Disappointing First Outing with New Pony

atropa

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I have had my new part bred (25% TB) Highland Pony since October, and as she lived out for most of winter I just plugged quietly away with her. Yesterday marked our first ‘outing’ together, and I had picked what I thought was an easy ask – a local showing show just 15 minutes down the road, one in-hand class and one walk-only ridden class. I’m not particularly into showing and haven’t done much of it, so I knew our turnout and my outfit wouldn’t be quite up to scratch but I was looking forward to a fun day out and hoping for a positive experience.

My OH and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the sun on the Saturday evening bathing her and combing out her tail, then a slightly less enjoyable couple of hours after that frantically tack and boot cleaning.

Sunday morning dawned bright and crisp, we got everything loaded up and got the pony onto the trailer first time – this was a win already for me as I have an older mare who is a total PITA to load, and I have only had the pony on the trailer twice before. We tootled off to the show, with me towing particularly carefully in order to give her a positive ride experience. Now the pony has been a huge hit with me since I bought her, so far she has proven to be really chilled out about most things, therefore I was not expecting the whirlwind of horror that she turned in to once we arrived K

When we first arrived, she would not stand calmly tied up to the trailer, her eyes were on stalks and she was wearing a trench in the ground from pacing from side to side, calling loudly and tossing her head wildly every time we tried to get near her with our various implements of torture, aka hoof oil and a dandy brush. With my OH’s help I managed to get her bridle on her, we took the executive decision that it didn’t matter that half her mane was on the wrong side of her neck, and he took her off on a ‘calming’ walk around the car park whilst I hurriedly changed into my show gear. He returned a short while later with a slightly less irate pony, we spent FIVE.SOLID.MINUTES trying to tuck the loose end of her fastened noseband into it’s keeper (every time we touched it her head went up in the air) and finally managed to wrangle her into the warmup. Now credit where credit is due here, I’m unsure if she has ever done much travelling/working away from home, and the show had turned out to be a lot busier than I expected. There was a single warm up ring for the whole show, several placid looking natives dotted around the top with owners chatting and doing last minute touch ups, some beautifully ridden show ponies in the bottom half of the warm up, and then there was me being towed around by 14.1 hands of unruly partbred Highland.

I started out attempting to walk her around on both reins whilst avoiding parked horses, which really ended up more with me skiing at her shoulder as she jogged circles around me. At one point I asked her to stand and she actually reared, something she hasn’t done before, as OH and I exchanged embarrassed glances. Eventually though, I did get her settled enough to walk around, using a pole on the ground to try and keep her concentrating. I even managed to get her standing by asking her for a couple of seconds at a time and then moving quickly on. By the time we were called into the class, I was a sweaty mess and seriously ready to take her swiftly out again if she started acting up. Luckily, she seemed to have calmed enough at this point to actually complete the class without too much incident, but the extreme head shaking and the extremely loud donkey braying continued for the entire time, and we had to circle every 3 minutes or so during the lineup.

Amazingly, she did stand nicely for the judge to look at her conformation, so I’m hoping at least that I can get a nice professional photo from it. Anyway, needless to say we came a thoroughly deserved last place, and received a nice pink special rosette but unfortunately no comments from the judge which I was a bit miffed about. Obviously her behaviour was terrible and technically she was in the wrong class as a partbred in a M&M class but she does have Highland looks and with it being a local show there were very few suitable classes for her to enter.

Anyway, having survived it, we walked back to the trailer and managed to tie her up with her hay net again. By this point my poor OH was freezing, so we had a roll, cake and tea and Pony alternated between standing quite nicely eating her haynet and pacing/shouting her head off.

There were still around 7 classes to go before my ridden one so I decided for all our sakes to call it a day and end it on a….high? note. We packed up, got her loaded first time again and set off home.

Overall a slightly disappointing first outing – I think I have been spoiled as both my bigger mares, despite being nuttier, both settle really well working away from home, and I just wasn’t expecting Pony to blow her mind so much. But I am trying to focus on the positives (loading and settling from an excitement level of 10 to about a 6) and seeing it as giving me lots to work on.

My plan going forward:

-Excitability: practice a lot more short, easy journeys with her in the trailer. Work as much as I can with her with other horses in the school. Keep taking her out to some quieter, lower key events to try and get her used to it.

