I spent this past Sunday scribing in one of two rings at one of Vermont’s bigger recognized dressage shows, Vermont Dressage Days. I’d been to the show in the past, when I lived in Vermont before, but this year I was asked to volunteer. One of the longtime organizers is a former co-owner of my barn and a friend. I said yes, of course – I am a sucker for any kind of horse volunteering, and scribing is close to the top of my list of favorite things to do. (It’s probably a three-way tie between scribing, jump judging, and ring stewarding.)
My original plan for this Sunday was to spend it at home, catching up on chores and such that I haven’t done in…well, six weeks at the very least. Ugh.
Then I settled in to scribe about an hour and a half worth of tests, including Fourth 1. It’s been a long time since I scribed above Second Level, holy mackerel they go fast.
Our dressage ring is gorgeous but believe it or not I’ve never worked up the courage to ask about the rules for riding in it. Which I realize is stupid but it is so fancy and I have an indoor and another perfectly lovely outdoor to ride in plus all the dirt roads and the fields, so…it’s not for lack of space!
Sunday I spent most of the day at the barn. I started off scribing for a schooling show, with this gorgeous view:
Then I headed down to the barn to get ready for Tristan’s noon massage appointment. I had some time to kill, so I organized my tack trunk under supervision of Barn Cat Squirt:
Then I got on Tris and did 20 minutes of walking and 5 of trot. He was a bit tired and wobbly after the trot, but felt even and sound and generally very good. His massage went well – he was in need of work but no hot spots jumped out.
After the massage, back up the hill to eat lunch and run tests from the judges to the scorekeepers, and then to watch the last few tests – a few second levels and a western dressage test. I am not sure what to make of the western test; it looked pleasant and steady enough but was supposedly a first level test and I didn’t see anything like what I would characterize as first level dressage work. I think I’m just not sure what to look for.
Just as the last test was ending, we were put under a severe weather alert. Those mountains, from the photo above, started disappearing as black clouds headed our way. We put everything away as quickly as possible, I went down to the barn to bring Tris back inside (I’d left him out in a paddock with some hay) and got in my car to head home. The storm was already in Montpelier, but I thought I’d be able to cut a corner of it and be ok.
Nope! In fact, I never got more than a few miles from the barn – trees and branches down everywhere, wind buffeting my car, unbelievable dark skies and clear lightning bolts. I turned back around, parked at the barn, and helped the trainer batten down the hatches and fill water buckets before we lost power.
The storm blew over fairly quickly, but it was intense while it lasted. Another 45 minutes or so and I headed home, determined to wind through back roads now that driving was safer. I did have to go offroad around one tree, but once I got back on state roads driving was fine.
Monday I put a saddle on and we explored some of the dirt roads, doing about 20 minutes of walking, and then headed back to the barn to do some trot work on better, more level footing. Another student was doing a little fake course – poles laid out on outside lines and diagonals like a hunter course – to practice riding with intent and remembering a course. The barn manager, who was teaching the lesson, asked if I could be a “competitor” to show the student how a different person might ride the lines.
I entered the ring, circled to set up an approach to the first “jump”, and asked Tristan for a trot. His brain clicked in, and he pretty clearly looked around and said “Ohhhhh, I get it, we’re riding a course! For courses, we canter!” So he gave me a stride of canter – correct lead, no less! I cracked up and brought him back to a trot. He offered another stride when we turned from long side to diagonal. Other than that he did great and it was fun to ride even over a pretend course!
Tonight we did some bareback hacking up dirt roads, and then trot in the indoor ring. At some point today he rubbed dirt into his left eye, and it was a bit more swollen and weepy than I wanted to see. It’s not unusual for him to grind things into his eye; when he rolls he really rubs his head hard, and his tear ducts have always been extra weepy. He’s had outright eye infections before, but this time it was swollen but not frighteningly so, weepy with clear tears, not any kind of pus, and still itchy – not painful – so I flushed it with saline, applied a hot compress for a bit, and they will check on him in the morning. If it’s still iffy we’ll get the vet out again. Of course…