So, just when I thought our show season was over, I got a wild hair and decided to head to a schooling show this coming weekend to try Second Level one more time. We will continue to ride and work at home through the winter, but nothing beats an outing in front of a judge to really gage our progress. And, to up the ante, I signed up for tests 2 and 3…
Hmm, test 3. Had not even contemplated trying that test until 7 days ago. Guess it is time to memorize the test and actually try riding it in its entirety. Second Level Test 3 morphs pieces of Test 1 and Test 2 into one “supertest”…the reinback is there, shoulder in, travers, the simple changes, and everyone’s favorite turn on the haunches. Let us not forget the 2 full-sized canter serpentines to showcase your countercanter skills. Oy vey. What have I done?
Our turn on the haunches still regularly resembles Frankenstein. If I try opening my rein to help suggest the way to go, Ike somehow ends up flexed in the wrong direction (i.e., I am doing something wrong). I try using various leg position with the whip as an aid, but Ike’s hind end still swings in the wrong direction. I get so focused on what my hands and legs are doing that I forget to shift my weight in the saddle and there is no doubt that it ends up in the wrong place. There are days that we get a few good steps and all we can hope is that Sunday is one of those days.
And the designers of the tests really challenge your simple change skills by having you do your simple changes on a short diagonal. That means you can’t use the ring to help keep your horse positioned correctly. You have to maintain and change the proper bend on your own. Clever, clever people. Yes, I get that it is preparing you for doing a flying change, but no, we are not ready for THAT since I’m still challenged by simple changes…At this point, it is a crap shoot if we are going to pull it off on Sunday. The other day I managed to canter on the left lead, ask for the walk, and then pick up the left lead again. Oops. And poor Ike maintained the left lead for about three quarters of the arena and then gave me a flying change when he got off balance. He is such a patient soul to deal with the likes of his clueless mother.
So if you are in the area on Sunday, stop by the show. It is bound to be an amusing 14 minutes.