Way back when I first bought Chewie, I showed him a couple times under saddle in English pleasure classes. It was not the greatest of all experiences. lol. I pretty quickly discovered Chewbacca does not like to be in a competition arena with other horses. Chewbacca used to be a barrel horse, and I do think some of his reluctance to be in a ring comes from that. Mind you, he’s not nuts, or bolty, or stupid. He’s just not happy. I’d like to do things that make him happy, because I believe that if the horse is happy in their job, they will do well.
Last year, when I took Chewbacca to his very first driving show, it was in an arena, and he was still unhappy. In fact, the dressage judge’s comments even included the words “unhappy horse”.
Since then, he’s been doing pretty well, in combined driving type events. The big difference with them, as opposed to an ADT (arena driving trial), is that there’s no fenced in arenas per say. Yes, there is a dressage portion, but it’s a huge arena… HUGE, and on grass, so it doesn’t “feel” like an arena. He’s only done 2 HDT’s so far, but attitude wise, it’s been good. Impulsion wise, we are still lacking and need to improve, but I think he likes his job.
So, today I wanted to try a different experience for Chewbacca. I am reluctant to show him in a fenced in arena with other driving horses. I’m not overly concerned about any antics or bucking or danger, but I do think it would not be his forte so to speak, to show in a true pleasure class. Today, though, there was a small open show going on, close to home, and inexpensive. It’s also the only pleasure show around that has driving classes out in grass – in a non-fenced area.
I thought this would appeal to Chewbacca, and it would be a great transitional show to try to get him into the mindset of doing a pleasure show. I would LOVE to take him to a big ADS pleasure show next June, but of course, I feel it would be a useful idea to get him into a small, relaxed show.
So this morning, I cleaned the carts, the harnessed were cleaned, the horses were both shined up and they looked great. We packed up and hauled over to the show grounds, arriving in plenty of time to harness and warm up. I unloaded the boys, and went to register. The horses were happily grazing on some grass where I left them tied….
Tied the same way, on the same side of the trailer that I’ve been tying them for years. I always tie them a little long. If I’m parked on grass, and they’re going to be standing for a while, I like to leave them long enough to reach grass.
Well, somehow, within literally 15 minutes of arriving, Chewbacca managed to somehow get his lead rope ( I think ) caught under the license plate on the horse trailer. He probably pulled his head up when that happened, which bent the hell out of the plate. Then I noticed there was a drop or two of blood on the water bucket I put out for them and I was searching his legs for signs of injury. Then I look up, and realize he’s gone and sliced his upper eyelid completely open.
It was a darned good gash, too, maybe about an inch or so long, and deep – right through his eye lid, you can see the fat pad underneath. Sigh.
So, of course, I call the vet, and withdraw from the classes, load up the carts we literally just rolled off the trailer, and haul over to the vet for an emergency suture. Never did get to show.
I guess it was just not meant to be, right?
So, after a totally pointless haul to a horse show, an emergency vet bill I so did not have the $$ for, and over 2 aimless hours just randomly hauling the horses around town, from the barn to the show grounds, to the vet, and back to the barn, Chewbacca got his SMZ and I have him a little bit of bute to hopefully help with the swelling.
Around 5 this afternoon, his eye lid was really swollen. I guess you can’t really tell in this picture, but yea, it’s really swollen.
Poor guy. I guess he had no other way to tell me he did not want to do a pleasure show, right?
I am deeply bummed about this. For me, showing is a difficult deal. Since I don’t have my own truck & trailer, I need to rely on another person to haul me, which causes conflicts – both due to interest and other events. I can’t go to long -haul shows, (like 2 + hours away) due to distance and cost. So that pretty much leaves me with local open shows. Which basically means, although I might love to do 12 events some year, in reality I get to do 5. This was one of them. Although it’s a small show, it’s a big bummer to not get to show in it. I really wanted to try Chewie out in a pleasure environment, and it was a small and inviting enough venue to do so.
It’s a bummer enough seeing that the time and training I do with them doesn’t pan out well for me at shows, and then to go to a show and not even get to try at all, really makes me wonder if I’m just not meant to show. Ugh!
I think I have great horses, and the judges certainly love Jesse, but yet he rarely places high at all. Judges love Luke, but when I put him through an HDT, he did not score the way I hoped. Judges aren’t crazy about Chewbacca at all, because he lacks impulsion so badly, but I try and try to improve.
I practice for showing nearly every drive – whether I’m training for distance & stamina, marathon speeds, dressage, cones, or obstacles – I practice them all 3 days a week, and try to improve. Yet, I go to shows and get surpassed by horses that only drive twice a year, aren’t fit, or drivers that have errors on course.
I just don’t get it. Why do things come so easily to people who barely pursue it, and yet, all I live for is the one small chance to go to a friggin 4H show, and even that can’t happen?
Well, Chewbacca does have 1 more show this year – another HDT in October. He’ll be back to work in a couple days… back to training, and I am happy to say that my recent work with him on dressage has been going well (at least I think it has been). He’s bending better than ever, working well off the inside line, getting deep into the corners, he’s starting to support his own hind end on circles, and it’s awesome to see and feel that difference. Let’s see if it makes any difference in his dressage scores in October!!