I am so happy and relieved that we finally got the big lad out to a show (and came home uninjured - result!)
The perseverance of practising loading him worked. We made sure we did it at least three times in the week leading up to the show and took him for a short drive on the Saturday so that he was used to it. I have also been able to load him without his dually halter, which is fantastic! We used it initially as he started to pull back a lot and I did not want him hurting his head on the roof as he tends to fling it in the air, but now he walks on with his normal head collar and lead rope. So don't give up if your horse is a bad loader; keep practising you will get there!
In preparation for the show and for Bob's comfort too; as he does not like his mane fiddled with (and I hate plaiting as I am awful at it!), I hogged his mane and then had to take off his forelock, which I was sad about. He does look very smart though and it makes it easier to get him ready!
I had aimed to do the first ridden class of the day (veteran) and the in-hand veteran a bit later, but on arrival, he was very anxious calling to any horse that would listen (despite being able to see other horses too). We spent a good 20 minutes walking in circles as each time he calmed, another horsebox or trailer would arrive, which made him stressed again. We gave him half an hour (as we only had just over that before the class) to see how he settled, but as he still showed a lot of anxiety, I opted out of the class and spent the next hour mooching about with him letting him have a look round and watch some other classes. It was a bit disappointing as we spent our last lesson practising a ridden showing routine which we never got to do, but the main thing I wanted was for him to have a positive experience for his first outing. The mooching seemed to help, so we got him groomed for the in-hand class (can I note here I washed him the day before, but it rained, so he was a mud monster by the morning. I groomed him and had to return him out as he was stressing on the yard, so he rolled again!), lots of spray/brushing and we were ready to go in. He stood well in the warm up area despite a horse repeatedly spooking next to him, we then went into the arena and he was like another horse, so calm and well behaved. We got called up first to do the individual show, which I was not ready for, but he did a lovely square halt, walked and trotted perfectly and did not drag me once. We ended up placing 5th, which was a great achievement!
We decided that was enough for him for one day and to leave on a high note. We had a few reloading issues as the horse in the lorry next to us freaked out a few times, once causing Bob to leap sideways and hit his neck on the partition bolt - luckily, only a lump and no cut (which has now gone down). I did think there was no chance of him loading after that, but he did calm down and we got him back on in five minutes and he travelled beautifully home. Overall, we had a positive time as we achieved loading, participated in a show and got him reloaded and travelling well. Now I need to get planning his next outing!
Autumn's been off work recently thanks to the big tinker – I came up one morning to find a huge bite on her spine. I have been washing and applying cream daily and it is healing well, but I think another week or two before I can lunge or ride her. She has been very good about me treating it as even when she flinched as I washed the bite, she still stood and let me do it.
Aria is still Aria, although she is taking more of a liking to Martin over me at the minute as he gives her more scratches in the field!