Humbled, A Showing Story

After I had cried out my anger and frustration about how pitiful I rode during our schooling, I had a few hours to get a grip on life.  By the time I was called to get into the tack again, I was in the mindset of “hey, how much worse can it get?”

Well folks, turns out a lot.  Also, sorry because I haven’t had time to update videos because of life.  They will be debuting in all their refusal glory later this week.


Trainer had advised me to get into the 2 foot hunters so that I would have one class before my 2’6” classes to O to see the course again.  Not that she doesn’t see and jump these objects ALL THE TIME, but hey, we were being careful.

Course numero uno:

-We stopped at the first jump

Staring down the scary jump that she sees 4-5 times a week.

Staring down the scary jump that she sees 4-5 times a week.

-We stopped at the 8th jump (previously had been the crossrail of doom from schooling)

Stoppy McStopper Horse.

Stoppy McStopper Horse.

-We stopped at the 9th jump (we only made it 2-3 strides down the line before she said “hell no” to this one.

-As we trotted out I actually apologized to the judge.

-The jumps she did go over, she jumped cute and quiet.

Oxer 2

So basically I walk out and say WTF horse?!?!  My trainer said I gave her the ride she needed, but she just isn’t getting over herself.  Awesome.  I get off, and wait another hour plus until I ride again.

"I cannot brain today," says O.

“I cannot brain today,” says O.

It’s the flat classes first up.  I freakin’ love flat classes, and at this point I am looking for a beacon of light anywhere.  I hop on, walk horse into ring with 14 other horses for the under saddle.  I walk out with a 2nd place.  She was lovely.  We were beat by a fancy little pony.  I can live with that.  Ten riders stay in the ring for equitation.  I pick up the 2nd place again.  Also-my sitting trot is great because my horse softens and coasts across the ring like the grown up, trained horse she actually is.  Internal fist pump of glory.  At least I look okay while we stop at all these jumps?  Right? Right.

Sitting up

Looking grown up.

Looking grown up.

My 2’6” over fences were a blur.  There was a warm-up, two under saddles, and 1 equitation.  We had stops in everything but the equitation.  And with over 20 horses in the classes I knew I was out of the ribbons. I used it to school, and actually circled and came back to the line from hell in one of the classes because I HAD to get her to do it twice in a row.  No one seemed to care, but people did stay back from the railing as we got close.

Stop 2

We=scary scary.

But we did make it around the equitation round.  No idea what the difference was, I felt that I rode it the exact same I did all the other times I was trying to get her over the fences.  This time she played along.  We took a 5th.  Oh and got both our lead changes.

Funny lead change snaps from the video:

Sassy mare

Part of lead change

2nd part of lead change

So looking at my ribbons, two reds and a pink, you would actually think it went pretty well.  That said, I know it didn’t.  I do not want a stopper.  And in my mind I’m simply waiting for someone to officially title her that.  After a 12+ hour day, and several drinks, I poured myself into bed in order to get some sleep before the finale of the weekend dawned: the judge was staying to clinic us Sunday.  I had a feeling it was going to get interesting.

44 thoughts on “Humbled, A Showing Story

  1. How interesting. It is so crazy that with the exception of the ex-leaser incident, you had such great rides for that stretch of time and now this. Horses are puzzling. That’s why there is alcohol ;). Congrats on the good flat classes, though!

  2. Heeeeeey.

    I don’t want to be weird. I don’t know you well. You are an independent human being working with a team of qualified professionals and you are capable of making all your own decisions. I am a stranger on the internet.

    But I had that horse.

    And I sold that horse.

    And now I am 100% happier.

    (I did not have your specific horse–I had a mare who did the exact same thing. It escalated until I got in a wreck that put me in the ER and then I just kept trying because I can be a slow learner. TL:DR=sell the bitch.)

    • ^^ know I shouldn’t laugh but you are hilarious.

      I don’t know you either, but methinks something is up with your horse, specifically something uncomfortable when she jumps. Horses don’t generally want to be bad…especially since you rocked the flat so well! Hope you can work it out.

      • I appreciate the comment! 🙂 When she first acted out this winter she got a once over by our vet and was deemed fit and sound. I don’t think she’s trying to be bad, but I think she’s fresh and opinionated. It’s my job to figure out how to ride the horse I have that day, and I did a poor job at this show. A large majority of this issue is on me.

  3. “Internal fist pump of glory” FTW!

    And to be honest, I kinda agree with SprinklerBandit. With all the hurdles of life, horsie fun time should be fun and enjoyable. It seems like lately your horsie fun time has become more of a horsie worry and fraught with frustration time. But, I will keep my fingers crossed for you and hope everything sorts it self out nicely. 🙂

  4. Naughty O!!!
    As someone who is in a similar boat, young/ opinionated/ complicated mare owner, I am feeling your frustration! Keep in mind that it is the middle of winter and she may be feeling her oats!
    If I were to put myself in your shoes, I’d probably schedule a series of training rides for her and have professional help nip that stopping problem in the bud. If the problem were to continue even with the training rides I might check her front feet out just to make sure she wasn’t refusing because of pain.
    Take it with a grain of salt! 🙂

    Congrats on your flat classes and eq!

    • Thanks lady! I appreciate the fact that you are in the same/similar boat as me. My trainer and I have a brainstorming session this week to get a plan together. I don’t think she’s trying to be bad. I think she’s smart, fresh, and a mare in spring. Plus I rode like crap and she got away with stuff which only compounded the problem.

