Taran felt a little stiff and tired, but I'd planned for lots of walk warmup and that seemed to help. Despite this being his first rated show, he once again handled the traffic in the warmup arena like a pro. Looking at our warmup video for the second day, he wasn't as through his back and he was a bit heavier in my hand, but we had great canter transitions and felt like we were ready to rock T3.
Those dang coefficients will kill you every time. Also those stupid transitions. YU so hard?
After that, it was a four hour wait until 1-1. I got a second breakfast (I looove having our camper on site, it's just so convenient!), studied my test, watched the videos from the morning, and planned my ride. I got on right on schedule and started my warmup.
The problem with the last ride of the weekend is that everyone's tired. You're tired, your horse is tired, the judge is tired, and people scratch. Taran was heavy and suddenly, he forgot how to canter on the left lead. We blew 2 left lead canter departs in warmup, something we haven't done in about two months. I made sure to set him up for a good one, and then we spent most of the rest of the warmup doing free walk/medium walk transitions. He felt tired but obedient and supple, and I ran through the test in my head one last time.
1-1. My first time at First Level at a rated show. One for the books!
Things started out well enough. Our stretchy trot circle sucked, but that wasn't a surprise. I thought our first trot lengthening, (S-F, San Francisco, thanks Jen!) was pretty good, and he came back well. The free walk was as meh as usual. And then things fell apart with the free/medium walk transition - what was so great in warmup didn't go very well in the sandbox. But, I kept my hand forward and rode him forward instead of pulling back, and the trot transition - while not great - wasn't horrible either. Unfortunately, our prompt and accurate canter transition was on the wrong damn lead. I fixed it as quickly as I could, but we immediately had a lengthen canter down the long side, and got dinged hard for being up-and-down instead of ground covering. Then we had a slight discussion about how big the circle at V was supposed to be, and THEN he wanted to quit on me somewhere around C, so we careened around the corner and a rather unbalanced heap. However, we made it to our transition at X in one piece, and the right lead canter work wasn't too terrible - if you can forgive the levade-and-tail-flip-into-canter transition right in front of the judge. I'm fairly sure you can see the horrified look on her face in the video, if you squint. We did actually get a few strides of lengthen canter, and he came back to me pretty well on the 15 meter circle. Our last trot lengthening started out with nothing, but I kept my hand up and kept asking, and I think the second half of it was pretty good (for him).
Woohoo, a 4.5 on the canter transition, which OF COURSE was a coefficient of 2. Not the movement you want to suck at. Also, apparently I didn't do the first trot lengthening? Although on video, it happened.
That is as lengthened as we get.
... and the rest of it.
Final comments involved needing more freedom and suppleness in his back. Yup and yup. It's what my trainer said to me - "get his back". Obviously I need more of that.
Our score was a 61.296 (for 2nd of 2, lol) - definitely not as high as I wanted, but then, it wasn't the test that I wanted either. Considering how many big mistakes we made, it's more than fair. But the best part is, IT'S OUR FIRST SCORE TOWARD A BRONZE MEDAL. Centerline scores doesn't have this weekend's results up yet, but I'm excited that soon I'll see part of that little medal filled in!
Yes, I realize it's a low score on the easiest test possible that actually counts toward a medal. But it's something I've dreamed about doing since I first heard about the medal program over 15 years ago... and now I've taken the first real step down that path. So while it is a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, for me personally it's really very big - and something I'm thrilled to have finally made happen.