-Behaviour: start introducing some groundwork sessions into our work. She can be a little bargey especially with throwing her head around, and I have not done as much work to address this as I should have done as it doesn't translater under saddle. It seemed to be seriously exacerbated on the day of the show, so much so that we wondered if she might actually have been irritated by something we had used the previous day during her bath. In future I will ensure that only water touches her face, and I will be having her teeth, bridle and bit checked just in case there is something there annoying her.

-Show planning: if going showing in future, try to choose classes that are close together!

Thank you to anyone reading this far, I tend not to concentrate too much on what I’ve learned from taking my horses out and about when I really should use it to improve for next time, so I’m writing this here in hopes of any helpful tips and so I can refer back to it in future and (hopefully!) see how far we’ve come.
 

DirectorFury

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-Excitability: practice a lot more short, easy journeys with her in the trailer. Work as much as I can with her with other horses in the school. Keep taking her out to some quieter, lower key events to try and get her used to it.
I was going to say this :). Do you have a local RC that do group lessons? Mine used to be bonkers (verging on dangerous) at busy shows and taking her out twice a week to RC group lessons for ~6 months eventually chilled her out. Sometimes the show atmosphere is just too much for them and it's much easier to get them into the working mindframe in a lesson with no expectations.

Onwards and upwards!
 

TheMule

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Sounds like a reasonably successful outing to me! I personally wouldn't expect any horse to stand tied to the trailer on its first outing, especially upon arrival- adrenaline levels are going to be high at that point. Much better to let them walk and settle to graze once they're taken a breath
 

Fiona

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She may actually have been better under saddle, but I understand with 7 classes to go why you decided to come home.

Next time enter a ridden class and get there in load and loads of time so you can settle her before her class.

FIona
 

D66

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Go a couple of hours early and lead her about until she calms down. Start off in a quiet part of the lorry park and get closer to the action when you think she's ready for it.
We did this for our youngster, who's hooves barely touched the ground for 5 min after unloading, and she was fine by the time she got in the ring. By the end of the day we could lead her past the tractor stands, sheep pens and kids playgrounds. I wouldn't have expected her to tie up quietly at any point even though she would at home.
Carry on, dont give up. :)
 

atropa

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the joys of youngsters!

just keep on doing lots of fun easy outings and she will chill in no time!

you survived and got a nice pic, sounds like a win to me :)
Err....she's 11!! :oops: But she does seem to have been passed about a bit in life and no real competition record that I can see so may be as green to outings as a youngster would be.

Oh and even with my two sensible ponies, I always put the bridle on in the lorry/trailer before I unload.

Just in case....

FIona
Thank you, it just didn't occur to me at all as my other two mares are so incredibly easy and laid back when going out. I will definitely do this next time :)
 

atropa

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Go a couple of hours early and lead her about until she calms down. Start off in a quiet part of the lorry park and get closer to the action when you think she's ready for it.
We did this for our youngster, who's hooves barely touched the ground for 5 min after unloading, and she was fine by the time she got in the ring. By the end of the day we could lead her past the tractor stands, sheep pens and kids playgrounds. I wouldn't have expected her to tie up quietly at any point even though she would at home.
Carry on, dont give up. :)
Thank you this is good advice, unfortunately I wouldn't have been able to put it into practice yesterday as there were no quiet parts of the car park. I had vastly underestimated how busy the show would be which is my fault. Fingers crossed I can find some quieter outings to put this into practice.
 

ester

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I'm not sure where you were OP but given time of year may have been some arena set up rather than middle of field?
Only mentioning because I think they are always more fractious set ups, not quite enough space etc. We showed Mum's mare in hand once, never again! but a total doll ridden!
 

atropa

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I'm not sure where you were OP but given time of year may have been some arena set up rather than middle of field?
Only mentioning because I think they are always more fractious set ups, not quite enough space etc. We showed Mum's mare in hand once, never again! but a total doll ridden!
It was arena-based Ester yes, and very cramped in the warm up, plus a big class! As Fiona mentioned, I might have found it easier to control her ridden rather than in hand.
 

scats

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She will settle as she gets used to being out. I had a gelding who was a royal nightmare as a youngster- it would take 2 hours to calm him down and the first time I rode him at a show, he blind bolted. We got him to the stage that he was totally chilled being out, but it took a lot of trips and often we would just walk the show ground and spend an hour there but decide not to enter anything.
 

