I fixed three of Paddy's braids before our 9:52 a.m. ride, and hubby took Paddy for a little hand walk and grazing session while I got ready. Somehow I'd managed to keep my white breeches mostly clean on Saturday, and since they hadn't caused any of the usual problems (tight in the knee, rubs on the back of my left knee), I opted to wear them for a second day (those breeches deserve a post of their own, someday soon).
Hubby and I had talked over what didn't work the day before, and I had a new game plan. After our warmup (again, lots of walking, lots of trotting, and one short canter each way) I was going to head down to A, do several figure 8s to make sure he was listening, and then go in. We figured since A was where he'd gotten distracted the day before, I needed to make double-damn sure I had his attention there.
Only, that's not really how it happened. See, you only have 45 seconds after they ring the bell/blow the whistle for you to go into the arena. And in that time, I couldn't get Paddy focused on me. Instead, we careened around on some figure 8s before I decided we didn't have any more time, and went into the arena. Big mistake.
Paddy basically decided that he didn't have to listen to anything. He also decided that any use of my inside leg mean "canter", so you will see a ton of hop-canter steps in the test. As a result, I was terrified to actually put my leg on and insist that he do what I was telling him to, and he used that to his full advantage.
We are actually trotting across the diagonal here, but if you look at the sequence of footfalls, you can tell he's taking a canter half-step. This is at about 2:17 in the video.
I had no idea one could do a canter depart like this. Yikes.
For funsies, here's the video.
I came out of that test pretty upset. Yeah, we had some nice moments and for the first part, he was more obedient and less rushed than in other tests. But overall, it felt like he was blowing me off. Still, it was good enough for a 63.5%, half a point better than the day before. That got us 2nd out of 3.
After that less than stellar showing, I was determined to make the most of our last ride. Paddy decided to lay down for a nap about 30 minutes before we had to start tacking, and was NOT pleased about being woken from his beauty rest.
Note that the Haffie is not smiling in this one.
Another long walk, and this time I didn't canter him at all before our test, just got him working more off my leg and seat. Since doing lots of circles at A hadn't helped, I decided to go in and really move him forward around the perimeter of the arena... do some shoulder fore, a little leg yield to really make sure he was on my aids, then go in. And overall, I felt it was the most obedient of our tests. Our trot work was better, although our canter work was worse - but I think he was pretty tired by then and I sure wasn't helping him much.
Classy spook-and-bolt right lead canter depart. You can see this at 2:50 in the video. Also see how I'm not supporting him with my right leg AT ALL? No wonder he falls in so badly.
And the video:
We ended with a 62%, which was good enough to get us one qualifying score toward the regional championships. Never mind that we were once again 8th/8, with the high score being a 72. A 63.5 would have netted us 6th place, so were were a touch more competitive.
Overall, it was a big learning experience for both of us. Paddy has definitely got it in his head that he doesn't have to behave as much when IN the arena, and I'm not riding him as well. We clearly need a lot of miles to put in a better performance. Even so, I can't be too upset with our scores, even if we're not competitive against the big-moving Warmbloods. We still had a great time, and I'm looking forward to doing it again in a month!