I just got back from a schooling dressage show with Mac - his third show ever. After he violently bucked me off at the last show, I will admit I was a bit nervous heading into this show and as I was driving there yesterday I thought, "why am I doing this?!" I went the night before to ride him around and camp out and give him a chance to settle in before show time. I set him up in a paddock where he could see all the arenas and could see other horses, but not have contact with any of them. Since he is a ladies' man, I thought I'd treat him like a stallion and keep him separate so he wouldn't fall in love and get attached. I let him settle in a bit and handwalked him, then tacked him up to ride. OMG, it was like a hurricane out there! On one hand we were very lucky this weekend in that it wasn't the 100+ degree weather we had last weekend. On the other hand, it was soooooooooo windy! He (and I, frankly) was a little tense at the beginning of work, but he settled in nicely and we had a good ride. Put him in his paddock to chill and I cleaned my tack. As I was tack-cleaning and boot-polishing, I could watch him from my truck. Every time a horse came or went from the area he would leap around and buck and fart in his paddock. Great - didn't give me the greatest confidence that he'd be quiet and mellow at show time. I took him out for a couple more walks and hand grazes and he settled down nicely.
I couldn't sleep at ALL last night because the wind made some branches squeak and brush up against my trailer. A fitful night - not the rest I was hoping for before a show!
Today I woke early and fed Mac and did some yoga and meditation. Figured I'd try to braid him for the first time. He was pretty fidgety but good and let me do the braids and so I was happy with that - his neck looks nice with his mane all braided! I didn't get to the forelock but I like the braided mane/unbraided forelock look anyway so oh well. Colin wasn't with me to be my groom so I felt like I needed to hustle to get tacked up and dressed and ready.
I got on 45 minutes ahead of time and just like the past two shows, he only needed 20 minutes or so of warmup. He felt great today!!! Where did his nice canter come from? We took it easy, had a relaxed warmup, had a pee (him, not me), then went in after our friend on her pony. I was worried about this - he loves the ladies and my friend's pony is really cute so I was worried that he'd go bonkers when she left warmup to go in for her test; or, that he'd go bonkers when he went in for his test and she left the arena area. But there was no need to worry, he was great! I didn't feel as solid in my first test (Intro C) as I did at our first show back in May, but we did ok. Some bobbles here and there (turning right at C I totally messed up), some pokey walking in the medium walk, but we got an 8 on our right lead canter (highest score on our test), and 7 for gaits and rider position. Our score was 65.5% - I was very pleased with that and the judge's comments were very fair.
Here's a warmup photo:
I put him up for a half hour or so so he could drink and eat and relax before the next test - Training 1. This was our first outing at Training level - ack!!! What was I thinking?!
I tacked him up again when it was time and headed to the warmup arena. Again, he warmed up great - forward and relaxed and...BAM! Just as we were practicing our last move of the test a horse in the warmup area reared and spooked. Mac handled it great - he spooked a little bit but no over-reaction. Just as I was patting him, I saw what the first horse spooked at - another horse had somehow gotten loose from his longeur, had reared up and gotten his legs tangled in the side reins, and flipped over. ACK!!!!! The horse got up but was now all tangled in his side reins so he reared up again and fell over again - right on his withers (with the saddle on) and then flopped over to his side. Then he just stayed down. All this in front of Mac, just as we were to head into the arena for our second test.
Before that we were working on our free walk:
This is our last trot just before the spooking incident:
There were people tending to the horse (whom they extracated from his sidereins whilst on the ground - a vet came over to help him out - he didn't die but I'm sure he's not feeling well at all) so I took Mac to the other end of the schooling area and waited for the person in front of me to finish her test.
I was looking forward to being able to sit the trot in Training 1, which you can't do in Intro. Mac goes better when I sit the trot so that was my plan. This second test felt much better - better canter (again we got an 8!), better geometry, better submission (although we still don't score well on that collective mark). Our score was 67.083%.
Looking at the video after the fact is hard - I don't like my riding in these tests as much as in May. I realized after looking at it that I had shortened my stirrups after the bucking incident and didn't put them back down to where I usually have them, so I feel like I was bouncing too much versus letting my leg drape longer. Oh well - I'll change them before the next ride.
For the next show (don't know when that will be) I need to work on my geometry more - I find the turns to/from centerline hard, and since I ride in an oddly-shaped arena at home, I don't really have an idea of where all the points of the circle are. Well, I do, but I just don't have practice riding them.
I'm very proud of Mac - he didn't act studdish, he held it together during a scary horse incident, he felt really good (in the warm up especially), he let me braid him, etc. I think my trainer's program has helped Mac develop his gaits more - when I got him I'd say his gaits were a 5, but he's consistently gotten 7s and 1 8 for gaits - but we need practice on geometry and breaking down the test so we're better prepared.
Yay Mac! Video to come soon!