Sunday was a lovely little local show at one of my favourite venues in the whole world, Equivest. It's not far from home and has the sweetest, kindest organizer who also does great things for dressage in our area, so I love supporting her shows when I can. The venue is young-horse-friendly too and holds some special memories for me: I rode Thunder's first Novice here - the day that we met Coach J - as well as his first Elementary. It was also where the beloved took me to a show for the first time in 2017. We weren't even dating yet, he was just handy and I needed a driver. The roads were SO wet and slippery that the four-berth and my dad's bakkie (pickup) were skidding all over the place, but he superhumanly got us all there safely and in a calm fashion, and honestly I think that was probably the moment in which I fell in love with him.
|this man 💜 and his favourite chicken, Loki|
|They were busy grooming each other a la Gio and En Vogue but obviously stopped when I pointed the camera at them|
He was still a little unsure of the spooky corner when we came out, so I took some time to walk him up and down next to it and pat him until he was quiet. The judge seemed to give me an extra minute or two to do this, which was very kind of him, and only when I retook the reins did the bell go and we trotted off to A.
We had a nice halt but then he stepped back for a 6.5, "good halt but moved, more impulsion after X". The lengthening was a 6.5 this time, and he got a 6.0 for the 10m circle, "more impulsion" - I felt him wobble there and was diplomatically trying to avoid losing the connection completely. The leg-yield and the next lengthening were 6.5s, and we rode a better 10m circle right even though that's his difficult rein for a 7.0. The leg-yield was another 6.5, "more impulsion", and the medium walk was a 7.0 - he swung into his ground-eating Arab-on-a-mission walk, which felt great. The free walk was less great, 6.5 "more connection".
Next we had the walk-to-canter, which for some reason I sort of panicked about. This entire show for some reason I was panicking a bit that they wouldn't canter when I asked (again... why???) and I sort of rushed and booted him so we got a 6.0, "hollow at A", completely my bad. The 12m circle and canter lengthening were 6.0s, "more impulsion" and "more ground cover", but the simple change through trot was again 7.0. He fussed and sucked back in the 12m canter circle for 6.0 "some resistance, more impulsion", and then got it together for a nice change of rein but felt pretty unbalanced into the trot, yet it was still a 6.5. Our last halt was a 6.0, "more square".
The collectives were a little different: 7.0 for the walk, 6.5 for trot, rider's position and accuracy, and 6.0 for canter and submission. It was still a 64% with comment "Some quite good moments shown. At times horse needs to engage the hindquarter more and be more connected".
I felt like he measured up pretty squarely to what I was expecting, but I was still really pleased by the huge improvement over our last show. I feel like the 7s will come for Lancey with more experience (and apparently more impulsion). While I'm happy with how I rode and got him back together in the times when we lost balance or connection, I know that there is potential for SO MUCH better, especially once we reach Elementary/EM. He actually has three nice gaits and a good brain, I just have to get rid of the dregs of this connection issue we've had since I bought him.
I was dying of heat when we got back to the box. It still feels unfair that judges just don't waive jackets as often as they really can, honestly - it was a tiny local show on a 34C (93F) day, and we all still sweated it out in our jackets. Anyway, I stripped Lancey's tack and babysat the boys and the beloved appeared with ice cream and water for the horses, then helped another lady to load her horse while I got the boys dressed. Once they'd had some water and cooled off, we popped them back in the box with no difficulty whatsoever.
I was happy with our tests but had seen some Big Name Fancy WBs in the warmup, so I wasn't expecting great things. I was pleasantly surprised when I went to get my tests (which were ready and waiting - this place is really great) and she handed me a heap of satin. Turns out that Thunny had won the E5 and came second in the E6 by a smidgen. Lancey had two first place ribbons, and I originally thought he was alone in the class, but turns out there was another horse in the N6 and he still won. So it's his first legit dressage win, ever!
We won two huge bags of carrots, which the boys enjoyed hugely, and a bag of AHFS Natural Horse Treats, which they also enjoyed, and the cutest little bottle of fancy perfume I have ever seen in my life. I am a huge sucker for perfume so that was a nice touch.
It was a nice way to cap off a really happy day with my three favourite dudes. Thunder now has 8 grading points in Elementary with two to go before we can upgrade to Elementary-Medium (and thus compete at Medium), and Lancey has two in Novice and needs eight more. God is good.