I suppose I’ve held off long enough sharing a recap on my first outdoor show with Maestro which happened in early June, shortly after the poor guy fell with me while we were trotting around the ring. Having not fallen with a horse in over 11 years and that situation being a bit different in that Stampede stepped in a sink hole versus just tripping/slipping, I was much more shaken by the fall than I originally anticipated. I mean after all I did get back on, go back in that ring, and flat around a bit more afterwards.
Also, I had started to realize that what I originally thought was a minor issue with my saddle (which was repaneled earlier this year to fit Maestro) fixable with a half pad change was not. Not knowing my horse so well yet really put me at a disadvantage in the situation. The symptoms of saddle fit issues were easily dismissed as some extra excitement upon moving outdoors after a long winter early on. I got suspicious when I realized he was squealing and bucking consistently when asked to canter the second direction, no matter which way we started. Finally I realized my saddle pad and half pad were sliding down in front and then due to the heat causing a rub on his wither. A change of half pad got the pads off his wither and him back to seemingly normal on the flat.
Probably not the best way to go into a horse show however.
On Thursday schooling for the show Maestro was definitely strong jumping but totally manageable. I knew I wasn’t being the best rider I could be – a bit rigid in my arms and tense in general – so I mostly put it on myself. Plus he’s a young green horse and there was a lot of atmosphere. I hacked him around Friday afternoon and he was great. Saturday though I was much more nervous than my usual show nerves. I knew why and pushed on. I also ended up running a bit later getting on than I would have liked. I like a bit longer flat than my barn mates do for showing. I prefer to get Maestro to the point of his best flatwork before moving on to jumping and I didn’t have time to do that. Regardless, he warmed up nicely in the schooling ring. Once in the ring though he was reacting much more to my tension (which had increased in the show ring too) and also acting much more green that usual. His gate pull was crazy and I ended up circling just to get the line correct to continue my course. After my second round we decided to regroup so I took Maestro back to see if maybe he had to pee (nope) then got back on to flat some more. Trainer came back over towards the end of my division and I popped a couple fences in warm up before going in. I rode that round much better but Maestro still was not his normal self. He loves to jump and went to the jumps but he was hurried.
Trainer and I discussed and agreed she would take Maestro in the warm up the next day before my classes. I assumed (incorrectly) that the issue was me but he was just as strong and gate sour for her. My hunter round and equitation rounds were both quite bad and he actually was running more than Saturday. In the equitation round we even dropped a stride coming home despite my strong requests to slow down. Over the winter I struggled to get the strides! For my last over fences round I had a medal course. I figured the turns would work in my favor. All was going well and we even managed a nice turn near the gate only to have him go gate sour on me during a roll back that wasn’t even that close to the gate, lol.
Afterwards I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was bugging him because he’s really a good boy. I decided to get my saddle looked at, after all I paid to have it repaneled not long ago. Well as you can imagine it didn’t fit and due to someone else’s mistake back in 2015 the stamp prior to repaneling didn’t match the actual panel (this was discovered before the last repaneling but I was never told it would be an issue) and I was told they couldn’t guarantee they could make mine right. That plus some concern with the amount of times it had been adjusted (Maestro’s repanel was 3). So guess who ended up ordering a new saddle? We are waiting for that to come, it’s supposedly on rush since it’s the saddle company’s mistake.
I was trying to make my saddle work in the meantime but having horrible jumping rides (similar to the show but no gate sourness) so I ended up borrowing my friend D’s spare saddle again (used it during my repanel). I’ve only jumped in it once now but someone was lazy so I think we have our culprit. Maestro also got a massage last week and she did find some residual soreness from our fall. Hopefully we are on the right track to get back to our normal!
Regardless of the not so good show I certainly learned a lot about my horse and it turns out he’s much more photogenic than Stampede was, lol.