|If only the test was as pretty as the setting.|
Day 1 of test riding dawned much too early. I had an 8:16 am ride time, which while that was amazing to avoid the heat of the day, it was a rough start. We arrived before dark to graze the horse.
|Oh, hai. There's a horse in the dark.|
I took Penn back to the stall to braid (I was going to do that the day we arrived. Ha. Hahaha. I opted to go to bed instead). I handed Husband my folder of health forms and told him to take it to the show office to check me in, and they could root through the folder and keep any forms they wanted. If they questioned anything, he could call me and I'd answer over the phone.
Penn seemed pretty chill despite his late arrival. I planned on giving him a longer than normal warm up since he spent so long on the trailer and didn't really get to stretch his legs. I was planning on walking for a while, then doing our normal warm up.
Things didn't really go as planned. Warm up was a clusterfuck. They had 3-4 rings warming up in my warm up area. It's a big ring, it shouldn't be too bad... There were designated championship warm ups blocked off in the warm up ring (Warm up ring seemed to be about 60m by 80m: 3 side by side 20x60m rings - 2 blocked off were champ rings - then one 20x60m that ran the length of the other 3 rings), and either people weren't using them, or everyone was warming up very very early. Either way, everyone seemed to be warming up in the single 20x60m that ran the length of the other 3.
I was on before the show started, and there were horses everywhere. I walked for as long as I could, then trotted a bit and got the last dregs of Penn's coughing out. Then he proceeded to be 'turbo-Penn' like he was a few nights before. I thought the best course was to let him trot it out, so I did. He felt superb. Light with suspension, albeit some tension. I hit as many things as I could with traffic and limited steering, and it felt pretty good.
Of course, Penn ran out of juice. He peaked in warm up, which is totally rider error. Sigh. *cue flashback to our last lesson with GP Rider, "Don't warm him up for 35 min"*
I headed over to my ring to ride my test, and Penn just felt tense. We never got our issues sorted out, and had probably our worst test ever at first level (60.735% for 8th/16). It was our second worse scoring first level test- his very first recognized test was worse (58.971%). I'm pretty sure this test was much much worse than the one that scored 58.
Yupp, we sucked the big one. As the fog cleared during our test, he seemed to finally see A, and spooked hard at the flower pot. Seriously? I let him "stretch" for his stretchy trot, and when I came back to normal trot and went back to sitting, my core objected. It was sore from warm up. #howyouknowyoudidtoomuchwarmup
I was so upset at the score and how everything went down. The judge seemed to take pity on me in the last half of the test and just gave us straight 6s. She seemed to know we were capable of more (I like to think because of the pin!), because she wrote "Quite unsteady in connection today" under the submission collective. She rightly nailed us for all that fussiness and irregular canter. The test was atrocious. I just didn't ride like I could have.
I may have panic texted Austen about how everything is horrible, I can't school my own horse, he's being a tense spooky bastard, and I'm riding like shit. She was great and told me to get my shit together and brush it off. Tack him back up at the end of the day and take him for a relaxing fun walk around the grounds when the show is done for the day. #onpointscolding
|We got some liquids while we were out.|
Husband and I trekked off to IHOP for me to be in misery over there, and by the time we got back, Karen had arrived! Hampton is HUGE. And stoic as hell. And I want to ride him and absorb all he knows. Karen is amazing, btw. So super chill, taking things as they come and dealing with it. I should have taken notes. Her 4-1 test was incredible. So relaxed. I hope Penn and I can be that relaxed while doing 4th someday!!
Of course I showed her my nervous nellie tendencies right away- Penn laid down for almost the entire afternoon. He was down when Karen arrived, and still down when we came back from her afternoon test. He just doesn't do that.
|Flat out sleeping.|
He didn't seem distressed, and he wasn't rolling. He was just... tired. He did this shortly after I bought him- he did a schooling show and then a hunter pace all in one weekend. He just laid down... a lot. By evening he had perked up and was eating a ton of hay and drinking, but I decided not to tack him up. Instead, I took him for a hand walk to the show ring we'd be in the next day.
|There was much staring.|
I was watching some horses school, which was super super neat. There was an upper level horse schooling pi/pa and pirouettes. Penn was staring majestically off into the distance, so I tried to take a picture.
|"He is beauty, he is grace... oh wait, no he's not."|
Just like our test that morning.
After that, he got bored and tried to eat the sand. Then he tried to dig a hole. I decided he wasn't spooky anymore after that!
|"I wanted to eat the sand."|
I tucked him in after his walk and we hit the road. I signed him up for night check, and I'm glad since he was a bit weird that afternoon. Someone would be checking on him every couple hours, it made me feel a lot better!
Next time, the championship test!