Now that I’ve caught up on some sleep (and laundry and dishes and time with hubby etc etc) my attitude has shifted back towards its normally optimistic outlook, leaving the frazzled embarrassed pity-party behind. Right now my overall feeling about the show is pride in myself for not loosing my cool even when my horse wigged out, and pride in both of us for getting it done.
After all, as TSB reminded me, getting through a horse trial with a score is a goal I’ve had for a very long time. 3 years, in fact. It really is a wonderful thing to check that off the list and move forward with a new goal.
But first we need to address this acting-out nonsense. It’s dangerous and simply unacceptable.
Hemie has acted out in the warm up only once before: at the Meadows of Moorpark derby in March which was our first show of the year. Laurie wasn’t there to see it, but she took my concerns very seriously and we decided to go to as many small local shows as possible to try and address it. We did several, all without issue, before signing up for our first HT.
So the plan right now is 3-fold:
1) Attend more shows to get in more crazy warm-up arenas.
Preferably local (cheap) shows. Hunter/jumper is probably better than derbies, so that Laurie is allowed to hop on and deal with him more effectively than I can if needed (trainers are allowed to warm up horses in h/j, but not for eventing).
2) More trainer rides.
Laurie is going to ride Hemie more regularly, and push his buttons on purpose. The idea is to add more stress to his training, so that he can better learn how to respond to stress, and be more mentally capable of handling situations that stress him out.
3) Better riding on my part.
Change begets change. If I want my horse to act differently, then I need to ride differently. Specifically (a) ask for shape and contact from the moment I mount instead of after 10 minutes of warm-up, (b) have a zero tolerance for behind-the-leg-ness, and (c) change my lower leg aid from bumping to a solid contact with a heel-rake as needed. I’m sure more clarity on these will come in our next few lessons – Laurie just gave me a brief overview.
To be honest, I am still quite surprised that we didn’t get a “DR” mark next to our final score. In my opinion we certainly were “a hazard to the safety or well-being of the competitor, horse, other competitors, their horses, spectators, or others” per the Dangerous Riding section in the rule-book (EV118). But hey, we were going Intro, and clearly it was a green horse meltdown and not an abusive rider situation so maybe that’s why I was allowed to continue on.
And so the hunt for local cheap shows begins! Hopefully we can find sufficiently crazy warm-up arenas because I’d hate to pay $1,000 for a full on horse trials just to get us some warm-up ring action.