The other day, I finally got the chance to entertain my long-awaited audience. I love a good crowd, and this one did not disappoint. I was so pleased with them that I gave a show-stopping performance (see results in photo, above), much to the amazement and disbelief of my human, who essentially rode in a state of shock during the entire show.
You see, unbeknownst to her, I had, subliminally, been mentally training her over the course of the past few weeks, through a series of carefully-orchestrated situations and reaction to stimuli.
My extensive qualitative and quantitative research has shown that when preparing your human for a competition, it is important not to build up their confidence too much, or they will get sloppy. There is a saying about making assumptions (I believe it involves donkeys), and this rings especially true for equestrian sport. You don’t want your human to assume that you as a team will do well come show day. In fact, it’s best if she envisions one (or more!) of the following scenarios:
- you will have soiled yourself so much post-shampoo that there is no way she can have you ready in time for your test (I find lying in urine does the trick nicely)
- you won’t let her braid your mane (because it looks girly), and there is no way she will enter the dressage ring unbraided
- you will be too afraid of some randomly-chosen object to continue and will be forced to drop out of the competition (spend an afternoon three days before your show making her think you are simply petrified of, arbitrarily, garbage bags)
- you will have far too much energy to contain yourself within the confines of a dressage ring, with potentially disastrous consequences (remind her as often as possible when schooling that you are an off track thoroughbred, not a dressage diva)
- you will forget how to stand still and instead back up down the length of the dressage ring (how embarrassing)
- you will be distracted by, in no particular order, people, birds, grass, flowers, air etc… (you can never be too vigilant)
As you can see, I used a variety of techniques to condition my human into believing the show would be a “schooling opportunity” rather than a competition, thereby removing all stressors from the situation, and creating the ideal conditions for success.
Slewdownfromheaven a.k.a. Elvis