Pilgrim and I are getting ready for our first show next weekend. We are showing Training test 2 and 3. We have been having a tough time running through our tests as the arena at the farm is too small and strangely shaped and slightly sloped. It's fine for daily schooling but impossible to get the geometry right for each movement....and putting an entire test together is insane. So today we did a trailer in lesson at my trainers. Chuck could not get off of work to help, so other than the kids, I was on my own. This made both Chuck and I very nervous. Pilgrim is notorious for his trailer antics....loads like a dream but freaks out once inside....plus this would be the first time ever he was trailered anywhere to immediately ride and then trailer back home right after. Part of me felt like I was just asking for a disaster to happen. I even got a stall for the day of the show so he could hang out for a bit once we got there and relax before we had to warm up for our ride times. It also allows me to volunteer at the show which is always good.
I should also note that after many, many really good weeks of daily riding and weekly lessons, our last lesson was a mess. While working on haunches in, Pilgrim suddenly got super claustrophobic and went back to his old ways. I was able to work through it, but it was a huge battle. We were doing 10 meter circles to the rail, then leg yielding with haunches in, then asking for bend to create shoulder in. We did this the week before at the walk and he did well. At the trot, the minute we would ask for bend he would piaffe, then pop up in the front when trying to send him forward with my hip and seat. It took a long time to get him to relax and work well again, especially with anything requiring sit trot. So this lesson was in the back of my mind looking forward to today.
So saying I was nervous was a massive understatement. Trying to push the odds in my favor, we bought 2 tubes of Quietex. I dosed him in the morning 2 hours before when I needed to leave. When it was time to hit the road, I got him out and wrapped his legs and loaded him up. Not only did he load quietly, he stood like an old pro the whole time while I got everything settled. Once on the road I worried about all the lights we would have to hit. Stopping too long makes him anxious and panicky. Luckily I hit almost every light green and the few that were red we were able to just coast through. Not that I think it would of been an issue today though. Apparently he was out to prove me a liar the whole day. He munched his hay the whole hour and a half trip to the trainers and was an angel unloading and tacking up once there. I started to wonder if my horse had been mysteriously replaced with an identical twin. Once tacked, I mounted, honestly expecting some kind of throw down to take place. Instead I got a beautifully relaxed and soft horse who listened, warmed up, and ran through both his tests, then worked on problem areas in each. He allowed me to stop and hang out on him and talk through things with the trainer without jigging and dancing around. It was.....well......awesome! I have no idea if he will be this calm at the show or not. He may do a 180 and be insane, running around tight backed and bracing, running through my outside aids, and just freak out....but if he could be even half of what he was today, ribbon or no, 70% or 50%, I'll be thrilled. My main goal is to just get through this. I have to learn how to ride under pressure again, and Pilgrim does too. I know if he'll just trust me enough we can get through this together and work towards an awesome show season next year....when he can show everyone how amazing he really is.
Needless to say, I'll be using the other tube of Quietex the day of the show. Anyone used B-calm? It got really good reviews from SmartPak customers so I ordered some of it before I had a chance to try the Quietex. I wonder if it works as well. I used to use one of these before on the younger horses before big shows to help them stay focused, but I can't for the life of me remember which one.