Gina and I kicked off show season on Saturday at a Green Country Dressage schooling show at Bridle Creek Arena, and I’m happy to report that we’re off to a decent start.
I got to the show grounds around 7 AM to help check people into their stalls; this ended up being kind of a fiasco. The facility hadn’t cleaned the stalls out from a previous event, despite receiving word from GCD that we needed 17 stalls for Saturday. The facility’s owner insisted the stalls were fine. I insisted they weren’t, and she ended up cleaning several out herself in between calling and swearing at her hired barn help who hadn’t done their job. I had zero sympathy for her, since she knew in advance that the stalls would be rented; it’s not my problem if her barn help flaked.
Once StallGate 2016 was resolved, I drove up to the barn to retrieve Moe and Gina. Moe was practically giddy- he started pacing and nickering as I was hooking up the trailer and nearly mowed me down in his excitement to get in the trailer. Gina was more reserved, but loaded fine and off we went. I parked near my barnmates, unloaded the horses, and met up with Moe’s lesson kid. I left her to get him ready while I headed back up to the arena; I ended up running the warm up ring for a while. Eventually, Moe made it into the warm up. He was trailed by a kid leading Gina; apparently, he’d started freaking out when he was led away from her, so someone decided to just bring her, too. Gina looked half-asleep and seemed a little bemused about why she wasn’t eating hay at the trailer.
Moe was absolutely horrible for his poor lesson kid. He was neighing, attempting to gallop instead of canter, and generally acting super, super amped up. I don’t know why- he’s been to lots of shows, he’s been to lots of shows in indoor venues, and he’s never acted buddy-sour before. (Perhaps Moe is embracing a new philosophy- live every day like it’s cross country day!) I got on him at one point, and he was a little better for me, but his Training 1 test was hideous. I think the judge was actually worried that Moe would jump out of the ring and gallop off into the hills with his kid. His kid opted to not canter at all in Training 2, and Moe put in some lovely, soft trot work for her. I felt terrible that my elderly horse had behaved so badly, but his kid seemed to take it in stride and fed him a couple of donuts after she got off.
I got on Gina about an hour before our first test. She felt relaxed and basically calm and warmed up very well. Our First 1 test was pretty nice; I could feel a noticeable difference in the trot lengthenings, our circles and half-circles were the correct size, and she was soft and pleasant throughout the test. Our only real hiccup was after the first canter- you’re cantering from F to X, then trotting at X before completing the change of rein. Gina left the rail at F, saw she was headed toward the middle of the arena, and immediately attempted a flying change. This doesn’t normally happen at home, but I suppose Gina noticed we were at a show and wasn’t about to let her idiot rider mess everything up by cantering on the wrong lead. (*insert Gina eye roll here*) We ended up splatting into a discombobulated trot somewhere between F and X, but mostly recovered and went on to have a perfectly pleasant test. I ended up scoring a 59.444%, which was enough to beat the other three people entered in First 1.
First 2 felt about the same as First 1, although there was a lot of tail-swishing through the leg yields and another ugly across-the-diagonal transition. The judge interpreted the tail swishing as some kind of lack of harmony, so were were dinged on those movements, and, of course, the almost-flying-lead-change did not win us any points. We scored a 55.937% on this test, putting us in third place. (Well, technically, I won first place in both tests, as I was the only open rider entered. If I compare my score to the other scores, I had the highest in First 1 and the third highest in First 2. That’s how I prefer to think of my placings.)
Things we scored well on:
- Medium walk
- Free walk
- Working trot
Things we did not score well on:
- Downward transitions across the diagonal
- Canter lengthenings
I agreed with most of the judge’s comments, although I was surprised we didn’t score better on the collective remarks for submission. Gina felt like she was accepting the contact and working on the bit, but the judge wrote more than once that she’d like to see the horse more collected. I didn’t think that was a totally fair criticism, as First Level tests don’t ask for collection- just consistent contact.
Regardless of the judge’s opinion, I was very happy with how Gina went! She was calm, relaxed, and was much better behaved than she was during our disastrous First Level debut last year. I was happy with our trot lengthenings, happy with our circles and half-circles, happy with our leg yields, and happy with Gina’s attitude.
Our next show is April 2- between now and then you can bet we’re going to work on those downward transitions!