I am going to have to break up this show recap into parts, because there was a whole lot going on and a lot I want to record for posterity, or really just my own memory, so I can look back and remember, oh yeah, Eli’s first overnight show with me. This post is the lead up to the show, finishing with schooling at the showgrounds on Friday.
Eli had to give me a heart attack before we could get on the trailer, of course. It’s like a thing with him now. Find something to make cookie lady call the vet and question whether going to show is appropriate. Last show, we had to ultrasound his left front.
This show, he decides bloody discharge from his right nostril (you know, the side where he had surgeries) might be fun. So Thursday night, I come out to the barn, toss him in the round pen for a minute, and see …
Yeah. Oh, also, the context for all this is there had been enough rain to make the turnouts slop, so Eli also had not been turned out on Wednesday and Thursday, although I did ride him Wednesday night in the top fields. So if he whacked his head (vet’s words) it was in his stall … ? I rode him very lightly on Thursday to assess whether exercise would hurt or help the bloody nose. I also took Eli’s temperature, made sure it was not a cut but actually drainage (it was), checked his stall for all the signs of everything (like is he eating and pooping, are there loose nails, does his waterer work, etc.) and everything looked okay. He seemed hydrated and his gums looked fine. A light hack did not produce any increase in bloody drainage, and by the time I left the barn Thursday night his nose seemed to have stopped bleeding.
I called the vet Friday morning and sent him the above picture and we discussed the situation, took into consideration Eli’s sinus surgeries, and thought ultimately going to the show would be okay. If the drainage comes back we can scope him next week.
Friday the turnouts were also dry enough to put the horses out, so all of the horses going to the show got out in the morning before getting on the trailer in the afternoon to head over to the venue, get set up in the stalls, and school.
At the show, Eli settled in his stall quickly, but got unsettled just a bit while we were hanging fans because the sound of zip ties freaks him out, I guess? My trainer asked me to go in his stall to hold the fan while she attached the zip ties, this while Eli is spinning around at the noise. Okay, don’t kill me, Eli. He actually calmed down once I was in there and we got the rest of the fans up easily. I pulled his wraps, groomed him (because you can’t walk a dirty horse around a horse show) and took him on a hand walk around the spookiest horse show venue I know of. Lots of pavement and trucks, massive support columns in the warm up rings, a view of nearby road ways and the Austin skyline (makes for cool show pictures if you’re in the outside ring!), jenky temporary stalls duct-taped together, (an improvement over the even jenkier rust-buckets that finally got replaced), vendors and concessions setting up and making all kinds of noises … Eli definitely tried to jump in my lap a few times. Only one person was schooling in the inside ring at the time so I walked him in there, too. Didn’t care about the jumps, but spooked at the judge’s stand and the area on the other side of the arena that had a paddock set up for an adjacent, even smaller riding area (I hesitate to call it an arena) where the cross rails competitors ride. He finally stopped jumping around and I decided to get back to the stalls to tack him up, and start the walking around process all over, this time under saddle.
The warm up ring proved the spookiest area for Eli, but we got to trot and canter around a little bit before my trainer headed over and asked if he felt okay to jump. He was really being pretty good, and looky, but not making any huge moves. So I picked up a trot and started to head for a small vertical right as a large water truck pulled up, parked, and idled loudly. And made other kinds of offensive noises, like hisses and air brake releases. Three steps out from the vertical, the truck made a loud burst of hissing and Eli startled fairly melodramatically. My trainer actually went over to the guy in the truck and yelled at him. She is forever my hero.
With the truck no longer running, Eli got a little focus back and we trotted the vertical. And then he threw a really big buck and turned at the same time. I don’t know how I stayed on but I told my trainer I would just come right back to the vertical and we went through trot-jump-buck a few more times, cantered a few in the canter-jump-buck pattern, all the time getting less and less dramatic about it. I suggested we try to ride Eli in the arena where we’d be showing if we decided to show and my trainer was all for it.
We had the same kind of drama in the arena, and I felt badly for the other three or four people in there since my steering was a bit lacking after each fence for a few strides, and we stuck with only taking one or two jumps at a time, and I didn’t try to jump a line if someone else was jumping a different line. Eli handled the other horses fine, the jumps didn’t phase him; really all the stuff going on outside the arena kept him looking around and spooking a bit the whole time. He responded to my aids appropriately amid all of his playing around and jumped what we did jump with ease. Or with flair. Or with gusto. What I mean is he didn’t have an issue with any jump, but he wasn’t exactly quiet. Truly, we got a lot farther with him on Friday than I thought we would, so I left us entered in the two Open classes and added a Schooling class before them. I bundled him up for the evening and knew I could take my time getting to the show on Saturday because my classes were at the end of the day.
I will leave you all with a still from a video from JK Videography … more video and maybe some pictures in tomorrow’s post about how Saturday went down!