One of the very first rides that I took King to was called the Thames River Valley Ride. Now, I can be a bit thick sometimes, but really this was not one of my more stellar moments – because it somehow never occurred to me (even given the watery hints in the ride name), that we might have to cross water.
A few miles down the trail, we came around a corner and discovered a rocky creek across the trail. It wasn’t wide, or deep. But the footing was a bit scary looking. I had no clue if King would cross. I asked the woman riding with me if her (older) horse crossed water. She had no idea, but asked him to go forward. But, he refused quite adamantly. So I held my breath and asked King to step forward and look at the water. Luckily, it turned out that King liked water a lot. He had a drink and then picked his way through carefully, but quite confidently. And since that first day, King has always been happy to ford streams, rivers, and wade into lakes. But really that was just sheer luck, and I knew it. He could just as easily been that horse next to us who refused. I felt quite stupid about it, and from then on have tried to expose King to as much as possible at home, so he is not exposed to things for the first time at a competition.
Which brings me to this blog post…
It’s a really good discussion on exposing your horse to the actual conditions you might encounter at a competition, before you get to the competition. Cold, wind, rain, mud, etc.