I’d originally planned to take Gina to Green Country Dressage’s first schooling show of the year over the weekend and do First 1 and First 2 with an eye toward improving last year’s scores. Gina apparently had different plans; she was a raging monster for the last week, spooking at nothing, throwing in a tiny buck at the canter, and staying so tight and tense that I’m still not sure how she managed to move forward. Since I’d agreed to haul a horse to the show for my neighbor (and already paid my entry fee), I decided to take Moe and do the First Level tests. I mean, he basically knows how to leg yield and I was pretty sure I’d taught him how to lengthen at some point in the last decade. What’s the worst that could happen?
Saturday dawned cold and cloudy, with a 100% chance of rain in the forecast. The show was at a rodeo arena about an hour away, so my neighbor and I headed out around 7 AM. We got the horses settled into their stalls and the tack out of the trailers right before the rain started. I ran the warm up rings in the morning before getting Moe ready for our noon-ish ride times. Moe warmed up okay- he was a little stiff to the left, but otherwise felt just fine.
We did First 1 first; I only had about half of it memorized, so I recruited my neighbor to read for me. Moe put in some solid trot work throughout the test and I discovered that yes, he does know how to lengthen! His canter transitions were exactly how they always are- a bit rushed and above the bit. He was also a little rushed on the canter lengthening, but it definitely felt like confusion and not panic. Near the end of the test, the rain on the roof was making so much noise that I couldn’t hear my reader. I made an extra circle and called, “Hey, I’ll just take an error here- I can’t hear a thing!” to the judge. For whatever reason, this sent the judge into gales of laughter. My reader yelled louder, I finished the test, and the judge thanked me for giving her a good laugh. We scored a 60.185%, and the judge’s comments were in line with my own observations.
First 2 went much more smoothly. The rain had slacked off a bit, so I could hear my reader, and Moe seemed to have had some kind of epiphany in the twenty minutes between the two tests. He was less zoomy and more obedient; I actually smiled during the canter lengthenings because it felt like he understood what I was asking. The leg yields weren’t great (they were practically non-existent), and we were dinged hard for the stretchy trot circle that Moe felt should really be a stretchy walk circle. We ended up with a 59.218% on that test; I was a little surprised, since I’d felt like it was a big improvement over First 1, but a low score on a movement with a coefficient of 2 will do that, I suppose.
On both tests, we received the comment that we were a “capable pair” who just needed more work on consistency in the contact. I feel like that’s a fair assessment, and I’m pretty tickled with Moe’s performance. He’s not a fancy mover like Gina, but he’s fun to ride because he tries so hard. Our scores weren’t impressive, but I’m happy with them, and more importantly, I had fun!
Moe spent the rest of the afternoon eating hay and napping in his stall while I called tests, kept an eye on my neighbors’ students, and directed people around the warm up rings. He’s such a pleasant horse to take to shows- he eats and drinks, makes friends with his neighbors in adjacent stalls, doesn’t whinny, doesn’t get upset when he’s left by himself, and eats glazed donuts as a party trick. I also know him well enough that it’s rarely stressful for me to ride him- there’s something to be said for having such a long-term equine partner!