|The show photographer got exactly 0 pictures of us, so here's a cute pony at the trailer|
On Tuesday night I took WonderPony to the final show in the weekday night dressage series at the horse park. The loading up, hauling, and getting settled at the park is like second nature to me at this point, it's the riding successfully in a show environment that continues to elude me.
I wanted one more crack at Training 2 to see if we could get a test that was more relaxed and forward than the last one, and even though we'd both just had 9 days off, it's a cheap chance to get in the ring and Do The Thing, so we went.
Dino, however, had celebrated the cool, breezy weather on Monday afternoon by running around at top speed with his nose stuck to his chest and his back locked up tight, all while staying on high alert in case the Children of the Corn popped out to kill him. I spent most of my ride trying to get him to relax and coaxing him out to my hand, and the lovely honest connection I had gotten from him before leaving for vacation was nowhere to be found.
He continued the theme at the show, only with a bit less frantic running, but still sucking behind the bit any time I touched the reins.
This show, however, was a huge mental win for me. I did not get frustrated, nervous, annoyed, or aggressive. I remained calm, and spent my warm-up time doing the best free walk and stretchy trot that I could muster, only riding enough canter to make sure that button was installed, and doing what I could to encourage Dino to chill out and settle into the contact. I didn't worry about perfect, I focused on giving my pony the ride he needed in that moment.
I was zen. I was calm. I was at peace with the universe.
While Dino was still very much behind the bit in the test, I was overall very, very pleased with it. I rode my pony, not the test, and focused on improving him as much as I could in each movement. He was focused on me the entire time, and our stretchy trot circle and free walk were much improved from last time despite the questionable connection. My biggest bobbles were not preparing enough for the walk/trot transition at C, and losing momentum in our final turn down centerline. Dino also tripped in his hind end on the way to our second canter circle (because, maybe, I dunno he wasn't through and using his hind legs!), but instead of becoming flustered I just RODE, and recovered nicely. I left the ring feeling satisfied with our performance.
The judge was not so satisfied, and he was not at all generous with the scoring despite what I felt was a great improvement for us in this test. We ended with a 60.5%, which I wasn't thrilled with, but he must have been scoring pretty low all evening since that still garnered us 3rd place. Despite the low score, I'm still very happy with my ride!
|Horse Park swag from this season so far! Now to add a little red and blue to the collection...|