You can see where this is going.
|Pretty much as wild as it got|
Accordingly, the show ran late. Very late. Instead of tacking up and hopping on ASAP, we now had a very long wait. The good news was, standing around is an AWESOME way to teach greenies that shows are boring and easy.
We spent hours standing around in the holding area and just taking it all in. Horses jumped big jumps, kids trotted by to get to their classes, people came and went, the loud speaker got used.
Courage didn't so much as spook.
|His beloved Honey Pie Pony|
He LOVES ponies. The smaller and cuter the better, but pretty much anything under 14hh looks like a good friend to him.
Given the opportunity, he wanted to trot after them and be their friend. I didn't let him, since I thought giant prancing thoroughbred might scare the small ones.
After many hours of standing around and visiting and meeting his facebook fans, it was finally time to saddle up and go. Bear in mind that we were here for the experience. We signed up for ground poles and the whole point was just to go out in the arena and see what it was like and let him see new stuff in a different situation. I wasn't planning to push him or work on contact or do anything he'd find challenging in a new environment.
Courage stood on the buckle on watched it all. What a stud.
Finally, it was off to the show ring!
I let Courage walk around the far side of the arena so he could see the standards and the indoor next to us and the spooky hay barn, then we headed for our course.
He. Was. Awesome.
|A wee tiny jump|
I kept my reins soft and just asked him to follow the pattern. I let him canter after the poles, but brought him back to trot in the corners.
Amazing. I still can't believe it.
|A mighty leap|
It was pretty late in the day at this point, and he cleared them with room to spare. It was definitely the biggest jumping effort he's given me yet.
He got a little hoppy/light in front and I corrected immediately.
When I think about it, I would have preferred to respond differently. It didn't feel naughty or wild--more like he just sort of surprised himself. The excess energy isn't bad, but I would have liked to put him to work on a little larger circle. As it was, we demonstrated an excellent rollback for everyone and then carried on.
The focus was on having a positive experience, so I rode to the next obstacle and forced myself to loop the rein and trust him.
Wouldn't you know, he was fine.
Jumps, ponies, warm up, judge's tent, loose horses, whatever. At six weeks off the track, he was perfectly happy to hack around on the buckle and visit with new and old friends.
And one last shot I have to share--I am an obsessive groom, but I've been strapped for time lately. I broke down and pulled him mane right before the show.
Now he looks like a proper grownup. Too cute!