Madigan had a big weekend- he trotted up centerline for the first time! His trainer wanted to take two of her young horses to a schooling show, so we turned it into Babies’ Day Out with Madigan and another student’s young Thoroughbred who came off the track last fall.
Our group’s ride times were spread throughout the day with Madigan in the afternoon. He spent the morning eating hay at the trailer, then went for a brief walk in the arena while it was changed from a long to a short ring. His baby school rider (who rode him at this show) took him for a quick longe before hopping on to warm up.
This show included working equitation in addition to dressage. By time Madigan entered the warmup, all the working equitation obstacles were set up. WE includes a course of obstacles designed to emulate conditions horses might encounter while working in a field, like bridges, gates, and ring mounted atop the cutout of a bull. He was a little bug-eyed at some of the obstacles, but after a few laps around the arena, he stopped walking on his tiptoes and put the hamsters back on the wheel.
The real trial in the warmup was a group of little girls gleefully riding their horses directly behind Madigan while giggling and screeching to one another in the way only small girls can. He was a little concerned about the noise and proximity, but eventually decided it wasn’t something to worry about. That’s the advantage of sending him to a busy lesson barn for training. He’s almost always sharing the arena with another horse or two, and there’s always some kind of noise and commotion happening inside or outside the arena! It’s a good approximation of any show’s warmup ring.
His first test was Training Level Test 1. He had some baby bobbles: spooking out of the arena at A during the first canter circle, not stretching during the free walk, and attempting tempi changes during the second canter circle. There was a lot to like, though! His halts were prompt and square. The trot work was consistent and rhythmical. The judge kindly let him continue after he left the arena and gave him a 65% on T1.
Training Level Test 2 was an improvement. For starters, he stayed in the arena. His transitions were prompt and quiet, and he seemed more confident about reaching for the bit. Madigan’s natural tendency is to curl behind the vertical, so it was good to see him reaching forward. He had a big spook in this test when he startled at the noise from a stalled horse kicking a wall, but he recovered well and continued on like it wasn’t a big deal. He was also very wiggly across the diagonal. Despite those things, he scored a 68%. The judge pointed out his tendency to curl up, but she liked his gaits and thought he had a lot of potential.
I could not be happier with his performance. Sure, there are lots of things to improve on- steadier transitions, less curling behind the vertical, straighter lines. But he was calm in a new place, trusted his rider even though he was a little nervous, and put in two perfectly respectable tests (well, aside from exiting at A once). No one could ask more from a youngster!
I’m slated to start lessons on him in March, so I’m eyeing schooling shows later this year. It’s fun to see other people ride him, though! I just love watching him go and dreaming about what the future looks like.