The first HT of 2023 is officially in the books, and it was Presto’s first recognized Training!
I entered Training Horse at this show because it ran on Friday/Saturday vs Training Rider which ran Saturday/Sunday. Hillary was showing Lex at this one too and her division ran Saturday/Sunday, so in order to avoid the raging dragon that is PrestoWithFriends, I was like screw it, I’ll just try to avoid that situation altogether and enter the division for Fri/Sat. My dressage wasn’t until almost 3pm on Friday, which worked out great for me. I packed the trailer and cleaned my tack in the morning, then braided Presto around lunch time, loaded him up, and off we went.
I’ll be the first to admit that my brain really wasn’t “with it” at this show. There was a lot going on last week, I was carrying a lot of anxiety about completely unrelated things, and by the time the show came around I was tired, stressed out, and unfocused – something I wasn’t able to shake off all weekend.
Despite that, Presto was pretty good for dressage. I didn’t realize that during these giant winter shows Rocking Horse sets up additional grass rings… when we were here in December all the dressage was on surface. And of course naturally our test was in one of the grass rings. If I’d known that in advance, I would have put studs in him. The ground was fine so it wasn’t a problem per se, but he definitely is less hesitant to swing through his back, especially in canter, when we’re in a little grass ring. Lesson learned – grass rings are possible here so check which ring we’re in well in advance so I have time to put studs in if necessary.
It wasn’t our best effort but there weren’t any major bobbles. It was mostly just the continued feeling that I couldn’t quite get him to relax and swing through his lower back as well as he’s capable of, which affected every movement. Our scores were mostly 7’s with a smattering of 7.5 and 6.5, for an overall score of 30. I’ll be honest I was slightly disappointed with that because we’ve been working a lot on the lengthenings at home and they’ve really improved but I wasn’t really able to show them the way I wanted to, and I feel like this horse is always capable of scoring in the 20’s if I ride him well. On the other hand, it feels real stupid to be disappointed with a 30 lol. I definitely was not disappointed in him – he was a good boy and he stayed with me, so I can’t fault him at all. I mean… he’s not even quite 6 years old yet and he’s out here at a massive show being competitive with the pros on their young horses.
Showjumping was on Saturday morning. If I thought that I was unfocused and off my game on Friday, it was even worse on Saturday. By that point I hadn’t slept much for two nights in a row, I kept having nightmares or mega anxiety dreams (you know the ones where you wake up with your heart rate through the roof?) and I really wasn’t able to get control over it. My anxiety level was just at a constant high. It really had very little to nothing to do with the horse show, it was because of everything else that had been going on, but where I’m normally at like a 2 and a horse show raises it to a 3, I was running at an 8 and the horse show was raising it to a 9. It was making it very hard to use my brain and make good decisions in the heat of the moment and I was never really able to overcome it.
The SJ course was eerily similar to the one from the last show, just a few minor tweaks.
To all of Presto’s credit, I think he would jump around Training with an actual monkey on him and not be flustered by it. Which is good, because that’s pretty much exactly the ride he got.
I know I was sitting up there and holding the reins, but I’m not sure that I made a single decision. Or if I did, it was a panic mode decision, not a focused and helpful one. It was like me of 5-6 years ago had resurfaced and was yeehawing all over the place. It wasn’t cute. I think I just blacked the whole thing out, because I really don’t remember any specifics now, just an overall feeling of major disorganization.
Presto did his best but I let him get long and flat pretty much the entire way around. It was one of those rounds where it all just kind of happened to me and I didn’t do much to actively participate in my own fate. Which I hate. I used to default to that mode all the time and I’ve done so much work on myself and my mental game to overcome that… to revert back to it on that day really annoyed the crap out of me. Oh yeah, ALSO – my martingale broke. Like PING up into his face right before the one stride, and we ticked the rail there. Super proud of Presto for literally giving no shits about what I did (or really – didn’t do) but I was not so pleased with myself. Like what the hell man. What was that? I can do so much better than that.
To Steph’s immense credit she was very positive and constructive in her feedback but I was like wow. That was a thing I just did. Bless Presto’s heart though, he was like “COOL – NOW WE DO RUNNY JUMPIES?”. Completely unbothered.
One thing I did accomplish was to be able to go “ok that was not my best work at all” and stuff it in a box so that I could move on to the next thing. I was determined to be more present and give him a better ride for XC, which was only half an hour later…
7 thoughts on “Rocking Horse Winter 1 – Dressage and SJ”
So I’m that person that stalked you on Event Entries because I was DYING to know how it went (and also I was stuck inside due to horribly cold temps)….you have SUCH an awesome horse to be able to do as well as you two did when your brain just wasn’t in it! Hopefully your life outside of horses eases and you can return to enjoyment of showing, not anxiety.
Hope everything calms down and anxiety levels come down! Well done for producing a horse that can hold it together when you aren’t at your best. (And you help him hold his brain together sometimes). Well done!
Well, if I looked as good as you on those pictures when I’m a hot mess at a show, I’d be happy! ;-P
1. This is the first time you actually look tiny on Presto. LOL!
2. I totally get the brain fart, only it’s taken me FAR longer to not do it. I’m sure this one will make you better for the future, though. And it sounds like Presto wasn’t really bothered by it, either. Good boy!
Not sure if you already have tried something like this, and maybe it wouldn’t be helpful if this was a one-off for you, but as a fellow Enneagram 5 who happens to deal with chronic anxiety, the app Headspace has been a surprising game-changer for me (in addition to my therapist, bless her). I still get anxious, but it’s easier for me to actually implement strategies for handling it in the moment (versus remembering what the strategies are and completely failing to use them lol) by using a lot of the strategies that I’ve built via Headspace. Took a couple months of regular practice to see results, but it’s been great.
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Ugh, I hate that feeling. Where you’re just there looking out unable to actually do anything about what’s happening around you. Frustrating,
Regardless, you both look amazing at least! Hopefully you felt better out on cross country.