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|
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|
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|
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|
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|
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.
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|
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|
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.|
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|
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.