If there is anything predictable about horses, it is their unpredictability.
Competing with a green, inexperienced horse, this unpredictability easily becomes a distraction for the rider. Instead of focusing on a test or a specific movement, the rider also has to maintain an extra high level of awareness of the environment and things that might distract the novice horse. Or worse yet, things that might cause him to spook, run out, or decide he has an excuse to completely misbehave.
Many agree that competition itself is the best way to get a horse used to competition. Nothing like the real thing. However, anything to help prepare the horse before competition is always a good thing.
Today, while training outdoors, the horses in the two nearby pastures decided to play up. One minute they were all quietly grazing. The next, their tails were up, they were racing up and down the fence line, and there was a lot of snorting & kicking.
"Oh, oh. This is it!", I thought. "Piper is going to lose it." But bless his little hooves! He looked, hesitated, started to react, but then got back to business as soon as I gave him an assertive squeeze and a verbal reminder to pay attention. The horses continued to play up for a minute, then peace returned. And Piper was fine.
The chickens provided the next distraction, venturing closer and closer than usual to the arena. Again, Piper looked, but kept working. Next, a car came down the driveway. Then the dog came to rest by "C". Lots of distractions today and yet nothing that stopped the work.
Piper is showing the early development of a good work ethic. How absolutely fabulous!
Two weeks and counting to our first show.....