Can I start by saying that a horse trial held in mid-August should not be called a “Fall” mini trial? Until the weather is cool and breezy and leaves start to depart from trees, it is summer in my book, and the sweaty horses this weekend is a testament to that.
Let’s back up though. My day actually started closer to 6AM (before the heat but right within prime fog time in KY). The sun wasn’t up yet, but there was a slight glow to the sky that let you know it was trying. What was I doing at this time? I was climbing through some overgrown and wet weeds in May’s field, trying to make sure I didn’t fall on my face while trying to find her. Luckily, she was hanging out by the shelter and let me catch her. She had even stayed mostly clean from the night before. Good mare!
We loaded up the horses around 7AM, since our first rider had an 8:17AM ride time… My ride time was 11AM, but it was well worth getting up early to be a part of a big team again. I forgot how much of what I love about showing is about the people I show with.
Anyway, May got off the trailer more relaxed then she has ever been off property, and this is saying something. Husband of the
year decade lifetime held May while she cocked a foot and took a nap. Cool. I tacked up, swapped into my white pants, and hopped on for a quick warm-up before Dressage.
Now, Dressage immediately had a couple of challenges for us. The warm up area was right next to the start box for XC, and it was on the other side of the property from our actual show ring. Also, the show ring was in the facility’s indoor arena. We have never done Dressage indoors, AND it is one of those indoors with an entrance on the side to the barn and stalls partially open to the indoor (with horses in them).
May was awesome in our warm-up, but she was a bit amazed by the indoor thing. Our minute inside to warm-up got most of the tension out, but it took away my ability to really push her into positive tension and any kind of self carriage. Great. I resigned myself to riding an accurate test and keep a higher emphasis on balance and rhythm then really anything else. After all – this is Intro C we are talking about…
So there it is. There is a lot I can say about it, but I’ll give you all the scores and judges comments, then my own.
1. Enter Working Trot Rising. Halt through Medium Walk. Salute – Proceed Working Trot Rising.
Judge: Forward and Square. A little crooked after.
Me: A little? We practically made it to the quarter line before correcting. The first trot after the halt on centerline was pretty bad. Granted, we have never halted at the beginning of a Dressage test before, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that May was a bit sticky off my leg and chose to go left ins
tead of forward.
2. Track Right, Working Trot Rising
Judge: Could Show More Bend.
Me: Could show more of a a lot of things. She kind of fell through her inside
shoulder through the turn, and I should’ve taken the opportunity in the corner to really lift her and shove her over.
3. Circle Right 20 Meter
Judge: Steady Tempo
Me: Ok. Yes. The tempo was steady, but she was so far away from my outside rein that it was a bit like driving a tractor trailer with the steering wheel on the floor.
4. Circle right 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of circle, right lead. Before A – Working trot rising.
Judge: Fairly Balanced
Me: This is a hard movement for me to review because the transitions get their own score. Also weird. No thoughts. It was fine but not nearly as good as I know she can be.
5. Transitions in and out of canter.
Judge: 1st could be more responsive. 2nd – Smooth.
Me: Totally agree. The downward transition wasn’t WONDERFUL, but we got the tempo back within the confines of that movement. (i.e. before A).
6. Change Rein, Working Trot Rising
Judge: Forward. Clear Bend.
Me: I like straight lines like this. I can open her up a bit and show her off. She was really good here, and we could show off a working trot.
7. Circle Left 20 Meters
Judge: Forward. Clear Bend.
Me: Yup. Not as steady in the contact as I would like, but the rhythm and relaxation were there. Again, that became the aim after we decided that the indoor was not our happy place.
8. Circle left 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of circle, left lead. Before A – Working trot rising.
Judge: Fairly Balanced
Me: Look familiar? Same score and comment as the other canter direction. I thought this one was better, but I’ll take a seven. (Can we also discuss how the judge must have been staring right at the right entryway of the indoor?)
9. Transitions in and out of canter.
Judge: 1st Smooth. 2nd could be more prepped.
Me: I am pretty meh about both transitions. I would’ve given me a 6 because I really needed a half halt before both.
10. Medium Walk
Judge: Smooth transition. Could be more active.
Me: I agree. Unfortunately, this was one of those tension trade offs. We were right near the scary side entrance and the stalls of horses. I could either push for more activity and get tension and jigging, or just deal with the flat walk. Flat walk won. (Rewatching… I actually don’t think her walk was that flat. What do you think?)
11. Free Walk -> Medium Walk
Judge: Better Activity. Clear Stretch. Difference Shown.
Me: See? Boring walk paid off. May’s conformation just makes this movement a bit hard for her, but I think that this time, she clearly showed a stretch over her top-line and an opening of her stride.
12. Working trot rising to A
Judge: Forward and Steady
Me: Yup. This is kind of an odd movement to score. It is trotting around half the arena.
13. Down Centerline. Halt through medium walk. Salute.
Judge: No Comment
Me: Same. Appropriate for the level. Although – Am I horribly leaning to the right? This video makes it look that way. I need to watch my mirrors/set up my camera at home to see if this is a habit.
Collective Marks: (nothing was underlined or circled).
Rider’s Position: 7.5
Rider’s Effectiveness: 7.0
Geometry & Accuracy: 7.0
Judge: Cute! Pair works fairly well together. Forward thinker. Watch he doesn’t get too fast. Canter transition could show more prep/polish.
Me: Agreed. I don’t think speed is an issue as much as balance.