So far, no smile... but I've managed to pull myself up out of the dumps enough to document the day's events.
For the past 16 months I've been looking forward to getting back into showing. Even with all the other short term goals we've had because of the numerous setbacks we've encountered, getting back into the show ring has always been the ultimate goal. Every time I think I'm almost there and I start running towards that goal, someone throws down a giant brick wall and I slam right into it. I dust myself off, bandage my wounds, and start heading that way again, doing whatever it takes to get us there.
Lately, that goal has been closer than ever... I can see it, but I still can't quite touch it. Saturday was just another brick wall, and it's getting more and more difficult to keep picking myself up and starting over again.
Without trying to sound like a drama queen, Saturday has really had an effect on me. I have never been as frustrated with her as I was on Saturday, and we have shared many frustrating times together, including this gem of a weekend many years ago.
This isn't about her trotting too fast, or her not carrying her head where I want it, or even how she screamed and pawed at the trailer all day long. This is a serious, even dangerous, problem that I absolutely have no idea how to fix.
I can make excuses for her all day long, and I do it all the time. Oh, she was in the stall all night and she's just full of energy... she's been on and off stall rest for 15 months and has been through a lot lately.... it's possible she's in heat this weekend... maybe it's the grain, maybe she has ulcers, maybe she's just having a bad day...
If there's a legitimate, physical reason for her to be acting out, that's one thing, but we all know that when it comes to horses, even if there is a reason, sometimes there's no excuse for certain behavior.
Here's how the weekend went.
Friday night I clipped her, gave her a bath, and banded her mane. She was a really good girl compared to how she acted when I got her ready for our first show. She even seemed slightly interested in her grain, which is something she hasn't had much interest in at all lately. She stayed in her stall for the night and didn't seem upset at all when I left. Saturday morning I got there early and took her out to the round pen to exercise her a bit. She seemed pretty mellow so I let her eat grass until M arrived and got Baby ready. We loaded up and headed out to the show grounds.
Because of my constant begging for M to take Baby in halter, she finally signed her up. We were running a little late, so shortly after we got to the grounds, Baby left Lilly standing at the trailer all by herself to go into her halter classes.
Baby was much better this time around than she was last time, and after a few cries for Lilly during her halter class she quieted down. I thought maybe that would help Lilly relax as well, but despite the fact that she had a full bag of hay, she just screamed and pawed at the trailer until it was time for us to head up for showmanship.
Baby won her stock type halter class, the championship halter class, AND the "Best of Show" halter class. Perhaps M will put her in more halter classes now!
|Baby, looking good as always!|
We had the same showmanship pattern as the first show, but here it is again for a refresher:
We actually had a really good pattern until we were doing the inspection part of the pattern. After the judge walked around and I was getting ready to do my last crossover, Lilly decided to step sideways and move her body over so she could get a good look at Baby standing ready at the cone. "Here we go." I thought. So I moved her back over, set her back up and then "presented" her to the judge again assuming we had blown our chances of placing. The judge finished walking around us and gave me the signal to finish my pattern. Lilly nailed her pivot and we walked back into line.
Baby was actually quite a bit worse than Lilly and her sidesteps were much more exaggerated. They ended up a bit far from the judge, so I figured we both were out of the ribbons.
When the placings were announced, my number was called for second place. I was quite surprised because there were 10 entries in the class and at least 3 other patterns looked better than mine. If I was the 3rd and 4th place entries, I would have been upset. You never know what the judge is looking for, but it seems a screw up like mine would have knocked us down quite a bit. When I left the arena, I was approached by a spectator who told me he had me pegged for first and thought I got cheated. Was I the only one who saw her move sideways?
I took Lilly over to the far end of the warm up area again while M took Baby back to the trailer. Every time Lilly whinnied, I backed her up, and every time she tried to hurry herself back to the trailer leaving me behind, I backed her up. It took us a while to get back to the trailer, but when all was said and done, she was walking like a lady with her mouth shut.
|The noodle head...|
It didn't seem to work this time. She'd whinny, I'd back her up, she'd be quiet, then she'd whinny again... we must have worked on this for about 45 minutes, but it wasn't making a difference. All this took place behind the trailer along the fence line out of view, but somehow it seemed I was drawing a few nosy spectators, so I tied her back up to the trailer. I wanted to go watch M's classes anyway.
Baby did really well. Not a peep came from her cute little nose and she performed like a superstar. She didn't place as well as I thought she should, but she was in the ribbons and she looked great!
|At least someone was a good girl!|
This all happened at the first show too, so I wasn't letting it bother me too much because I was expecting her to perform much better once she was under saddle. M was showing Baby in hunt seat too, so we got our horses ready and made our way to the arena for our 15 minute warm up.
I took Lilly in the arena and she came unglued... she started chomping on the bit, avoiding it however she could, and she started prancing wildly at both the trot and the canter, refusing to walk. She was throwing her head up and swinging her hind end wildly, trying to side pass to the other side of the arena where Baby was. There were a lot of horses in there warming up so I exited as soon as I safely could and took her out to the warm up area instead.
The meltdown continued there, but escalated slightly as I worked her in circles trying to get her to round up a bit and listen to my cues. The light pressure I had on her mouth trying to get her to give seemed to piss her off more, and she would sling her head in the air as high as it would go. So more circles and more circles, although they weren't very round because she was constantly side passing in the direction of Baby. No matter what I did, she always had one ear cocked in her direction, and I might was well have been invisible. If I managed to get her to stop (by pinning her between two trees) she would scream and stomp her front feet.
After realizing I had a good 8 classes before I was to go in, I decided to try something I had never tried before... I took her back to the trailer, removed her bridle, put her halter back on and longed the hell out of her. I longed her at the canter until she seemed like she couldn't go anymore, and when she was lathered up and had that exhausted look in her eye, I stopped her and offered her some water.
Do you know that she screamed for Baby with her nose IN THE WATER BUCKET?!
That told me she still wasn't tired enough so I longed her some more at the canter. Then I decided to take her over to the warm up area and longe her there. That way if she screamed for Baby, or even looked at Baby, I could push her to move faster.
I only had about 2 classes before mine at this point so I took her back to the trailer to get her ready for our classes. She was completely lathered on her neck, and was dripping sweat from everywhere else. I was hoping I had worked the stink right out of her.
It was only a few minutes later when we got back to the warm-up area that she picked right back up where she left off and was back at her antics once again. Prancing, side passing, slinging her head and avoiding the bit. She was screaming and pawing. She's never been a horse you could "wear out" by longing or working. I've tried it in the past and as soon as she catches her breath, she's right back at it again. I was out of ideas, though, and it seemed this one didn't work either.
I thought about scratching my classes but in the end decided to take her in anyway and hope for the best. She did the same thing in the class as she had been doing all afternoon, although I managed to keep her on the rail by riding her completely sideways, with her nose wrapped around my leg. We never did walk during our 3 classes... prancing was all she did.
I was invisible to her. She didn't care what I did, her focus was on Baby and nothing else. It was a disturbing obsession... especially since Baby was right there in the class with us, or right there in the warm-up area. By the end of my last riding class I was fighting back tears... frustration had set in, she had won, and I was out of ideas.
My body ached, I had blisters on my fingers, and I just wanted to be rid of her.