So I suppose if you are looking at this page you are wondering where in the world I fell off the face of the planet too since this was the big, first show of the season! [: Well guess no longer – I am back with a full report of this past weekend.
This past week had been tough since we are still fighting the weather and trying to make it behave. Tuesday my mom came out to watch me run through both of the tests since the arena decided to be ridable. Wednesday we had a pretty good rain but faithfully I went suited up and went out and rode before the worst of it came – it was my top hat test ride, no way I was missing that! Many thanks go out to whomever invented rain covers – you saved me from being a nervous wreck about never having ridden in my top hat before the show. Thursday Val got the day off for his wonderful ride in the rain the previous day while I loaded up the trailer and braided a friends horse for the clinic she was riding in this weekend. We played around in the arena for a bit just to give him some time out. He has been stall bound since two weeks ago – my mother and I came to the decision that we wanted to conserve his energy for riding and because of that he has been on no turn out since the rain started.
Friday came bright and early, and with it good weather. We picked up another horse, a friend and adult amateur who decided last-minute that she wanted to show but didn’t want to pull to Aiken by herself. I love having someone to show with, and someone to split gas with, so it was no problem at all! The trip was long with only a minor incident where we got stuck in a gas station that was under construction – oops! We had never been to Highfields Show Grounds before but it was a nice easy drive. Both horses were super travellers and ready to hop off that trailer once we stopped. The stalls were a bit small but making up for that it was a small show and so we commandeered an extra stall and set up our ‘living room’. With happy ponies and everything set up, the beast was tacked up to be ridden. Val needs to be ridden as soon as possible at a show for him to settle in. When I am on the ground he knows he is bigger than me and therefore makes up for it by not always trusting; on his back he isn’t so sure that he is bigger and so he trusts in me to be the brains of the operation, well most of the time. Our ride was super, Val was not so sure about the change of weather and the resulting bugs which led to some pretty good head shaking and ripping the reins from me but he was focused and moving wonderfully. There was never a moment when I thought I had too much horse, so thankfully the stall rest did him some real good. He is the best show horse I have ever known; his attitude and work ethic when in someplace new are almost unbelievable. He is better at shows than he is at home. Even as a three-year old he mellowed out and has this ridability that astounds me on a regular basis. We also got to say hello to a grand-cousin, another Weltmeyer grand baby at the show! She was a pretty mare and such a “W”-horse. Trust me, you can recognize a “W”-lined Hanoverian from a mile away.
Saturday was the Junior Team Test and of the two this is the one I certainly know better. I have heard opinions that this is the easier of the two but I think both have challenging portions. The canter work in the Team test can be challenging, it is actually the canter work from Fourth One I believe. When I describe the tests this is an example of why I tell people they are Third Plus for difficulty and level. Our ride time was 1:15, normally not a bad ride time in the early spring as this is the warmest part of the day. Saturday was beautiful and hot though, only ideal for me and not for Val. We shortened our warm up to about ten-fifteen minutes, half of which we probably spent walking to kill time.
When it was finally time to go I picked him up and headed over to the arena. He settled in for a really super ride for me. His trot mediums/extensions and extended canters are still not quite where I want them but we pulled some okay scores on them. I also earned my first 3 in my life – that’s right, I earned it. No blaming harsh judges, nor complaining about how they were just unfair. My walk pirouettes STANK, OUT LOUD and I am not afraid to admit it. We have three weeks until our next show – you can guess what we will be working on every day until then! :D I know that is our hard point and I knew it before we ever went into the ring. The judge’s comments were very constructive and helpful – my weak areas were pointed out and then I was told how to bump up the scores to get them better. I was ecstatic about the ride, even if my mother gave me a hesitant, “It was good,” when I came out. With me sometimes there is no right thing to say! We ended up getting a handful of 8’s from both judges, and a majority of 7’s and 6’s which put my score right where I needed to be for my sanity’s sake.
Sunday our ride time was 8:30 – first ride of the morning. The sky was dark and stormy, and sure enough it spit throughout my warm-up. Inevitably I was running late and had a moment in the barn where I thought I was going to have heart failure and take the entire world down with me. Somehow 8AM crept up on me and I was anything but dressed, groomed, or tacked. Not the ideal situation for my first Individual Test ever! It all worked out, it always does, even if I had to threaten Val’s life when he didn’t take the bridle the first time like he normally does. Mom was holding in her laughter – let me tell you. Val could tell that I was nervous today (I had memorized portions of the test wrong in running it at home!), and picking up on that he proceeded to screw with me in warm-up. We got over to the ring with me a little more settled after a nice zig-zag half pass in warm-up and after bidding good morning to both judges we came down centerline in our collected canter and BAM! Val does the impossible and swaps leads. I laughed – what a loser! He definitely likes to do things his own way. Shaking my head as we came in for the first halt, I smiled really big and just put it away – it was only one 5 after all! On top of that half way around the trot tour the heavens opened up on my nice, unprotected top hat. It was a great test though with the changes more honest than they had been the previous day, although the judges felt the transitions within the gaits were a little conservative. It’s true, he sometimes doesn’t like to come back and so I handle that with not pushing to the limit so that we don’t die when I ride the back. Again the walk pirouettes were the hardest part, and the walk tour in the Individual is definitely harder than the Team. At least no one noticed when I went off course just a bit – I faked my way out of it before it was really noticable! It did compromise our second walk pirouette however, but that will teach me to memorize my test wrong and ride every day in an arena without letters. A very happy mom met a very happy me outside the arena. We even improved our score from the Team and got our first 9 of the season – on a flying change no less!
A great weekend – and some great scores and comments which I will be using in the three weeks we have until the Greater Atlanta Dressage Southern (GADS). I love that big red man [: