I am happy to say that while Opie did not meet all the goals I set out for him, he made up for it by being a little midget horse rock star in the areas where I thought he was going to be a complete terrorist.
|be aware i have zero exciting media to share|
I scheduled in an hour window to get him on the trailer. Or to get him to stay on the trailer. I arrived at the barn early, shoved paste electrolytes down his throat because I wasn't sure he was going to calm himself enough to drink on his own, and then tried to feed him his breakfast which he refused because I'd just poisoned him. Apparently.
Hubby had agreed to meet me at the barn in hopes that he could get Opie locked in from behind fast enough to keep the horse on the trailer, but since I didn't have to wait around for food to digest I decided to see if I could do it myself. I've been doing a ton of trailer-less trailer themed ground work with him which is a post for another day.
I dumped his grain in a to-go bucket, shoved a handful in his mouth so he knew what I was toting, and then lead him on the trailer. Getting him on is never the issue. He followed me right up, and then I clipped the grain bucket to his hay net and shook it around to distract him while sneakily creeping back to throw the butt bar into place. He was twitchy and couldn't stand still, but he never threatened to book it backwards. Starting the day off with a win!
|my mom said he was probably good because he was so confused|
by his outfit.
The ride down was uneventful (well, I did see a raccoon crossing the street that was the size of a fucking wombat which was slightly alarming), and Opie stayed quiet and chill for it. I got there so ahead of schedule that I had a primo parking spot and the guy parking everyone had nothing better to do so offered to help me unload. Thanks, sir! Just stand back while my horse jets off like a nutter.
We had two hours until our first test so I let Opie have a good long graze before doing anything else. I was relieved he was willing to put his head down and eat since he couldn't manage to stand still long enough on our trips to the park. He got his grain, and then we went for a long hand walk around the barns and outside rings. A trainer schooling her horse joined us for our walk and both Opie and her first-timer mare settled down in each others company while we talked OTTBs.
We finally headed back to the trailer where Opie got tied and began learning what horse shows are really like: standing. So much standing. There was much weaving, pawing, striking out, and pacing to the end of his line, but! He didn't scream. He didn't pull back. He never once tested the rope. I flopped down in my chair and stuck my book in front of my face to tune him out and eventually he gave up and started in on his hay bag. That took Bobby a full season and many tubes of UlcerGuard to figure out so he's already ahead of the curve.
|the horses in turnout were very intriguing though|
The college is currently building a massive new indoor arena space so they had the competition and warm up rings arranged differently than usual. Intro through Training 1 warmed up outside and showed inside. Everyone else then warmed up inside (or in the far reaches of the second outdoor ring) and showed outside. It worked out well that Opie got to school in the ring he was showing in for Training 3, but he didn't get to peek into their very dark and trappy indoor before his first ever test.
He warmed up as well as could be expected. He seemed to forget that my left leg is a thing and kept bulging to the inside, but we schooled that a bit and got him straighter. His canter departs were as solid as they get for him right now. BM drilled a long neck and forward hands into me in our test run-through Friday so I had that fresh in my mind, and was also reminded seeing such lovely riders around me pushing for big, forward trots that my little horse has that in him too if I ask him.
Their indoor is the size of a small competition ring so we went directly into the "ring" instead of having space to trot around it. I let him have a walk lap while the judge finished writing on the previous test then picked up the trot. The second we stepped into it the judge blew the whistle. We were right by A and while I'm sure we could have done another lap before turning down center line I blanked and pulled Opie in to start the test.
That made our entry a little off center line, and then he threw his head up in the halt and looked around like, "WTF. How did we end up in here and what is happening now?!" He trotted right off though and did the first circle without incident.
As we passed by A/the open door to the outside world, he craned his neck around to stare at the people and horses massed just outside and consequently was too crooked and distracted to pick up the correct lead. I brought him back and got him sorted out quickly. He finished the circle and then promptly died and collapsed into the trot the second we went straight. Instead of getting after him to finish the last three steps of canter, I took the time to reorganize the trot so at least the next movement wouldn't be a throwaway as well.
