Hi, I figured I was due for an update on our progress, and since we had our first real setback, I also need some encouragement. I will try to keep it short and sweet. Here is a link to my first thread Retraining a former barrel horse
Summer in AZ is NOT show season, so we spent the time training, trail riding, and even moved barns to a much more low-key place.
+ Entered him into a local dressage schooling show at an eventing barn in November and he did well.
+ Entered him into another local dressage schooling show at a dressage barn in December and he did REALLY well, winning our classes.
+ Entered him into a dressage and cross-country derby day at the eventing barn and he won the dressage section, but we DQ'ed in the cross-country section because I'm an idiot and forgot jump 9.
He did so well, that I wanted him to go around again to give both of us extra confidence, and we won that round (it was just the cross-country, they created a separate division, not part of the Combined Test because enough people did just that part). I was SOFRIGGENHAPPY that day!! Seriously, so high. That was our first time ever over solid fences and over fences at an arena we were not boarding at. It was an amazing day.
Overall, everything has been going so, so well. I am learning a LOT and we are taking it slow and steady. Mick has shown he likes to jump and has some talent for it. We figured out pretty quickly that when we were told he had been trained over jumps, that wasn't exactly accurate, more like made to go over a couple of courses with NO prep work or intro training. When he did it (Because he is a good boy) we was deemed 'Trained In Jumping and Eventing.' Sigh.
Now the negative:
- Took him to his first recognized dressage show this weekend. I did not register him for any classes because I wanted to see how he would do with all of the extra chaos. He did great the Friday before and we rode him in both show arenas and three of the warmup arenas. Saturday comes, there's a scratch, Mick looks just as calm and confident as yesterday, so I enter him. (Read: give away a crap ton of money)
We have a good warm-up, everything is fine, he looks stellar in his braids, and I'm not completely embarrasing myself in the white breeches. I am not nervous because there is NO expectation of greatness, I just want a happy horse and a good show experience. We get to about 20 feet from the arena entrance and Mick stops, spins, and jumps around. I get him pointed back to the safety of the warmup arena, and once inside he bolts. I get him back under control fairly quickly and walk him back out of the warmup arena. He starts to back up again, I get him settled. Get off, and hand walk him into the arena. Attempt to mount in there, he ducks away quickly, so I get off and by some miracle of god, am allowed by the TD to just hand walk him around the arena.
On a side note, when Mick bolted, some stupid idiot started screaming, "YOU'RE OUT OF CONTROL, YOU'RE OUT OF CONTROL, "YOU'RE OUT OF CONTROL!!!!" While I am trying to get him back together. Thanks lady. Now everyone in the 1/2 mile vicinity is staring at us and our breakdown. And I am well aware that he is out of control, I am ON him. Last time I checked, there were about 15 other horses and riders in the immediate vicinity, and my horse was acting stupid enough. No one needs the added stress of people screaming in their ears. I feel horrible for disrupting the other competitors, and if any of you reading this were there, I am so sorry for my PTSD horse. (hangs head)
Anyway, I put him away, cry my frustrated and embarrased eyes out, gather my thoughts and wait for the rest of the show to be over. My trainer says, you need to get him in there tonight. I mount up and do a warmup in the warmup arena then slowly work at getting him into the show arenas. We go back and forth with him until he finally decides 10 feet out of the spookiest arena, that he will go in. I feel the change in him and tell my trainer so she steps out of his way and lets him do it. It was awesome. We have a happy party in there, then I walk him around and ride my test, pretty much in the dark.
Next day, he's back to being nervous, so he gets LOTS of carrots when he is calm next to the arena entries. I also ride him in the warmups again. So, I think I have his two (I know, only two??, hahah) main problems identified. 1. Clapping and people gathered near the gate. and 2. Loud speaker announcements.
Anyone have ideas on how to desensitize him to those things that won't cost me $1000 in show entry fees and piss off the entire riding community where I live? Or should I just give up and if I want to show, just do little schooling shows? I'm too old to make this horse thing anything but a hobby, so maybe I just need a reality check?
Sorry my short and sweet was crazy long