If you know me, you know that I am definitely NOT a morning person. There’s only one explanation as to why I was up before sunrise yesterday morning – it was horse show day for baby Dies!
We started off this new year by attending a small schooling show hosted by UGA’s IHSA team. It was super low key, which was great for building Dies’s confidence up. Like many young horses, he has a tendency to become a spooky mess when introduced to new situations. The nervousness has been improving over the last few months as we continue to expose him to new places, and it has been so rewarding to see how his confidence has improved with each new place he has visited.
In addition to improving his confidence with new experiences, I decided to try Diesel on SmartPak’s SmartCalm Ultra and U-Guard starting a month ago to see if that would help him to overcome his spookiness at home and away and make him more comfortable. He is a sensitive guy that tends to worry, so I was concerned that ulcers could become a problem – especially now that he is traveling more. I want to give him the best care that I possibly can. Yesterday was the real test to see if they were making any difference in his demeanor.
Dies made the journey here to Athens with two pony buddies in tow. It was quite a sight to see 16.1 hand Diesel beside his new tiny pony friends. He didn’t seem to mind the height difference haha! I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks since I have been back in school, so I was so happy to see his squishy little face!
Right after he walked off the trailer, I tacked him up and took him up to the ring to look around and explore. To my surprise, he was so calm and composed even with the “scary” new jump decor and loud shooting noises from next door. He was more concerned with begging for pets and all of my attention. He is such an attention hog. This was the calmest I have ever seen him both out and at home.
When you have seasoned show horses, you can sometimes take for granted the small things like being able to stand beside the arena without worrying about your horse every second. This was the first time since I have owned Dies that he stood quietly and relaxed. He is such a sensitive guy that he is always on high alert – even at home. However, yesterday he was relaxed enough to calmly graze by the arena – this was a first! I got pretty emotional as I was standing there with him because it was the first time that I was able to let my guard down at all with him and enjoy just being with my horse. I was so proud of him.
I’m sorry for the sub-par pictures, but they are all screenshots from videos. Hopefully, I will get some better pictures in the next few days. He was such a good boy for my trainer during the whole show! We entered him in the 2′ division again, and he didn’t blink an eye at any of the jumps and behaved so well. I honestly couldn’t have asked him to behave any better. There are many things that we have to work on in his training, but this show was all about building his confidence! If we can get him more comfortable in new situations, everything else will come. His biggest hurdle is his own anxiety.
He ended up winning both of his flat classes and came out with a second in his last over fences class. I was thrilled! There are definitely a lot of things to work on, but I couldn’t have asked him to be any more well behaved in a new place with a new rider. He was such a good nugget! If the weather cooperates, his next outing will be on February 10th. I can’t wait!