His medium walk was good, the free walk is so short in this test and he spent it trying to covertly stare out of the ring, and then back to the trot. Trot was good, picked up the right lead first try and while he got a little quick an unbalanced that's just where he's at right now. He finished the fucking movement at least! Down center line and a very good square halt to finish.
Judge's final comments were, "Terrific horse--work on those canter transitions and canter needs more suppleness." Yep, agreed with it all! 68% for 4th place.
|seriously. no exciting media whatsoever.|
We had a three hour wait until our next test which was spent with more hand walks, some screaming (but only when prompted by certain other horses he must have known in a past life. For how much nonstop vocalization was going on by every fucking horse on the grounds, Opie himself kept a pretty good lid on it.), and periods of being a Very Good Horse at the trailer and also a Very Annoying Please Stop Moving Horse.
He was quietly eating hay when I pulled out his tack for the second test, but the second the saddle went on he couldn't stand still again. I had plenty of time so I left the saddle on and plunked myself back down in my chair to let him see that he can get dressed and not immediately have to start doing all the things. Once he settled down some I finished getting him ready and attempted to get on. He had a little Come to Jesus about how he does indeed know about standing still for mounting and then we were off.
I kept the second warm up super short because every half halt I did was a cue to Opie to quit. He was so tired from his constant mental awareness and constant fucking fidgeting that his already quitting nature was ready to give horsing a big ole pass. My goal for him not to stop to take a nap in the middle of the test was a real wish of mine, dudes. The chance of that actually happening was starting to become a distinct possibility.
Once it was our turn I kicked him into the biggest trot he had to offer as we circled the ring. I figured if I went in huge and overpowered and teetering on losing the balance, when I half halted I'd still have just enough left to still be mobile. He was a little haunches right for the halt, but moved off into the trot promptly. The first trot loop was an 8, and the left lead was there the first time. His comments for the canter were that there was some bracing on the hands which is fair. I was basically holding him up with both my hands and my spurs so he wouldn't die.
The free walk was a bit better this time with more room to establish it. He can do much, much better at home, but that's just going to take repetition at shows to get it.
Picked up the right lead canter the first time. Poor kid was done by that point. He went and held it with lots of leg encouragement, but it was on the forehand and far from his best work. He nailed the final centerline and halt for another 8.
Final comments: "All around, a lovely test to judge. Keep working on transitions: prepare better to avoid horse's bracing." Again, yep! The lack of preparation was because every time I so much as breathed a little harder on the outside rein Opie thought maybe I was offering him sanctuary to be done. 72% for 2nd place.
|you have no idea how happy it made me not to get a yellow ribbon|
Obviously the scoring was very generous. It was a schooling show, and the first one of the year for most of us. There were a lot of called out apologies of "Sorry, it's his/her first time!" in warm up as horses went skittering sideways or careening into oncoming traffic so I'm sure the judge was trying to make sure everyone had a positive first experience. I expect our scores to be significantly lower next month at the rated show. In the meantime, we're right back at it this Sunday with another schooling show to get more mileage and more test riding down.
As far as the comments and how it felt riding the tests, nothing was different than what we're working on at home. I didn't go in the ring with a completely different horse to ride and manage. The green moments were our weak spots that we're working on, and the strong moments are only going to get stronger. That was a really good feeling.
To end an already great day, Opie deigned to make trailer loading just as easy as it had been that morning. I got him locked in on the very first try, and he didn't even maim himself when I ran to the office to use the bathroom and grab my test. He was a sweating, screaming psychotic mess by the time we pulled into the barn driveway where he friends were waiting at the gate calling for him, but at that point all I had to do was hose him off and chuck him outside so I didn't really care.
|"fuck you and your pictures, i need to go be with my friends!!!"|
If this level of cooperation is the norm at shows, I might actually be looking forward to the season. There were some behaviors I could do without, but the fact that this kiddo is only six months off the track and I was able to take him to his first show flying completely solo without having to worry about any safety concerns--spooking, breaking free, being an idiot around other horses in crowded rings--that is where it's at for me.