It's been a hectic couple of weeks for Royal and me. I've been trying to cover all the basics and practice some stuff that I think we'll come across at Steepleview. Of course, things don't always go according to plan, and when I tried to set up a jump-to-ditch combo, Royal took exception to the dogs barking (which he has heard pretty much every day of his life) and refused to go anywhere near where he heard the dogs. Which got me kind of frustrated, since this has become a larger pattern: he's been spooking at things he's experienced almost every day for a while (like the dogs, or a pile of wood, or my grooming box), but not in a pretend day. It's like his eyes go glassy and his brain shuts off. It helps if I play with him a bit, but the next time, we're right back to where we started.
Part of me wonders if it's a magnesium deficiency. There's evidence to suggest that horses who don't get enough magnesium can get nervous and spooky. With Royal, he gets spooky unless I'm doing something with him, and even then, my effect is somewhat limited. When he spooked at the dogs, I was able to get him over to the far end where he was spooking, but then he started running out at jumps he's seen hundreds of times, and freaked out at the ditch. So, we had to do some desensitizing where I would walk him up to the ditch and ask him to go over it. Calmly. He zipped over it like it was hiding alligators, but after a while, he'd pop over like it was no big deal. But it was still so weird, and not like him at all.
So in light of all this, I've put him on a mild calming supplement (Majesty's Calm+ Wafers), in the hopes that it'll help him to be less nervous overall. He's only been on it a few days, but seemed less nervous when he got his feet trimmed yesterday. And seems a bit happier in general. The real test will be how he handles this weekend with all the assorted chaos.
It's been very hot this past week (like 90+ and humid), and it's supposed to be pretty warm for Steepleview. So I'll have to be prepared and bring lots of ice and water. I'm going to walk the course this afternoon and get a feel for it. They already sent out an e-mail detailing their preparations for dealing with the heat, so we should be okay. Of course, we'll have to see what happens when we get there!