Horse Antsy at Shows
I think I may have posted something similar to this before but I'm posting this because the 2013 show season is starting up and I want it to be successful. My horse is always very unfocused at shows. He is always looking around (which wouldn't be a big deal if he didn't do it while I was riding, because I can never get his attention back on me) and whinnying at his buddy. Basically doing anything that doesn't involve being focused on what he's doing. He has never been so bad that he's bucked, reared, bolted, and that type of thing, but I can tell his mind is always somwhere else when I'm riding him. It's like he's got just enough of his attention on me so he can do what I ask of him but it's mediocre. Definitely not as good as what I've seen him do at home. Our first show this year was March 9th- a schooling show at the university. I signed up for Youth WP walk/ trot and walk/trot/canter. The last two times I've been to one of their shows there were no youth western riders there at all. So when I went last time I said that if there were a few youth riders I would show but if there weren't I would take the opportunity to just ride him like I would at home and not have to worry about actually showing. I ended up riding him in a big grassy area at the show for about an hour and a half. At the end of my ride I felt like we'd regressed. :cry: How does that even happen? I thought maybe if I rode him like I do at home he would begin to see that when we go to shows he has to be on his best behavior and do like he does at home, but that really didn't happen. He really is a great horse and I know that he's trying but it's very frustrating. The next time I rode him at home he did sooo amazing. I can't do anything at home to prepare for this stuff at shows because most of the time he's an angel at home! I just want to go to shows knowing that I have a chance to do well.
So, to get to the point of that really long story, can anyone help me with some exercises I can do with him at home or the show. Or just some words of encouragement because I'm overwhelmed. I get so excited to go to shows but then I wonder why once I get there. :cry:
Is your horse new to showing? How old is he? It's very common for less experienced horses to be a little overwhelmed by a show atmosphere. After all, there are tons of new people, horses, sounds, smells, etc. You also mention that you get excited to go to shows. Does that translate to nervousness? If so, your horse may be picking up on that as well. I have been showing green horses (new to both riding and showing) the past couple years and I've found it really effective to give them a bit of time to settle in after unloading (first things first - they gotta pee on the fresh shavings in their stall :-P), and then making them work, both on the ground and under saddle. I find that it helps take their mind off of their surroundings and puts their focus on me. I'll ask for the same things I do at home, even if we're not showing at that level, like pivots or leg yielding, etc. No need to run them into the ground, just get their feet moving and their mind thinking instead of reacting.
I sounds like he is new to showing? It is going to take some time before he settles down in a show environment -- it might even be a YEAR of showing before it becomes "ho-hum" routine for him. Just be patient with him!
I've found that the cure for this is wet saddle blankets and lots of time at shows. Even if you aren't entered in classes take him anyway. Tie him to the tariler, ride him in warm up. Make it normal for him to go to oother places, and soon he'll be as good at a show as he is at home.
Good luck :-)
Yes he is somewhat new to showing. I showed him maybe 5 times last year and once this year. He came into showing late in life (he's almost 12), but I wouldn't be surprised at all if his previous owners had taken him different places like shows. Thanks for the suggestions!
We always used to have a routine down for shows.
1. Arrive hours early or the day before if possible.
2. Longe. Get the willies out. If they buck, make them push past it and work. If they are looking around, make them push past it and work. Once the horse is focused on you and asking you "what next?" then be done.
3. Ground control. Get those feet moving. Take them into the arena, introduce them to the scary things, make sure they work if they lose focus on you.
4. Preparative riding warm-up. Incorporating your ground control by riding. Hip-disengagements, pivots, circles, changes of directions, until your horse is soft in the face and focused.
5. Finishing. Prepping your horse by working it for the class.
Work work work work work. That's all I can say! Good luck!
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