The struggle with white horses is real.
Sunday, we woke up early and I still had to wash urine off my horse's sides and legs. We ended up at PVF at about 6:45 am so I could ride Ashke in the indoor arena some prior to the start of the show. Riders weren't allowed to work the obstacles or ride in the dressage arena, but we could familiarize ourselves with the environment prior to the show. It helped a lot later on when we were doing our EOH ride.
My goal for this show was to control my nerves. I started feeling anxious and tight chested on Thursday, which continued through Saturday. My body must have decided we were done with the anxiety on Sunday, because there were very few jitters on Sunday. Every time it started I stopped and took deep breaths until it subsided. Ashke warmed up well, so I untacked, covered him with the BOT mesh blanket, gave him a bag full of alfalfa and left him at the trailer.
He stood without fussing for the entire day. Even when other rigs pulled out and left him. Such a good boy.
I made sure I ate breakfast that morning, since I was really hungry the day before. I got a bit of a snack and watched some of the Novice A riders, then headed back out to get Ashke tacked up. I rewarmed him up in the outdoor, focusing on our transitions and bend, then headed over to wait my turn. We walked around the outdoor course the barn has up to keep him moving and relaxed.
We went into the arena and practiced a little canter while waiting for the judge to ring us in. Ashke got a little anxious and I halted him and asked him to relax. He got lots of pats and praise for bringing his head down and relaxing. Then the judge rang the bell and we went in.
I was so happy with both of us.
After our ride, he got parked at the trailer with more alfalfa and lots of cookies.
We got ready a touch early for the EOH course. I was relaxed and comfortable, knowing that its just a schooling show and an opportunity for us to work on our stuff. Ashke was in a great mood, seemed to love just being with me and wandering around the property. We had good luck this show and there were no DQ's, which meant that we were ready a touch early.
All of the riders waiting their turn to enter the arena were working the outside obstacles with their horses. The obstacles were more along the lines of what you would find in Extreme Cowboy and I opted to walk around them rather than going through most of them. There were two tractor tires that had been buried upright that Ashke and I had walked through earlier in the day, but for the most part we were just wandering, keeping him warm and mobile.
Chris came up to me and said something about walking between two tractor tires over a mattress they had there. Then she said, "Oh, but that wouldn't be a problem for you, since he will cross the water anyway."
Five minutes later, we were back in front of the obstacle. This:
Satori walked through it. Dazee walked through it. I thought "no big deal" we would just walk through it too. I was relaxed with one hand on the reins as we stepped confidently onto the mattress. Then Ashke did this:
Straight up into the air. And came down onto the mattress with all four feet. Then went straight back up. I came off, hit the tractor tire on the way down with the inside of my right arm and landed on my ass on the mattress edge. Ashke kept doing the sproing motion next to me. I don't think he knew how to go forward and get off. I hollered "Ashke whoa!!" and he stopped springing. I got up and got him off the mattress.
He was very stressed. Not only had we been attacked, but I had been dragged off of his back by the mattress monster and almost devoured. Note to self: getting dumped twenty minutes before your ride is not beneficial to reducing anxiety.
My right shoulder was a mess. L, one of our trainers, came over and held Ashke while I put my right arm back in the socket. It made poppy-grinding noises, but some of the pain eased. I got my breath back and got back on. Ashke had been transformed from a soft, relaxed partner, to a fire-breathing bundle of nerves. I was in so much pain I wanted to cry. I asked Chris to do some energy work on my shoulder and she did so, then used her tuning forks.
The pain level was manageable by the time we reentered the arena and we made it through our test. Ashke braced against my hands a lot more than he has been doing, although you can see when we got to a particular obstacle, he knew what he had to do. Overall, I was very happy with his performance. It was a step up from Expo. However, I was bummed that I had screwed up my chance at riding the course with a soft, willing horse.
Enjoy my EOH course:
That left our speed round. I was prepared to ride the Speed round the same way as the EOH, but just couldn't go that slow. We didn't race but we did go faster than I had originally intended, mostly because of pain.
I was in shock when the garrocha flew out of my hand and I watched it bounce on the ground. Since I wasn't racing the course (only one in my division) and I didn't want to DQ, it was no brainer to get off my horse and pick up the pole. Ashke got a little tense when I leaned the pole against his shoulder, but he stood when I asked him to stand. I did stop him before the pen to reinforce the idea that he needed to listen, but for the most part, it was a fun ride.
The day was done. I had four pretty blue ribbons, a happy, full horse (six flakes of alfalfa at the trailer) and two exhausted peeps.
Next time, stay away from the obstacles.