Paddy warmed up VERY forward, even for him. Our eventing coach, Lisa Bauman of Austin Eventing, was kind enough to come coach for the afternoon and called me over after about 5 minutes to make sure I had a "plan" for warmup - she was probably more than a bit horrified to see us careening around the arena at mach one-Haffie. I explained that after we got the zoomies out, he'd be ready to get to work, so yes, there was a plan, even if it looked a wee bit out of control just then. Teehee!
Even after 10 solid minutes of trotting, Paddy was still super distracted and forward. I spent the next 30 minutes working on walk and trot squares, halts, laterals, ANYTHING to get him focused on me. I was trying to stay super relaxed in my arms too, which is hard when your horses is zooming around and blowing off your half-halts. We had almost a solid 45 minutes of warmup before the first test, and I still felt like we weren't quite prepared, because he was so tense and not listening. Still, we went in and rode Intro C. It was... eh, ok. We got our canters, although the right lead was unbalanced and counter flexed (yes, this is a Thing. We are Working On It). It was nowhere near as nice as our test at the show last week, but eh - you ride what you have.
Lisa and I did a quick pow-wow to discuss what to work on in the ~10 minutes until my next test. She suggested that I over bend him, because what I thought was over bent was probably actually just about right. She reminded me of the "inside hand up for two steps" trick to more strongly ask for give, and I drilled him really hard on leg yield and shoulder in to make sure he was moving off my leg. We went in for Training 1 in a much better place in terms of obedience, and I rode the HECK out of the test. I mean, I rode every long side and every circle like I was doing shoulder in. I kept him bent to the inside at all times, and corrected him as quickly as I could when we lost it. I also sat the trot where I could, because I find it much easier to influence his movement when I'm not posting. Of course, that makes him less free in his back... oh well, it's all a balance.
I felt super good after Training 1, so we took a little walk break and then got back to work on more laterals and bending. I think we were both tired by this point, so Training 2 wasn't quite as good, with one notable exception. Our right lead canter was AMAZING. So balanced. So soft. Until he started counter flexing and fell apart a bit, but oh well! Half of the circle was great, so the other half will come eventually.
The judge for this show scored HARD - like, USDF recognized show hard. I think some people were really disappointed with their scores, but I'd rather have a real idea of how we're doing than an inflated score. She was super nice and gave a TON of comments though, which I always appreciate. It's like you get a mini-dressage lesson from the comments! Here are the big shockers (harhar) in my tests:
- For him - quick tempo, braced, needs relaxation
- For me - braced arms (this was on EVERY test. I think this is what I will be working on every ride for the next 6 months, lol!)
The judge also called Paddy an "adorable pony," and said he was "charming and obedient". I guess even dressage judges aren't immune to Teh Kyoot!
Also, Lauren was out taking pics of us and got some real gems. She makes Paddy look SO FANCY! Plus I have lots of picture spam to share. Thank you, Lauren!
Naturally, this was during warmup and not in front of the judge. But he looks fancy-schmancy!
Lisa and I planning world domination... or at least, in the dressage arena!
A nice moment where we have it all together... in front of the judge.
But not gonna like, we had a lot of gaping-with-mouth-open moments too. Work in progress.
But we had a canter that looks like a canter, and not a train wreck (notice left spur sticking him in the side to keep him properly bent)
And sort of a stretchy trot. Needs work, obviously, but a month ago we couldn't do this.
More fancy-looking trot, with prehensile nose out.
A RIGHT LEAD CANTER! I know, I know, it needs work, but we did it and we didn't die.
And a straight centerline to a mostly square halt!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, scores. We got a 60.000% on Intro C, for 3rd place, a 59.583 on Training 1, for 3rd place, and a 58.393 on Training 2, for 2nd place. We also got 3 8s on our centerline/halts - our first 8s! But we couldn't have done it without Lisa, who really came to our rescue after the first test. But overall it was a great show, and a good indication of where we are and what we have to work on. Onward and forward!