Upon arriving at stabling I realized these were tiny stalls (Penn is little, so OK), but they had nails all over them. Sometimes the pointy bits of the nail were sticking out. At least one horse cut his nose on his stall this weekend. Penn's stall seemed ok, which left the other problem: the stalls were on rock/compressed footing, which means they aren't level (which is fine). However, these stalls had huge holes dug in them from previous horses and most had a slight slant with some cliff type action going on. I was worried if Penn laid down in the night that he would roll and slide down the grade and end up cast... against old nasty wood boards with nails in them (extra happy I always wrap with no bows at shows!). I put extra bedding at the bottom of the grade to try and level it out (and I bought more from a local Tractor Supply on Saturday). This seemed to work OK, but I was always in a hurry in the morning to check on him!
I stabled across from a lovely Australian woman. She brought two horses with her: an OTTB that she shows at PSG/I1 and a 4 yr old baby Hanoverian who she shows at First. I didn't get to see her rides on her OTTB, but she said she had the ride of her life on him Sunday morning in her I1 test (I believe it ended up being a 68+%). Hers isn't an easy guy to ride and is a tension sufferer and sometimes wants to rear through his halts. She said he's left the ring via halt-back up more than once. So OTTB riders, keep at it! There are OTTBs out there doing FEI dressage!
|The show had a food stand, "Galloping Goodies."|
This is a homemade Strawberry Roan Smoothie (no strawberry roans were hurt in the making of this tasty beverage).
I may or may not have a smoothie problem now.
I took Penn down to the rings to school Friday night. He was quite good, but I was kind of horrified by the rings... Ring 2 looked like it had been dragged with a very deep drag- the footing was deep and uneven. My non-horsey mom even said, "That footing looks terrible." I was also disturbed by the fact that P was not across from V- they measured wrong and instead of the longside going 6m-12m-12m-12m-12m-6m, it went something like this: 6m-15m-9m-12m-12m-6m. I went over to do some ring familiarization in Ring 1 (it had covered stadium seating and a bit of atmosphere), and the letters RSVP were in each other's spots. At that point, I knocked on the show office window and let them know that their letters in Ring 1 were wrong and the distances in Ring 2 should probably be checked because P wasn't across from V. I was just surprised that this stuff was wrong at a recognized show, you know? By the morning, they had made all of the letter and drag corrections they needed to, so they get an A+.
I rode my first test around 1:56 PM, after watching tests for most of the morning. It was somewhere around 93 degrees and very humid. Side note, I bought a square corner white pad with black piping from Smartpak- I finally got to use it this weekend!
|First centerline. He looks like a pony.|
|Cantering across to X to trot for a half diagonal.|
|Learning to engage the thrusters in the lengthening canter.|
|Halt and salute!|
When I rode this test, everything felt very quiet. I thought Penn was capable of more flashy movement with more spring, however, the heat made me let him go with being quiet. Quiet apparently worked for this judge, because she scored us well in everything except the lengthening canter to working canter transitions and a late trot-walk transition (all of those deserved poor scores).
|68.750% - CBLM Qualifying - 1st out of 9|
This test was another one of my gripes about the scheduling- originally all 3 of my rides this weekend were going to be for the same judge... which meant both of the 1-3 GAIG qualifying classes would be for the same judge, and therefore you could only get one qualifying score from this weekend even though each day was a different USDF/USEF numbered show. I already had both of my GAIG qualifying scores, so while annoying, I didn't care much. One of my fellow competitors did care and brought this up to management, who scrambled to call all of us and move Saturday's 1-3 Q class to the other ring where we would see the other judge. The price was changing out a 3:30ish ride time for one at 5:45 PM. I didn't care- I was happy to see another judge and it's not like I had anywhere else to be this weekend!
The hot and humid temps hadn't changed, but I was really happy with the horse I had in warm up. Penn had a couple hours to chill in his stall after our first test, and he came out super relaxed and on task.
|Lengthening canter. I love his expression and shoulder lift.|
|Canter one loop. I think my half halt got across to him and he sat and lifted!|
We'll have to start some counter canter to find better true canter balance.
I got greedy in this test- I botched both of my trot lengthenings by asking for more and causing him to break to canter. I also struggled with the leg yield right and made him canter there too. I didn't realize how much my geometry around X was suffering- all of my one loops and my leg yields missed X. The leg yield I knew missed it because I had already messed up, but I ruined otherwise good movements by not making it to X. Time to set up a dressage ring using poles every week and practice so I stop giving away free points!
|64.412% - GAIG Qualifying - 2nd out of 4|
Saturday went REALLY well for us. Not only did we win the biggest First Level class of the day, but we won the First Level Open/AA/Jr High Point! There were 28 rides at first level, so I'm super pleased! As a prize that went with it -besides the super awesome tri-color satin- was a coupon for $20 towards a schooling or recognized show, or a clinic, hosted by this particular GMO, to be used in 2016 or 2017. I'll have to see if it can be used at a schooling show I'm planning on going to in August, since that show is sanctioned by this GMO. Otherwise, it'll have to wait until next year.
|A super haul for day one's show!|
Sunday was SUPER windy. The heat from the previous day hung out through the night, but as the wind picked up, it dropped and hung out in the low 80s instead of the 90s. Weather.com said wind gusts were going to be between 15-20mph throughout the day. I was glad that Penn got to spend time on Trainer's farm on the hill! It's regularly that windy there and we've worked in it before, no problem.
