In terms of riding the mare was in rare form, but the setting was pretty enough that I didn't get super obsessed with our performance and instead totally enjoyed being on a beautiful horse in a beautiful setting on a beautiful day.
This of course made The Boy's heart pitter patter and he had whiplash at ever "for sale" sign we saw posted in front of any plot of land. (there are worse things for your husband to check out than potential farm properties..)
We got there a bit early and pulled into a shady grove that was dotted with trees to unload. The farm wasn't fancy, but it was super pretty and very charming. They are mostly set up for clinics and camps, so there camp sites, big pastures, some low level cross country and two built-in arenas. One was set up for the Dressage show, and the other was slated for warm up, but it was far away and on the other side of (very scary) agriculture sprinklers so I opted to use the alternate warm up area which was a pasture out front.
That plan was.... interesting. The last horse show was on grass and very "open" but as you may recall I did not ride there (at all) and thus have never been on the big mare in a big field out in the open... And I immediately remembered why.
Her head was in my lap and I swear to god there was a good two-Mississippi count between her footfalls. On one hand it sorta looked like we had confirmed our piaffe and passage (and half pass and pirouettes). On the other (more relevant) hand, I had a fire breathing dragon that refused to move forward.
I tried my hardest not to just clamp down on her mouth and worked to push her forward and soften every chance I could. Eventually we were able to trot around without too much drama... until a tractor started working in the filed next door.
At that point I just wandered back over to the show ring and waited for my turn. The event was extremely casual and the judge was taking a few minutes after each test to chat with every rider. This meant I had a few minutes before my test to trot around the arena and "finish" my warm up so to speak. I figured I wasn't really going to get Prair to focus until we got inside something with a fence.
On the upside though, Prair felt awesome on the grass. The field was nice, but not exactly flat and Prair felt very balanced and responsible for her own body while we were out there, and it was really pretty. So that was fun.
The first test was fun! they asked me how high I wanted the jumps (which was nice) and if I had tacked up in the CWD I would have bumped them up, but as I was locked in my big-blocked Dressage saddle I kept the cross rails pretty low.
Prair felt like a powder keg the whole time, but I also felt really confident that she was going to stay moderately controlled, which was a nice contrast to our "dressage outings" last year.
|Also, I had this trot the whole time. This is a centerline, not a lengthening :)|
Other than that off we went. We made it through with only a few struggles and snagged a 75%.
woo!!! 75%! You say. that's a fabulous score!!! WOOOO!!!!! but then we have to remember that it was a tiny schooling show in a walk/trot test at an event with more Western Dressage than regular.
But still! 75%. Go team.
I hopped off the dragon between our rides, and just let her graze while I watched other people go. I was having a nice time and while I *knew* I should have been on, riding, getting the mare relaxed... I just.... didn't really care?
I was having a nice time talking to the other (totally low key and friendly) riders and just hanging out. I didn't actually put Prair's bridle back on until the rider before me was in the ring (oops).
I think my test suffered a bit from me not, well.. preparing - but it was still the nicest go at First 2 we've had. I killed her first trot lengthening by not getting her off my hand and we ended up breaking twice which was disappointing as we usually NAIL those, but oh well. It was by far our best canter work in a test yet and I was very happy with it.
The judge had some good comments for us, I'll detail them when I get the videos up. He was very entertaining and I could see myself taking a lesson or two from him to stay sharp. The organizer asked if she could see my tests, and she was adamant that he scored us a good 1 to 2 points lower than anyone else there on pretty much everything. She thought maybe because I had the only quote-unquote "dressage horse" but who knows. I wasn't obsessed with our score so much as seeing where we've improved and there were plenty of moments for that.
Much of the pitfalls can be easily blamed on the ride I gave the mare. I was a little tentative, went to my hand and didn't make wise choices in a few moments. But overall we had FUN.
Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that in lieu of cheap ribbons they doled out cheesecake to the riders. As a self professed satin-addict, I must say that even I was not disappointed with that decision. :)
They have another schooling show in late September and I might return for another crack at a higher level Prix Caprilli test (maybe the First Level one?) but we shall see.