Monday, June 22, 2015

A Series of Unfortunate Events

aka "SB and Courage try to go to a dressage show"

As a part of the "get this damn horse broke" initiative I've been participating in this year, I signed Courage up for 4 shows in three weeks: event derby, schooling show, event derby, dressage show.

I somewhat-optimistically thought that despite not cantering at any of the first three shows (except two half circles on intro C), we'd be all set for our training level dressage debut at a recognized dressage show within three weeks of our first show of the year, which was Courage's third show. Ever.

a long ways from this
So. We prepared as best we could, and with images of glory (or at least achieved goals) dancing in my head, I led Courage onto the trailer Saturday morning.

Or that is.

I walked on to the trailer then turned around to see my horse still on solid ground and we spent the next 20 minutes having a massive temper tantrum/meltdown about not getting on the trailer.


I know hauling safety dictates that horses should always haul in leather halters in case of an accident and I totally agree with that.

just the warmup
But we were also going like 30 minutes down the road and then he was going to have to stand tied for a couple hours, so I had him in the bad boy tying rope halter.

and I am SO GLAD I did.

Because I finally got him in. Latched the divider. Tied his rope.

And homeboy SLAMMED backwards, popped the divider out, and SAT his ass back against the rope. Bless you western folk and your nylon rope halters--my set up held. Courage never made it off the trailer, got his ass kicked back into his stall, the divider re-installed, his halter changed out through the window so I could untie the first one (with a hoof pick), and his buddy loaded behind him.

yeah bonnet for a reason
And then neither of us dared think too loud about what would happen to said buddy if shithead tried that maneuver again with her in the back of the trailer.

The trailer rocked all the way to the show, but both horses were still in their respective stalls when we arrived.

So we unloaded.

heads don't have to be symmetrical
Which is when I saw that in all his thrashing, Courage ripped the ever-loving shit out of his face and tore up his front legs and everything was already starting to swell. There was even blood in his mouth. Fan-freaking-tastic, horse. Good job.

I cold hosed his legs for a while, but there wasn't a lot to be done for his now-very-asymmetrical head. Which was sensitive to the touch. You know, right where a browband would go.

I texted Alyssa not to come, very nearly canceled on my kind friend who offered to braid, and left homeboy tied to the trailer so I could wander off and take in the sights.

Alyssa showed up anyways. My friend did a lovely job braiding and Courage was actually super quiet for her. About an hour before our ride time, I thought I should attempt to tack up and see if Courage could even handle a fly bonnet, much less a bridle. Or if he'd be sound. Or if we'd get disqualified for blood showing.

how everyone wants to spend the warm up
He didn't fuss too much about the bridle, so we headed off to warm up. About 40 minutes in to what was shaping up to be a perfectly fine warm up for a horse at his first real dressage show (and 10 minutes before our ride time), I heard: "clink. Clink. CLINK."

That doesn't take a genius. I hopped off and yeah. Courage's right front shoe was hanging on by a nail, half off his foot, and definitely still too attached to just pull off with my bare hands.

free walk
And I threw in the cosmic towel. The fact that we survived to this point was remarkable enough. Here I looked like some sort of horse abuser who barely made it on time and now we're losing shoes at the walk? It wasn't meant to be. I mean, at least I got to use my grounds fee and I only wasted half as much money as I did on the clinic we couldn't go to, right?

Alyssa and my braider friend held Courage while I scoured up someone who could pull a shoe. It was a fantastic older Austrian guy who's been around horses longer than my parents have been alive. He got the shoe off, then looked at Courage and said, "You are not hurt enough to get out of work today. You have to go back to work." 

not here yet
Ugh. Cosmic towel IN MY FACE.

I climbed back on. We trotted around the warm up. Courage actually felt slightly calmer and more relaxed than he did with four shoes, and I got independent verification that he looked sound. Worst case scenario, the judge rings the bell and is like "Do you know your horse is lame?" and I'm like "I'd honestly be shocked if he wasn't."

So in we go.

I have to say--the event derbies prepared us really well for the whole "leave the warm up crowd and go off on your own" part. Courage was a little tense, but he didn't even look at the judge's booth (tent on top of a flatbed trailer) very hard.

Our test was ok. We had decent moments and giraffe moments. He could have been more forward and relaxed, but we stayed in the ring and it was fine.

yeah pretty proud of this
I rode him back to the trailer, slid off, and declared that was enough and I wasn't going to wait an hour to ride my second test.

And then Redheadlins was like "you know, you really should" and our dressage trainer was like "I would if I were you" and somehow we'd wasted enough time that my ride was 20 minutes out. I bridled Courage back up. Ambled out to the warm up. Ambled around the warm up. Took a few deep breaths. And then heard the announcer say I was entering the arena, so we trotted to the gate and headed to the show ring.

right lead canter. down the long side.
I determined that if I was going to ride this test, I was going to do it better than the last one. I pushed my hands forward, put my leg ON, and when the judge rang the bell, we were ready. Things were shaping up pretty well until we did our medium walk across the short diagonal. Both Courage and I took a look into the field beside the ring, and OH YES, they were showing screaming spotted stallions in hand. The middle of my test seemed like a good time to start, apparently.

And I had this moment of "either we can look at that or I can ride the hell out of the freewalk on the next short diagonal".

And goddamn, we nailed a 7 on that freewalk. Makin' that coefficient my bitch.

