In fact, today I was more upset about the show than I was on Sunday. I really felt like I let PJ down. Here he was, terrified and overwhelmed, and I wasn’t able to provide him the comfort he needed to relax.
At my lesson I talked it over with Barbara. It’s good to have a support system. She hadn’t realized that PJ had been afraid. She had thought that he had just been distracted. She told me that I shouldn’t feel bad. First, everyone’s scores were unusually low. In Intro, the judge was giving 50s to steady-eddy ponies, and writing comments about needing more bend – which is not required at Intro. Second, just the fact that PJ let me ride him and didn’t totally freak out meant that he did feel I was there for him. A horse who didn’t trust his rider would have tried to get out of there and fast. Third, I gave him what he needed to make it a good experience for him. When he picked up the wrong lead and got rattled, instead of trying to force him to canter, I brought him back to trot and didn’t ask again so that he could go back to doing something he was comfortable with. I made it a schooling session, which is what he needed – that was a good choice.
I am still going over in my mind what I could have done differently – shorter reins, more transitions and changes of direction while schooling, hand walked him around more, etc. Really what I must do is go to more shows. Unfortunately, I am at the mercy of those with a truck and trailer. Anyone in Flemington, NJ area have some room in their trailer and wouldn’t mind a big black gelding tagging along to some dressage shows??????!!!! Seriously, anyone?