|Day 2 started off very educational when Austen found a fawn in the middle of the XC course.
I totally didn't know they essentially play dead and have zero smell (Lyra didn't even notice it) when they're this little.
Husband and I ran late getting to the show, so I stole Lyra and Austen's camera from stabling, encouraged Lyra to squeeze in the front seat of the truck with me (which ended up with her on my lap and not entirely happy about it- she kept giving Husband the "I can't believe she did this to me" face), and Husband drove us back down to warm up so I could get pictures of Austen and Guinness warming up and then riding their test.
I'll let Austen tell you about her rides, but afterwards she took Guinness to one of the water complexes and I got pictures of them trotting and cantering through it (so fun), and that's when we found the fawn.
I had requested an early ride time on Sunday so we could get on the road sooner (it's a long drive home y'all), so around 11 I wandered down to warm up for my single 2-2 test (which was supposed to go off at 11:13 or something). Holy hell, the judge was SLOW. She took a lot of time between tests to not write all that much ON the test. She quickly got extremely behind. I was careful not to do more than walk until the horse two horses before me went down centerline... Warm up basically consisted of, "Take it easy on the horse because who knows how late your ride is going to be."
When the horse before me finished, I went to do my courtesy lap around the ring and Penn decided to be spooky past the KEH side of the ring. I was able to ride back and forth, from C to K to C many more times than I should have been able to by the time the judge rang the bell. On the bright side, it did let Penn relax a good deal before going down centerline!
|Courtesy of Austen
|Courtesy of Austen
|Courtesy of Austen
|Courtesy of Austen
|Courtesy of Austen
|"Mom, smile at the camera!"
Courtesy of Austen
This test didn't feel as good as the test the day before, but the judge apparently liked it just fine! It was one of the few she liked... more on that in a bit.
His mediums are still not mediums, but I thought they were better than the day before. I got overzealous with my left hand in the left SI, then spacey for the two half circles. Travers right turned out ok though. I have no idea what TOH right she scored, but that was not an 8. I thought the TOH left was better, but she didn't think so. He did his weird uneven up front walk steps throughout the walk work, which cost us good scores on the free walk. Good in the SI right, and I think I was fighting him about being on the forehand in the half circles, causing him to take uneven steps. Good travers left. The canter left felt sticky up until the 10m half circle and return to the track (all I can think about that is, "Look how straight he is!" Counter canter left and simple change were meh, but I really got into the medium canter and Penn gave a good one. Per a tip I heard the night before, one of the ladies said her trainer told her to really move her elbows in a medium to show you're really going for it... I have a feeling this has the side effect of really encouraging/allowing the horse to take big steps. Either way, it worked for me, 7.5 and a "Nicely done!" Right lead counter canter work was good, simple change better but still meh. Canter to trot was a bit sticky, and then I tried to really go for the medium trot and pushed Penn past his balance point causing him to become irregular. The final halt was so good, until he stepped out of it and got crooked.
When I came out of the ring, I wasn't sure it had broken 60%. It didn't feel as smooth as the day before and this judge was being mega tough.
On our way back to stabling, I decided to try and get Penn in the same water complex that Austen played in earlier. Let's just say, Penn is not an event horse. He's way too spooky. I had trouble getting him near the water because he was spooking at the jumps, then he spooked at the water. He wouldn't go straight in, and I didn't want to risk him leaping in (because I know he wouldn't be able to stay on his feet), so I had him circle the water, walking a step closer to it with every step forward. I eventually got him in a chute between the water's edge and a tiny log, and he finally stepped in. Then it was like he's been a water baby all his life, NBD. We walked, trotted, and cantered around it. I giggled like a 12 year old. Whatever, water is always fun to play in! All of the following pics are courtesy of Austen too.
|Uhh, I'm not sure...
|"Have you SEEN what's down here?!"
|First few steps in. I used a log and the water edge to make a chute, haha. No wild leaping!
|Praise for the good boy!
|Grinning like I'm 12. Seriously happier about playing in the water than riding second level.
|Wish I had a water complex to work in weekly... #trainlikemichealjung
|Splash! More grinning because I'm like, 12.
