Hopefully, my bout of stage fright is coming to an end! I went to a small schooling show this past weekend, and things turned out MUCH better than the last show. It was not perfect, but it was a small victory for my crazy horse and I.
We arrived Sunday morning, lunged and schooled. After I hosed Chance off, I let him graze near the ring. We hung around the ring watching for a while, then went back to get ready. We were able to jump around again before they set for our class. He felt great! He was quiet and solid over the jumps; I was feeling pretty good too. The flat classes ran first – a hunter and an eq. They were pretty long, so Chance was a little tired afterward (the heat kicking in did not help much either). We were second in the hunter flat, and fifth in the eq. I am not an eq rider, so that is not surprising! Since it was starting to get pretty hot, and he was tired, I scratched the warm-up and started on the eq over-fences. Things were going well until we were supposed to halt then canter to the next jump… I started to halt him, and he began tossing his head and acting confused; so I decided to just keep cantering and turned the eq into a hunter course! It was a fairly good round, overall. I did not place well due to skipping the halt and being late on a couple of changes, but we got around all the jumps without getting too fast! Huge improvement. The next round was a hunter round, and did not go as well as the first – to say the least… I wanted to get the lead changes a little sharper, and ended up getting in his face a little too much. So, when we turned the corner for a diagonal line going away from the gate, he sucked back and jumped up and down in place. I loosened up on his face, picked up a trot then canter and circled back around to it. I kept my cool, stayed soft, and he went through the line no problem! Then, however, I completely blanked on the rest of the course and went to the wrong jump. Oops! The third round was better. For one, I remembered the whole course! I could tell that Chance was getting a little grumpy, and after being out in the heat so long, I did not blame him. I stayed really soft, and when I felt him suck back at a couple of the jumps I simply sat down on his back and floated the reigns forward; he went through the course with no refusals, and did not get too fast!
Although the show was not perfect by any means, it was a victory for us! I did not let my nerves get the best of me, and I even figured out a new trick to keep him going over the jumps when he gets in his moods (without running at them). I think that letting him graze near the ring helped him to stay quiet, as well. Moreover, I came up with some new ideas on how to have some success with Chance. Firstly, I need to stop comparing him to other horses I have ridden. He is completely different, and needs a completely different ride. For most of my riding career, I have ridden warmbloods. Most of which needed more leg and hand than Chance. I am kind of thinking that Chance needs almost no hand. I need to ride as soft as possible. When I did that at the show, he relaxed and did what I needed him to do. I need to stop trying to turn him into the horses I have ridden and shown in the past, and just figure out to ride him to his fullest potential!