Saturday morning dawned far too early. Like, literally dawned way too early. Tents need a blackout option or something. Again, up early to muck, feed, groom and braid, then get myself presentable for our first class of the day.
I again felt a little out of place as I am not sure there is a way to do all that and then tack up without looking slightly disheveled/sweaty/grubby. The "real" riders were rolling in in their nice cars, already dressed to the nines, looking immaculate as their grooms legged them up onto their perfectly turned out horses. That's not to say there weren't several of the more "do it yourself types", but most still seemed to have help or had at least worked out a better system than me! Also, I think they all had a far larger budget for horses, tack, and apparel than me. I know it shouldn't really matter, but again, just one of those things you can't help but notice and that could make you feel out of place.
|Good morning, I hope you didn't want to park your Mercedes where I'm currently living, lol|
EC shared similar ride times to me, so no warming me up on this day. She had two horses to ride, and another person to coach, plus her son to keep an eye on, so I didn't ever truly expect help, but still all weekend she managed to take plenty of time for me and was calling over tips as she warmed up on her lovely mare next to me. The lady is pretty amazing at being in all the places and doing all the things at once!
I had a few moments in the warm up where life was a little surreal...."Oh hi, Olympian, please don't my feeble attempts at a 20m circle throw you off your line of one tempis!" I thought warming up at a jumper show was hard, but dressage horses are one place, then the next thing you know they've half passed or piroutted their way somewhere completely different and you're inadvertently in their way.
|No big deal, just warming up with Leslie Reid and trying not to make a fool of myself :) Photo credit here|
Our first test rode OK, but again she got in there and the relaxation was gone and replaced with tension. There was surreal moment when I realized I was the first person in the ring because the only tracks I saw were bear tracks, probably again from our friend from Thursday night...either that or the place is infested with them, not sure. Anyway, I was actually feeling pretty confident about the test and not worried at all about Midge being difficult - I just sort of dealt with it as it came, so our theory of me tensing up and creating it is maybe not the entire picture. Pony might just need more show miles and/or a different job!
We scored another 65 point something, which seemed slightly generous to me. Our test was accurate and error free, but Midge was resisting the contact here and there and generally tight through her back. I do believe she got a 5.5 for submission, lol, but the rest of the marks were fairly decent - lots of 7.5's mixed with about the same number of 6's - it was all either pretty good or OK - no in between :)
|Um, what! We still won the class? We don't win stuff?!!!?So proud of the pony.|
Our second test felt fantastic (or maybe it was just the beer I had downed in the meantime making me feel like life was great)! I was actually smiling and having a great time riding the test. The only real thing I felt might be a bit of a problem was that she was a bit too relaxed and maybe a bit heavy/on the forehand. But again, super accurate, and no obvious errors. Definitely my favorite test to date. But, that test scored only a 63-ish. It was a bit odd, because it was the same judge as the previous test. The comments were all pretty good and very helpful, but a few were like "still not enough bend at K" and .5 a mark less than in the morning's test. Apparently she just likes up and tense B over relaxed and slightly too heavy B, or possibly expected us to take her previous test advice and implement it immediately :) Whichever, I felt like it was one of our better tests of the weekend, so I will choose to remember it as such...it might be telling we still placed second, and I watched a couple of decent tests before me, so maybe this judge was just a bit tough.
After all that hard work, we went for a hack and a swim in the river. I feel very lucky to own a pony that I can take to all these events, but still do things like that on. She's definitely not going to set the competition world on fire, but being sensible enough to hack out bareback in a new place and stand quietly while all the kids say hi to her and swim around her on their floaties is pretty special.
|Best trails! That's a completely horse friendly trail and bridge over our swimming spot. Also, maybe this is where the mystery bear came from? I did see tracks on the trail in.|
On our way back, we rode adjacent to the facility's xc field and for whatever reason I looked over just in time to see a horse literally flip over on someone. I've seen them rear up and fall over, but this one actually randomly jumped up off the ground and slammed down on it's back. So scary! I ran over with Midge in tow. The rider was awake and talking, but needed a medic to check her out. I was on the phone with 911 for so long, because I truly had no idea where, exactly we were! Luckily, they were able to get in touch with the dressage show medic who came to help while they routed an ambulance. I think the rider is going to be OK, but wow, what a reminder to always wear your hard hat and vest. Also, I am overdue to update my first aid, better get it done! The whole incident really made me appreciate Bridget even more. Such a good pony for just standing there patiently while I was on the phone and attempting to be helpful to the poor rider.
Phew, this is getting long. On to day 4!
I had opted to ride just once on Sunday, which was awesome. I had a slight bit of regret because in doing so I forfeited any chance at championship ribbons and prizes, but really, who would have thought we'd be competitive at all, and also it was still way too hot and I was tired and ready to go home.
We rode T-3 in our final class, and this time rode in front of the FEI judge. The test was our worst of the weekend. I stayed too late watching the GP freestyles all morning, and pulled Midge out thinking she'd be tired and need a minimal warming up in the heat, but really she was full of it and needed about 20 more minutes of warmup. Oh well, live and learn! That one netted us a 63%, I think, and somehow, yet another second place ribbon. The winning rider in that class scored a 72% or something similar to aspire to, and the rest of us were all in the low 60's - I guess B wasn't the only horse kind of mentally 'done' with dressage that morning.
|Ribbons from the weekend. I hope no one was hoping for second place, because Bridget pretty much took all those ;) I still can't actually believe we did so well, so these might stay out on my table for a while yet.|
All in all, a pretty eventful and fantastic weekend!
One more post coming about my final thoughts on this whole adventure into dressage land...