  5. I can’t wait to hear about the clinic!
    After a show day like that, I also would have reached for a few drinks before pouring myself into bed!!
    Good for you for taking advantage of your schooling show to school! Sometimes it has to happen, and there is no other way to reproduce that show environment!!

  6. Ugh — I am so sorry that you had a rough time at the show 😦 Hopefully the clinic and consulting with your trainer gives you a promising path to go down -hugs-

  7. Ugh sorry your over fences classes went like that :/ Horses, man… How strange! I’m glad for your flat classes though! And j totally love your internal fist pump of glory lol. Can’t wait to hear about the clinic. I hope t helped!

  8. O, what are we going to do with you? Just extra mare-y right now or what? At least you were tough enough to ride it all out and still come home with ribbons, I am certainly impressed by that!

  9. I have two weird ideas to contribute! (weird is the only kind of idea I have!)

    1) This horse is going to make you an amazing and correct rider. Nothing teaches skills like a tricky mare. So maybe one day you will thank her for this trial… 🙂

    2) I recently had a nutrition consult for my horses. The nutritionist suggested having Mystic “stitched” eventually. Mystic is my first mare ever and I have never heard of that before so I had to google that. Apparently when some mares (with a certain anatomy…) go over fences they get air in their pelvis and it’s very painful. As I said I had no freakin idea about that but it kind of makes sense. Maybe something worth investigating?

    Wishing you and O the best of luck, sending hugs and virtual vodka 🙂

  10. I feel your pain… I accidentally turned my most talented horse into a stopper. Thing is, he either didn’t jump or he JUMPED (watching-the-uprights-float-by-below-you kind of jumping) and my timidity preferred the stopping to the JUMPING. It usually takes me a few months to have a horse confidently jumping 2′ 3″. It took me two years with him. Two years. You couldn’t just give him the whip and make him jump, ever – every single time he stopped you had to be calm, try again, make it smaller, try again…
    It is two years later and I am jumping 2′ 3″ on the horse that has effortlessly free jumped 4′ 3″. But I don’t regret it. It was a living nightmare for two years, but I don’t regret it.

  11. I’m really impressed that you were able to stay collected enough to succeed in your flat classes. And that you kept going into the over fences classes to continue schooling. I 100% would have given up the day and spent the rest of the weekend crying.

  12. Congrats with your flat classes! It sounds all too familiar–I had the same experience at my last show! We kicked but in our flat classes and then bucking between all the fences in our hunters. ugh. Good luck with her, and how ever you proceed I wish you the best!
    As another piece to the crazy massive puzzle called “Mares”, heat cycles can be quite painful for some mares with cramps equaling sore sides and crazy brains. Now is the time since the days are getting longer, she could be uncomfortable even though not in full blown cycle yet.

    • Thank you so much for the luck and the advice! We are definitely thinking it’s a bit ‘mare’ related so hopefully some medication and adjustments will help ease her extra sassy attitude as of late.

  13. Sorry about your bad show day, been there!
    I do have to echo some other people’s sentiments that something is likely bothering O physically. I definitely used to think Stampede was a jerk when he refused jumps or grabbed the bit and ran over them like speed bumps at shows but I learned he was in pain. He too could then go in a flat class and be great, likely because his back pain was amplified when jumping. The amount of time you are on a horse at a show between schooling, showing, and waiting to show can really amplify an issue that otherwise doesn’t show up with much frequency. Early on Stampede seemed fine except at shows. Conversly, he greatly improved at shows once I found the right balance of riding him sparingly, staying off of him between classes, and providing show legal medications to combat his back soreness.
    I hope you can figure out what’s bothering her and get back to some happy riding and happy showing!

    • I’m definitely doing a ton of brainstorming over this last weekend. With a little distance from the actual issues, I’m feeling a little more chilled out about this. I will say that my first thought was OMG-she’s hurt! But we did have a vet look her over twice this winter to be sure. They are pretty sure she’s not in pain, but rather a very feisty girl. Going forward I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for anything new. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  14. Biggest advice for you: don’t label her a stopper in your own mind.
    I ride a mare who refuses. I watched her refuse pretty regularly with her previous rider. In my mind, I sometimes expect her to refuse and – surprise, surprise – those are the days she does. If I’m not confident enough in her, she won’t go over. It’s very hard to strike the balance between riding confidently and riding defensively. I have to be prepared for a stop, without inadvertently causing it to happen by subtly and unconsciously changing how I ride. If there’s an ounce of doubt or fear in me, she knows it.

    So – I’m definitely recommending you do not let that thought get engrained in your mind, because it’s not helpful (and I believe it can be very detrimental to my own riding.) Just don’t go there.

    On a more practical note, I have a very simple exercise that has helped me and my horse with forward impulsion to a jump and all it takes is a ground pole or a cavaletti. Start by walking toward the pole, then pick up a trot for a few strides, and then canter the last stride or two and go over. Wash, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. It has helped us immensely.

    Good luck. Stay positive!

  15. so sorry it was such a difficult showing experience – tho major kudos for sticking with it and getting the job done. it must be doubly frustrating that you two can do so well when things *do* go right… nothing to add really – except to wish you the best of luck in sorting it all out!

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