Wow... I haven't posted anything in ten days. Now that I use statcounter, when I don't post anything and see that about 100 people checked the site anyway, I picture all of you, desperate for something to amuse you while you stand in line, iphone in hand, or maybe bored on a slow conference call, or just not ready to get out of bed yet, or fed up with the summer reruns of your favorite tv shows... logging into TTW in the hopes of finding something clever and exciting, and instead, it's the same boring post that was at the top of the page yesterday. Statcounter gives me anxiety. Then again, it also makes me laugh, because I get to see that almost every day, some hopeful adopter googles "fluffy gray cat," and finds this. Classic.
First things first: if you have a horse that gets an upset tummy for horse shows, trailering, or other events... get yourself some tubes of SmartGut Paste! The stuff is amazing. I gave Tucker one tube about an hour before I put him on the trailer before our horse show last Saturday, and it made a dramatic difference. When I arrive at a horse show and take the ramp down, I am usually greeted with a rather unpleasant site... that generally requires a sponge and bucket to remedy, if you catch my drift. But there was no mess this time -- I was so shocked I had to pick up his tail and check! And, perhaps even more importantly, he actually ate his hay! So well, in fact, that I had to borrow some more hay for the ride home from a friend. That is a huge change in behavior for him. He usually barely picks on his haynet when he's on the trailer, so I've never thought to bring extra. Guess I need to rethink that now! If you have a horse that exhibits signs of a belly ache during stressful events, I highly, highly recommend SmartGut Paste. Truthfully, I was not expecting such a dramatic change. I have tried ProBios paste, and Pro CMC, and even Pepto Bismol, and none of those worked as well as this stuff does. (SmartGut is also legal to show on under USEF rules - see this post for details.)
And as for the actual performance, Tucker and I had a fabulous horse show! Our first one since November and he was a complete rock star, all day long. He was cool as a cucumber from the moment I pulled him off the trailer (maybe the SmartGut helped with that too?), wanted to graze while trotting on the lunge (I promptly decided we did not need to go for a spin), and warmed up calm and relaxed. The warm-up ring was absolute soup, so after flatting for a few minutes, Alicia jumped three jumps and we headed up to the ring. Tucker was great for Alicia's two trips, nice and steady and quiet, and then it was my turn.
Since he was already looking a little tired, I didn't want to run out of horse, so I trotted and cantered once around in the warmup ring, jumped one vertical and one oxer, and said we were ready. We headed up to the ring and a miracle happened... although I didn't realize it until later in the day when I was talking to my favorite horse show mom, while her daughter got ready to show. I didn't get nervous at all. I didn't have to psych myself up, or calm myself down, or convince myself relunctantly to go in the ring. I didn't walk in and quake at the height of the fences, or worry I would forget where I'm going, or pray that Tucker wouldn't try to unload me (seriously, where do I get this stuff from?). I just had a plan, went into the ring, and for the most part, executed it. Without hyperventilating or considering becoming a trail rider. Miracle!
The biggest success of the day, however, was my pace. I established exactly the rhythm I wanted in my opening circle, and then maintained it. I didn't crawl backwards to the first fence, which was a diagonal vertical going away from home, off the left lead. Instead I kept my leg coming out of the corner, then just sat up and waited for the jump to come to me, and Tucker picked a lovely distance right out of stride. Next was a bending line on the outside, going toward home off the right lead, which was either 10 or 11 strides, give or take. We got a nice distance coming in so I just waited til I was about 4 strides out, saw that I needed to balance a little, and then -- are you ready for this -- I actually remembered to close my hand and leg, and collected the horse properly, back to front. Next was a triple away from home, across the other diagonal. I kept the canter coming forward past the in gate, then waited for my line, rode straight out of the turn, and got a good distance in. I felt him wanting to drift ever so slightly to the right, so I opened my left rein a little in the first three. Then the two-stride got a little easy, I remembered to say "woah" in the air over the second jump, and he realized he needed to balance for the two without much extra help from me.
I must have been so pleased with myself that I got a little over-confident, cause then I goofed. I came around to the last line, which was another bending line going toward home, off the left lead. I saw a distance, thought to myself, "it's right there," closed my leg, and about two strides out, I felt Tucker reconsidering my decision. "Um, hello? Haven't we had this conversation like a thousand times before? If I leave from there... You. Will. Fall. Off. I am adding. You are insane." He was right, of course, there was another stride there and if I had left him alone, it would have worked out just fine. Instead, it was one of those moments where as you feel your horse twisting himself upside down to work it out, all you can do is say "sorry buddy" and hope he makes it. Can't you just hear him? "THIS, by the way, is what LOVE feels like, in case you were wondering! I SHOULD stop at these things, but I DON'T, because I LOVE you, even though you are CRAZY!" We landed in a heap, but I didn't panic (in fact I thought "awww man, it was going so well"), closed my leg and we cantered forward to the last fence and found a perfect distance.
Sigh. So close. All in all though, I am really happy with our first trip back. Alicia said it was the first time she saw me select, and maintain, the right pace all the way around the course. Success! As for Tucker, he is the Wunderkind. He did everything I asked him to do, and then some. I am so proud of how amateur-proof he has become. I was never sure, when he was a baby, if he would eventually just start accepting it as a fact of life that mom makes mistakes and he has to cover them up. But he has, and he does. Worth his weight in gold, I tell you.