Retraining my lease mare to be an eventer has been a number of crazy experiences. In September 2018 I decided it was time for yet another adventure. I printed and filled out the entry form for a small combined show (dressage & show jumping) about 45 minutes away from where my horse was stabled. We trained heavily for this show and together we became an unstoppable team. For the show jumping phase at least. I felt that we were ready to take on a couple of small courses, nothing intricate or scary. The biggest mountain that I now faced was dressage. Intro B, the test we were scheduled to do, is nothing overly complicated. A lovely introduction test if I do say so myself.
On the contrary, Diamond and I were not prepared for this phase one bit. I had spent all of my time getting ready for our two jumping classes that I had completed spaced the fact that we had a dressage test too complete as well. The night before this show, our first one together, I tried my hand at this simple dressage test. With Diamond though, you can’t master anything in a short amount of time. She’s an anxious wreck that came off the track as an unblossomed three-year-old. She sat in a pasture for a good six years before being leased out to me. I worked on bringing her back as a riding horse and eventer. This dressage test was one I had completed on well-seasoned school ponies. A green OTTB though? Never. Needless to say, I was screwed. We weren’t prepared for the two phases of this show due to my lack of organization when it came to training. I had messed up big time but still decided to go.
As expected, everything that could’ve possibly gone wrong went wrong. Our halts were non-existent; Diamond ran through my hands the entire time and any other dreadful thing you could possibly imagine. Although we placed third (out of five) and came home with a ribbon from that test, I made both Diamond and myself a promise. I would never, ever arrive at a show so tremendously unprepared.
The show jumping rounds we completed did show the undeniable effort we put into that phase though. Our first round brought home a third-place ribbon although our second round ended with a rail down and no placing. Overall, it was a fantastic first outing for my anxious mare and me. She held herself together quite well and really tried her best. That experience though taught me many valuable things about preparation. Don’t under prepare nor over prepare, no matter what you think is right: keep it balanced! After that show we did work heavily on our dressage, resulting in another show monstrosity for a different time.
However, the morale of the story is that your horses’ first show is bound to be an interesting experience no matter how qualified you think you are. Just make the best of it and take whatever you’re given. Horses are sensitive animals that are willing to work with us if we let them.
*Horses name has been changed for privacy reasons.