honetpot

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Over the years this happaned to me a couple of times. I ended flat on my back in the ring, and thought I was going to do the luge without the benifit of ice or a board, which three older stewards looking at me where no *ucking help at all. Then the TB who decided to scream all day, and drag me around just because I hadn't realised how attached he was to the pony mare, who had a busy schdule for most of the day.
All I can say is it takes practice. Most will get the hang of it, and settle. I have two welsh A's who over the years have baby sat the most stupid of horses and larger ponies, you just have to keep going out, literally just for a ride round. I like dressage, enter so you don't feel your taking the P, and just do the warm up. Usually not as busy and not any standing around. I look at the smallest amount of entries in a showing class, enter on the day, so they do not get bored with standing.
 

atropa

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Disappointing? Why? She isn't born knowing and understanding these things - it takes time. I think you all did absolutely brilliant ! Keep on going.
(Now to learn how to accept my own advice??)
She is only the third horse I have ever taken out anywhere. My first was already BS experienced when I got her so no problem despite being an absolute firecracker, my second had no experience and surprisingly settles like a duck to water everywhere we take her despite being a spooky nervous wreck by nature. Therefore I (very naively) thought that taking the one that is laid back at home would be a piece of cake too, hence the disappointment. But hey, that's horses and an important lesson learned for me ;) Thank you very much for your kind comments, from everyone's replies I can see that it really could have gone a lot worse.

She will settle as she gets used to being out. I had a gelding who was a royal nightmare as a youngster- it would take 2 hours to calm him down and the first time I rode him at a show, he blind bolted. We got him to the stage that he was totally chilled being out, but it took a lot of trips and often we would just walk the show ground and spend an hour there but decide not to enter anything.
Thanks Scats, everyone's replies to this post have made me feel a lot better about it all :)

Over the years this happaned to me a couple of times. I ended flat on my back in the ring, and thought I was going to do the luge without the benifit of ice or a board, which three older stewards looking at me where no *ucking help at all. Then the TB who decided to scream all day, and drag me around just because I hadn't realised how attached he was to the pony mare, who had a busy schdule for most of the day.
All I can say is it takes practice. Most will get the hang of it, and settle. I have two welsh A's who over the years have baby sat the most stupid of horses and larger ponies, you just have to keep going out, literally just for a ride round. I like dressage, enter so you don't feel your taking the P, and just do the warm up. Usually not as busy and not any standing around. I look at the smallest amount of entries in a showing class, enter on the day, so they do not get bored with standing.
Thank you so much for your comments. I am looking forward to working with her on it :D
 
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Our baby Welsh D seemed to be overwhelmed when we took him to his first low level dressage show. My instructor advised me to hire arenas at lots of different venues and just go there to school or for a lesson. This has helped him to get used to going out and about to different locations without the added complication of being around lots of other horses. That is the next step though. Wish me luck... ;)
 

tda

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Think of the positives, you got her back in the trailer and got home safely 🙂

Agree with the riding club lessons/training, also if it's a local show can you ride there, take the edge off her.
Good luck for next time x
 

EKW

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As to judges comments - judges don't have the time to speak to every competitor in the ring. You say you put your part bred in a purebred M&M class so if I was the judge I wouldn't have said a word other than Well Done Thank you for coming. The judge would assume it is a really bad example of it's breed so better to say nothing than say something and get it wrong! Plus if the pony was being an annoying, loud, fidget I wouldn't have liked it either and would rather not say anything!

I would never and have never expected horses and ponies to stand tied to the trailer at shows - especially their first ones! Put the bridle on in the trailer so there no faffing, have a head collar that undoes in front of the nose as well as over the head so it's easy to put on and take off so you have more control. The rest is basic manners!
 

Apercrumbie

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Ah, well it happens to the best of us and well done for persevering! As terrifying as it might sound when they're in airborne dragon mode, sometimes being ridden and worked hard helps as it takes their mind of all the exciting things. Better luck next time, I'm sure she will improve!
 

atropa

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Our baby Welsh D seemed to be overwhelmed when we took him to his first low level dressage show. My instructor advised me to hire arenas at lots of different venues and just go there to school or for a lesson. This has helped him to get used to going out and about to different locations without the added complication of being around lots of other horses. That is the next step though. Wish me luck... ;)
Thank you and good luck!
As to judges comments - judges don't have the time to speak to every competitor in the ring. You say you put your part bred in a purebred M&M class so if I was the judge I wouldn't have said a word other than Well Done Thank you for coming. The judge would assume it is a really bad example of it's breed so better to say nothing than say something and get it wrong! Plus if the pony was being an annoying, loud, fidget I wouldn't have liked it either and would rather not say anything!

