PJ and I went to a horse show today. Yes, two weekends in a row. It was at “the local show grounds,” (see onthebit’s blog) so it was close, and actually, this is the show I planned on going to before everyone decided to go to last weekend’s show. PJ has been to these show grounds numerous times (~3 times previously), so I was hoping for normal PJ and not crazy PJ like last weekend or scared PJ from the first show. I was happy when PJ came off the trailer, looked around, and that was it. We watched Onthebit show Lucky – they did great, even if she doesn’t think so. Then I went to get ready.
Barbara had given me a how-to-lunge lesson yesterday and wanted me to lunge PJ today. Not to get him tired but to get him moving – stepping into his prints and cantering off when asked. PJ was a little up, but really nothing. He lunged great. After 15 minutes of lunging, I got on. At first, PJ was a little distracted and didn’t listen to my half-halts. I did a lot of walk-halt and then trot-walk transitions and then he paid attention. That’s when I wanted to go into the show ring, but alas, there were still two rides to go. I walked PJ or stood him still, so that I didn’t have to keep pushing him. The new rule is that if he’s moving, he has to GO, so standing still is the best rest.
We went in and did our test and he was great. I have a lot to fix in myself, but he didn’t put a step wrong, and I think that as I improve, so will he. He rose to my level and we were a team. He even did his canter departs – I did talk to him (Ready. And. Canter.) but thankfully the judge didn’t hear. We ended up coming in second place even with an error – I was so concentrating on riding him that I forgot to do the stretchy trot circle (one of our favorite things). I had about 45 minutes before my second class and got off but didn’t untack him.
With about 20 minutes before our second test I got back on. After a few walk-halt transitions, I just stood around. I didn’t want to tire him out and the walk-halt transitions told me he was listening. Unfortunately, I misjudged the time because a horse who had scratched the first class was there for the second class right before us. But the not trotting paid off and I had horse left.
One thing the judge said after my first test was that she wanted my hands together more – ride him like a big horse and not a baby horse. I did that for this test but PJ wasn’t as through the back as he was the first test. But…we again got our canter departs for third place. Both scores were around 65%.
The judge after both tests had told me I should just ask for the canter and not hope for the canter. Because of all of our canter depart issues at home I really was praying for the departs, so I had to laugh that she thought I was just hoping for the best. It did give me confidence. I think I’m going to ask more correctly going forward – really ask and not think that we won’t get it. We’ll see.
I’m so proud of PJ for being such a good boy. I’m proud of me for figuring out a good warm-up plan and also for really riding my horse. There’s no better feeling than being a team with a large, 1200 lb animal who starts out with his own agenda but then works with you because he wants to.