This time around, I had a solid game plan, since we had shown there just six days earlier. The show started at 9am and we were the fourth dressage ride of the day, so I arrived a hour and a half early in order to handwalk her in the scary indoor. I asked permission ahead of time, of course, and doing this helped immensely. It was dark that morning with the promise of rain (which did end up starting later in the morning), so the lights were on and the indoor seemed gloomier. Ellie is a stop and look kind of horse when she is nervous, so having the opportunity to literally stop and put her nose on EVERYTHING was good. She stopped to touch every single dressage letter, which were large handpainted wooden signs on the wall LOL! It was incredibly funny to watch her do this. She was able to crane her neck waaaay up to peek over the half way and see the horses on the other side (well, I am assuming she could see them or at least realized what it was). She put her nose on every single cavaletti they had set up across the end of the ring by C so the judge and scribe could be seated. She tried to investigated the clipboard and bell, but I stopped that haha. The farm owner came over to chat with us over the half wall, so Ellie could see a person and realize no one on the other side of those half walls were going to eat her.
|I eatin hay, Mom|
no bug me
Intro B for Combined Test
She warmed up well without issue and seemed much more comfortable at this venue having been there once before. I was so hoping our hand walk had helped. To my delight, rather than being horrified when she entered the indoor like last weekend, she marched right in. GOOD MARE. This first test was for the combined test. She was slightly tense but obedient and we laid down a great test. We are working through an issue of her wanting to swing her haunches left every time we halt from the trot, so our lowest score was a 6 on the first halt and a freaking 4 on the final halt because I decided to fix it rather than just allow her to halt crooked, so the judge commented "cannot step back in halt". Yes, yes, I know that, but I am here to school my horse so whatever LOL! I was happy with the 8s on our trot corner after our first halt, because that was the corner from H-E where she was so nervous the previous weekend. We also had an 8 on our medium walk and our free walk! That made me super happy because we had no free walk at the beginning of the show season hahaha and have been working hard on that. The rest were 7s and 7.5s for a score of 30.62 points (which is 69.38% in dressage land). Judge's final comment: "Lovely horse, careful of haunches swinging left." This was a 7.19 point improvement over the same test from the previous weekend because she wasn't terrified of being eaten hahaha!
|all the dressage pics are from my friend Annie during Intro C|
I am going to spread them out to look nice haha
Intro B - again
I headed back over to warm up with about fifteen minutes until our next ride. I did a few trot circles and practiced a ton of center lines with a halt a X, really focusing on NOT letting her haunches swing anywhere. She marched into the indoor again and put in an even better test, though the damn horse halted straight on our first centerline and then SWUNG HER HAUNCHES SLIGHTLY LEFT while I was saluting. OMFG horse hahahahaha!!! She is such a redhead. She didn't swing them left in the final halt but she was squiggly and tried her damndest to try, so it was not a smooth halt (but she was freaking straight!!) So that made our lowest scores as 6s on the initial and final halts. The rest of the test is 7s and 8s, with an 8.5 on the free walk! Our score was a 71.88% with the judge's final remarks as "Lovely pair, lovely test. Good luck!" I love that we laid down two great tests in the scary indoor and showed improvement! That is exactly why we were there back to back weekends! We won this Intro B test out of five riders!
We only had two riders before we rode Intro C, so I headed straight to warm up to canter a few times. She was lovely to the right, which was our nemesis earlier this year (go figure), and a little cobra while going left, which she has decided is a good evasion instead of bending to the left while cantering left. Ya know, she's nothing if not creative. Beth called her shaky cobra head "rude" at our lesson this past week, which is on par for her teenage rebellion against dressage moments haha. She doesn't do it the entire circle, just at the transition and at least once the first circle. Then she usually gives up and goes, alright I can canter like a trained horse. Which is too bad, since obviously there is only one canter circle in a test haha.
At this point, they had opened the two large door behind the judge, so it was pulled open about a foot, just enough for a person to enter. Which is exactly what happened during our opening trot circle ugg. Ellie was like OMFG WHAT IS THAT THING? and scooted forward above the bit (still got a 7 on the movement, since it happened at the close of the circle but the judge commented slightly tense haha). She was still trying to process this scary human who entered her ring when we came around to A for our canter circle. I was BOUND AND DETERMINED to have a good canter in this test. I knew besides trying her stupid cobra head shake, our canter has improved a lot.
The arena door at A was wide open and there had not been anyone standing there. However, suddenly there is a man with a small child on his shoulders right outside the door. Ellie is already wide eyed from the scary human entering the ring at C, and I could feel her suck back as we approached A. I squeeze my legs and am ready for whatever is about to happen, thinking if we can just ride past the door, our canter depart is in the first quarter of the circle, so we will be fine. OH NO, the man chooses the exact moment we pass A to lower the small child off his shoulders and she falls slightly forward, falling into the ring. I am seriously watching this entire thing happen and I am internally screaming GET AWAY FROM THE FUCKING RING as well as thinking we are going to trot over the kid. I sit through her huge shy to the inside of the circle, where she then trips all over herself OF COURSE, and by the time I get her reorganized and back onto the circle at a trot, we are approaching X.
I swear, this Intro C test is the death of us. I am never riding it again. EVER! LOL!
|still cute even though Intro C sucks|
Stadium Jumping for Combined Test
At this point, the rain began just as we left the ring to head back to the trailer. I had planned to change my stock tie, jacket, and helmet to jump but there was no way I wanted to get a second set of clothing soaked haha. So instead, I just changed her tack and went straight to the jump warm up. There were only five of us riding in all the combined test divisions in total (as opposed to 27 riders total last weekend) and the jumping had started at 10, so I knew the organizers were just waiting for me to finish my dressage tests so my Introductory division could jump (we were the last division to jump anyways). We warmed up over two crossrails a few times and she was listening and happy, despite the fact the rain was coming down steadily at this point. The footing was grass and I didn't want her to slip, so I figured I would ride conservatively. The jump field has rolling hills and I didn't want her to have any issues on the terrain. The other rider in my division had a few refusals and knockdowns, so even though I had not seen any of the dressage scores at that point, I wanted to lay down a clear round even more so! Come to find out after the fact, the other rider in my division rode HC, so as long as I didn't eliminate myself, we were going to win regardless LOL!
All competitiveness aside, my goal was to go clear without any drama at the pace I set. The jump she had refused last week as fence six was now fence three, so I was ready to tackle it early on. And this time, instead of a related distance of 6 strides, there was a combination which was actually flagged as two separate fences, the last two #8 and #9. It walked as 30 feet, so I knew we would probably actually do it in two canter strides or could just trot it.
|would rather eat ribbons than win them|
|I eat dis|
All I cared about for this show was being relaxed in the indoor, going clear over the jump course, and having her listen to me during jumping, all of which was accomplished. And from the looks of the scores posted when I picked up my tests and ribbons before I left, we would have won even had the other rider not ridden HC. So at least we didn't just win because we were alone hahaha!
|a little better pic haha|
can you tell it poured buckets lol
my barn looks like I hosed it off