The weather was finally turning, better described as a welcomed “brisk” temperature versus the bemoaning “sweltering” we’d grown accustomed to as the 90-degree summer in Florida edged into fall.
As such, my young thoroughbred gelding was starting to get some long overdue relief after huffing through his first hot and humid summer with anhidrosis. It felt so good to walk into the barn and find my goofy, big horse being a troublemaker again. His eye was bright and he was eager to get out of his stall. He was playful in the pasture (almost too playful) and even rambunctious under saddle, as every good young green horse should be, upon occasion.
And better yet, he was SWEATING again. The cooler weather meant I finally got my horse back.
So I started to ramp up my gelding, Mikey’s training routine. We of course took it slowly at first, encouraging him to stretch and become reacquainted with basic aids and expectations as I worked to get his body back into “fit” shape. But it didn’t take long.
It was almost as if I had bought a new horse altogether. Mikey’s ability improved ten fold, even compared to how well he went before he stopped sweating. He was eager to try new things and never showed a hint of feeling overfaced as we moved him over taller jumps and through more complex grid work.
I left the barn beaming ear-to-ear over the course of several weeks.
Wanting to take advantage of the cooler months, I decided it was time to take Mikey on his first outing. We chose a small local hunter/jumper schooling show just up the road. A few of the barn owner’s students were showing there, so it was easy to catch a ride. Plus there was no pressure here — Mikey could be as green beanie as he liked, and just go around for the miles and the experience.
We arrived early in the morning to school before the show started. Mikey was definitely feeling good, and was alert and snorting at every new thing he saw. Despite the many distractions, Mikey had a great school, focusing mostly on me and the job I was asking him to do, and hacked around the arena and over fences like a real pro. I was so proud of him!
Then came the long afternoon of waiting. My classes weren’t until the end of the day. So Mikey had plenty of time to walk around the show grounds and get a feel for the environment. When it came time to chill out back at the trailer, however, he refused to stand tied. Even with his buddies tied next to him, Mikey threatened to pull himself free from the trailer all day long.
I was able to secure a paddock at the show grounds for him, which I thought would be a safer option for him while we waited for our turn in the arena. My big dumb horse galloped around the paddock a few times, but seemed to settle in just fine with a flake of hay shortly after. Or so I thought.
I was sitting at a picnic table with my husband after ordering some food at the vendor’s box when we heard a loud crash. Yup, it was Mikey. The dummy decided he’d had enough of being cooped up in the pasture, and attempted to leap over the gate and flee. Except he didn’t clear the gate, and instead came crashing down on top of it.
Luckily he just stood there like a big idiot after his display, so it was easy for someone to catch him. And even more luckily, he escaped this escapade without any major injury, aside from a few cuts on his back legs. I couldn’t say the same for the gate, which was crushed under his weight.
Needless to say, we became “that horse” at the show. You know, THAT problem one that gets loose, or refuses to be caught, and causes a whole scene. For the rest of the day people would identify my big chestnut horse and whisper “that’s the one who...” Even my farrier heard about the ordeal in the days after the show!
But whatever. I guess that’s why we were there, after all: to get all the willy nillies out. By the time it came time for our classes, Mikey was pretty mellow. He hacked around in the wet dirt and the rain as the sky opened up just for us. He jumped even better than I had hoped, making sure his back legs cleaned each fence and then some, probably because he didn’t want to ding the fresh cuts on his hind legs. We even came home with a few blue ribbons.
We were diligent about checking to make sure he had no other lasting injuries that we may have over looked. But Mikey recovered from his first horse show just fine at home. It definitely was a memorable one.