What do you get when you mix one part horse lameness with one part work and one part family obligations? You get a hot mess of a rider and a lot of sweat from worrying if you are going to make it to the June show or not. Of course, this all starts to ramp up just after the close date for the show which means no refunds. It also meant that there was not a significant amount of schooling done in the two weeks leading up to our second licensed show of the year.
Thankfully Ike’s lameness turned out to be the need for his annual Equithane application. For those of you who are wondering, it is basically a custom gel pad to keep his highness’ feet from getting too sore on the hard ground. This is now the third year that he has needed it, so I should just put a tickler on the month of May to get it done and stop waiting for the pain to appear.
We went to the show with high expectations that we’d continue to earn scores in the 60th percentile as we have for most of the year. Ha ha! I should learn to stop setting the bar so high since there are just too many things that are out of my control – like sloppy footing, unexpected spooks, and a judge who just didn’t seem to care for us as a team.
It is hard to not take the low scores personally, but when you see most of the scores as 4.5, 5.0 and 5.5 in a test, you can’t help but feel like a failure. I’ve shown enough to have a sense of what my score will be when I complete my final salute. It is devastating when you see a score that doesn’t mesh with your expectations. I think all the competitors were feeling the same as I did when they saw their scores from this judge. After the particularly brutal beating we got after our Sunday morning ride, I took a walk to clear my head, shed a tear or two in frustration, and to try to get myself ready for my final ride of the weekend.
Our final class of the weekend was the Dover Medal class – Second Level Test 3. All adult amateurs are eligible for this award; the award goes to the high score adult amateur in the class as long as the score is greater than 60%. My goal for the class was to get at least 60% and to hold our countercanters in both three-loop serpentines. I wasn’t even worried about my placement. We had to warm up on our own without any adult supervision. Ike felt a bit tired, but he was calm and on the aids. I didn’t school countercanter since we’ve found that it can fire him up and encourage him to show off his flying change skills.
It was finally time for us to head down centerline. I love it when we make the turn at A and Ike puts on his game face. He knows it is time, and we can usually make a good first impression on the initial halt and salute. I was doing my best to breathe and to keep him supple in my hands. Our medium trots were two of our best for the weekend and we got solid scores on our 10 meter circles. Frankenhorse did not make an appearance and we got a 6.0 and a 6.5 on our turns on the haunches. Yea for us! Our simple changes were not our best, BUT I am happy to report that we held our countercanters in both directions. Hallelujah!! Especially since they are a double coefficient in the scoring. We did our best and now just had to wait for the final tally.
While we waited for the score, we got Ike hosed down and our tack loaded on the trailer. He and my husband were going to head back to the barn to get Ike some afternoon paddock time while I gathered our test once the class placed. Amazingly, we heard our score right before the boys departed. I knew I’d done well when I heard the announcer share the news that we were the recipients of the Dover Medal. What?! Never did I think that I’d be able to claim I owned one of these medals. It was such redemption after the challenging rides we’d had all weekend. Our score was a 63.049%.
My only wish was that Ms. C had been there to watch our ride. Thankfully my husband recorded our ride so she would be able to see it for herself. This medal is as much hers as it is mine.