Its show season. Your horse is looking & working beautifully. You’ve done your homework & you’re ready to strut your stuff in the ring. However, sometimes no matter how good your preparations, something goes wrong. The way you deal with these unexpected events can have a big impact on how the rest of your show goes.
I’ve had my share of disasters & they invariably occur in the lead up to a major event! My first time attending the Australian Arabian Championships, we had a car breakdown half way through the ten hour journey. Fortunately, there were (non-horsey) family friends nearby where we limped the vehicle to & were unable to unload the horse. However, due to the nature of the breakdown, not only did we require a replacement vehicle, but a replacement trailer as well! We rallied the troops (family) & managed to get back on the road after quite a few additional hours. Extremely tired, we arrived at the showgrounds at midnight, rather than the planned mid afternoon! It put quite the proverbial spanner in the works! Despite this, I managed to compete & bring home a Reserve Australian Championship title!
2015 I was preparing 2 horses for the Australian Championships. All was going well until my saddle horse put a leg through the fence 2 weeks out. Although the injuries weren’t too bad & would heal just fine, being on the heel of her foot she was lame. How can you prepare a lame saddle horse? I was forced to back off the saddle work, I put her on natural pain relief & continued to work her lightly. We managed to make it (just), with her winning her saddle Championship, a top 10 (3rd overall) in hand & a top 10 in dressage!
In the lead up to the 2016 US Arabian Sport Horse Championships, I overdid the protein in my mares diet & the week before the show, she stocked up in her hindlegs. An adjustment to her diet & continued work along with cold hosing bought them down a bit each day, however it was not until the morning of her first event that they were back to normal!!
An additional “event” on the way to the Sport Horse Champs, we had a bearing blow on the trailer! Fortunately, we were travelling with friends a little ahead of us who happened to have a spare bay on their trailer. They came back, meeting up on a side road & we were able to juggle a few things around for my girl to go onto the show with them. Meanwhile, we limped very slowly back to the nearest town & found a garage that could assist. This all added several extra hours to our journey! We finally got to the show, less our trailer! We were able to have the trailer repaired throughout the week & collected it during the week of the show. Our results for that show with 2 horses (I showed one of my friends horses) were 1 Finalist, 6 top 10’s (2 of those being 3rd overall) plus a Championship, from 8 classes!!
Now all these things were certainly stressful at the time & could easily have had a big impact on the rest of the show had I let them. The way in which you deal with these things will determine how big of an impact they have. Now, provided horses & humans are all ok, I try not to let these things affect me too much. My advice is to take it in your stride, deal with it as best you can, don’t let it distract your focus too much & try to stay positive. I look at these things as being all part of the story. Focus on the positive – I was lucky we were close to family friends on the first breakdown, & I was very lucky we were travelling with friends & they had room on their trailer for my mare when the second breakdown occurred! I’m sure if I had allowed these things to really upset me, I wouldn’t have achieved the results I did.
So if something like this happens to you, just think it’s all part of the journey & when it’s over, it becomes part of the story, sometimes even something to laugh about. Deal with it best you can, work through it & then step into that ring & show your best despite the dramas!
Cheers & Happy Riding!