Dressage at Twilight Eventing: The Experience

Skeptical Bast is skeptical...
When I initially decided to take Bast to a Twilight Eventing night at Loch Moy, it was with the intention of exposing him to a lot of atmosphere. I wasn't sure how he would handle all the activity, but I wanted to throw him in and see what I had to work with. That in mind, I wasn't actually sure I would even get on him at the show.

I've been very impressed with Bast's maturity level for the last couple of months, but going to a show was going to test him in a lot of new ways. I felt it was very possible he would take several steps back, perhaps even becoming dangerously tuned out again.
"Where the hell are we going?"
My good friend was bringing her young horse, Bast's old bestie from our last farm. I worried he would be so excited to see Ari he lost his brains, but actually he and Ari seem to be over their obsessive love. Bast hopped right in the trailer and happily traveled great to Loch Moy. The two of them were attached at the show, but no more than I would expect Bast to be attached to any horse. Whew!

Once off the trailer, he was even better. While a bit wide eyed, he was more interested in grazing than running away from all the commotion. We walked around the parking area, finding Emma and Brita. At their trailer we practiced standing around for a bit, and Bast neighed a couple of times but otherwise was a very good baby.
"IDK where I am, but thank god there's grass..."
My friend and I walked our babies around the show grounds a bit, and they both continued to be very good. By this time, it was about time for me to tack up if I was going to get on.

I looked at Bast and realized he seemed to be taking things extremely well, and riding him would probably go fine. I headed to tack him up and hop on.
The gang 💖
As I headed to the mounting block, it struck me how lucky I am to have this great group of supportive friends here. Emma and Brita were done showing, only sticking around to help me and cheer Bast and I on. Meanwhile my friend and her young horse tailed us to help give Bast support. How lucky am I to have this amazing group there just to help me! Thank you guys, I couldn't do it without you!
Especially appreciated Brita taking all the photos of me riding, and Emma handling my two fuzzy supporters. This was Asterid's first horse show experience, and she was a total pro!
I positioned Bast by the mounting block. Loch Moy's mounting blocks are usually positioned at one of the most spooky areas in the history of horse shows, a fact that always cracks me up. I worried for a half second about how Bast would react to the flags snapping in the wind, the plastic bags containing scores flapping away from the scoreboard, and the group of people and dogs milling around. Then I decided I didn't care. He was going to be fine, and we were going to get on.

And you know what? He was fine. I got on without incident and headed to the ring. What a good pony!
"Holy cow. Look at all that stuff happening!" -- Bast, probably
Our warm up was tense. The moment we walked to the other end of the ring and Bast saw horses and people on the cross country course, he wound his body into a tight ball of tension. I decided to try trotting him around a bit to see if I could work him out of some of his feelings.
Remember how I said this show would have a lot of atmosphere? This is what I meant. Lots of horses in the warm up ring, lots of horses jumping stadium, just out of this shot, and lots of people and horses wandering around the massive cross country course. All of this visible from the dressage rings. Also pictured, a tense Bast.
Emma remarked that Bast seemed like he was "flipping his toes" in a fancy way. I responded that he was so tense he was forging with every step. It was a very tight and uncomfortable trot, and his head was basically in my lap for much of it.
"Hi, my name is Bast. My ears go in your nose. Kthnxbai."
After what seemed like forever, I felt Bast let go in his back a little bit. We moved to a canter. Er, launched into a gallop. Er, bolted a step or two before becoming more civilized. Whatever. Forward we went.

My little horse was pretty sad he couldn't hang out next to his bestie, too. He ended up screaming for his friend through his entire ride. It's kind of impressive a horse is able to scream so violently while cantering. Like, how do they breathe?
"We are at race, yes? We race? Yes?" -- Bast
A few laps of canter and screaming, and Bast felt like he had a bit of brain back. We walked a bit. Then all hell broke lose. See, Loch Moy does a lot of eventing derbies. This means their lower ring has a water complex. About 5 horses had wandered over to this water complex and began splashing around in it.

