The second day dawned bright and extremely hot, and with all the rain we had the day before it was very humid. I had Koda ready to go for our cross-country run, but things didn't feel right. He was fine while warming up on the flat, had a great canter warm-up, but once I started to pop a couple fences, things were not great. He was looking all over the place, not focusing at all on the fence in front of him so that by the time we got up to it, he saw it, balked, I kicked, we bunny hopped. It wasn't pretty and didn't bode well for our run.
As expected in retrospect, we had balks at 3 of the first 4 fences on course, so were eliminated. I was allowed to continue into stadium, but I didn't want to do a repeat of what we just had. I replied to the official that I would just pop a couple cross rails in warm-up then head home. The response - sorry, that's not allowed. You must wait until the show is completely over. This surprised me as if I had continued to do stadium, I would have done the same thing... yet since I wasn't doing stadium, I wasn't allowed to school a cross rail a couple times.
Either way, it was a learning experience and we've come home with a TON of homework to do, number 1 being to instill any type of focus and work ethic in Koda. I need to be able to take him to new places and still have him get into the zone. I'm not quite sure how to do this, but I have a few ideas.
Since he's the type of horse that loses his focus even after a few minutes break during a ride, I think a more rigorous and regimented riding schedule may be in order. Work comes first, then cool out along the trails. When it's time to work, no dicking around, get down to it NOW. Also, I think I will re-iterate the idea of FORWARD with him since he is balking at jumps that he could walk over (which DID happen!!!).
We do have another competition to go to that is on Labour Day weekend, and there is a clinic beforehand. Some may say it would be silly for us to go, but that clinic will be one of the only ways I can get some instruction and since we'll be down there, might as well enter and see how it goes. It's all about exposure and experience for my green 9 year old.
Does anyone else have ideas for helping the green/unfocused horse? He's fine in the stall, but once I swing up in the saddle, it's all about looking EVERYWHERE at once!