Sean’s First Recognized Horse Trial
Written by Jay McGarry on May 21, 2012 at 7:19 am
Tomorrow we are off to Sean’s first recognized horse trial. I haven’t competed in a recognized event for five years. I have done schooling shows and such but I have taken it slow with Sean. He just hasn’t been the type to be rushed and I have been rewarded with a less spooky, though still expressive at times, horse. Some of you have followed our progress and it has been a while since I posted about Sean.
As I pack for the show I am feeling pretty confident because I feel like we have done all the right things. We have done schooling horse trials, jumper and dressage shows. I have taken him places to get him more exposure and calmer. I know, there are those of you who have the steady Eddie types right from the start and perhaps you can’t relate to my experience. I have only had Thoroughbreds and this one is off the track. Some people feel the need to move up quickly through the levels and some horses are good with that. I felt that we needed to make sure we filled in many of the missing pieces for me and the basics for Sean. After my most recent jump lesson with Sue and a cross country school with Denny, I feel confident. Yes, he may still be excited and we may or may not ribbon but I’m just so pleased at this moment to know that he is truly ready and I’m excited for the prospect. I will continue my story after tomorrow’s test.
We arrived at Hitching Post Farm and Sean was fairly calm unloading and being tacked up. It wasn’t long ago that he almost took down the trailer due to the excitement at a show and he wasn’t even competing! We warmed up okay and proceeded to the dressage rings. The dressage rings are far away from everything and down in a bit of a secluded hollow. We went down as the only other horse left. Sean was ALONE, but though a bit tense, held it together. He received a respectable score. We are still a work in progress in the dressage area. He has the potential if I can learn to show it off!
After a break during which I learned the cross country and stadium courses and did a little saddle business, we proceeded to XC warm-up. OMG!!!What happened to my previously somewhat calm horse? Sean was animated to put it mildly, broncing and strong and raising a few eyebrows among the crowd. Thank goodness, Sue was there to offer some coaching. It’s very easy for me to get wrapped up in Sean’s adrenaline and after he warmed up some, Sue suggested we just let him hang out and settle. He did settle some and then we proceeded to the start box. We heard the word go and off we went.
Sean is turning out to be a brave horse and he jumped all the questions asked. He wiggled a bit on the approach to one, but no worries, jumped up and down banks, went easily through the water and so on. He was very excited to run and due to our tense warm up, I know I was a bit too controlling at times. Sean doesn’t have any experience cantering downhill with a rider yet and we did have to negotiate some steep hills so we did more trotting then we needed to aside from the fact that I also stopped to fix a stirrup. (I know, I know…) We did incur time penalties but we were clear in both stadium and XC and we finished third out of sixteen. Did I mention that it was about ninety degrees? That didn’t seem to faze Sean at all.
I certainly know what we need to work on aside from cantering downhill. Sean is a claustrophobic type of horse. He wants to run and not be bottled up by the hand. I have spent a lot of time learning to relax my arm and body which calms him since he escalates otherwise. I have become much less defensive with him but now I need to learn to do my half halts in a better rhythm and relax even more. The great thing is that now I know I can trust him between the jumps! I am so looking forward to this summer, getting more competition miles on Sean and seeing what we can accomplish. I don’t feel the need to rush my goals as long as I meet them!
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