This is our Training Level 3 test... we got a 68%. A SIXTY EIGHT!!!! That's a personal best! I will also note that I was ONE point (that's point, not percentage point) behind first place.
So I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Fuzzypony and I rode back-to-back for both tests, and I was the first ride of the day at 8 a.m. I arrived at the show grounds with Taran and Paddy all braided and ready to go around 6:30, and we sat around and drank our chai and nibbled breakfast while we waited for the sun to rise. We were on by 7:15, and did a generously long walk followed by our new warmup routine, which no longer involves careening around at mach one-Haffie for fifteen minutes. Lisa Bauman from Austin Eventing coached us again, and she commented that she was thrilled that she didn't have to hide during warmup, lol! Paddy was a little looky, since the sun was coming up and it was quite cool and windy, but he warmed up quite well and we went in promptly for our 8 a.m. start.
I love this pic... the first footprints in a freshly dragged arena, on our way down centerline for the first salute of the day.
Our first test, Training 2, went really well except for our free walk, where he was really distracted. But we stayed balanced and relaxed (a big deal for both of us!!), kept a good rhythm, and mostly stayed focused. We ended with a 64.change% for second place, three points behind Fuzzypony, who had a super awesome ride for first place!
Left lead canter... I don't look braced anymore and we are both so much more balanced (and this is now our "bad side!")
We had an hour between our first and second tests, which was enough time to go back to the trailer, strip tack, take a bathroom break, then get ready again. Paddy was a little like "wait, WHUT AGAIN???" when we headed back into the warmup ring, and started off against my hand. Judicious application of lateral movements to activate his hindquarters, along with staying relaxed with my hand and not giving him anything to lean against, got him to a much more obedient state. However, Lisa noticed that he wasn't as active with his left hind, so we did a couple of 10 meter circles into shoulder in down the long side right before we went in for Training 3, then rode all the long sides during the test like I was riding shoulder fore. We had a sticky moment in the downward trot/walk transition where he really wanted to halt (poor tired Haffie!), and another where we cut the corners coming around the short side of the arena in left lead canter, but otherwise I could not have asked for a nicer, more balance, obedient test. I felt like it was a really good example of where we are at in our training right now. Woot!
I'm so much more relaxed too!
Hover Haffieeee! I love how balanced and awesome we look in this shot!
And that right-lead canter that we've been struggling with? An EIGHT on the depart, and SEVENS on the circle and downward transitions. H3ll to the yeah! Our uh, left lead canter, which I have been neglecting, wasn't as good. Oops.
And if that's not enough... the judge gave us a NINE on the final centerline. I've never gotten a 9 before, ever. I feel like bronzing and framing that sucker.
So yeah, that test was worth a 68% even, for second place, ONE POINT behind first. The first place horse actually ALSO got a 64% at First Level test 3... so he's basically way past Training level. I'm feeling pretty good about that!
Me and Fuzzypony. Paddy had his ears up the entire time for these pics (natch), but Taran required some bribery (note hand with carrot on left).
As usual, a show is never something that one person does alone. Many thanks to Fuzzypony for Paddy's awesome braid job (I promise to pull his mane more in the very near future), MC for coming out, helping groom, and taking pics (all these pics are courtesy of MC) with her friend M (M belongs to the carrot-holding hand), Hubby for providing water and a cheering section (!!!!), and Lisa for the awesome coaching as usual. It takes a village!