I read a great article on handling spooky horses last week (which of course I cannot find now, LOL)
The bit that stuck in my mind was about going slow, setting your horse up for success, and not allowing them to be over-faced (all of which I have tried to do with Tesla in building up her confidence). Which is why I could just kick myself tonight for allowing a scary situation to escalate because I didn't be more assertive.
I got to the barn early today, and got Tess ready and into the ring, ready to longe. There was someone finishing up a dressage lesson, and the trainer told me she had a jump lesson at 730, so I could plan around that (read: leave). I thanked her for informing me. Another trainer came in with two riders for a total of 3 newbies and Tess. I kept longing her even tho' the ring was getting chaotic (two trainers yelling and three beginners whizzing around - we can't leave every time there is traffic) I had her just walk in circles, and she was handling everything very well, even with riders cantering around her, circling next to her, and working over a bounce grid.
I brought Tess in to the middle of the ring to pick up our gear to head out, and the girls started jumping. Tess was nervous, but calmed down, and then people started jumping both directions around her at the same time and Tess lost her cool. She tried to bolt, but saw me and stopped...In all reality I could've easily gotten trampled, and thank God we are both OK.
I am so disappointed that neither trainer could put a pause on the lesson and allow me to safely exit the arena, or even ask if things were ok (Isn't this also an important part of horsemanship? being aware of your surroundings??). When there was finally a break in the jumping, and I made my way towards the door, I yelled the required "Gate" and still one of the riders cantered directly towards me, spooking Tesla yet again. I hollered "GATE, SLOW DOWN!!" but I guess she didn't hear me, so I held a dancing Tess as she trotted by in oblivion in front of us.
Tess calmed right down once we got to the barn, but I know it will be weeks for me to undo what happened tonight in the arena.
Sigh. Sorry Tess - I'll have your back from now on, I promise.