That last salute felt so good. Also good: hacking my battered war horse in three shoes back to the trailer on a loose rein and knowing that whatever happened in the scoring, Courage and I put forth a solid effort through considerable adversity and I was proud of what we'd done that day.

now with ribbons
I took my time rinsing and unbraiding Courage, then left him with his hay net and went to get scores. We snagged a 64.1% and second place (out of two) in training 1, our first test. I played on my phone and tried to not linger awkwardly for a few minutes while I waited for training 2.

67% AND FIRST PLACE IN A CLASS OF 4!!! ERMEGERD!!!! One of our "reach goals" for this year was 65% at training level AND GUESS WHO NAILED IT WITH A REAL JUDGE AT A REAL SHOW???

And then it only took about 3 minutes to convince my champion dressage horse to get back on the trailer and go home.

And that is how we do dressage.


  1. DUDE. Imagine what your scores will be like when your horse doesn't try to kill himself the morning of the show!!

  2. Omg, anything that could go wrong....and you still triumphed!!!! Good for you. You both deserve a few days off now.

  3. You never would have been able to guess what a shit show the prelude to getting in the ring was looking at those test pictures. He looks so calm and professional. Look out, dressage world! Courage is coming for you!

  4. Good job persevering!

  5. Haha I'm trying not to laugh but it is pretty hysterical- I'm glad you stuck with it and had some successes come out of it in the end :)

  6. LOL unorthodox, but I like your style ;-)

  7. Oh, I have had days like that, but they didn't always turn out so well in the end. Those scores, in both tests are great. Congratulations. That dressage stuff is pretty cool after all, isn't it? *G* All you have to do is ride the hell out of your horse, no matter what. (those who underestimate how hard dressage really is, take note.) Proud of the both of you.

  8. Kudos to you for finding your game face in spite of the screaming stallions (which indeed sounds really distracting)! Way to power through :)

  9. First time my overly sensitive horse jumped 60cm clear at a show? Less than 24 hours after I fell off a different horse onto a jump and bashed my face open. Some days it doesn't make no sense.

  10. 3 shoes seems to work well for Courage!

  11. Woohoo congrats!! I love it that you just kept going when the day kept getting worse haha such a good way to show that dang horse that there's not much he can do to keep himself from becoming an awesome show horse :)

  12. Courage made up for the trailer shenanigans with earning that score! Silly boy.

    1. ALSO, I've never heard this "only haul in leather halters" thing...whyfor? Somehow I've had horses forever and haven't heard that...

    2. Same reason not to turn out in nylon -- leather will break before your horse will.

  13. Congrats! Courage looks so good in blue and red satin. :)

  14. YOU. ARE. AWESOME!!! I heart you!!!

  15. Way to go!! Glad you have supportive friends and the gusto to stick with it! It sounds like it was definitely worth it!

  16. I've never heard the "only trailering in leather halters". Weird.

    In any case, congrats and well done.

    I always thought it was bad to ride a horse with 3 shoes, though.

  17. Best show EVER. Love the guy who's all "You still have to work, buddy, suck it up and deal." Way to suck it up and ROCK IT!

  18. Hahahahahahaha! I ***LOVE*** it!
    Congratulations on your triumphs!!

  19. Congrats on taking good advice and sticking it out. I bet you're glad you did. Great job! Sorry about hauling issues. I know how insanely stressful that can be. And now watching Monica deal with it. I just hate it.

  20. Congratulations on a successful weekend!

  21. Whew!! Great ending! CONGRATS!!

  22. Make it work anyway you can, great job :)

  23. Fantastic! You just made me laugh out loud regarding your response had the judge asked if you knew your horse was lame. Haha. Too funny!

  24. I am so EFFING proud of you! They should make a movie out of this story. Seriously. GREAT job.

  25. That is AWESOME! Congrats! And a great story, too. Way to turn a crappy start into a great finish!

  26. Dude you nailed it! Crage owned!!

  27. congratulations!!! also i love that farrier (and your massively awesome support group of friends and trainers - that's what horse showing is really all about, right?)

  28. Way to turn your day around!!!
    Fantastic positive end to what started out a nightmare - keep up the fab work. You guys are doing awesome racking up the positive outcomes ☺

  29. YES!! Wonderful!! So proud of you for handling so much adversity, and leading Courage through all of it to the other side filled with satin and smiles.

  30. I am sooo impressed. As I was reading I was like, "Oh I hope she still at least tried to get in the ring." AND YOU DID! You kicked ass too. Hope things heal and he can get over this trailer thing. And I swear by rope halters (ALWAYS). I wish I could show in-hand in my halter - but alas... Not okay. Check these babies out:

  31. This may be the best show report I've ever read. OMG.... sounds like a helluva day that turned out well. Hope C-rage is over his whatever the heck was up with him that morning.

  32. Wow, what a story! How strange that he randomly decides to hate the trailer and quite frustrating too I can imagine. So glad you rode through it and met your goals!!

  33. Lol! @#$%# woman you dressaged!! So proud of you for getting through a day like that. And hooray for amazing friends that know when to say keeping going!

  34. Sometimes we have to suck it up, put on our 'game face' and ride the hell out of our course/test/class. Glad you kept at it and it certainly paid off. Congrats!

  35. Congrats on overcoming everything! And accomplishing a goal too. So proud of you and your little bay. =-)

  36. I know I'm late but I just wanted to say congrats!! I think I would have given up. Way to push through :)


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