Fair weather friend?

This picture taken by Caitlin pretty much sums up my day. We were at the show, but missing from action.

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.



About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

2 Responses to Fair weather friend?

  1. Oh no!!! What a disappointment! But now it’s time to turn it around into a positive and come back next year ready to roll!!!

  2. Net says:

    So sorry…. I know how frustrating it is to lose a show season (or two) to horsey explosiveness… But in the end, you’re going to come out of this a better rider and horseperson! Also, you have a GREAT attitude!

    I would say now’s the time to investigate and see if there’s anything you can do! Derbs is a solid citizen with a good history, right? So what is winding him up? I don’t believe it’s you given what you’ve told us, so look to him for answers.
    Tucson got progressively worse at shows as we went to more, and that was what left us totally confused. He had shown since he was 3, and suddenly at 9/10 he spent more time on two (or no) legs than 4. The combination of ulcer treatment and magnesium made a huge difference for us; I started supplementing him with magnesium because he had an abnormal amount of muscle tension and tendency toward soreness, as well as fat pockets behind his shoulders which were odd for a horse with very little body fat and a saddle which fit well. I had been giving him preventative doses of ulcergard but they didn’t seem to do the job and so we gave him a month of treatment. The fact he was kicking at/biting at his stomach without seeming colicky and would stop when given ulcergard was a pretty good indicator it was needed. My vet is actually pretty anti-scoping, as from what he knows of my horse he believes withholding food prior to scoping would actually cause him ulcers if he didn’t already have some! But just giving ulcergard and seeing if it makes a difference gives you as good an indication without putting them through the tests.
    That said, whether it is anything physical or not – many outings are needed! Just work on putting yourselves in situations which aren’t as comfortable as you’d like at home to start with, then see if you can manage to get to other arenas, clinics, anything away from home any chance you get to work on the partnership. I think you know that already, and that you’re on a good path – but it’ll be great growth for you, and I hope you figure something out!

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