For a minute I thought Bast was going to be fine. Then he gathered himself, screamed to the horses in the water complex that there were alligators and they were going to die, then he launched himself away to safety at a full gallop.
I had to giggle. I was able to pull him up relatively easily, and talk him through his fear. We did a bit more working, and I practiced putting my legs on and trying to get some of the responses we get at home. While I didn't have the same flexible little horse I'm used to, I found I was able to put both legs on without explosions. Really, what more can you ask from such a horse in such a new experience?
An example of the "toe flinging trot". I'm so not fond of this gait. It's impressive looking, but so downhill and uncomfortable. There's really no suspension. It's awful.
After about 40 minutes of "warm up", it was our turn in the ring. We headed in to the test. Bast managed to get better during the test than in the warm up. There was still a little trumpeting, but honestly he cut them to mostly squeals during the ride. That's a good indication he was starting to think and relax. I was very proud of him.
I think the expression on both our faces indicate what kind of success this was.
I knew as I headed out of the ring that I had learned a ton about my baby horse. I also knew he was ready to start going to more away experiences and shows, and that I need to start being more serious about our training at home. He can handle it, and he's learning so much.

While he was a touch obsessed with his bestie, he was actually pretty damn tuned in to me. He never actually blew me off, and he kept looking for me as we moved around on the ground. I was so happy to see that. I've worked hard on our relationship, and I'm overjoyed to see that work stick in new exciting situations.
"I'm nervous. Hold me?" -- Bast.
In many ways, Bast was calmer and more reasonable than Pig. While the riding had some hairy moments, Bast was very chill at the trailers. He was a pro walking around the facility. He never dropped his brain and totally lost it. There was so much good to see in the entire experience.

In fact, my friend and I loaded the horses back on the trailer for a bit while we finished packing up and collecting my scores. Bast was very relaxed on the trailer, snacking on hay and just hanging out. That's a thing so impossible with Pig, the whole time I was nervous and waiting for Bast to dance and throw a fit about the trailer. He reminded me he's a totally different horse from Pig with totally different problem points. Standing in a trailer like a pro is definitely not one of his issues. Good boy.
Yep, super relaxed and happy. What a new thing for me!
Overall, I couldn't be happier with Bast's experience at Loch Moy. I'm hoping to get back in September for their dressage schooling show. That should have a lot less atmosphere and hopefully be easier to handle. Of course, I think I'll keep bringing him to the events. It's good practice to come to these more crowded and crazy shows just to get used to a lot of activity and things. Dressage shows will seem like a quiet afternoon stroll to him after these things. And that's perfect.
Love this horse.


  1. Aw <3 I was super impressed with him at the show - he seemed so so sensible even when he was tense or nervous or pretty freakin convinced that no normal horse would voluntarily go into water like that and there must be some sort of danger happening! Lol... seriously tho he is growing up!! Yay!!

  2. What a wonderful experience. Good boy Bast! I giggled at him screaming about alligators. And what was your score??

  3. What a good baby! What a huge difference being tuned into you vs how he was last fall/winter. I can only imagine how over the moon that must make you feel! Well done working with him and establishing such a great relationship <3

    1. Not going to lie, I was kinda afraid the show might hurt our budding trust bank.

  4. great amazing experience for baby Bast. He looks amazing and I can see snippets of Bast the real thing showing through :) I think any horse would be nervous with all that going on (LOL On the alligators HA). I am glad you had support there too and that Bast managed to keep most of his (tiny) brain together :) He really is chunking out btw!! YAY

  5. that's such a good start! the fact that he didn't just completely shut down and you were able to ride the test (and put both legs on!!) is such a huge win. I'm really proud of you guys *wipes tear*

  6. What a good boy! I'm so impressed with how well he handled himself after all the drama he caused when you first got him!

  7. Well done Bast!! And Austen (mostly well done Austen!).

  8. So, so glad your outing was a huge success!! That's a lot for a horse to take in, and Bast handled it like a pro!!

  9. Yay Bast!!! Clearly you've been putting in some major hard work with him. He looks great and it's so good to hear he kept listening. I mean, I can't blame him about the possible gators. And I know he's tense in some of those photos but I see the future!!! #FEI

  10. Yay! I'm so glad it went well! :)

  11. I am literally just beaming right now for you! Good boy Bast!

  12. Glad he had such a positive outing!

  13. Hi Guys
    I have published the full schedule of events for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon starting next week.
    I have also included a few links where you can get all the TV times in the UK and USA, as well as a few websites that will be streaming most of the events.
    So it’s pretty much all you’ll need to keep up with the action. I hope that helps ease some of the FOMO
    Here is the link, it’s yours to use as you please


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