Last weekend I took Envy to his first horse show experience. We did a couple dressage tests on the first day, and a combined test on the second day.
When I arrived on Saturday morning, after feeding, I thought I would take Envy out and hand walk him around some. He was trying to drag me around a bit, so I thought he might like to trot around on the lunge line a bit. Nope. He jogged in two circles and politely declined to do more. Rather than start an argument that might key him up and give us a bad start to the day, I said forget it and went back to hand walking. He did seem more settled by then anyways. We went back to the stall and I groomed and tacked. He seemed more calm that he usually is at the track so I’m thinking, “He knows he’s not at a race, how great that he is so relaxed!”
So we walked out of the barn area and I try to align his very tall body with the mounting block, which he is usually very good about. Nope, he cannot stand still, not even for 1 second. There is much more activity going on by now and he is antsy. After a while I finally manage to mount up and then we proceed to slowly but determinedly walk backwards, and go in backwards circles, across the entire grassy area in front of the barns of the show grounds. Eventually we are on the driveway and he backs into the front of one of the barn stall walls. Of course, this means we are under the overhang and due to his height, I am now hunched over and he will not move.
I ask my husband to come try to lead him out of there and he gets us out from the overhang but then Envy doesn’t want to go further so I start giving him leg and tapping him with my dressage whip which gets him trotting forward and Andrew lets go and I proceed to march at a trot right into the warmup ring. We warmed up without incident and then complete our first dressage test – Training Level Test 1. Not fabulous, and we got the wrong lead at first going to the right but we corrected it. No major issues, just not very polished, but respectable for the amount of time we’ve had to work on things. Then we went back to the barn to chill out for a while. When we came out for our second test Eventing Test Beginner Novice A, he stood perfectly for mounting and walked calmly into the warmup ring. He now understood what was going on and decided it wasn’t too bad.
The second day he was wonderful. More relaxed, though still some issue with focus and a couple small Envy style slow-motion spooks. We did the intro division because he hasn’t had much jump schooling. He had some pretty nice moments in the dressage but what I was most proud of was in the jumping. He has been inconsistent at home with jumping. Some days he seems pretty confident, other days he doesn’t seem confident, or he questions it. He was somewhat distracted watching the other horses jumping during our dressage test. When we went to the jump warmup though, everything seemed to click for him like “Ohhhhh… we jump all the things and thats a job we do and people are happy with us.” He never once even thought about anything except “Where do we go next?” … I was so surprised and proud of him. I was really expecting to have to RIDE him around that little course to avoid any run outs or refusals and instead here he was enthusiastically looking for the next fence. We finished in 3rd and it really felt like 1st 🙂 See videos of the Sunday combined test below!