M and I arrived at the show earlier than usual hoping to get a better parking spot this time around. Because of the weather, turnout wasn't what it normally is at this show, so parking didn't turn out to be much of an issue.
Alex arrived shortly after we did and got right to work. Lilly is always in a hurry to get out of the trailer, so she first educated her on how to politely step out of the trailer. It's a little more difficult to practice in my own trailer because it isn't wide like M's trailer so there isn't as much room in there for the two of us. At a show I always have spot number 1 of my 2 horse trailer filled with stuff so I just need to take a day and practice nothing but getting in and out of the trailer.
Once that was settled, we tied Baby on one side of the trailer and Lilly on the other. She didn't waste any time before she started whinnying and pawing, desperately trying to communicate with her BFF. Alex started asking Lilly to move her feet using the motivator stick (crop with a plastic bag tied on the end). She had her move back and forth, back and forth, making sure she was taking nice, big steps rather than shuffling from side to side. After the motivator stick started to loose its 'umph', Alex got her longe whip from the truck. After popping the longe whip for a few minutes, an individual we both know pretty well walked over to the trailer. As soon as I saw him coming over I knew what was up. Someone had apparently complained that we were whipping Lilly with the longe whip and we had to stop or we'd be asked to leave.
On one hand, I'm impressed that someone actually spoke up about something they thought was wrong, even though they had no clue what we were doing. No one was whipping my horse... On the other hand, we saw skinny horses, horses being ridden in leverage bits with draw reins, spurs that looked more like saw blades, and an individual that actually was being abusive to his horse, yet nothing was said or done about those things.
But I digress...
So we had to abandon ship on that issue and decided we'd try to tackle the issue under saddle instead. Alex got on first and started working on all the different things she showed me when she came to the barn a couple weeks ago. I think she was impressed with the work Lilly and I had done because she said she could tell we'd been doing our homework. Lilly was definitely forward, but she was being obedient, and Alex said that was important. She can be full of energy as long as she's doing what she's told.
|Still loving those dark spots!|
Being that Lilly was full of energy, we worked on things that require a lot of energy. We worked on jogging slow, being soft in the bridle, and canter transitions. She felt really collected, was definitely being obedient, and was even a lot more relaxed than when we started. The thing about Lilly, though, is that I'm not sure she ever really runs out of energy. She doesn't wear down. I could ride her all day long, even ride her pretty hard, and at the end of the day she'd still have plenty of get up and go to run a barrel pattern. So the challenge with her is to channel that energy in the right ways, using it for good, not evil.
|What a good pony!|
She was a really good girl. We stood and watched the jumping classes for a while and she only whinnied a couple times. The only time she moved those feet was when I told her to. Nice! She wasn't allowed to look around, though, and I think that was the hardest part for her. She LOVES to look around. She has got to be the most nosey critter on the planet. She looks over there, then she looks over here, then back over there... it's constant and never stops. She'll turn her head all the way around behind her to get a good look if she has to. So I had to imagine we were inside a rectangular box and Lilly wasn't allowed to move her nose outside that box...
We went for a another walk over to the grass ring all by ourselves and she wasn't allowed to look at the other horses. She did good on the way over, but on the way back she started to whinny and then stopped, like she remembered once she started that she wasn't supposed to. It was pitiful!
|Shut your yap, mare!|
After the jumping classes were over and the show took a break, Lilly and I went into the ring to practice there. It felt like we were starting all over again because she was really, really forward. I was having a tough time getting her to be soft, and she wanted to rush everything. Constantly stopping and backing in an arena full of horses wasn't always an option, so we did the best we could. Again, she was being forward but obedient, so I was definitely happy with what she was giving me.
We had a few lovely canter transitions and she was really cantering nicely. She felt less forward at the canter than she did at the trot or walk, and it felt amazing.
|An example of our wonderful canter!|
We placed last in the first class and almost last in the second class, but I wasn't showing to show. I was showing to school and that's what we did. She did fairly well until she was the last one still standing in the lineup, and then we had a bit of attitude to deal with. The challenging part of that is finding a way to work on it without actually being in the show ring. I told Lilly if she wins the class she gets to leave first! I'm not sure she cared, though.
|Western pleasure, here we come!|
The next show is May 7th and M won't be able to go, so I'll be anxious to see how Lilly does at the show when she's hauled by herself. I never had these kinds of issues with her when we were showing alone so it'll be interesting to see if things are drastically different. I might just have to take a year off and still haul to the shows, but school only until we get past this.
Again, thank you SO much Alex for your time and expertise! It has already made such a huge difference in my horse and I can't thank you enough for helping us out!