Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Show Recap: Sunday Funday! (otherwise known as Easter)

A lot of competitors packed up and headed home on Saturday what with the Easter Bunny making his rounds... but I opted to give Prairie another day of showing and kept Gus around to keep her company.
Actually from Saturday, but I like the cherry blossoms..
Turns out I'm really glad we did since it ended up being a super productive day for us.  Notice that I say "productive" which is one of those sneaky words that doesn't necessarily indicate "successful" or "winning."  Kinda how like how teachers find all sorts of moderately complimentary words to describe hellish children.  Similarly, as a horse mom, I find all sorts of silver lining terms like "schooling opportunity,"  "great starting point," or "good benchmark,"  "educational" and so on.

Anyway, Sunday was "productive."

We did end up pinning pretty well, but I'm not exactly bragging since I was the only Long Stirrup rider in the Short/Long Stirrup combined divisions which meant that I was competing against kids and ponies.  (whoops).

Anyway.  The plan was for me to handle the mare for the day.  S was there for coaching, but if my Medals class from Saturday was any indication, I needed miles and I needed to find my comfort zone with the big mare in the show ring.

This plan lasted approximately 10 minutes which was exactly how long I walked Prair around the pony-filled warm up ring before S found us.

Prairie was pretty drama-llama-ish and in her obnoxious mode of spooking at everything (including the ponies) and hyper sensitive to all noises (most notable being one mom who closed her sunglasses case with a "pop" and sent Prairie flying.  really mare??). 

I felt myself wanted to clamp my reins and shut the mare's face down, which is exactly what S has been working so hard to avoid.  Knowing that I was getting defensive I pulled the chicken move and got off, handing the reins to S to get the initial deescalation handled. 

Two years ago if you had asked me if I would ever be the girl who let her trainer warm up her horse I would have laughed and made some disparaging comments about how if you can't warm the thing up should shouldn't be on it.  I'd probably make most of the same comments today, but in the moment I knew it was the right move in order to avoid a bad game of tug-o-war which would have lasted all day.

I got back on about 20 minutes later and while Prair was by no means perfectly calm, she was at least attentive and cooperative enough for me to productively school the rest of the warm-up.  I focused on gaining control of the shoulder, so we did lots of shoulder in at the trot and canter along with some canter/halt/canters in order to get her off the forehand and listening to come half halts.

By the time I went into the ring I was feeling pretty good.  Prair wasn't quite as relaxed as she had been Saturday afternoon, but it was about 20 degrees colder and she hadn't been snoozing in the sun for 6 hours already..

I was slated for one warm up course, then two Hunter rounds, two Eq rounds and our two flat classes.

My warm up class was ok, but we struggled with our changes, distances and me hauling on the mare's mouth.

I schooled a couple of transitions and went back in for our first hunter round which was remarkably similar though we cleaned up our distances and changes (aside from our last three fences...)

The Second round we started with "more" and I never quite got the mare back in balance and control.  She was stronger through the whole thing and still bloody whinnying for Gus.  

Our First Eq Round was better.  I held her to a smaller stride and the rollbacks in the course made it a bit easier to manage her between fences.  But still.  Not the ideal "soft" hunter performance.

I took a few extra minutes in between Eq 1 and Eq 2 to ask the mare to pretty-please-slow-the-eff-down.  My frustrations were running high and eventually we got some relaxation (both her and me, ha) and went back into the ring.  The ride itself was a bit tense, but more.. obedient? Prair listened to my half halts and although we zoomed around a tad (and she spooked at the footing against the wall) the only real "mistake" was my fault in the rollback of not giving her enough supportive leg.

No joke we pinned 3rd in every round.  Something to be said for consistency right?  It was clear to me that the judge really wanted to see a huge looped rein and a poked out nose.  Priar is just never gonna pin well with those judges, even with when she gets a more tactful ride (ie - S is riding).  The cute little mare who cleaned up in everything was a darling Paint QH who used to do western pleasure, if that gives you any indication of what was winning.  No doubt the cute Paint put in much more relaxed rounds than Prairie but still..

Immediately following my rides, I was really frustrated with the mare.  Mostly because she was so buttery-soft and amaze-balls in warm up and then such a tweedle in the ring.

But after a few minutes of reflection I could acknowledge that 6 months ago "buttery soft" in warmup was merely a dream.  Also, our rides are a million times better and Prair is getting most of her changes without pitching a fit these days - which is huge too.

