Gambler’s Choice Equestrian Center hosted the Halloween Spooktacular Horse Show to benefit CANTER MA this past weekend. I figured since it was to benefit us we should make an attempt to bring our horses even if they hadn’t even been off the farm yet. I would say that attempting a horse show as your first off the farm outing isn’t the smartest idea but we never said we make the best decisions 🙂
We packed up Ridge and Corcho early in the morning and headed over to warmup before the show started. My friend Whitney had agreed to ride Ridge for the day so that both horses could attend. She rode him a few times in advance just to get the feel of him. He is extremely sensible and straightforward despite minimal training. Corcho hasn’t had as much down time from the track but I figured it would be a good experience for him to go.
When we unloaded the horses, the farm was turning out all their horses and they were running down behind the field where the parking was causing our horses to wonder what was going on. They stood there shaking but they were really good boys! We had gotten there early enough that the ring wasn’t crowded yet so I could lunge Corcho. I wanted to make sure that I gave him time to look around and settle in before I got on him. We figured Ridge would be just fine so Whitney got right on.
Corcho lunged very quietly and seemed way more relaxed than I had anticipated. I lunged him for about 5 minutes and he only offered a trot. He was thinking to hard to move his feet fast enough to canter 🙂 The ring has started to fill up with horses and ponies but both horses did not seem to mind. They didn’t look at the announcers trailer, the scary jumps, the crowd on the rail or anything else. I was very impressed! Corcho seemed relaxed in the warmup early on. We trotted and cantered around just letting him see the sights. Ridge was absolutely perfect. Totally unflappable! I thought both of them handled themselves so well considering there were lots of horses warming up over the jump course going every direction and neither horse even cared. There was this really cute pony who was so slow and the rider kept smootching to it and using the whip and our horses didn’t seem to mind which was very good. Letterman hears a smooch and is off like a rocket 🙂
Corcho started to get geared up towards the end of the warmup. He had been handling himself well and was able to go around by himself. However, all of a sudden he was totally worried about where Ridge was and he started going sideways and doing some interesting moves to get where he wanted to go. I figured he was mentally done at that point so I hopped off and let him stand in the ring while Ridge did his warmup over the jumps. It was a lot to take in and he had been very good.
Ridge had only started over x-rails in the week before the show. The jumps were very decorated and at that point they were all set at 2ft-2’3″ with gates, straw bales, flowers and more. We figured we would just start with one and see how it went. We made an x-rail and then went to a little gate. He handled it all so well that Whitney took him over the whole course. He did knock down the gate but hey at this point we aren’t really worried about style points 🙂 He has no clue where his feet go but look at how hard he was trying! I was absolutely shocked at how well he was handling everything. You just don’t expect a horse to be this relaxed at their very first off the farm outing. What a good boy!
Both horses went back on the trailer and stood for the next 3-4 hours (these hunter shows take forever!) eating hay being very behaved. We wanted to bring them off and let them settle back in before our division (the ottb division). Corcho was not in a great mood at this point and I think he was totally confused as to why he was getting back off the trailer. When you race you get off the trailer, race and go home 🙂 Ridge was falling asleep at this point. We went down to the ring and stood for a while. Ridge slept most of the time…really he did! Corcho made sure that Kurt and I got our exercise. He wasn’t keen on standing still at all so we walked..walked and walked some more. He did not want to be 10ft away from Ridge but I insisted that he walk away and come back. You could tell that he was just so worried about being near his “buddy.”
We were not able to warm up for our class so we just hopped on and in we went. You know that sneaking suspicion in the back of your head that tells you that perhaps this is not the greatest idea? Well, I totally had that but I am also a bit stubborn so I ignored. I could feel that Corcho was not in the mood to play along. I hatched a plan of following Ridge which worked okay. He was on edge but holding it together. It’s tricky to ride one that is obviously geared up. You want to give them a direction to go in (meaning put them to work with a bit of flexion/soften their topline) but at the same time don’t hold them so that they will go forward instead of up/sideways. Ridge was oblivious to Corcho which was a good thing because two keyed up horses would have equaled disaster.
We managed in the walk/trot class but in the w/t/c class I was ahead of Ridge and Whitney turned to go across the ring. Corcho decided there was no way he could continue on and exited stage left. He has a quick little move and I stuck on there but then he changed back the other direction when I had already come loose. I knew I was losing it so I just let go so I could fall away from him and not under him. Then I laughed and praised him as he had a nice canter around the ring where he jumped the jumps all on his own accord! Yes, it was pretty funny to see him casually cantering around jumping the jumps. Really…you didn’t seem to care about your buddy for that Corcho!
I think people assumed I would not get back on but Kurt knows me and was already bringing the mounting block 🙂 I hopped back on and we finished that class up. Hand under the neck strap!
This is my day in a picture 🙂
Ridge..la..la..la horse shows are fun
We had a jump round next and of course I wasn’t going to attempt the jumping but darn if I wasn’t going to make him go in that ring all by himself and go around. He was not keen on the idea but Kurt lead us in. When he let go Corcho spun right back to the gate but hand under the neck strap and I kept pushing him forward. He tried to get back to the gate but I kept insisting and we did make two laps around the ring. Good boy!
Ridge went in and proceeded to canter his first jumps which was just so adorable I can’t even express it in words. He was a superstar all day.
I think you could easily be disappointed in Corcho’s behavior but I truly was not at all disappointed. I knew it was a stretch taking him to the show. However, he showed me that he is going to be an awesome horse. He handled the crowd, the groups of horses, the scary jumps, the horses jumping around him, horses cantering in front and back of him and so much more. Okay, so he is worried about his buddy. That I can fix. The other things are much harder to deal with so I take it all in stride.
Here is the video of Ridge- jumping at end (early morning warmup and then the x-rail class).
Video of Corcho
Both horses were so tired and we had to leave early to go prep for the hurricane. We fared really well and the 10″ of rain has almost drained off. Horses got turned back out yesterday and the ring should be usable today. I am eager to start operation buddy removal for Corcho.