I finally got my ducks in a row and took Mr. H to a schooling show that was about 20 minutes down the road from my barn on Saturday. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what his brain is like off property and get some grown-up horse experience under his belt. I’m happy I went but more than once I found myself thinking… “Why do people show?! This is so stressful.”
This show had a bit more of a dramatic start than I’d hoped for! When I grabbed Henry from the field he had a bump and scrape on his head, which I suspect was from a kick. It didn’t seem to have a lot of heat or bother him too much but I definitely wasted a fair bit of show prep time in the morning humming and hawing about it. Oops.
So I loaded him in the trailer and off we went (he loads like a dream, which I am incredibly grateful for).
Note the scrape below his right eye in this pic
When we got to the show he came out of the trailer with a nosebleed. I wasn’t sure if he injured himself in the trailer or if this was a delayed onset from the face trauma. He was very snorty and whinnied quite a bit. So as my husband and I tried to clean him up and assess the damage we both ended up getting sprayed with blood.
Note the blood on my jacket sleeve... I am also strategically holding the reins to cover Henry blood on my breeches
The bleeding started to slow a bit and we assessed that it was likely sustained from a small cut on his nostril that he somehow did during the trailer trip (those tiny cuts sure bleed a lot!). My parents were on their way and I called them to tell them they might as well not bother, my horse was bleeding and we had already missed the warm up. ST was meeting us at 7:30 for coaching but I couldn’t find her anywhere. The show took place at her barn and I was worried to embarrass her by riding around her beautiful facility on my bleeding horse.
Finally I tracked down ST and she told me he was fine (to be fair the bleeding had almost entirely stopped at that point). And she would keep an eye on it while I was riding. My husband carried a towel around just in case it started up again. My parents showed up and I was happy they still came!
Off we went into the ring! There were scary spectators, weird flower fill and a frightening judges table. I was in the ring for about 10 seconds before the announcer said “You are now being judged.”
Does he look frickin gorgeous here or what?!
This was my walk/trot equitation class. Henry was definitely looky (particularly at the judges table) but he was fairly sensible. I was competing entirely against young kids on slow moving plugs. We had to circle quite a bit for spacing purposes.
We ended up getting a 3rd place ribbon for this class, which I felt was incredibly generous!
Next up was our trot pole courses. It was the same course twice.
My first go was pretty fugly. Henry was really backed off and not moving forward. This set him up to break into a walk or try to stop and stare at things a little too much. The final “fence” faced head on to the judges table and was very close to it. It took a few pony club kicks to get him over it. Not beautiful. 6th place ribbon (out of 6 haha).
My second go was much better, but not exactly perfect either. I finally got him moving forward but still struggled to move him off my leg to make nice corners/lines to the “fences”. I think we trotted all the fences in this course…except a few walk strides on our last “fence” again. Another 6th place ribbon.
Serious baby horse trot pole business
I was actually pretty pleased with Henry in the ring. He wasn’t exactly set up for success (no chance to look at anything/warm up because of the nosebleed drama) but he tried his best. For my own personal preferences I really enjoy riding a horse that has more woah than go when things get dodgey, and Henry is that for sure. Things felt noodley and fugly a fair bit but I never felt like he was going to take off with me or do anything rude or foolish.
However he was not very patient waiting in between his classes, which did surprise me a bit as he’s usually super happy to park/chill. I think there was just too much going on. We were totally THAT horse/rider combo that can’t stand still and embarrass themselves. He started backing up and wouldn’t stop, ended up backing into a wall and then a rake. Knocked over the rake and spooked himself. *facepalm* He was also being super pushy with his head (which I suspect was probably uncomfortable from various trauma that day) which was super annoying. I think he pretty much headbutted my entire support crew.
I had signed up to do the crossrails too but when I saw them adding flower fill… I was like…naw, we good. We’ve never seen fill, much less tried to jump over it (some good homework though) and I felt like it was not the ideal place to try it. As I look back I kind of wish I’d tried it but I felt like his brain was slowly leaving the building, so maybe quitting while we were ahead was a good idea too.
I’m really proud of Henry, there is room for improvement of course (like standing still like a normal horse in between rounds and not being so looky) but it was overall a decent first outing! We survived!