Monday, March 30, 2009

Bolting at Horse Shows

I just read this post on the Fugly blog and was horrified by the youtube video of a driving class gone wrong. This was really one of the most upsetting things I've seen in a while and I hope all people and horses are okay, though it's impossible to tell from the video. Besides the obvious -- the guys running around trying to stop the horses and inadvertently herding them into other horses, carts, and people -- I couldn't understand why one woman was still sitting in her cart. If it was me, I'd have jumped out once my horse was stopped and being held by someone else. Of course, within seconds after I thought that, a runaway horse knocked in the cart and tipped the woman and her horse over. What a pathetic mess!

Anyway, this video and Fugly's post made me think of Marve. The barn manager assumed I was riding him in the next show, which is coming up soon, and I shocked both her and maybe even myself by saying no. I want to sit this one out. She seemed almost disappointed in me, but the bottom line is I'm afraid something might happen. Marve came kind of close to bolting/freaking out at the last show we were in. Granted, there were no disasters, and everything was okay, but since then his bolting tendencies have gotten a bit worse, and especially in two particular ways: when we canter large, or when we end up riding fairly close behind other horses. And in this horse show, which would consist mostly of flat classes, where we're only going large and following closely to other horses, I didn't want to deal with the stress. And if I'm worried that he will get nervous and bolt, then he'd probably feel the tension and, well, bolt.

Maybe I'm being over cautious. It's definitely disappointing for me because I feel that Marve is easily capable of being in one of these shows, and being okay. If he had a stronger or better or more relaxed rider, maybe this wouldn't even be an issue. But the fact is that he bolts roughly every third or fourth time I ride him. Sometimes they are little bolts, but sometimes they are big and freaking terrifying and I cannot imagine how bad it would be if he did that in the show.

I am not too upset about skipping the show, at least not as much as I thought I'd be. What bothers me is I feel I'm moving backwards. After our last show, I assumed if I kept up the lease, we'd be in a much better place for this show and I'd feel more confident and prepared. So it's like I'm chickening out or something.

But after watching that driving class video, I'm reminded that safety always comes first. I do believe there is the potential for Marve to set off a similar situation in the show ring with things as they are, and I don't want that to happen.


dp said...

I also found that video very upsetting, mostly because those supposedly-experienced horse people botched the whole thing so badly. I think people just stopped thinking and started reacting, which was bad news for the poor horses. If everyone had moved to the center of the ring and stood quietly with their horses that first rampage would have petered out much less dramatically when the horse eventually got tired and turned into the center to see what everyone else was up to. What a gong show.

There will be plenty of shows for you and Marve to attend this summer. Maybe start out with some walk/trot classes and introduce the canter when you are both feeling more confident.

Serena said...

Roommate Horse is a freakazoid at the canter too. She starts off rational and gradually gets bigger and bigger and all of a sudden, hey, i'm riding a dirtbike! She comes back but only after i HAUL on the reins for about 5 strides. I tried to be brave and take her to a local hunter show to do flat classes last year and my boyfriend came to watch. He knows nothing about horses, but his comment--"Is your horse supposed to be going that much faster than all the other horses?"--was right on.
My solution? Switch her to dressage, where they LIKE a big swoopy canter and there are lots of transitions to keep the control. Or, do gaming. :) These have both worked out for me so far.