After splashing around, we had a good "gallop" where we "pretended" to be an xc pair. All in all, super fun, super giggly, such a good time. Come on, we're all secretly 12 year old, horse crazy girls at heart!
|Our best XC pair impression. Might be dressed wrong.
Seriously, I was so excited to play in the water and gallop. #12yearoldgirlgrin
|Def dressed wrong.
We eventually went back to stabling and Penn got the vetrolin bath he so richly deserved. I am super pleased with him - he came out ready to play for the most part this weekend! Husband and I took Penn for a walk down to the show office to get my score and get some lunch. Score first, obviously!
I was flabbergasted to find out I got a 64.744%, and not only that, but first place (out of 3) as well! I went to the secretary to get my test (they knew me by this point), and she said, "Oh! I remember scoring your test. It was one of the few over 60%. You should stick around for 2-3 to pin, you might get second level champion."
|More satin, more wine.
Also, my best scoring recognized second level test (not by much though).
Penn has officially surpassed Mikey. Penn's mistake riddled work is still better than Mikey's best work.
We trekked back to stabling and packed up while 2-3 was riding. Austen was kind enough to strip the stalls while I got my score (which is why Penn went with us, so he was out of the way). I snagged one pic of Penn and all his ribbons for the weekend really quick before we stuck the horses on the trailer to drive back down to the show office to check on 2-3.
|Stripped stall, new BOT no bows on, and pretty satin!
Turns out, we won Second Level Champion! I immediately wished I had entered 2-3 instead of 2-2, because the highest AA score was a 56%. We could have managed higher than that I think, and then gotten a Dover medal! #greedy #alwayswantingmore
There were 11 second level rides that day- only 2 were above 60, mine and a 61+% (I went back and looked it up to be sure). There were no class splits for AA/Open/Jr all weekend, so I'm even happier with his placings and champion ribbon. While I may have wished I rode 2-3 so I could have tried to get a Dover medal, I'm glad we didn't. I stuck to the test that was working for us, 2-2, and we had an incredibly positive experience.
The judge on day two was super harsh. A bunch of scores in the 40s, and majority of scores in the 50s. She seemed to take a liking to a few horses... It didn't save her though, the show secretary ran out of Judge Review forms from all the people wanting to tell USEF what a terrible judge she was. The judge also did a few
|Trying to be artsy in the truck on the way home because I couldn't put it on his face since he was in the trailer when I got it.
We dropped off Austen and Guinness and headed home. Penn made it an interesting drive by opening his escape door from the inside while we were on a highway... We had to pull over on a mountain (going uphill of course), I had to unscrew the lever that opens his door from the inside so he couldn't do it again!
|Finally got all his ribbons on his face! He was not sure about that.
I learned a couple things that weekend as I rode Penn through being spooky and a new level:
- When I want more uphill trot (which is like all the time), I need to tuck my butt even more to further engage my core, (sitting back without sitting back more).
- Apply the same tuck logic for medium trot. It's easier to absorb bigger motion when I'm making a bigger tucking motion (aka engaging the core more). While his mediums were not great, they were still better and I sat them better.
- Remember the weight in my elbows- thinking of applying the bit to just the bottom jaw. I donno, this imagery works for me.
- TRUST PENN IN COUNTER CANTER. He is honest. He will not flip flop his leads unless I ask for it. Straight, forward, do not over apply either leg. Keep him straighter. Penn finally told me off this weekend by hopping as I overcued to keep the counter canter.
I was super pleased with Penn this weekend- he rocked first level, rocked second level, came to play in all 3 tests (we have struggled with the second test in the day and the second day of showing), and generally kept it together like a big boy! Penn got some well earned vacation time (like 3 or 4 days) of no work before we got back to work! More on that to come!