Horse Show Disaster(s)

My ride times were in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time in the morning to get PJ ready.  The first sign that things would not go as planned was that PJ had a snotty nose and swollen glands. What I had thought were allergies were looking more like a cold. I thought about scratching because I didn’t want to infect other horses, but once I wiped his nose it didn’t get yucky again, so I thought it would be okay. I scrubbed his butt, his legs, and his tail.  Braided him all pretty, and we were ready to go.  I was thrilled when he had no problems getting on the trailer and forgot about any trepidations I had regarding his cold.

We get to the USET and parked on the hill with everyone else.  It was a little muddy, but we found a spot on the gravel. Everything still going great.  Barbara was there because she had a ton of students showing. We had plenty of time and could watch before having to get ready.

The second sign that this wouldn’t be a good show was that they were using a short arena for training level.  Not a problem for the circles, but I relied on the diagonals to get him moving.  We pulled PJ off the trailer with plenty of time, which was a good thing because he was as high as a kite.  I walked him around a lot and while he stopped jumping at every little noise or motion, he didn’t settle by the time I had to tack him up.

We went into the indoor to school.  Barbara helped us but he couldn’t stop looking around.  He also did a lot of coughing and sneezing, for which he used his whole head and neck, necessitating loosing the contact.  He wouldn’t half-halt, he wouldn’t go forward. He wouldn’t bend.  All he wanted to do was look around.  If I got after him for it, he got really scared.  But, it was our turn and we had to go.  It was a horrible ride but we did get our canter departs.  That’s all I can say about it.  I even forgot how excited I had been to trot down the centerline in the same ring where Olympic riders had also ridden.

We had 2 hours in between classes – too much time in my opinion.  I untacked him and threw him back into the trailer. He went right on – another positive.  My friend who drove us and I went to grab some lunch. Barbara had to go home.  We waited.  Finally we pulled him back off the trailer.  He was still really looky.  He was better in the warm up.  He was now listening about 50% of the time.  We didn’t get a good canter depart to the right.  He was still sneezing and now he was also tired.  Nothing we could really do about it.

We went into the show ring and I made the mistake of having my reins a little too long.  The ring was just too short for PJ and I had not where to push him forward.  The TL3 test starts out with a shallow serpentine, which in the short ring is very tight.  We got the first canter depart, to the left, but he wouldn’t turn.  I didn’t even get the second to the right.  He picked up the wrong lead at one point and then he was just confused, so I didn’t ask again and we trotted when we should have been cantering.  We got two 2s for that.

The judge was very nice and because there were a couple of scratches, she let us practice the right lead canter depart.  He did it.

Yes, it was our first show of the year. Yes, it was a strange place – we parked on a hill, then had to go down a steep hill to the indoor and then had to go back up a steep hill to the show ring.  (He didn’t like looking out at the other hill or when we were in the valley, looking up at the motion at both hills.)  Yes, he was good in that he got on the trailer without incident.  I know, this was a learning experience.  Etc. Etc.  It’s still disappointing.

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