The biggest reason I wanted to attend another show, however, was to get my head back in the game after last week. Watching the videos, I realized that Paddy had totally taken advantage of me in the arena. Sure, our warmups were good, but as soon as we turned at A he charged down centerline and pretty much ran the show. I wanted to have the chance for ME to run the show in a less stressful environment - to actually ride the test instead of just being a passenger.
Luckily, the weekend's forecasts for awful weather didn't pan out. We hauled to the grounds Saturday evening, and I got in a really great school. I focused on booting him forward whenever he threw his head up, and we also had some SUPER nice and balanced canter. I'm not sure if that was due to our short longe session beforehand, or the fact I was wearing spurs again (I'd taken them off for about a month), but it was really nice. I felt pretty confident about Sunday's rides.
Sunday dawned super foggy. I was scribing at 8 a.m., and you could barely see one end of the arena from the other. I joked to the judge that I should have asked for the first ride and been on a grey horse - our scores would have been awesome!
If you squint you can see C...
Scribing was, as usual, an interesting experience. The lone Grand Prix test included a rear instead of a canter pirouette, but hey, that's why this is a schooling show, right? I was lucky that the judge explained some of her comments, and I got to watch some good tests. It's always good to see what the judge can see and what they can't - and also see how easy some mistakes are to see. If you're not DEAD ON centerline, well... better practice that one at home, folks. A lot.
Next up, I helped Fuzzypony get ready for her rides and called both her tests. As usual, she and Taran put in nice, consistent tests. I'm kinda jealous that Taran is so steady on his own - I feel like I'm constantly monitoring Paddy's tempo, and Taran just happily motors along. We had a long break before my rides, so we grabbed lunch and then I spent some time getting ready... except that we discovered they were running 30 minutes ahead and I could basically go any time I wanted to. I told the ring steward that I was going to take my time to warm up, and I did, although I didn't get the longe I that I wanted to. When he was feeling relatively obedient, we headed in to do T2.
Tiny leg yield to warm up
Check out the Fabio forelock.
I just love pictures with this mirror
And if you're super bored and want to watch YET ANOTHER video or Training Level Test 2:
Video courtesy of MC. Heck, all pictures are courtesy of MC, who am I kidding? Thanks MC!!!
Overall I was very pleased with this test. Yes, it was quick, but he was VERY obedient in comparison with last week. Except for the blown left canter lead (who needs to canter left? We only do right lead canter now!) I was quite happy with it. There were moments of stretch in our stretchy trot circle, and moments of stretch in the walks. Was it an amazing improvement over last week? No, but *I* was in charge and that was the point. Mission accomplished.
We had one ride between us and our next test, and I spent most of it walking. It was warm and humid, and he was blowing and getting tired quickly. With two minutes or so to go, I picked up the reins and did a few transitions. He was a bit more sluggish off my aids, but I wasn't terribly surprised. I was even more pleased with this test, except for the left lead canter which is our least favorite move. Check out around 1:30, in a move that I call "An Epic Battle for a Downward Transition Between a Train Wreck Haffie and His Desperate Amateur Rider." It's classy, y'all. Super classy.
On the bright side, the first half of our free walk actually LOOKED LIKE A FREE WALK. He got distracted the second half, but whatever, we're halfway there! It's the tiny victories. Sadly, I did NOT win the victory with my hands. Work in progress for sure. Our final remarks on the test were "Horse got very quick and strong." Why yes, yes he did. Story of my life.
T2 was good for a 59.4 (3rd place) and T3 was good for a 60 (also 3rd place). We did pull an 8 for our first centerline on T3, and a 7.5 for our second centerline (oh and we actually stopped AT X, unlike last week). Good to know if I ride those accurately we can make up some points there. Overall our scores were about 2-3 percentage points LESS than at the rated show. I'm not sure if it was the judge or just the day - he certainly looks less relaxed in these tests and yet he's much more on my aids. Somewhere there's got to be a balance between the two, I just have yet to find it. Clearly, more show miles are needed!