I would never and have never expected horses and ponies to stand tied to the trailer at shows - especially their first ones! Put the bridle on in the trailer so there no faffing, have a head collar that undoes in front of the nose as well as over the head so it's easy to put on and take off so you have more control. The rest is basic manners!
I only expected a comment as every other show I have been to I have received comments, additionally the same judge was commenting on horses in other classes, so why would I not expect the same? Yes she was a part bred in a M&M class but as I said above, I wasn't expecting any prizes and there was no other choice for her - she certainly wasn't going in the sport horse or youngstock classes and there were no general novice classes either.
As to tying to the trailer, 9 people out of 10 at events I go to have their horses tied and I personally prefer having the space to work around them so I will continue to work on this in future outings. I will however be bridling her in future in the trailer as another poster also suggested and I will clarify that i never leave anything tied up unsupervised. I also did not anticipate the level of bad behaviour that I got, or I would have not have picked a showing show for our first outing. Thanks for your comments :)
Ah, well it happens to the best of us and well done for persevering! As terrifying as it might sound when they're in airborne dragon mode, sometimes being ridden and worked hard helps as it takes their mind of all the exciting things. Better luck next time, I'm sure she will improve!
Thank you, luckily although she is forward under saddle she is tiny and straightforward compared to my other two so it doesn't phase me. Might be the way to go next time!
 

Walrus

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I think it's hard with a new one. My pony was a superstar to take places and I never thought anything of it. Fast forward to my new mare and she is definitely a different person! Stupid as it sounds it's taken me a while to realise that firstly i totally dis not appreciate how fab my pony was at the time and totally took him for granted and secondly, what worked for him doesn't necessarily work for her. With him I loved having him tied to the box, I'd faff about making him look beautiful, sit on the ramp and have a chat with him and a cup of tea etc. Mare is nervous of other horses banging on their boxes etc at the moment and we had a particularly hair raising outing where she was swinging all over the place and eventually broke the lead rope and legged it round the car park demoing her "big trot". Since then I've changed my routine and technique got her ready on the box where she feels safe (even if it's a bit of a squash) and the whole thing has been less stressful. You just need to find out what works.

Sounds like a positive day to me, you went, you did and you came home with a plan. 👍👍
 

atropa

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I think it's hard with a new one. My pony was a superstar to take places and I never thought anything of it. Fast forward to my new mare and she is definitely a different person! Stupid as it sounds it's taken me a while to realise that firstly i totally dis not appreciate how fab my pony was at the time and totally took him for granted and secondly, what worked for him doesn't necessarily work for her. With him I loved having him tied to the box, I'd faff about making him look beautiful, sit on the ramp and have a chat with him and a cup of tea etc. Mare is nervous of other horses banging on their boxes etc at the moment and we had a particularly hair raising outing where she was swinging all over the place and eventually broke the lead rope and legged it round the car park demoing her "big trot". Since then I've changed my routine and technique got her ready on the box where she feels safe (even if it's a bit of a squash) and the whole thing has been less stressful. You just need to find out what works.

Sounds like a positive day to me, you went, you did and you came home with a plan. 👍👍
Thanks Walrus, the more I think about it the more positive I feel! :)
 

Bernster

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Well, you got some useful information to work on now :)

First time I ventured out, my otherwise chilled out ID launched off the lorry, knocked me over and trod on my ankle. Not the best start. It served as a reminder though to go carefully with a new horse and new experiences, and set yourself up as best you can for success.

So now you have this info from your boy, I'd take him out on short low key trips, out with a friend hacking maybe, then some lessons and clinics, then just wander around a small show but not compete. Build things up gradually and I suspect it won't take long for him to settle and you will both have a more relaxed time of it!
 

Orangehorse

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This was your first ever outing? Pretty brave and not that disappointing. Just keep going, doing plenty of practice at home. My 2 year old span round at the end of his lead rope in the collecting ring and then trampled all over my feet at his first show - was he insecure and wanted to feel close to me? I could hardly walk the following week. Also at a later show he was behaving much better, until he spotted a class of coloured ponies in the ring next door, and of course his friend MUST be there too, so for the whole of his class he was neighing his head off and the judge sadly said that he didn't show himself off very well ......…………..

I was discussing with an almost "pro" showing person that I couldn't get over how some people took a horse to a show and then saidbin H 7 H "it is their first ever outing" and they end up winning and she just replied that I hadn't seen all the work they had put into the animal beforehand.
 

