Safety, Training, Thinking
So, I’m at the show chatting with some folks whose rider/friend was bringing up their horse for the over fences hunter class. As this is a huge show grounds with more than a dozen rings, there’s a lot going on. The mounted horse was coming along on the far side of the arena from us coming around to the in-gate and, going in the other direction, was one of the tractors that drag the arenas. The walk area was about fifty feet wide. The tractor was at a creep. One of the people near me, a friend of the rider, went into a rage. That “tractor person should be shot”, she said. “Killed”, she said. She was absolutely incensed that that “tractor driver was even allowed on the grounds when he was such an idiot”.
As a parent, would you carry your kid to the soccer/football field where he was going to play or expect him to walk? Sheesh. The driver wasn’t racing, was doing his job, there was plenty of room and a show horse from a really big show stable can’t safely and quietly have a tractor go by?
So, is this getting the cart before the horse? Absolutely. Doing well in a hunter class over fences when a horse hasn’t been de-sensitized to tractors or cars/trucks/whatever? Spook training and awareness of what spook training your horse hasn’t had should start as soon as you get your horse. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble and it isn’t safe. So, why is it so often neglected and ignored?
To spotlight this a bit further, there was one horse left to go in the over fences class, yet it was just standing there with the rider off about 20 feet from the in-gate. I’m looking around to see what the holdup is. Horse shows are drawn out tests of endurance anyway and trainers are remarkably unhelpful in moving things along. Well, what the devil? Why isn’t that person just going in and doing the round? So, I asked the rider why she wasn’t going. “I’m waiting for the tractor to finish dragging the arena so my horse doesn’t spook.” she said.
Now, before you think I’m an idiot, here’s the situation. The tractor was dragging AN arena, but not THAT arena. It was dragging the warm-up arena which was located 30 feet off the competition arena. See?