My experience in Wellington & owning a spooky horse

My first time in Wellington I was in awe of all the palm trees, show grounds, and top horses all over!

I didn’t expect to win my first Time there. I just wanted qualifying scores for nayc. In my first test my horse continued to bolt, and we scored. 62% I was so relived as we missed like 4 movements due to his bolting and he was so distracted he couldn’t think in his way work because he was looking all over. The next day we were in the indoor thank god because the stadium is terrifying for my horse. He gave me a clean test with a 65%. I was very happy with that. my second time in wellington. I wanted to be remembered, and not get last. we had a week in wellington before my first test because the jog was so early. dazzle was giving me the biggest trot and best half passes he has ever given me in those warm ups that week.  I was feeling confident that we would get a good score! my birthday was my first test, and I had expectations to do great! when I warmed up for my test dazzle was doing flying changes on our extended canter and when I asked for a bigger trot he was cantering on my circles. that is what he does when he is overwhelmed. my trainer was like “he looks great” I said “he is not with me at all… he is in his own world it may look good but we are not one with each other..” I think she thought was nervous and overthinking but I knew my horse and he was not thinking 100% about my aids. In my test I had to be very careful to not ask for a big trot especially in the circles. he did super extended trot, but when we went to the corner he bolted reared spinner and turned when he saw people standing in the corner. we got a couple of 1s because his whole collected walk was non existent. after that he continued to spook in that corner thats where the turn flying change is, then it goes to half pass so that was messed up. then in our other extended trip and extended canter he didn’t want to go forward into that corner. we got our lowest score et a 61%. i wasn’t sad or angry about the score I was disappointed in my relationship with dazzle. At home he will have days of bolting and spooking 10 or more times for no reason. same arena nothing new changed yet he has little panic attacks. every show he would give me a test with a super high score of a 68 or 70 then a super low score of a 62 because of his spooking. its hard to feel your horse isn’t with you and doesn’t trust you. I had been waking up at 6:30 every morning to ride in the stadium before my test. so the second day I had my trainer come and teach me in there before my test. that morning was the worst ride I’ve ever had on my horse. He had been in the stadium like 7 or more times, but this morning decided to have a major panic attack. He reared, bolted and bucked 20 plus times! I was a little scared of my own horse. he wanted to leave the arena he was getting away with the spooking and it was getting worse as he got older. a couple riders asked us to stay a big distance away from them I think everyone at that show knew my horse was very spooky. We rode for over an hour! 1 hour later I got on for my test, and dazzle was almost 100% with me. I rode that test so much. every corner shoulder in trying to contain my big giraffe. about 4 times he thought about cooking and hsback got so up, but he didn’t because he knew 1. he would get in trouble 2. that I had his back. he gained confidence from that morning when I told him “no boy stay with me” when we finished our test I cried and hugged him. I told the judge “thank you! he has been spooking every test so this was huge for us!” she smiled He offered me a very nice trot and  we nailed our walk pirouettes thats been our 4s all season! we scored 7s on those! our half passes were 7s they were not our best half passes that we have done, but we were at 6s our first wellington show. he had one time where he turned and didn’t want to canter right but we corrected ourselves quickly. I saw our score a 66% we got third we followed behind the German and spain riders. We beat all the U.S riders. and were 2 points behind second! on our victory lap the judge said “im so proud and impressed with how you ride that big horse and manage to stay on!” he of course bucked his way threw the victory lap but i was so proud of us! the last day he gave me anther clean test, but  he was very tired and I didn’t enjoy the feeling he gave me that much but he wasn’t spooking and he was listening to me that best he could. we scored a 68%. we got 4th we didn’t get last at all that show. so that made me happy. what made me most happy was I felt we both gained more trust for each other. every horse we competed against was 10 years old or older they all knew there job. So to go out there with my 6 year old who I trained myself and be competitive was the best birthday gift I could have.

the top riders have horses who have scored 50s because there horses have spooked the entire test. they are the best horses don’t get too discouraged if your horse is a little crazy.




By Skye Simpson Dressage Shares Insight on the Sport

Skye Simpson is an FEI Dressage & Natural Horsemanship Trainer located in Banning, California.

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