We finished the day with our flat classes which both were ok.  It's funny because while we won both the Under Saddle and the Eq (yay us), it felt like less of a success since I expect more from the mare on the flat now.  She was starting to get a bit tired and heavy in our Eq round but we squeaked it out.  Somehow the math worked out that our two thirds and a first claimed Reserve for Equitation.

There are few things more boring than watching a low level dressage test, but watching a Hunter Under Saddle class is definitely one of them.  It's all I can do just to get The Boy to tape them for me.. lol.  But for those who are truly interested here's a short clip.  For those who want the cliff notes, here's a still shot:

We were done by lunchtime which meant that we were back to the barn by 1pm and both Gus and Prair got turned out in a nice big field where they galloped like mad and grazed for the rest of the day.

The only downside was that Gus continued his attack on his tail while we hauled home (what the what!?)  Anticipating the rug burn, I threw a polo wrap around his tail hoping to mitigate the damage. 

When I opened up the trailer door this is what I saw:
Gus.  Squatting on the butt bar with a black stain on the polo (from the bumper?) and poop squirted out everywhere... what's weird is that I would expect a horse in that stance to be sweaty, anxious or nervous.  But he isn't.  He's just chilling, sittin' on his sofa/butt bar...

So we unloaded and I thought "good thing I wrapped his tail!"  but then this is what was under the polo:
A sad, bloody tail rub :(  Poor guy.  Anyone have any tips? I'm thinking maybe next time I'll try wrapping with an Ace then putting a real tail wrap over that? I've never had a horse do this before... Also part of the mystery there is no tail hair to be found as evidence of the carnage.  No piles, no snags, nothing...

So aside from the Gus-tail-destruction, it was a great outing.  The horses were good, calm (or calmer) and we added some tools to our tool box for bringing Prairie back into orbit.

Great show! now onto the next....


  1. Good grief what in the world is Gus doing back there? No real advice as I have never seen that happen! You and the big mare look good - don't be so hard on yourself! :)

  2. Holy crap Gus, wtf! Great rounds with Prarie, even if it's frustrating that the peanut rollers were winning that day :)

  3. My moms old horse did the same thing to his tail in the trailer. Its so sad!

  4. Really, Prairie is doing so well. No gerbils, no bolting. Huge leaps forward!

    FWIW, I think that having someone who can defuse the situation and make it be a good experience for both of you is far, far better than the eventing style of "gut it out if it kills us". Since we can't all have Cuna, a pro ride here and there is a lifesaver.

  5. Sofa butt bar...bahaha.

    I hear the Zephyr's garden Stop the Itch is really effective!

  6. My mare backs up to the butt bar and ends up with a green tail - we wrap her tail in vet wrap then cover it with a tail wrap/bag type thing (it is nylon with velco straps - covers the entire tail).

    Great job at the show! I know nothing about Hunter/Jumpers but love to watch.

  7. Congrats on the good experiences with both horses - completely condone someone else diffusing the horse if it makes for a more positive experience for the horse & rider in the long run.
    I'm having similar 'don't-pull' mantra with my new young mare - so completely understand where you're coming from.

    I used to travel a horse that rubbed in a tail guard over a tail bandage if that makes sense...

  8. You guys looked great! Poor Guster... That looks painful.

  9. There is definitely no shame in handing the reins to your trainer in warm-up. She's there to help you. I have totally taken advantage of having my trainer around for those moments, if only to exhaust the bejesus out of my otherwise excitable pony.

    As for Gus, there are quite a few of the horses at our barn who rub their tails severely so that there is no hair left on them. My barn owner uses a tail wrap for one thing. The ones at our barn who do it are in straight stalls and they do the same thing - rest up against the bars. I doubt he'll do it except in the trailer so you might be able to let it heal naturally before you wrap it. Hopefully it starts to get better!

  10. Boring? I LOVED those video, your girl is drool worth and ouch for Gus's tail..poor Bubba!

  11. Ouch Gus!! How does he do that on a padded butt bar??? I've never had a horse do that so no advice, but I hope it heals up quickly. I think you and Prairie look awesome! Sure she has mare moments (or Prair moments) and needs to get more comfortable with her changes, but you have come sooooo far with her it's unbelievable! I think you are doing an amazing job with her. :D


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