I opted to do 2-2, because 2-1 has like 9812738750123 simple changes plus rein back, which Taran currently does not do under saddle. And 2-3 is just... nope. Not yet. But I thought we could fake our way through 2-2.
And fake it we did. We can certainly DO all the movements in 2-2, and sometimes we actually do them really well. Taran has a collected trot, and he has a collected canter. And when he's balanced and on my aids and I'm not pulling on his face, he feels amazing and light, and sooo through his back. A canter/walk transition is as easy as sitting up and adding leg, a medium trot is as easy as opening the door and pushing him up into it.
But we're not there consistently right now. I struggle with feeling when he's engaged and when he's quick and short. I carry him too much and don't demand that he carry himself. If I can't get him through and over his back, and truly connected, the movements are disjointed because they stop right behind the saddle. If I don't keep him straight in canter, he quits or swaps leads. If I get grabby with my hands and forget to use leg... well, I have pictures for that.
And of course, I did all the wrong things and none of the right things in our test on Saturday. I mean, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good either. It wasn't how I wanted to ride. Taran was a good sport and made a huge effort for me, but you can see at every turn I'm not making it easy for him. I didn't go in there to own it, I went in there to survive. And survival is usually not very pretty.
When you start with this as your centerline, you know it's not going to be good.
I think there was an Intro level horse that was this inverted in the halt.
FYI, sitting medium trot is HARD. I'm happy I stayed on, even if I leaned back like a pro. At least Taran looks good!
Haunches in? Or maybe a leg yield down the rail?
Walk pirouette. I was actually really happy that he didn't plant a hind foot and do a reining spin.
Obviously this is a second-level trot/canter transition.
That moment you realize your're not entirely on the left lead for your counter-canter half circle...
... watch the hind leg come through...
At least he can sort of do changes?
I managed to hold it together for the second counter-canter.
In case you've ever wondered what happens when your horse is cantering on his forehand, and you ask for a canter/walk transition with LOTS of hand and take your leg off completely, here you go:
Look, my horse has two legs!
Sliding stop for a 10.
Final halt/salute. I think the judge was as happy that we were done as I was.
If you want to see the whole thing, here's the video. You're welcome for the laugh.
Oh yeah, final score was a 58.84, and we were the only ones in our class so we got a blue participation ribbon.
Stepping up to second more of a leap, at least for us - I've only done one 2nd level test about 15 years ago, and Taran has never done it. We have a LOT of work to do to make it solid. Better body control for me (my outside leg hangs there like a dead fish, I swear, and could I BE any grabbier with my hands???), a better feel, more strength and straightness for him... when we are able to put those things together, it works. It's a matter of chipping away at the mountain. I have a plan for the summer that involves a LOT of trainer rides for him and lessons for me, so hopefully the combination will put us in a more solid place by the time things start back up in the fall. I feel like I'm just barely beginning to get to the fun part of dressage, but damn, the fun part is harder work than ever!