Unfocused Mare 😒
Problem: Mare won't stay focused in class
Background: 9yr old WP/HMS mare that is trained in the show elements but is so watchy I never have her full attention which results in a lagged response to a subtle cue so then I have to go to a harder cue like more obvious pressure. Like she will do a perfect pivot but it is an afterthought to her. She will do it while eyeing the kid eating popcorn 4 miles away.
I wouldn't neccessarily call her spooky but she is so watchy...her head is always going side to side looking at stuff as we pass.
Example: yesterday, she did spook at a persistent kid that kept running up and down and banging the stands. And then everytime we came back to that side she would break her lope or bolt to the side long after the kid was gone. And then every class afterward, no matter how distracted I tried to get her, she was still acutely aware of that side (Head high, ears forward etc). We rode by it in open ride to ease her anxiety, we stood looking at it to answer her curiosity (again, not really spooky, just watchy), but even doing those fine, when it came time for a class where her focus was to be elsewhere, she made that her focus and then I am having to check her constantly, or move my hands and legs excessively.
And she isn't consistent with it. For instance, her first classes will be better but as the day goes on, I am not sure if she gets bored and starts finding things to eat her or if she just starts noticing more the more often we enter the pen. But she progressively gets more and more distracted.
So. What is your input? Haul haul and haul some more? A specific supplement ( not banned)? Ear buds(I have noticed she is watchy for things but really only reacts to the sound those things may make)? Anything is helpful as I have not ever had a horse as persistent as this with a behavior. I tend to haul haul and haul and usually it gets better with the increased exposure but it isn't with her.
Fun fact: She does very well in Performance Trail where there are actual elements to focus on vs. Endless rounds around the pen waiting to change gaits... Boredom with WP maybe? I truly don't mind if she just isn't a WP (it is her worst class as are all the classes requiring rail). We ride her in many other classes but I don't want to pull her from that if it is an easy fix on my part.