Help us calm down enough to show!
Tomorrow is going to be Mitchs (and mine) first show of the season.. Very late in the season but it is only a small sports day so I thought well hey, why not. It's a public holiday but it shouldn't be a big show due to many people still working.
My issue is this, at home Mitch is lazy, like incredibly lazy, argues against having to go anything faster than a walk normally... Yesterdays ride however, included one extremely powerful and one very forward moving horse, however he was very well behaved, I've just not ever experienced that amount of power come from him, in a good manner. He was very forward, working from behind, I did not have to ask him to come forward into the bit, he just did it, and that canter.. WOW :shock: If I had not been riding in my issy, the sheer power would have left me on my butt in the dirt.
So now I'm crapping my pants.
At shows, he goes from this lazy horse, do anything but make my legs dead trying, to a horse who will still do as I ask... Inbetween spooking at other horses.
Now don't get me wrong, he doesn't kick them, doesn't bite them, he's not nasty in any way shape or form... He just wants OUT. He's an ex racehorse, he is perfectly fine with the horses in his own ring going the same way as him, but as we get closer to other rings that might be going opposite ways, he.freaks.out. And I mean freaks out.
Him freaking out like that makes me freak out, which is obviously going to make him freak out, then I freak out a little more.. And you get the cycle. Then eventually we stop and chicken out on the side of the ring watching the horses go by.
I need suggestions on how to cope, not only him, but myself also. It doesn't scare me that he is trying to get out and away from the problem, that I can deal with, what scares me is the potential for him to hurt someone else and/or their horse, by trying to get out of the situation. He doesn't attack or anything, just wants out, and I would hate for another pair to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Normally I have a couple friends who stay near me in the ring on their horses as they know what happens, and know how to stay out of his way.. He spins sideways towards the outside of the ring, never forward or back. This time however, my usual companions are not with me.
I have thought about putting a ribbon on him, perhaps a green one? As he is not a kicker, so red doesn't suit.
I'm planning on getting there early and quietly riding him around the area before everyone else starts showing up and creating havoc, but it's never the surrounding or being out that bothers him, it's only the horses travelling in a different direction to him. He was getting better, but the day before yesterday we had a setback in my paddock where my mare got out of where she was and proceeded to barge past Mitch while I was riding, and kicked him square in the chest, sending him into a panicked spin, which immediately stopped and had him frozen on the spot when he realized I was going off to one side. (saint horse).
I don't know what to do to help him cope
In my experience, typical "lazy" horses are usually lazy because they control the relationship. So when you put a typically "lazy" horse into a situation that they are uncomfortable with, they take control in a bad way. You don't really have control of the horse in the first place, but it's more "acceptable" because it is lazy.
You really need to push this horse at home more, get him going with impulsion like the last forward ride. You basically need "controlled chaos". For instance, taking out a young horse by itself. You wouldn't trailer the horse to the other side of the planet and expect it just to be as it were "at home". But you can take ride it in a different pasture than usual which might build up the excitement enough to where you get a little more "out of control", but not enough so that you're completely unmanageable. The trick is teaching them how to be under control, and how to accept you as the responsible party.
I view every show as a "test" of my horsemanship, everything from trailering, to ground manners, to the actual event. My goal is to prepare my horse so that I pass "the test". If I fail the test - i.e., my horse won't load on the trailer, spooks and bucks in the warm up, and blows a class, etc. then I have to go back home and do my homework. Right now you are failing your tests. Him freaking out of control is not safe for you, him, or the people you are riding with.
I would definitely first find some "controlled chaos" at home. Maybe have some friends ride like crazy around you, purposefully try to set him off in a controlled environment. Then I would find some ground control techniques I can implement at the show. Some horses need a "baseline" of over-practiced things that they can focus on. Like mine would be hip disengagements and pivots. I practice these ad nauseum at home. But when I get to the show and my horse is distracted, she is not going to remember how to side pass or go collected right away. BUT she remembers those hip-around and pivots I've done 50 million times at home. So when I do them at the show, she instantly becomes reassured by focusing on a small task that she knows for 100% sure what she is supposed to be doing and how she is supposed to be doing it. Then I can add on the harder stuff. I also give my horses the freedom of a longe before I ride at the show. Let them burn a little bit of energy in a controlled setting without the added pressure of your nerves. :)
Thank you so much! It makes a lot of sense when you say it like that, and I really appreciate the advice.
The trailering etc always goes well, he is always fine arriving at the show, maybe a little snorty but nothing else. I do always lunge him quietly before everyone shows up. his ground manners are almost ok, apart from the occasional pawing at the ground while tied at shows.
Riding him before the show actually starts is always fine, he is the same old horse. If just a couple horses are around, same story, same old horse. But it's when the show really gets into the swing of things that it starts to go a bit off, and it's only when another ring is to close to ours.
I'll definitely try as you have suggested though, have some friends out and have them ride like crazy. There are arenas locally that I can hire out and play for the entire day with others. A friend suggested taking Mitch and her horse, and riding in circles around each other etc
Well I took him out today, and I won the battle... eventually. He was a complete clown to start with, I was right at the point where I wanted to just pack up leave and I went nah, hold on, you can behave and your going to behave right now. And I won :D
We went from head tossing and jumping around and speed-trotting when I asked for a nice slow trot, and humping along the ground at the first canter attempt, to working nicely both ways, picking up both canter leads when asked for our individual workout, not giving much of a look to the other horses around us.
We placed 1st= in Best mannered... We had to dismount, pick up all hooves, untack (not bridle), retack and mount up again.. He stood rock solid through the whole process, which is good because that's always expected of him and he does so about 95% of the time, there's the odd time he fidgets or takes a little step to the side.
We also got 3rd in Novice best rider, which was great because about that time was when my legs were giving out and I was having issues staying on :lol: however he was doing exactly as he was asked.
On the 15th we have the local sports day, so we'll see how that goes :)
Try rubbing lavender oil on your hands and allowing the horse to sniff it. A well known trainer is a frequent user of this and swears it helps calm her horses.
I second the Lavender. You can even but a drop of it around his nose. Just make sure you get the pure essential oil. If you have any questions about it just let me know.
Congrats on your wins! He's just lovely looking.
Is "Best Mannered" a typical class in New Zealand? I don't think I've ever encountered that in the States. (:
Oh I didn't think of Lavendar oil! I'll try it at home first to see how he reacts, I know he hates Peppermint oil haha, strange child.
I doubled him up on his magnesium the morning of the show, not sure if it made a difference in the end but hey.
Zexious, yeah Best mannered does seem to be a typical class here, not really sure why as there's no set way to judge it like there are with most of the other classes. Some will make you ride in circles and just go oh, ok i guess that one wins, etc. This one was quite different, I've never had to mount and retack etc before. The judge was lovely though, she would always tell us what she was looking for in each class.
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