The show this weekend was a disaster. There is no other word for it; a complete nightMARE!!
A little background info:
Pippi is from the APHA line of Spookin' Fool, her sire was Spookin' Cody, the grand son of Spookin' Fool. This weekend Pippi was all that we did not want her to be. In the past Pippi has had her moments of shear terror. We have worked very hard, and Miranda has worked diligently at desensitizing Pippi through the spookin' foolness. Pippi lived her first four years in a stall at the faigrounds, with little turn out, and never in a natural environment. So when we met, she was scared of the world at large. She had never been a part of a herd, and a leaf blowing in the wind would startle her. That was almost three years ago, so we are now entering our fourth season. We have showed Pippi in three different places, two outdoor arenas, and one indoor. She has lived in four different locations; two with indoor arenas and two with only outdoor arenas. She also spent last summer with a herd of horses, which seemed to do a lot of good. She now lives alone, well, the mini horses are around, but she is not turned out with them.
So off to the show we go, excited and thrilled to have the opportunity to attend and show. Pippi left Thursday with our friend who was trailering us since he was in our neck of the woods, with trauck and trailer, that day. We met up with him where he boards (about an hour away), and headed out Friday morning. Arrived at show late afternoon, and unloaded horses, and tacked up to do some quick schooling.
Cut to 5am. Yep - that's dedication. Whew!!
Pippi entered the arena, but was clearly shaken being there alone. No other horses and no people on the ground. She refused just about every jump, and was hopping around. I asked our friend, who has more experience than I to go in to give Miranda some advice. he gave her some pointers last spring. When he was on the ground, Pippi did all the jumps beautifully. It was perfect. They quit while the going was good.
At this time, I thought to tell them to go out, and enter several times, but didn't say anything. They were probably right, I thought, Pippi was fine now, and all was well. I don't know if it would have made a difference, but I wish I would have suggested it. :(
Showtime. Pippi and Miranda warms up. Pippi getting compliments from people near me.
"oh - what a beautiful mover"
"Love that little Paint horse, isn't she flowy?"
"Now, that's my kind of horse."
I was so proud of my girls, and looking forward to showing off our paint in a TB world. It was not to be.
Pippi refused to comply. Totally lost her mind when facing that empty arena, all the lights and movement behind the glass, and would not go further than near the first jumps. We were devastated. Miranda encouraged her, petted her neck, and tried everything. We took her out, and rode her in the warm up ring, tried the second class, same result. Pippi is now doing some rearing that Miranda rode out. The arena desk clerk stated that this was not unusual, saying "it's a hard arena for horses to get used to."
Back to warm up arena. Now what? I voted for ride the "piss out of her" (excuse my language) to show her that this will not be rewarded with chilling in a safe stall. Pippi was once again perfect. Jumped the three jumps in the warm up arena like a champ. No hesitation at all. Knees lined up, and up and over. So, since this was a schooling show, we went back at the end of our division for a last try. Rearing, and hopping about continues, but she finally goes beyond the first jumps. The arena crew enters from, a set in the door by the window wall, Pippi sees them, and happily goes all the way in the back of the arena.
CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW TICKED WE WERE????
Pippi has always struggled with fear issues, but we really believed we had come beyond it. She is the only horse I know that looks to people rather than other horses to feel safe. There can be 5 horses standing relaxed where she does not want to go, and she will refuse. But if one human goes in front of her she is fine. Silly horse. Our friend stated that "she thinks she is human, and identifies with humans more than horses." I have said that for years, and people just laugh at me. But it's true!! So very frustratingly true!!
Last summer we put her out in a herd, hoping that she would realize that she is a HORSE!!!! and it seemed to work. But after being alone all winter, she is back to being a human again.
We did do the flat classes in the other arena. If for nothing else, to ride Pippi rather than put her away. After the excitement and Miranda riding her hard, Pippi did fine, but was exhausted. She looked like a western pleasure horse, muzzle dragging the ground. Not exactly a Hunter horse.
All in all it was a nightMARE!! I ended up with a migraine, after having a head ache since the night before, and struggled on the long drive home. Miranda was embarrassed and sad. I think if she could have ridden another horse, and at least been able to show, it would have been easier to take. One girl came over to me and told me that it took her mare three shows there before they finally was able to complete the 2'6" course they were there to compete in. She was very sweet to try to make us feel better. All in all most people were very nice and gave us encouragement.
Today we have another lesson with Kay, although I am bowing out. Still experincing some neck pain from migraine, and do not want to be shook all about. Kay called on our way home from show, and wanted to hear how we all did. (She is also the trainer for our trailering pal.) I look forward to hearing her advice.
We plan to do more scary things with Pippi, to hopefully raise her confidence and make the world less scary to her. I would like to find another herd for her, so she can learn to be a horse. But I hate to move her from our friends house. She became SO skinny last summer, and we love taking care of her ourselves. But we MUST get over this issue. Pippi needs to be able to compete in strange places, and just to overall be less spooky. If we can't compete with her, then ..................well, I don't even want to think about it......
Any advice? Did you ever deal with a human horse? A spookin' fool?