After bemoaning the ordeal (to the horse) of hauling and stabling and showing, we woke up this morning and prepared to haul the pony 40 minutes to a Combined Training schooling show at the barn where both my children learned to ride. It's an easy haul, a good atmosphere, and I think our familiarity with it makes it fairly easy to manage.
We got a good start to the day. The pony self-loaded! My daughter has been teaching him to walk forward when she throws the lead line over his neck and says "walk on." He's been self-loading half-way (his front end, then he seemed to want to stop and wait for her) for the past week, but today he did it perfectly.
Interestingly enough, I was distracted by Dickens E. Wickens, our tuxedo cowboy cat, who had gotten in the trailer and sequestered himself in the hay manger behind the hay net. Fortunately I saw him when he went in, and was able to extricate him before we drove off!
I was also distracted by a certain young donkey (Rafer Johnson) who seemed to be toying with the idea of loading himself and going along for the ride.
In a new trailering protocol, I am feeding a bit of alfalfa pellets mixed in with the pony's timothy hay balance cubes when he travels, in an effort to reduce the possibility of ulcers. I think it made a difference, and I plan to continue doing this.
We were happy to start off on such a good note.
One of the dressage judges had a car accident on the way to the show this morning, and as a result the rides in that arena were falling further and further behind when we arrived. The first dressage test went well. I was so proud of my daughter, who, upon learning she had won 6th place, didn't care as much about that, or about the green ribbon, as she cared about the judge's comments and what she might do better for the second dressage test. She reviewed every movement and each comment, and we talked through it together.
It was very interesting to think back over the comments he got 1-2 years ago and realize together that because we took the time off, sorted out what was going on with him, and created a plan to address it, the comments he got yesterday reflected some pretty big positive shifts.
In previous tests he had gotten comments like "needs impulsion, lacks energy" and yesterday he got "great energy, ridden with authority!"
Previously, the accuracy of the movements was not exact, but yesterday he was very in front of my daughter's legs and they did a great job of nailing the entrances and the execution of transitions.
The things to work on now are making those circles accurate, and addressing the pony's counter-bending tendency. One judge suggested we move the saddle back to free up his shoulders more, and we tried that with some success in the second test. I think we were more excited about that observation than anything else.
There was a LONG break between the two rides, so the pony got untacked, had some hay and water, and then went on a walk around the show grounds so he could experience a few new things. He was a sweetheart, and as usual, got many comments about his cuteness. At this kind of show, there are generally many, many big warmbloods, and he looks like a mini compared to them. It's so much fun walking him around.
We ate lunch, visited with my mom, and talked with my daughter's trainer. She had brought a horse she has in training, who is also for sale, and won two blue ribbons on her before we arrived. Rita, the lovely chestnut Hanoverian mare, is an absolute sweetheart. I confess I was thinking all day about how she might fit into our herd, especially after she gazed into my eyes and licked my hands for five minutes while we awaited the pony's second ride!
The second ride went very well. The pony was relaxed and much more comfortable with the commotion around him, and he and my daughter looked really good together. They improved their score and took 4th place.
By this time of the day, many people had left. We picked up the ribbon, said goodbye to my mom, and my daughter loaded the pony in about 30 seconds. I should add that we returned to hauling w/o the divider, and w/o tying, so he was free to move around in the trailer. He wasn't stiff when he got off, so he was quite willing to get back on when it was time to come home.
We witnessed the usual horror moments at the show, but we took care of our little man, tried to make his time as easy as possible, and he did a wonderful job and was a pleasure to be with all day.
When we arrived home, Rafer Johnson had let himself into the big barnyard and was waiting for us at the gate! He was determined to greet the truck, and I had to physically move him back. A few minutes after the pony got off, Rafer loaded himself ON and kept me company while I got the extra hay out and swept the mats.
The pony was ready to head out to the field with the rest of his herd. Which right now has quite the drama going on, as Salina is in heat and has once again chosen Cody as the apple of her eye. Only THIS time, he is not dumbfounded, but quite intrigued with his elevated status. Fortunately, Keil Bay seems not to be depressed this time around, but relieved that the attention of the black mare has shifted to someone other than him.
This evening, the sun set on a contented herd, a tired but happy crew, and the sound of the neighbors' ATVs blasting. Which reminds me: there are now TWO properties for sale in our little neighborhood. One is an easy conversion to an equine property (and just think, if you buy it, you'll make the whole neighborhood happy when the ATVs leave!) and the other one is a fully functional horse property just waiting for your horses to move in. I am not a real estate agent, but I would LOVE to sell these properties to some kindred spirited, horsey people. :)
And I'll add some photos from today, as soon as they get transferred from my husband's camera.
And... I forgot to add the crow sighting. At the end of the day, just before we loaded the pony, a big crow came right up to our trailer and stood there pecking at the ground. I turned to look at him, and he flew up about to eye-level and hovered there in the air in front of us. There was a pretty stiff wind blowing, and I think he was using it to hover, but it was quite an encounter.