Yesterday I took Mac to his first dressage show, where we did Intro B and Intro C. I thought he'd probably be well behaved on the show grounds because he likes to be in an atmosphere where there are other horses around. What I wasn't sure of, though, was how he'd be in the dressage arena itself, since he'd have to leave the company of any horses (or mares, more likely) that he made friends with and he'd be going into a covered arena where he had never been before and that had light and dark areas and a judge's booth and whatnot.
When we got there we let him graze for a bit, which he enjoyed, and we watched the trailers coming in with horses and unloading and all the commotion going on. I was so lucky to have an amazing team to support me - Colin was my groom extraordinaire, and my friends Kali and Kevin came up to be photographer and videographer. While Colin was grooming Mac I went to check out the arena and it was huge! I don't have an opportunity to practice in a "full court," which is 20m x 60m. Our arena at home is oddly shaped and not quite the size of a small court (20m x 40m) - our arena is a bit shorter and a bit wider. So the show arena to me looked very long and narrow!!! I had to plan my geometry out ahead of time and check where the points of my circle would be.
I gave myself plenty of time to warm up, just in case he would be excited or nervous. Turns out he was so good and relaxed that I only needed to warm up for 20 minutes or so. Here are some pictures from the warm-up arena.
We were told the judge was ready for us a few minutes early, which made me happy since I was ready to go a couple minutes early! This was his very first time in the ring and while he gave the judge the hairy eyeball as he walked in, he was fantastic after that - he trucked around like he had done it many times before, he was SO rideable, and even though we were a little wiggly at a couple parts (oh and had to poop as we trotted in), he was such a champion with a great attitude! Here's a video of our Intro B test - we got 64.357%. Judge's comments were "Lovely presentation!" and "Nice harmony between horse and rider."
Then a little break for Mac and I before the Intro C test. I loosened his girth and his noseband so Colin could graze him while I reviewed my next test.
I hopped on for another quick warm up so we could practice our canter work (which is in this test but not in the Intro B test - these tests are for green horses and/or green riders new to the sport of dressage so they are basically geometry, transitions, establishing contact, etc. - no fancy movements at all). I wondered how he'd be for the second test because usually once his quarter runs out he's done and I haven't practiced riding him, getting off and letting him chill out, then getting back on and asking him for more work. But he was again such a good boy. During our first warm up session he fell in love with a little pony mare in the arena with us and so at the beginning of this test you can hear him calling for her but he got over it and went to work.
Here he's cantering.
His canter is not his best gait, although his transitions are generally prompt. Going in a circle and maintaining the correct straightness is hard, especially going to the left. So imagine my surprise when the score I got on my left canter circle was a 7.5! The judge's comment for that was "prompt, better roundness." We also got a 7.5 on our change of rein (changing direction by going down the long diagonal) and our final halt/salute.
Here's the video from the Intro C test.
Our final score for the Intro C test was 67%; the judge's comments on this test were "Well-matched pair!" and "Good potential."
I'm just so proud of him! And of me, too! He's the first horse I've brought along from not having any basic dressage or flatwork training and he was so well behaved and rideable. What makes me most thrilled, though, is what a happy horse he is and he seems to enjoy the work we do together - whether riding the trails or going to a dressage show or learning how to jump, which is what we've got going on next weekend. We're going to do our first horse trials at the Elementary level (walk/trot dressage, jumping over small crossrails, and jumping over small logs on the ground)!
Kali got some shots at the end with Mac and his blue ribbons.