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Bad show experience for green horse... next step?
I took my OTTB to his third show ever this weekend (and first show of the season), and needless to say it did NOT go well.
I learned from the two previous shows that my guy hates waiting. He gets antsy, and the longer we wait the more cranky and stressed out he gets. Knowing this, I checked in with the gate keeper for our first hunter over fences class right after the class started, and we were scheduled to go fourth in the lineup. But for reasons I don't quite understand she kept pushing me back and changing the order of go, ignoring my repeated requests to go and at one point even telling me I didn't check in so I had to wait my turn. :evil: I still don't understand why she did that to me. Anyway, point being... I ended up spending about 20 minutes in a dark, enclosed chute that was increasingly crowded, and my horse had a total meltdown and began half rearing, playing bumper cars with the walls... it was a completely awful experience for him (and me), and when we finally made it into the show ring he was a frazzled, jittery mess. Halfway through the course I gave up and we slow trotted between the rest of the fences, hoping it would help un-fry his brain a bit.
The second HOF class went a little better. At this point I could care less about ribbons--I just wanted it to be a better experience for my horse. In fact, I was so focused on his mental state that I went off course... oops... but at least those final fences he was a little more relaxed. After that one, I scratched from our last class (HUS). I could tell he was running on adrenaline at that point.
My question is this: Next weekend we have another show... do we do it and try for a better experience? The good points about this one: It's only one day (no overnight), only a 45 minute trailer ride away (versus another state like this last one), it's at a barn I used to board him at so he's familiar with the location, and it's a much more relaxed and casual show atmosphere.
Let me know your thoughts. Part of me says let's do it and try to make this one better, but the other side of me says skip it and give him a long break from showing.
If it was me, I would scratch. But if you feel this show could go better, then go and try to have a fun time.
Personally, I would slow things right down for him. Maybe take him to small shows and practice waiting. With my horse, I like to simulate show experiences with her, such as riding in a group with my parents, and practicing line ups. I even blast loud music when I ride with her. My neighbors are quite helpful, too, they tend to be a bit noisy. Maybe you could built some sort of chute and practice with him on being patient?
Why not go and not show? Just do warm ups, see how he does, and leave it positive.
I agree with FnB.
I would go but not show. Let him take it in but learn it is not high stress. Not sure how your nerves are as a rider before showing but that maybe contributed to the stress. Also if he raced he may feel excitement and tension in that enviroment.
A lot of my colts go to shows and don't even get ridden the first couple of times. I just might haul them and leave them tied to the trailer for the day so they can get used to it and maybe pony them around.
Thanks for all your thoughts. Taking him but not showing may be a good idea. We work on waiting in group lessons--he has to stand still in a line while the other riders do a course and wait our turn. But it's such a more relaxed environment that I don't think it bugs him as much.
I'm an incredibly laid-back person, so I don't get too nervous at shows. It's obviously a different energy than at home, but I've never felt like it was me, though yesterday it's possible I didn't help the situation since that gate person had my blood pressure sky-high.
Overall, I get the impression that it's just the energy in the atmosphere--so many people, so many other horses, everyone doing something... know what I mean? In the chute, I think it was especially compounded with the small and crowded space, trainers shouting at their students, etc.
He has to learn sitting around and waiting with other horses around is part of the game. I would take him, but not enter any classes but ride him around. Practice standing and relaxing around other horses, take him to every event you can and do this, eventually it won't be a big deal to him but boring and might look forward to actually working in the ring.
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