freaking tastic. Good start to the day, eh?
So, 10am rolled around, time for my warmup up. It was bad, at best. He was spooking at EVERYTHING and I was getting more and more nervous. Tried to pull it together, but no such luck. Had a really sick feeling going into our first test. The first part of it was ok, although he was constantly trying to duck behind my hands, and was shying away from the side where all the horses were parked. We were approaching our first canter circle, when he exploded. Just bucking non stop while I tried to steer him around our circle Got him back together, trotted, he tried to walk and stare in front of the judge's table and then bunny hopped past her. Free walk was really tense. Next canter transition was awful. Lunged forward, swapped leads and tried to canter like a cow (He NEVER does this!). Was so incredibly glad when I got down centerline and saluted. Awful test and I was do dissappointed in myself, because I knew I was letting my nerves get the better of me and not being there for him. Anyways, we finished 6 out of 7 with a 54% There WERE some good moments, and we ended up with 2 7's, one for our trot transition and for our medium walk, but we also ended up with 2 4's and lots of 5's. There was just no harmony. Although the judge was kind with her comments, and said that I handled his spooks really well and just needed to work on his consistency with the bridle.
So of course I was devastated. It felt awful. I was sure it looked awful. I had my 20 minutes of self pity and "oh, goodness! I don't want to go back in there!" and then I pulled myself together, reminded myself that this was a learning experience and tried to be the rider that I knew he needed. Warm up second time around was a bit better, although he was still quite looky, whinnying all the time and just really nervous. Decided to do the best that I could, and went for it. MUCH better. No spooking, picked up the correct canter leads, was actually LISTENING to me instead of trying to tank off. Finished 3rd out of 11 with a score of 63% :P Even got two 8's! One for our last halt (oh, did I plant that boy on his ass, I was so glad to be done) and one for one of our trot circles. And the judge's comments were lovely. She said that he had great potential, has a lovely elastic trot and just needs to sit back more on his hind end and be a bit more balanced with his connection. So I was quite pleased! You can see some of my 2nd test here - my camera only has room for 20 second clips at a time, so you get segments :P (feel free to critique too! And tips or advice is always welcome)
And here's a few pictures we managed to snag: (waiting on the official photographs :P)
So all in all, I'm happy with him. It was his first ever show. It was my first recognized show in a LONG time. We muddled through it. We looked decent. And hey, nobody died!