This posting should come with a written warning about mass destruction and R rated devastation…… So, you’ve been warned.
Here is the tally from my show: Horse 1, Bridge 0. I’ll explain.
But first, let me start by saying that this show was a ton of work! On Friday morning, I loaded the cart and headed to the show barn, where I spent a few hours helping to set up. Then, went back to the barn with the husband’s truck and hitched up the horse trailer, after bathing an unimpressed Chewbacca, and by the time I turned around and got back to the show barn to drop the horse off, it was 5:00. Ugh!
Saturday morning, I was out of the house by 6:30, got to the barn just in time to feed, , clean stall, refill water, throw hay, groom, have a brief competitor meeting, harness and hitch up and warm up.
All went well, really, to that point. Chewbacca was his same usual self, happy go lucky, working perfectly well in the warm up field (a 5-acre pasture, with theeee bumpiest footing) along with anywhere from 1-5 other horses & vehicles.
No problems. I’ve been working my bum off with Chewbacca, after all, so why should any of this be an issue, right? At home, we work on our dressage test, we are trying to improve our bending (or lack thereof)… no, wait… we have plenty of bend – just the wrong way. That’s a work in progess. But, just like at home, Chewbacca warmed up soft, placated, and perhaps a little sluggish.
And I’m not kidding – this is what he looked like waiting his turn for Dressage…..
He looks about as unimpressed as a carriage horse on the streets of New York that’s ready to lay down and take a nap.
Well, then, we enter the arena. Now, Chewbacca *has* been in this arena before. He was there for a clinic in September when he had only 26 drives on him. At 72 drives today, he’s much more experienced and knows so much more, right?
I mean, look at these two pictures my husband snapped.
He seems pleasant and happy. Moving along perhaps sluggish, but still, working well, framed and round.
Based on those 2 pictures alone- we did pretty well in our dressage test………………
But, then you can watch the video and see how we really did.
It was all so incredibly reminiscent of the first time I showed Chewbacca, back in 2010, when I had only owned him all of about 6 weeks and took him to a show to “see what happens”…
If you weren’t around for that –
— this is what happens!!!
Now, mind you, during our dressage test, Chewie did not take off, or pull any antics. However, he felt just the same as in that lovely picture above- a very unhappy horse wanting to take off. I had to really work to keep him from cantering and possibly bucking, and his head was in the air the whole time. He felt like an angry and unhappy camper that did not want to play along….
Even the judge’s comments included the words “unhappy horse”.
What the heck?! If there’s one thing I would say Chewbacca is- it is happy! I always thought he seems to like his job, and he always seems perfectly pleased to work, and he always works well rounded (at least to meet my expectations of a horse that is still technically green to driving) and forward (again, “good enough for me forward”).
Maybe he doesn’t like to show? It’s like he “knew” he was in a show ring, not just a casual clinic. Out comes “the head” and the dressage test, if you can bear to watch the 5 minutes of it, was just awful. It really was.
Did I learn? Sure did! I learned I have a *TON* to work on! I personally need to learn how to correct counter bending, because all of my horses are afflicted with this vile disease. I need to learn how to counter the unhappy horse that I get when I put him in a show ring (I know, I know….. “don’t show”, right?”) and I need to learn apparently how to salute! (among many other things)
So, immediately following dressage, we get right out to cones. Here we are approaching the cones field.
And there’s that salute I was talking about…. which was non existent in the dressage arena, just minutes before.
And, video ensues…
… the cones was much better.
All things considering, this was actually our strongest area (and that is NOT saying much). We knocked 4 balls (but didn’t run over any actual cones- which is an improvement!). So, we accrued 16 time faults. After the cones, we were in 3rd place out of 6 single horses. Halfway holding our own despite a lousy dressage test and a few dead tennis balls. Not bad.
What did I learn? Well, for one thing- I really need to have the chance to practice on “real” cones, if I ever can. (At $40 EACH, I won’t be buying any any time soon – and mind you, there were 19 cones out there… do the math). I did not actually realize how easily the tennis balls fall – just a brush of wind from the wheel too close, and those balls are goners. So that was a learning experience. I also learned that Chewbacca apparently was happier doing cones than anything else. Watching the video I realized how much clearance there really is between the cones. From the cart, it doesn’t look like much – it looks very narrow. But I can clearly see there’s a ton of room – all the more reason knocking those balls is pathetic. I also learned that although I think we’re moving pretty forward, we are really barely moving at all. Slow, slow, slow! But we took some sharp turns pretty well, and actually the turns that concerned me the most ended up being no trouble at all. I knocked all my balls down on straight aways or easy curves. Go figure.
Then, after a break for lunch and some set up in the aren, and by the time I’m nearly ready to drop from exhaustion (it was 85 out, and I hadn’t stopped running around this massive farm all day), it was time to “go green” and try hazards.
I really thought this would go well. Really well. But, then, given our dressage test, I wasn’t so sure what Chewie’s reaction would be to being back in the arena once again.
In we went, and up goes the head ! Like clockwork. His first time around each obstacle, his head was high and his gait was slow. I wanted to ask for more, but I really thought he would do something undesirable and I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.
These pictures must have been from the second time around, because that was much better.
My navigator and I had these obstacles all planned out, but Chewbacca had other intentions.
Hey, we look good there, don’t we!?
Well, again, the first time around, he was head – super high – I mean super high ! And he was rather nervousish for him, and displeased. BUT! There is light! Our second time around each obstacle was much better. He put his head down and trucked right along and went to work. It was a 100% turnaround – until the second stab at the bridge any way….. so at least there’s that….
In the video, you will see a failed attempt at the bridge. My goal with the bridge to try 1 time. I was NOT going to fight with him or nit pick on him about going over. If he “wanted to” he could, otherwise he could go around. We accrue penalites for going around, but at least the option is there. Clearly Chewbacca wanted nothing to do with the bridge.
Well- of all damned things, the camera died just before our second trip around the wood obstacles!!! And, no one got it on photo, either. Chewbacca refused the bridge, pulled to the right, and ran right through the side wall! Got the wheel caught on the side of the bridge and pulled it down. Fun times 🙂
Oh Lord, what a day.
Out of the 6 horses in my division, we placed 5th. I find it almost amazing, given how badly it all went, that someone actually placed lower than us!
I was planning on bringing Chewie to a pleasure driving show in 3 weeks. I think I may reconsider that, honestly! “Pleasure” does not seem to exist when he’s in an arena, and I’m reluctant to put him in an arena with who-knows how many other driving horses and try to achieve “pleasure”. More than anything, I do not want any undesirable situations.
When he throws his head up, I cannot achieve contact with his mouth and I cannot, therefor, influence his actions! I’m not really sure how to correct (or at least counter) that, either. And I need to work on his counter bending. So lots of homework to do, and lots to think about!
I admit, I honestly thought he would do much better. I thought his shenanigans at the show way back in 2012 was brought on by the fat lump he had on his back riding him. He did settle down enough to complete a single walk trot class at that show. I really did not expect the same behaviour out of him in this driving trial. Even though it was his first driving show, he had a lot of things going for him, like what I would consider a perfectly solid work ethic at home, and familiarity with that arena already. So I just wonder… I mean, while of course it would have been super nice to show that my hard work on Chewie’s driving skills paid off in the form of a first place, I really just would have been happier with a better showing all around.
It was fun, and it was a really good learning experience. I’m wiped, and so is Chewie, myhusband, my navigator, and everyone else involved in this fiasco…. I mean show.