Penn got to go for a 45 minute meander/graze Sunday morning around 9am. My ride time wasn't until 5:27 pm. Awesome. What I should have done is taken Penn for a graze and then a hack. Instead, he went for a graze and then sat in his stall until 4:30. Then I found out my ride time was bumped to 5:08. My 20 min of walking time was out. I don't know why I didn't take him for a 30-40 min hack around Sunday morning. I would have taken Mikey for a hack, so why wouldn't I have taken Penn?
|All covered to go graze. This fly sheet is really incredible- Penn was perfectly cool under the sheet. Much cooler than the outside temps. It's really like his own little parasol that isn't spooky.|
So you can probably guess that warm up didn't go well. The best thing that happened in this warm up was getting to use the second show ring as a warm up ring because it had finished for the day. I got work on my "near x" figures and try to make a plan for the leg yields that just don't want to get there. Penn was against my hand, not connecting to the bit. He wanted to hide behind the bridle and wasn't pleased when I asked him to move up to it. All kinds of things converged on me: I was the last ride of the day. There were scratches, so the judge was ready for me whenever I was ready, so I didn't want to keep her waiting. We had a 5 hour drive home, so the sooner we could leave the better. All those feeling rushed emotions didn't help me warm Penn up. He needed more time just walking and stretching. He got to a semi-soft point, so I said screw it, let's do this thing.
|Poop pile X marker. Not missing X again in this test!|
|My stretchy trot seems to have gone to hunter land?|
|A free walk that could use more stretch.|
|Final lengthening trot.|
|More final lengthening trot.|
|And again, final lengthening trot. It was a good one, ok?|
I rode this test for the same judge as my 1-2 test, so I was jarred by some of her comments. I knew this test wasn't as good as my 1-2 test, but she made a complete 180 in her attitude towards us. We didn't deliver like we could have, so I guess that's deserved! The uphill balance we had Saturday was gone. I had decided in warm up that if his hind end was trailing in the trot zig zag, that I would just let it trail instead of picking a fight in the middle of the test. I came out of the test going, "This felt similar to the ones at Morven, so I'm guessing 62-63%." I was super spot on in that assessment. Kind of a let down after scoring well the day before, and the previous weekend.
|62.794% - GAIG Qualifying - 4th out of 5|
Staying positive here, because this really was a fabulous weekend: Penn tried to do what I wanted and never said no. This show was an excellent experience for him- the ring we rode both 1-3 tests in had a lot to look at and he never blinked. It's good experience for me too- I'm learning how to manage him at overnight and multiple day shows (spoiler: he's not so different from Mikey!). The mistakes in the tests were mine, or direct results of my prep. I really liked how he felt for my second test Saturday, so I'm thinking that on days he only has one test, I'll ride him briefly in the morning... unless the test is in the morning, in which case I'll take him for a spin before tucking him in the night before (if we don't have super late tests like we did this weekend).
As I mentioned before, we had very little diarrhea issues this weekend. I started him on 2 Probios Soft Chews a day the Wednesday before the show. I also bought him a compressed alfalfa bale, which he got a flake every day from Wednesday on, then I liberally stuffed his face with it over the weekend, and he'll finish it up this week. I also made "surprise" hay nets where I stuffed a flake into the middle as a goodie to keep his interest in the net while he was in the trailer. He had softer than desired poop coming out to the show, good poop at the show, and excellent poop coming home- absolutely zero diarrhea on in his tail or on his leg wraps! I'm super pleased- I'm going to try the same thing for the next show and see if the results are similar. The probios chews only cost $10 for 30 days at Tractor Supply, and I can get them via Amazon Prime for just over $12 if I had to. BO is going to try to get some alfalfa/grass mix regular sized bales in just for Penn while he's showing (her hay guy has a field of the mix so it would be easy).
|The final ribbon haul. We used spearmint gum to get Penn's attention for this shot.|
Something else I noticed at this recognized show (since I had ample downtime to watch majority of it): there are riders who make it look effortless, and there are a ton of average riders. There are more riders than you'd think that you can tell are riding the struggle bus, but they're trying their guts out and make mistakes, and are simply thrilled at the end of the rides. For some reason, in my head, I imagine all of the riders that show up to these things are super competent and everyone is awesome. Don't get me wrong, the show was fairly competitive and there were large classes and there were a lot of good riders. I got to watch a large portion of the show since I rode so late each day- there were only a few flawless rides. I watched a mustang tackle the beast that is 4-3 (so. many. flying. changes.), and do so admirably and with unending try. His rider was so thrilled at the final halt, as she should be! I got to see the high score test of the weekend- a gentleman riding I1 on a VERY hot horse who is going to be an incredible GP horse. I watched riders struggle with training level and first level. I watched a horse have a meltdown over training level and one meltdown over I2. It was just a realization that everyone has to start somewhere, and meltdowns happen at every level. So everybody, get out there and do it!