Well, that was a lonnnnnnnnngggg weekend. It is no wonder that I only consider doing big licensed shows one weekend a month. We were all exhausted last night and bedtime arrived early. Brain was non-functional so the thought of writing was quickly cast aside. Unfortunately as well, the laundry and cooking fairies did not show up at the house to magically take care of the neglected chores.
Overall it was a successful weekend. Sadly we missed a qualifying score by 0.4%, but there was too much other good to worry about that. Here are the observations and high points from the weekend:
1) After schooling on Saturday, Ike and I walked around the competition rings. Sound checks for the musical freestyles were in progress, so he got to hear the squelching speakers so it wouldn’t be a surprise on Sunday. As we were standing around a freak gust of wind blew over a pop up tent and a trashcan. I think Ike grew about 2 feet taller in his panic. Luckily, I kept my ass in the saddle (many years of practice with his brother), so crisis was averted. So proud of Ike trusting in me to save him from the evil tent monster.
2) Ike survived his first night away from home and overcame his disappointment at the lack of a surprise party. If I’m completely honest, I really didn’t sleep much Saturday night as I worried about what was happening back at the show grounds. This must be what parents feel like when their child leaves for college and you realize that you have to trust that all will be okay. Ike obviously got some rest as evidenced by the shavings in his braids and tail. Maybe I should have taken the Gastrogard.
3) I learned that leaving a young horse cooped up for over 12 hours makes for a very energetic walk around the show grounds. I quickly gave up for fear that Ike would dislocate my shoulder. So when he couldn’t move forward, he decided to go up….as in I’m going to rear in my stall to try to see the horse on the other side of the stall wall. Suggesting to Ike that he keep four on the floor was met with pinned ears and a very grumpy facial expression.
4) Warm up for my first ride at 8:37 started well over an hour before. Since I couldn’t walk Ike from the ground, I let him do the walking, and more walking, and even more walking. We were early enough that we were able to do a couple of laps around the outside of our ring. Not sure that Ike liked the flowers. He stopped to sniff the petunias, but seemed disappointed that they were not more fragrant. I had to strongly suggest that he not try to eat one.
5) Our first test was going extremely well until I decided to half halt at the end of our canter circle to rebalance as we went down the long side. Ike heard “trot” and we got the wrong lead when I asked for canter again. Our lovely canter circle work was erased and the number 3 appeared on the score sheet. And since we trotted early, there went the next score as well. Lesson learned. If things are going well, be a quiet rider. That was a hard lesson because it cost us enough to prevent us getting the magical 63% to qualify. We came out of the class with a pink ribbon. The rest of the test was scored quite well and I agreed with the scores we received and the comments the judge provided.
6) We had five hours until our next ride, but the silver lining to that long wait was that Ms. C was able to be there for our second warm up and ride!! Phew! She analyzed our first test and developed our game plan for warm up. Thank goodness Ike is a willing partner for part two of the day. His darling brother hated the restart “I already worked today. I’m done.” Let us hope that Ike does not learn that behavior. It also doesn’t hurt that he loves Ms. C and know she comes bearing candy if he is good. Food motivation is a good thing when training animals.
7) Warm up went smoothly with Ms. C reminding me not to pull Ike behind vertical and also schooling our canter – let go of that inside rein Alison!! Our second ride was one of my favorite Training Level rides ever on Ike. Ike didn’t want to give me 100% committment at the trot and I decided against any arguments. We received a decent score (63.9%), but the high point for me was his canter work. This is the canter that we have all been waiting for – balanced, rhythmic, uphill, and just way too much fun to ride. Ms. C even said it was some of his best. What a way to end the weekend.
And while we didn’t have ruby slippers to click together, we rubbed our red ribbon from our second test and said, “there is no place like home, no place like home,” and we headed home with smiles on our faces and visions of the future in our heads.
The detail with which you wrote was very enjoyable to read. Liked the humor (petunias…lol).
Congrats on weathering the issues you mentioned, having some great canter work, and a great finish in qualifying.
By the way, I was watching USEF network dressage event recently, and many of the elite riders had the early gait, an incorrect lead — or the (eek) impromptu canter for a few strides during trot.
Doubt I’ll ever do a licensed show. Kudos to you and Ike. Loved reading this.