|My new favorite picture of us.|
First off, our score at Training-3 was 70.9, and First-1 was 69.4, which I am very proud of. We also won both classes, although there were only a handful of horses so not really all that impressive. Regardless, I like blue ribbons and will gladly hang them on Tucker's door no matter how we came to acquire them.
Tucker scored many 8.0's, including on his gaits and impulsion in both classes. In the training test, both his centerlines and his medium walk were 8.0's. He also got 7.0's on his trot serpentine, both canter circles, his free walk serpentine, and his stretchy trot circle. In his first level test, he got an 8.0 on his opening centerline, 7.5's on his trot and canter lengthenings and both canter transitions, and 7.0's on his reverse turns, working canters, and medium walk. Of these, I am most proud of the walk scores. We've been working so hard on that.
The Judge also had great things to say about Tucker and his lovely gaits, and said we work really nicely together and make a very good team. She also said his downward transitions, especially trot to walk, are "exactly what we like to see" and that he reaches under himself and steps forward into the walk. I almost fell off my horse - these transitions used to be pitiful. Yay!
|That tiny horse-shaped dot is me :)|
The biggest thing that needs to change is my position. I will know that it is finally improved when the first thing out of the judge's mouth is something other than, "Are you new to dressage?" Short story is, I still look like a hunter rider in dressage tack. When I am thinking about it, I can sit up. But as soon as I start thinking about anything else, my upper body creeps forward into my old comfortable hunter pose. Her comments were very good - that if I can learn to bring my body back, that will give him the help he needs to balance himself just a little better and my scores will go "through the roof."
Tucker was a little difficult to bend into the corners of the dressage arena, and seemed a little bit allergic to the tiny white fencing. But it may have felt worse than it looked, because the judge didn't comment on it. He was a little pokey in the first test, where I didn't carry my whip (we've been schooling well at home without it so I wasn't sure whether to carry it or not), so his upward transitions weren't as pretty ("slow to develop" and "above the bit"). He was also just a little bit tense in his first test, so the judge said she noticed a few times where he dipped behind the vertical.
I had a hard time getting him to stretch out in the free walk diagonal in his first level test, he just seemed a little unfocused and didn't want to stretch, not sure how to fix that. We school that pretty well at home, but it was different at the show. More shows needed, I guess.
We also still need to work on getting him back smoothly from his extended canter to medium canter, which of course I knew still needed work. We did it, but it wasn't the prettiest. That's where the whole sitting up and back thing really comes into play too.
He also came back to trot just a little sooner than I had planned in the canter-trot diagonal in the second test, I covered it up as best I could and tried to make it look intentional, but from now on I need to do the the transition farther down the diagonal when I school it. Or just always mix it up. He didn't even consider doing a lead change in either test though, so, bonus.
|They say if a boy closes his eyes to kiss you, it's true love.|
This is embarrassing guys. I forgot where I was going for a hot second in the First Level test. I had just done the lengthening trot across the diagonal and I totally spaced on what came next. I didn't really know what the protocol was but I trotted to the judge after she rang her little bell, and by the time I had reached her I remembered it, but then I figured I should check in with her anyway to see where she wanted me to restart the test? That turns out to be correct. Way to go on the etiquette guess.
Man was I surprised to hear that going off course is really not that big of a deal! They still give you a score and everything! It's just a two point deduction for an "error." I am liking this sport more and more, I tell you what.
The Best Parts:
Overall, Tucker behaved himself WONDERFULLY. He was very relaxed on the lunge line to start. I only did ten minutes, but I'll be cutting this out next time and just hand-walking him around before I get on instead. He warmed up very well, and did not spook, flinch, or put a foot wrong at any point during the day. He went right to work when I asked him and for his part tried really really hard to listen and do everything I told him. He gets a perfect 10 from me.
Ethan is the best. Although Tucker and I are fairly low maintenance there is some stuff that is just ten times easier with another person there to help (like pulling his boots off before I go in the ring, handing me a kleenex, taking photos, etc.) And he is so encouraging and supportive, and really "gets" the horse thing, which I realize makes me extremely lucky. I think a lifetime of dating guys who had zero interest in coming to the barn or a horse show was all just setting me up to really appreciate this one.
I had a friend show up! When I looked up my times this week I saw that she was showing her horse in the morning, so I messaged her and she dropped her horse off at his barn (which is close by the show) and came back just to watch little old me! It felt so good to have a friendly face at the in-gate. We will be doing a bunch of the same shows this year so I'm so glad we reconnected. You can read all about her great day on her blog, the Pony Project.
|He was super not happy about this photo - |
I yanked him away from his haynet and then the ribbons smacked him in the face.
Hence the pained look in his eye.