Can I just say, I envy all of you who can do blow-by-blow accounts of your tests? Like, you remember pieces of them? I dunno. Maybe my head is stuffed too full of everything else, but I can only retain some basic pieces.
First: holy fuck, the weather was miserable. It wasn’t so much the rain or the wind as it was the rain, and the wind, and the cold, all together, constantly. Watch Emilie’s video to get a sense of the day.
My last prep ride on Friday, after our epic, come-to-Jesus ride on Thursday, was…sluggish. He was tiiiiiiired. We did a thoroughly uninspired run-through of both tests in the dressage ring, in the snaffle, and then he got a long bath. Which he hated, but desperately needed.
Saturday night I didn’t sleep terribly well; I drilled and re-drilled the tests, but they would not stay in my head. Not only that, but I discovered that the long diagonal free walk in Training 1 that I had memorized and schooled was, well, not a long diagonal after all, but a short one. *facepalm*
Sunday morning: bang on schedule for everything, but maybe a smidge short on warmup time. I was in not-fucking-around mode, Which was both good and bad. It meant that I was disciplined and strategic about what I chose to do with him, spotted trouble spots, and tried to work through them. It also meant that I was tense, iron-fisted, and railroaded him through everything.
From a certain point of view, that was the ride he needed. And it worked: we had not a hint of the bolting, bucking, uncooperative little shit that he had been for the previous three weeks. When I told him to jump, he asked how high. He was so docile that halfway through my warmup I went down to the barn and got a whip, and that added in the last bit of sharpness that I needed, but he still remained controllable.
But I’m not going to pretend that was a ride that was going to score well in a dressage ring!
I rode Training 2 first, and succumbed at the last second to an offer to have the test read. That was a first for me! I’ve read many tests, seen many read, but have never had one of my own read. It kind of underlined my theme of the weekend: do what you can, and let the rest go.
So, Training 2: I felt pretty good about having nailed the thing, if not done it well, and then we hung out by the ring in the rain waiting for Training 1. I felt like Training 1 would be my chance to actually do well.
Mostly I was right in that. I was much more present in the test, having the assurance that he was going to behave. I identified moments to ask for more, and moments to soften. He responded well to both. So while it was a more uneven test than the first one I’d ridden – which had consistency going for it, even if it was consistently tense – I was more pleased with it.
Well, except for a few dumbass moments. First! I kicked over A on my way in. And laughed my ass off down the entire center line. The judge was clearly grinning pretty hard too when I did my salute, and Tristan didn’t care, but man, that was embarrassing.
I spent the rest of the day being a general helper around the show grounds. Frankly, I was as miserable, cold, and wet as I’ve ever been at a horse show. The company was exemplary, but wow. At a certain point after about noon most of us hit the wall, reached the other side, and the rain almost didn’t even matter anymore. Wet and cold was a constant state of being.
I helped clean up as much as I could but I admit I bolted as soon as the show was over. I went home, took a loooooooooong hot shower, and sat down on the couch for a cup of hot tea, a few minutes of relaxation…and fell sound asleep for about 2.5 hours. Whoops.
So, that’s the story of the show! Overall good. Plenty of room for improvement.