First show of the season!
Thursday was our last prep ride at home. I felt pretty confident with her paces, and then decided to test a few of her rusty buttons. She surprisingly responded with no more than an “oh sure, I remember that” instead of her usual very quick response. I have a theory about that but I’m going to end up writing a blog post about it after the show because it’s potentially a long winded one. But I am not sure if it’s the bit, other factors, or what, but she was SO SLOW on Thursday. To the point it worried me haha. I’ve been trying to get her to go forward for that clear canter but still rocking, and either I was hard of feeling or she was tired because it was 75 – I am not sure what it was, but I had to really get her forward. It worked mostly. Ish.
Her left was good albeit a teensy bit slow, but after working on her lope we came back and jogged around. It was good to do this sort of “throw it all to her and see what she gives me” type of ride. It gives me new information on what I need to continue to work on not just for showing, but overall for Whisper being able to perform her lope without cheating as she tends to do. It’ll be difficult since as soon as she gets a bit close to the rail she lapses into her old habits. Lots of canter work in her future. Lots of circle work for her. Lots of lateral movement and sticking her back in snaffle. The lateral work helped Amber and I exponentially getting more supple for getting a little straighter at the canter so I’m hoping this will be a good starting point for Whisper.
Either way, for the few classes we signed up for and as it is the first show of the season, this was good. I knew I was going to be a lot more concerned with Whisper’s head space during the show than her pace or even quality of her gaits. She’s excellent at walk and jog, we just have to work a little harder on her lope. Her last show was many years ago, and only once recently did my mom and I take her to a show to just ride around and she was honestly pretty good. I was hoping though that with her more comfortable with her work that she was going to be great Saturday and Sunday.
After Thursday’s ride, I turned Amber out but hopped on her bareback first because she was really jealous that I had Whisper out.
She really enjoyed the walk around the arena. I had wanted to saddle her up, but time just wouldn’t allow it. She was especially loving, probably because she doesn’t want me to get ideas about riding Whisper full time and leaving her out of it. She wants to be out and riding, and a few times when I’ve cantered her she’s shaken her head – her biggest expression of joy under saddle (otherwise I feel it build as we canter and you can feel her go OMG LET’S RUN and that lasts for like 2 laps lol). Other than that, she’s not more comfortable going faster than a walk right now, poor thing.
Friday I worked an all day shift, so no ride time. My mom bathed Whisper and trimmed her up (western pleasure and all that. No whiskers and ear hair allowed! lol). Saturday, we took it easy and arrived at the show grounds around 10:30 to get in our preliminary ride and let Whisper get settled to seeing the place again. Amber threw her regular tantrum as my mom hooked up the truck and trailer, and then proceeded to be very confused that we were loading Whisper into the trailer. But Whisper walked right in and we were on our way!
Getting to the show she was a bit rattled – the announcer startled her a bit, but I worked with her just as I had been, and she came around very quickly. She was definitely calmer around other horses, and it’s quite interesting the difference between Amber and Whisper – Amber likes other horses around but she’d prefer to be by herself. Whisper wants to be near other horses and performs best when there are others with her. Which is absolutely perfect for their disciplines haha.
She was really ready to go when I started to tack her up, and a bit tense and speedy. However, after about 5 minutes, she really started to come around and give me the work that we’ve been doing at home. I was right in that the show definitely perked her up a bit so I actually had a better lope on her. I was expecting her usual, nervous work at the show, but I was really pleasantly surprised how well she settled. She got upset only twice, once from a horse pawing inside a passing trailer, and another time when the other horses were leaving the arena for a class and she couldn’t follow. I was expecting her to be a little worse, and I was so happy with how well she handled it. And only after a minute or so she came right back to me and gave me some great work. Almost borderline too slow, but I was very pleased with where her mind was so I called it a day after about 30 to 40 minutes of light riding, and headed home. I was very hopeful for Sunday after feeling her response Saturday, and I thought we had a great experience to move forward.
Stay tuned for Sunday!