|Winning on Gina with Anne (hat) and Shari (sunglasses)!
Gina and I traveled to our first show yesterday, Green Country Dressage’s Little Show on the Prairie schooling show. I’ve been an anxious wreck all week, for reasons I don’t fully understand. I’ve been to bigger shows. I’ve been to more challenging shows. I’ve been to shows with crazier horses. All the same, I spent the better part of last week quietly freaking out about a schooling show where it was fine to wear half-chaps and a polo shirt.
I had a late ride time, so I was able to sleep in, triple-check everything loaded in the Soob, and get to the barn early. Gina looked stellar- she had a couple of manure spots that were easy to brush out, and once I picked off a couple of bot fly eggs, she was good to go. I dug out her ridiculous shipping boots, fixed up her hay net, and after she carefully stepped into the trailer, we were off! My coworker Shari drove us out to the barn where the show was held. We arrived without incident, even though I was convinced we were lost. After unloading G, I walked her around, then handed her off to Johnny while I went to check in. Almost immediately after I got back, Gina’s halter broke. The screw that holds together the breakaway piece had apparently fallen out, which left me with a useless halter. Shari came to the rescue with a neon orange rope halter. Gina, happily grazing on strange grass contaminated with god-knows-what, barely seemed to notice her halter change. She placidly took advantage of Johnny’s inexperience and continued to eat. I made the executive decision to let this behavior continue; she was relaxed and I didn’t want to get Johnny in the middle of a horsey hissy fit.
I changed clothes, tacked up G, and started warming up as soon as Anne arrived. We opted to warm up in the trailer parking area (a large field), which might not have been the best idea. While there was plenty of room, there was also a psychotic barking dog in the neighbor’s yard. Gina was not a fan. Anne advised me to relax and I repeatedly mumbled to myself “This is not the Olympics. This is a schooling show. Someone is wearing hot pink breeches.”
The real warm up arena was small, but with good footing and nice people. The dressage arena was large size, which threw me for a bit of a loop. I’ve never ridden in one before! I’m actually a big fan- it makes 20 meter circles waaay easier. Gina really got her game face on when she realized we weren’t going to hack around in a field all day. She put in a beautiful Training Level 1 and I think I probably looked like an idiot. I had a huge grin on my face as we turned up the centerline for our final halt. I couldn’t have been prouder of my girl. She was calm, all business, and didn’t bother to spook at the letters or flowers.
The next two tests (TL 2 & 3) improved on the first and we ended up decimating the competition. Well. We took home a first in TL1 (a gimme- I was the only amateur entered), a third in TL2 (out of 4, but we were 2 points from first!), and a second (of 5!!!) in TL3. Our scores were a 57.5, 60.0, & 60.0, respectively. Most of the judge’s comments were about the “connection” or lack thereof (Anne and I are still puzzling over this one) and about Gina’s incessant head-wagging. She did note that we were a lovely pair who would have excellent scores once those issues were resolved (mostly the head-wagging). Gina got good marks for her gaits and I got good marks for my riding, so I feel positively about the show. Mostly, though, I am very, very happy Gina didn’t freak out and kill anyone.
Watch out, horse trial. We’re coming for you.