Yes folks, we did it. Tucker and I rounded out our ESDCTA season with a score of 68.9 in First-2 and 66.0 in First-3, which gave us 2 second-place finishes, making us First Level Reserve Champions. I will go over the tests (and their constructive criticisms) later this week, because today's post is simply for telling the story, sharing pictures, and being super, super happy that I get to compete with this incredibly sweet horse who tries just so darn hard all the time to be a good boy.
He was basically perfect all day. My old roommate and one of my best friends Karen came to the show to cheer us on and groom, so Tucker was of course thrilled to see Aunt Karen, and my mind was much more at ease having a helping hand all day long. Amy was also there for another student and graciously agreed to stay to coach me as well, so I had expert advice for the day, which obviously never hurts. Tucker warmed up great, forward and loose, no issues whatsoever, and we ran through all the different pieces of 1-3, which we were doing first.
Thank goodness Amy was there because when they re-set the ring from the small arena to the large arena, the markers for the letters were a tad off, so E and V were too close together. Amy made them fix it before I went in, and I thanked my lucky stars she was there because (a) I'm not sure I would have noticed; (b) even if I did notice, I wouldn't have known what to do about it; and (c) I really don't think I'm slick enough to cover up something like that as smoothly as the first rider did.
The test rode very well. He was a little quiet when we first went in the ring, so the opening trot work was not as good as in warm-up, but all his canter work was just beautiful, and the trot work after the canter was lovely. I did unfortunately forget where I was going (doh!) at the very end of the test and had to circle, but on the upside, I didn't let it phase me because I'm learning a little 2-point deduction on one movement isn't a big deal, so I didn't give up and stop riding and we still finished strong. The leader of the class scored over a 70, so those 2 little points wouldn't have changed my placement anyway.
|Look at me sitting up for the canter lengthening!|
We had an hour in between, so we let Tucker get back on the trailer and chill, and I had a fruit cup and some water. I've discovered that a fruit cup is the perfect thing to eat when you still have to show by the way. It hydrates, gives you a little sugar, and doesn't sit heavy in your stomach. Thank you, incredibly kind food truck guy, for convincing me to eat a little something in between my tests, and treating me to a fruit cup. You were totally right. Hit the spot.
We tacked back up and I did a quick ten minute warm up for the second test. At Amy's suggestion, we cantered around the outside of the ring before going in. Definitely doing this from now on. Tucker was much more up in front of my leg, so the opening trot work was much more forward in the second test. The judge was smiling at me the whole time, and although she probably does it for everyone, it made me feel so good about myself. I really like the 1-2 test, and this time especially it rode really nicely. By the time we did our stretchy trot circle at the end, I was fighting to keep a smile off my face. I was beaming with pride by the final salute. I know I'm new to dressage, but I just knew it was a solid test.
|Loved the opening center line|
|I'm losing my position a little here but I love how round he is|
|Powering through our final canter lengthening|
|Love this effort for the stretchy circle!|
After hearing that we were sitting in second place after the first test, we went back to the trailer and got his white polos on for the award ceremony. And Karen, Ethan, Tucker and I just hung out by the rings while we waited for the second class to finish, played with Tucker, ate some ice cream, joked around... it was great. The photographers started snapping candids of me feeding Tucker a popsicle and all three of us jumping up and down when they announced my reserve, so I am kind of excited about seeing those!
|TRUE LOVE, PEOPLE.|
Also: Look. At. Those. Ears. Omg.
I got back on and awaited my neck ribbon, and I cannot remember the last time I was so purely, genuinely, positively happy. For all the times you have a bad ride, or a crappy show, or you drag yourself out of bed too early in the morning or climb in the tack after a much-too-long day at work, or you realize your horse habit is going to send you to the poor house, or you lay awake at night worrying about whether your horse's feed/supplements/shoeing/program/tack/etc. is right for him, or whether that shoulder-in is a pain issue or a training issue, or whether you'll ever learn to sit the trot.... moments like that one make it TOTALLY worth it. Seriously, THIS is why we do this:
|The happiest moment... I squealed when they put it on him.|
|Tucker was less than happy that our second place prizes were whips.|
But they're really pretty.
|World's First Dressage Giraffe|
|So proud of him.|
|I WILL NOT POSE FOR YOU TAKE ME HOME|
|This IS my best angle STOP TRYING TO CHANGE ME|
I love this giant goof of a horse. He got HANDFULS of treats. I literally stuffed his face. So lucky I get to call him mine. Also... so, so, so lucky to have amazing friends, an incredibly supportive boyfriend who was just as proud as I was, and the most helpful, kind, and encouraging trainer.