Hectic and crazy? Yeah, that would be my life! A minor car accident last week, a break in at the house this week and who the hell knows what next week will bring, but I am not even going to ask! Everyone is fine, nothing was stolen and the car has already been fixed. I picked it up this morning actually.
With a show for my pony less than a month away I have been wondering about taking him, just showing him in hand for now and going for the gusto in the fall or just waiting until the fall and going all out then? I am still on the fence with that one... *sigh*
We all know I skipped taking Tess to a show simply because her butt was bald. We also know that hair loss does not in any way, affect movement, behavior or the amount of training a horse has. But it just does not reflect well on you for your horse management skills. Whether or not you are doing everything you possibly can to fix the problem, resolve the issue, cure the- hair loss, worms, fungus, weight problems, lameness or whatever ???, you just don't take the horse to a show until things are right again. You will only put yourself out there for judgement poorly and people will talk about you for some time to come. They WILL talk, and NOT in a GOOD way.
Dena and I were recently discussing horses and competition on the phone. BEC and I discussed the 'horses only have so many jumps in them' theory before. I think it was on Shame in the Horse Show Ring. Horses don't ask to compete- we ask it of them. Some of them may enjoy it, but would they if they had never done it? Would they if they were handled poorly and abusively? Are they reacting to our level of excitement when they win or place well?
Professionals manage their horses career be it at home or on the road. They may school over a few large scale jumps at home one day a week or so, but for the most part, they save it for competition and when it truly counts. Same with reiners, same with cutters, same with race horses, same with true professionals in every horse sport. If the horse is schooling for an advanced level at home, they may or may not be withdrawn from competition until they are solid and ready to move up. That is up to the trainer and owners, but all things considered- let's hope they do what is best for the horses long term career. Sometimes people view things as- we have won at that level, why continue competing there? Why not let someone else have the spotlight for a while? We are moving up anyways...
True Professionals also do not enter classes in which the horse is not actually ready to compete in. If the horse is comfortable going over fences at 3' to 3'6", they do not enter a class for Grand Prix. "Well he shouldn't have a problem. He can jump!" And the refusals and downed rails follow... They also don't take the horse to a show before the horse is steady and rock solid in their training. You can't train them in a day and a 30 day wonder is usually not ready either.
TP's are not there to win the warm up and impress a bunch of bystanders or spectators. They are there to impress the judge(s). They do what they do best and as best as they can on that day. Hopefully it all works out for them- if not, they know what they need to work on before the next competition. Even if they win- they may still have something to go home and tweak before next time. No horse is perfect all of the time and even 'finished' horses need fine tuning.
TP's may also give things a 'dry run', long before hooking up the trailer. Warm up and work over a full course a week or so before the big day, Maybe work on cattle as if you were in the class, practice a reining pattern- just so they know if there is anything needing to be fixed (on them or the horse!) and still some time to evaluate it. That's when you decide-
a) let it go for now, but you are aware of it and will keep it in mind, but fix it after the show...
b) it is a easy fix and can be resolved now or tomorrow in one easy session.
TP's may also choose to focus on the elements of their ride or pattern separately instead of over patterning their horse to death. This also applies to showmanship classes. When you repeat a pattern over and over, the horse may start to anticipate what is next and go into drone mode. They aren't listening to you, they are just doing their pattern... you know, like you practiced soooo many times at home. They also get bored with it and may start to rebel in creative ways. Boy they can be creative!
Another thing to consider doing is attending a show or competition to scope out the competition. See who is showing, (which trainers, which barns, which riders, which horses?) check the results & standings and choose where to go from there. Race horse trainers check the daily workout results of their horses & those horses they will race against and plan accordingly. Why can't you?
We all want to win- there's no doubt about that. But if you consider everything wisely, use a bit of common sense and are prepared before you get there- the rest will come easily. Then it is up to the judge or the clock as to how things work out from there. Let's just hope there is a dash of luck in there to go along with it on the days we could use it the most!