Another Saturday, another field trip!
I am so very lucky to be able to take advantage of the schooling shows offered by Foothills Riding Club, here at our lovely and laid back facility known as FENCE. This was Forrest’s second trip here and you can imagine my relief in that he was far, far, more manageable this outing. Yes, he had his bucks and leaps on the longe, but then he settled relatively quickly (93 degrees of hot, July, sun is quite helpful as a calming ‘aid’) and went right to work.
This show, one of FRC’s ‘Summer Sizzler’ series began at 7am and finished by noon so directly after longeing I led Forrest all around the grounds, beginning with crossing a bridge at which he never batted an eye!
From there we entered the covered warm-up area. I was heartened when the ring steward mentioned how much calmer he looked than the last time she saw him, and it took a lot of focus on both our parts to simply walk round and round, horses trotting and cantering past, without a melt down. He did have a rearing moment as well as a buck when a rider cantered up quite close behind, but he’s got to get used to dealing with all that. Being off the track, Forrest is used to the company of other racehorses jigging, pulling, snorting, working up into a frenzy…so when he is surrounded by obedient horses working in a docile manner, I’ve noticed that while he takes a keen interest, it is more of a curiosity this time.
I should have worn my Fitbit as I’m sure I clocked 10 miles. We remained in the covered arena for two solid hours, just walking and walking until he was nearly bored. But I had to laugh when an FEI rider, after schooling passage, clapped her horse’s neck in praise, Forrest jumped his length sideways. So to show him it’s a good thing, I clapped his neck loudly, several times, too!
Nearly noon, the place was clearing out and most of the show rings were empty. What better time to take advantage and introduce Forrest to all the things that lie ahead in his future career? First we inspected a bright red steward’s stand:
Then I led him into one of the show rings in which he was utterly nonplussed. You can see in this photo he could care less about the judge’s tent or the bright letters.
All in all, this field trip was a small triumph. Did I get on? No, but during this point, around noon, I really felt I could have. But Forrest was hot, it was miserably humid, he’d already spent three hours both longeing and walking and walking … it was enough. I wanted him to end on a high, happy, secure note. Sometimes I think dressage is like football: if you move that ball methodically forward for ten yards each play, you’re on your way to another first down and maybe a touchdown. Every good experience for Forrest is like gaining another ten yards. And before you know it, you look up and the goal is in reach!