I ended up parking my (expanding) butt on a comfy chair in the sunshine and watching all the pretty horses walk to and from the rings. Not all that bad of a pastime, but I can tell that this "spectator only" thing is going to take some mental adjustment on my end.
When it was Prair's turn to take a spin, she walked out pretty calm. No lunging, no perfect prep, just some earplugs and the pelham as defense against this crazy new world. N started in the outside ring (what runs as the second Hunter Ring) and while I could tell that Prair was a bit interested in life around her, she looked great by Prairie standards. Her ears were fairly pricked and I could see her eyeball a few things but her stride stayed forward and loose and N was able to almost always keep at least one rein totally soft.
Last October I tried to warm up in that same ring and it produced a full scale meltdown that ended with us crab walking (cantering?) sideways across the arena and slipping out the gate before anything worse happened).... Anyway, lots of serpentines, lots of long and low, lots of changes of direction. When she did start jumping (fences were probably 2'3"/2'6"?) Prair looked calm and only got worried a couple times from longer spots.
Then we headed into the big echo-y indoor to school at 3'. Prair walked around once to see the sights, but honestly, didn't seem very put off. If anything the relative quiet seemed relaxing for her. N didn't waste too much time moving her up to the canter and putting courses together. Prair looked like she was listening well - rocking back, slower off the ground, landing balanced etc... but she still looked a little loose to me in terms of her form.
I don't know how else to describe it. She's definitely holding her shape over the fences better than she used to, but we've got a long ways to go to get to a tidy, tight Hunter bascule.
Afterwards Prair walked (calmly) back to the barn on a nice loose rein and waited for the dispensing of cookies.
(I opened my trunk and looked for cookies)
Um. Where are the cookies
Mare's cute cookie face slowly morphs into a stink eye.
Holy Crap, my trunk has more storage space than a minivan and I don't have any cookies!???
Mare's stink eye sharpens and she bites the bars in warning
I don't have any cookies
I tried to make amends by giving her a nice long wither scratch and rubbing her ears, but make no mistake, the mare knows she didn't get cookies and I don't think she'll be forgetting that faux pas anytime soon
Cookies will be acquired on the way up to the show today... 4 rounds over fences (2 Large, 2 Pre-Green) and both flat classes today... woo!