So here we are careening towards the end of August. It is almost hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. Where did 2014 go? It seems like just last week that we launched our 2014 show season with our First Level debut. This summer has been a busy one for Ike and me. Three weekend long licensed shows, clinics sprinkled in-between the shows, as well as more lessons than I can count on my fingers and toes. When the seasons change, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the outgoing season and prepare for the one just over the horizon.
Some might ask why we are still showing Training Level at this point in the season. Well, it is because we (okay, okay, I) am I still struggling to get good scores for some of the movements in Training Level Test 3 (that blasted trot loop and the canter to trot transitions at the letter). You would think it should be easy for us by now, but being the perfectionist that I am, it bugs me that we can’t seem to get anything more than a 64.__% in Test 3. Grrr. Even at the last show when I thought we’d finally crossed that invisible divide, we still only received a 64.8%. And truth be told, our canter is still a work in progress. Some days we canter and can look like a pair that belongs at First Level, but then a new day dawns, and we are back to the strung out Scooby Doo shuffle. Luckily as the season has progressed, the Scooby Doo days are fewer and fewer…unless a vulture shows up and then all bets are off.
Our First Level work is also inconsistent. There I said it. There are folks that have the skills to go out and get good scores no matter what the day, no matter which test they ride. I am not one of them. Am I happy about that fact? Nope. Do I work my butt off to try to change that? You bet I do. Will the change happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
Ike and I are still trying to figure out when forward becomes too quick, and when our connection goes from steady to too tight or nonexistent. It happens in the blink of an eye, and I’m definitely not always quick enough to catch it as it is happening. I might get lucky every once in a while, but more often than not, we’ve lost the beauty and become the clunky beast. Our leg yield goes from a floaty “8” to a choppy “6.” Our trot lengthening looks more like we a scrambling to the barn in a rainstorm. And that evil canter loop? Pole bending gone horribly wrong. This will not be our breakout year at First Level nor will we be attempting a Second Level test anytime soon.
In preparation for our final two shows of the year, VADAF’s licensed show at Rose Mount and the Region 1 BLM Championships, we spent some time with Ms. C analyzing our scores and more importantly, the judge’s comments. While there are always comments that leave you scratching your head as to their meaning, most of the comments provide valuable insight on how to improve your score. Unfortunately, there are many areas that we need to improve – that inconsistency thing again. What we do well in one test, we blow in the next. The list of things to work on is long. We pick one or two at each lesson and do our best to improve.
So with all due respect to Aretha, we aren’t looking for R-E-S-P-E-C-T, we are looking for C-O-N-S-IS-T-E-N-C-Y. Wish us luck!