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.
setting off. nope, didn't braid. zero regrets.
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.
note clenched fists.
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.
sit up. SIIIIIT UP.
Anyway, Training 2: I was pleased with the way we rode into corners, the promptness of transitions, and while he was braced AF, we at least had lines of communication. I softened when I felt like I could, which was probably way less often than I actually could have, but having gained the upper hand finally there was no way I was letting it go.
I was less than pleased with the, of all things, the lack of interest in my inside leg, particularly to the left, that meant that we were miiiiiiiiiiiiles away from the fence, particularly on circles and particularly in the canter.
does that circle look like it's going to end up anywhere NEAR E?
On the other hand: free walk! YEAH! One of my very few claims to fame is that I do a damn good free walk. Just a few seconds after the picture below was taken he stretched out even more. You can get a sense of how windy it was by his mane & tail.
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.
you can see it on its side in the background here.
Second: I put the right canter circle in the wrong place. It's in the end of the ring, and I put it in the center. Which is a shame as it was actually turning into a really nice circle when I heard the bell. Damn it. -2.
And THEN when we went to do it again, I was so determined to put him on the rail so he could go deep into the corner so we could get the canter transition on a bend so we could be ready to get a good 20m circle...I put him too close to the rail. And he did a little tap dance and I heard his hoof hit the board and I said "DON'T YOU DARE" right at C, and of course lost all of that prep for the canter. (The judge either didn't hear me - which I find hard to believe - or took pity on me and did not mark this as an error, but I totally deserved one.)
I was overall happier with this test, with his rideability and my decision-making, though it was still tense.
what do you mean, straight and upright on a canter circle?
In my partial defense, by the time I entered the ring for my second test it was raining so hard I could barely see through my glasses. A few people actually commented on it afterwards.
CRUSHED the free walk again!
Both tests ended up right around 58%, which is less than ideal, but was good enough for second place in the class, which tells me two things: a) hooray, schooling shows! and b) the judge scored really tough, which I like. Down with the 6's and 7's for every movement!
We scored lowest on our canter circles and any moment when we needed to display bend. We pulled in 7's on both free walks, and the centerlines & halts. Centerline + halt requires little to no actual skill and it's one of the few things I pride myself on consistently nailing.
my own feelings on appropriate salutes are a matter of public record
I put Tris back in the barn, toweled off my tack pending a cleaning later that day, and praised him to the skies. He really did so well. Far better than I expected. It was not fancy or anything, but for our first time in the ring in 4 years, amid disastrous weather and a less than ideal prep in the last two weeks, plus the totally scrambled state of my brain - I'm pleased.
spent several minutes trying to get him to put his ears forward, no joy
Which is not to say the competitive nature of my brain now wants to SHOW ALL THE SHOWS, NOW. It does. We've got probably three more schooling shows lined up for the summer, pending rides, and we can definitely do better.
kinda wish I'd gotten a picture later in the day when all the branches on that tree started swaying
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.