McFluff

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I’m another who thinks that’s a successful first outing. When I took my mare out for her first ever show I set tiny goals. Like load well, travel well and stay in one piece. I practiced by taking her out in the trailer to go hacking, so I thought I knew how she’d behave, but the atmosphere really got to her. I’d never seen her so wound up. It was the first time I’d heard her neigh (and she neighed a lot that trip!) and I honestly didn’t think that a horse could pee and poo so much.
I did actually wonder if it was fair to her to try and go out to compete. But being brave (daft?) I went out to another low key show two weeks later. Still stress but much better. She’s got progressively better each time out and is now a complete dude. She even loaded for my non horsey husband last time out.
Keep the experiences short and sweet and she will get there.
 

atropa

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This was your first ever outing? Pretty brave and not that disappointing. Just keep going, doing plenty of practice at home. My 2 year old span round at the end of his lead rope in the collecting ring and then trampled all over my feet at his first show - was he insecure and wanted to feel close to me? I could hardly walk the following week. Also at a later show he was behaving much better, until he spotted a class of coloured ponies in the ring next door, and of course his friend MUST be there too, so for the whole of his class he was neighing his head off and the judge sadly said that he didn't show himself off very well ......…………..

I was discussing with an almost "pro" showing person that I couldn't get over how some people took a horse to a show and then saidbin H 7 H "it is their first ever outing" and they end up winning and she just replied that I hadn't seen all the work they had put into the animal beforehand.
Not my first ever outing no, just first outing for us as a combination. Thank you for your kind comments, I will certainly be practicing at home as much as possible but I think the only thing that will make it a big difference to her is repetition of going out and having a positive experience.
I’m another who thinks that’s a successful first outing. When I took my mare out for her first ever show I set tiny goals. Like load well, travel well and stay in one piece. I practiced by taking her out in the trailer to go hacking, so I thought I knew how she’d behave, but the atmosphere really got to her. I’d never seen her so wound up. It was the first time I’d heard her neigh (and she neighed a lot that trip!) and I honestly didn’t think that a horse could pee and poo so much.
I did actually wonder if it was fair to her to try and go out to compete. But being brave (daft?) I went out to another low key show two weeks later. Still stress but much better. She’s got progressively better each time out and is now a complete dude. She even loaded for my non horsey husband last time out.
Keep the experiences short and sweet and she will get there.
Good to hear...luckily she seemed to be overexcited by the atmosphere rather than overwhelmed so I'm confident it will improve with practice.
 

tabithakat64

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No real advice accept as Fiona said perhaps put bridle on prior to unloading so you have some control. Having spent 4 hours at a show with 500kg of hysterical cob who simply wouldn't settle you have my sympathies.

Mine had a bronc under saddle too and in hindsight group lessons would have helped
 

mcnaughty

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Just keep going out. You dont need to enter classes when you are there you know. You could just turn up, walk her round, go home. I know loads of professional showing people that rock up to shows with youngsters and just use the warm up facilities and then go home. You could also just take her to a local riding wood or out for a lesson but it is mainly the other horses and the buzzyness of a show that gets them going. I bought a 3 year old welsh A for my daughter to do leadrein on. At his first show he spent most of the time on his back legs, I took him out every weekend near as damn it through the summer and by the autumn he was asleep in the ring and ready for his ridden career. Oh and you could always tack up before you leave home!
 

conniegirl

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TBH sounds like a fairly successful outing to me! heck my (at the time) 17yr old been there won that native pony was a total plonker the first time I took him out.
Mine has been shown up and down the country and won some of the biggest titles in the country both inhand and undersaddle, however before I bought him he had 2 years off in a field, when I took him to a show he was very much like you describe yours to be but with the added benefit of doing some fairly impressive acrobatics under saddle. We came last in our first class of the day (at a local show with a pony who has won at RIHS) because my pony just would not even thing about walk, trot was out of the question and canter became very bouncy when we turned to the long sides. I stuck it out, waited for the second class and he calmed down and we won the second class.

As for the judge not making any comment, if you were last with a pony who has been very badly behaved then most judges think it doesn't really need a comment, also if she was a bad example of type (which she would have been as a partbred in a purebred class) then the judge likely wouldn't have said anything, many go on the "if you cant say anything nice don't say anything at all principle" and many judges have been verbally abused for offering constructive feedback in the past so won't offer it unless asked directly, even when asked directly some will prevaricate and say something generic for fear of getting a mouthful of abuse in return. (I've been that judge a few times, i very rarely judge any longer).
 
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