Candy’s second show

I had this totally deranged idea that Moe and I would would go to a dressage schooling show the Saturday after I got back from Raleigh. Well, maybe not totally deranged. Moe’s pretty reliable, plus I needed just one more First Level Test 3 score to qualify for year end awards from the state and local dressage clubs and to qualify for the local dressage club’s schooling show championships. This particular show was my last chance to get this score before the award year ended.


  • I arrived home the Tuesday before the show
  • I’d been out of town for 10 days at the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals
  • My horse was allegedly doing some “weird shit”
  • I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually ridden Moe

Upon discovering that Moe was, in fact, doing some weird shit and could not possibly attend the show, I decided to take Candy. Candy already has one of her two qualifying scores necessary for schooling show championships, and I figured that she could probably go ahead and eke out another 60%+ in Intro B. You know, despite not having been ridden for at least 10 days leading up to the show. And being a total nightmare before I left for Raleigh. I’ll be damned if I don’t get to break out my jasper green show coat at least once this year.

Candy, wearing nature’s barrettes in her forelock.

I pulled all the burrs from her mane and tail (I don’t even know where the horses are getting these from), cleaned my tack, memorized Intro B, and called myself prepared. The morning of the show, Candy screamed like a banshee when she realized her best friend in the whole wide world Gina was not coming on this little jaunt. She ignored her trailermate, placid ex-police horse Roscoe, and gave me a sour look as I shut the escape door.

Once we got to the show, Candy seemed calmer, and she settled into her stall with zero fuss. She was alone at the end of an aisle with an empty stall on either side, but she appeared untroubled and set about eating her hay and slurping down water. I spent the morning reading tests for barn rats, helping a friend decide which shirt to wear, and handing out mimosas. When it was time to tack up Candy, she was quiet and calm and remained that way while we warmed up. The warmup at this venue is cramped and hectic, but Candy handled it pretty well. She had a couple of spastic moments, but tolerated other horses whizzing beside and behind her.

Candy’s brain can handle one test per day right now. Thinking cap keeps it from oozing out her ears.

For the test itself, Candy was more tense than she was in the warmup. Like the previous show we attended, she was obedient and had no major problems. I was delighted that she was generally okay with the busy ring- there was a horse doing a test in the ring next to us, a woman standing very close to our ring watching another rider, and a few small children running tests from the two judges to the show office. Candy gave them all the eye, but only slightly, subtly sidled away from each scary thing. Our efforts were good enough for a 64%, which means we’re qualified to perform Intro B at the local club’s championships. My friend next door is also a contender for Intro B Open Champion on her green warmblood gelding, so I’m looking forward to an open rider showdown in a walk/trot test, ha!

I untacked Candy and hosed her off before returning her to her stall. I spent the remainder of the day reading tests and performing various volunteer duties until the end of the show. Candy was content to munch hay and nap, and she loaded quickly for the return trip home. She screamed like a nut when I pulled into the driveway- I’ve really got to do something about her and Gina.

Somehow there were 3 riders in the open Intro B class lolz

It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with Candy for the last few months. I was ready to sell her before I left for North Carolina. That’s still a possibility, but it’s not definite. I’ve been trying to adjust my attitude about her for the last few weeks. See, I had this idea that Candy should really be farther along or doing more than she currently is. I’ve been riding her for a year. She’s been off the track for three years. She can barely keep it together long enough to do a five minute walk/trot dressage test, what a terrible misjudgment on my part. I was incredibly disappointed, in both her and myself. I’m not some great horse trainer, but I thought it was reasonable to expect that after a year, the horse would be walking, trotting, cantering, and jumping.

However, I’ve started thinking of Candy as my problem child instead of my savant. I don’t know why I expected her to be a savant. That was unfair of me. But I did, and I expected her to be able to effortlessly begin Training Level dressage and jumping 2’6.  I became frustrated when it was clear that Candy is not ready to do those things yet. Is thinking of her as a problem child fair? Maybe not, but that thinking makes me quicker to cut her some slack, more apt to chalk up her sporadic fear of ground poles to a bizarre quirk that can be overcome, and more likely to assume she is simply ignorant rather than a feral brat. When the savant has a nice canter transition, it’s not impressive because, well, the horse is a savant. When the problem child has a nice canter transition, it’s cause for celebration. Good job, nice horsey! Who’s the smartest mare? Not you, but that’s okay! The attitude allows me to cut myself some slack as well.

At any rate, Candy, my green jacket, and I will do our best to bring home a snazzy neck ribbon at championships in a couple of months. While it’s not Rolex or even a rated show, it’s an achievement we can be proud of.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

9 thoughts on “Candy’s second show”

  1. Even if it’s been a slightly longer, frustrating, path you are making a ton of progress with her. She’s just a tougher nut to crack than it seemed like at first! These mini achievements with her will certainly help her resume if the end goal is a sale. 🙂

    “nature’s barrettes” made my Monday.

  2. I agree with the first comment. Maybe set a time limit on how long you have to invest in her, and take these shows and milestones into consideration when selling her. She’s a cute little mare, and I think she’s come farther along than you think. Not every horse is a Moe or Gina 😉

  3. so i actually really kinda love this attitude of “problem child” in a way haha. esp the part about setting the bar reeeeeeal low and then being gleefully amazed when the horse clears it! (or, uh, only faceplants a little bit over it, as is sometimes the case lol). expectations are something i kinda struggle with daily. mine have maybe been on hyper drive lately after feeling like things progressed so smoothly and easily this past spring, suddenly we’re getting mired down in all these seemingly external traps. and it’s really really frustrating — except as you’re saying with candy, maybe i wouldn’t be so frustrated if i just adjusted my expectations and attitude. sigh. anyway, congrats on the qualifying score! candy looks adorable – good luck prepping for championships!

  4. The best thing you can do is not put a timeline on things. It’ll happen when it happens. And if you have to teach her every day, or other day, how the round peg goes in the round hole that’s just how it is. Love the journey.

    But if that’s not what you want either, that’s ok too. Just listen to her and listen to your gut

  5. It might be just me, but I always think that TB’s should figure things out faster because they’ve already been broke and had a job. Plus they’re smarter than the average WB. On the other hand, they actually have to unlearn almost everything they once knew before they can figure out what it is we want from them. So in reality, it takes just as long, if not longer for them to get it sometimes. I’m glad you’ve adjusted your expectations, and it sounds like it paid off with a great show experience!

  6. LOL at nature’s barrette!

    It’s a rough road to not be where you hoped/assumed/thought you’d be…but I feel like you’ve got the best mentality about it. Only way to go is up right?

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