Fair weather friend?
October 8, 2012 2 Comments
Well, the show season is a wrap, and for me, it ended with disappointment. Yesterday’s IDCTA championship show was a complete bust for Derby and me. He loaded and unloaded beautifully, an settled in nicely. But once we got tacked up, left the warm barn and out into the crisp, breezy morning and prepared to warm up, Derby became unglued.
The problem began with a tippy mounting block, which tipped as I stepped up into the iron. I got a bit hung up and am so glad my friend Brittany was holding Derby, limiting how far he could go with me clinging like a monkey to his side.
That incident upset him, and he developed horror of the mounting block. Great. I walked him around for a while as the clock ticked down on our ride for the championship, and then – with Christy feeding sugar cubes and Brittany holding him, managed to mount.
The warm up ring was busy, but we’ve handled that before. However, yesterday Derby just wasn’t with me. He wasn’t going to relax and walk, so I started to trot him. We changed directions a couple time, and I put him on a circle to get some control over his hind legs. But it quickly felt like it was going to go south as Derby started to feel uncharacteristically light on his front end. His neck was like aboard and there was no softening. It felt like it was escalating to me, not improving. We didn’t last long. I dismounted, because I felt like we were going to become a menace (and risk) to the others in the warm up, and ourselves.
I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed. The show venue was beautiful, and I was so happy that we hand managed to qualify. Our work has improved daily. I really felt read to put in a great ride. But, as they say, man plans and God (and your horse) laughs.
I walked Derby around a bit, and he got worse and worse. So we went inside, and I put him on the longe. He got a good workout in the quiet indoor longe arena. I took him back outside. Any better? No. He was right back to his bad behavior, refusing to even walk nicely out of the barn. We walked all over the show grounds, and while he did settle enough to grab a few bites of grass when we were out of the center of the action, when we got near the warm up, he became unhinged again.
Once we got back home, I saddled up and rode my clean, shiny horse in my clean, shiny tack, in my white britches and sparkling boots. We had some really nice work, though Derby was pretty tired after his excursion and various inappropriate expenditures of energy. He started to fuss and I put my leg on and gave him a swat with my new (longer) whip. He came to, and we ended on a really good note, with some lovely trot work into a very good, on-the-bit halt.
I’ve concluded that (for now) he’s a fair-weather show pony. Our three earlier outings in the spring and summer weren’t as bad as our two fall trips. And past experience strongly suggests that Derby does get squirrely when the temperatures initially dip. So I’ll focus my efforts on the earlier shows next year. We’ll save cold-weather outings until our partnership (and my skills) are truly solid.
The 2013 season begins tonight at 6:30 sharp.