Wednesday, October 4, 2017

9/16/2017 - Championships, Part 3: Championship Test

So handsome!
PC: Cob Jockey

After Friday's debacle of a test, I got my head together and wrote up my entire 1-3 test in notepad on my phone. I wrote out every movement, a plan for that movement (where to aim to make it accurate and how to avoid 4 beat canters). I had "The Plan".

Writing it out helps.

I also went to Walmart Friday night and bought myself a digital wristwatch. I used to wear one all the time, but I got away from the habit with the popularity of cell phones. I checked my phone for the time, why would I need a watch? How about to keep track of the time when you can't have your phone out?

Penn got out for a walk and graze Saturday morning, I put fresh braids in him, and got 40 minutes of MiniPhaser in. I didn't score check before I rode. Tack clean, boots clean, and everything was ready to go on time for my 10:36 ride time (a real watch FTW). Got to warm up with 12-15 min to go (which made the ring stewards very very nervous because they thought I'd be a no show).

As I swung up on the horse at stabling, I thought, "I should read The Plan over one more time. Nah, you got this." **foreshadowing**

Penn's Topline crown and my bronze pin!
I just liked that his feet were off the ground. I'm pretty sure this is just as he fell out of the canter, lol.

Warm up was good. I kept my hands down and elbows in and remembered to ride and not sit like a useless lump. Karen gave me feedback on halts and no 4-beat canter and connection. I checked my watch for the time to make sure I didn't overdo it and that he peaked right when it was our turn. Penn was much more relaxed on Saturday. I rode much better. Warm up went well, and then it was time to go in...

And then I forgot my freaking test. **GP Trainer: You'll be fine, just make sure you... know your test.**

Karen was kind enough to video, and give excellent commentary!

This was the 20th time I have ridden Penn through 1-3. I made it through the test 19 times without forgetting that stupid 15m circle. And I chose this day to forget it. Afterwards, I reasoned, it's only 2 points out of 340. That's really not that bad. I crunched it out later and it's worth more than I thought. It amounts to losing 0.588% from your end score. When there's 45 riders in a highly competitive championship, it could mean a place or not. I laughed after the test because I wasn't aware it was worth so much, and joked that I'd be super pissed later if it cost me a place. **foreshadowing**

How about a bunch of pics from the test:

Halt looks square from here! But blurry, oops.
I just like the activity in his hind legs.
This halt looked awesome from A, and I suppose C. I see why the judge at B gave it a 6.5 instead of 7!
Cantering past A, without doing a 15m circle.
Re-approach to A, before actually doing the 15m circle.
Needs better connection but this lengthening seemed to whoosh!
I feel like this final halt had a lot of promise with all that hock bending. It didn't pan out, haha.

Overall, I was super happy with the test. I had a listening horse. Penn nailed the halt with the double coefficient. Actually, all of the double coefficients went very smoothly.

The only real hang up spot (besides my rider error), was when I asked for the first lengthening canter and then added inside leg to lift his belly into the working canter (I don't think I mentioned that in my post for my last GP Trainer lesson), and the snarky creature decided I was asking for a flying change. Nevermind that I have never asked for one on the long wall, or from true canter to counter canter. Penn blew through me with his flying change snark face.

When we started the the next shallow loop, I knew I had to be explicitly clear with my aids that I absolutely did NOT want a flying change. Penn started the diagonal ready to give me the snarkiest change ever, but quickly understood I wanted nothing of the sort. Apparently that discussion really worked for the judge at B, because that was one of her few scores that matched the judge at C (7.0). He ended up with a ton more collection and better balance because he was ready to do a flying change man!

Obligatory photo in front of the Region 2 Championships at Majestic Farm sign!
Obligatory awkward horse leg placement too.

My championship class ended up having 45 entries of the 76 AA riders who qualified for the championship. That meant these judges went through first level hell (I'm fairly sure that's a thing). First Level AA Championships went from 8:00 am until 3:45 pm. That's A LOT of first level.

When I checked my score the first time, I was tied for second with a 65.221%. It would have been a 65.809% if I hadn't had my error (and I would have sat in first place for a while!). About a third of the horses had scores by that point, and I was still tied for second.

The scores were interesting, it appeared the judge at C was being a lot more generous, and the scores had up to 4-5% differences between each judge. I had a 4% difference - a 67.206% and a 63.235%. The judges disagreed on a couple early movements, but then the judge at B consistently gave me a half point less on each movement, so the tests weren't all that different. This weekend in general had some HUGE differences between judges - the biggest I saw was a 72 and 59 for the same freestyle. I did get to see that freestyle, it didn't look like it should have been sub 60.

By the time Karen and Hampton went and rode their exceptionally nice Third Level Championship test, I think I had been knocked down to a tie for 6th. Karen really did an incredible job- their test was nice and relaxed and very, very solid. Definitely something to make a goal for myself!

While I waited for the day to pass, I also got to meet Jen from Cob Jockey! She snuck in some great pics of Penn and me. She was super nice and fun to talk to.

I hid in his stall to escape the sun. It's almost like he's guarding me!
PC: Cob Jockey

Right around 4 I learned from my phone that it was over- I had ended up tied for 9th, bumped down by one of the last riders. Again (remember last year how I ended up 9th too?). The horse I tied with had the highest first level average this year of the horses that entered the class (I may have looked up everyone on a whim one night when I was really bored), so there's no shame in tying with them! I think the judges were a bit harsher in the morning, and got a little lax in the afternoon, and then toughened up again. All of the horses who were in the top 8, except one, had incredible scores all year long, and had much better averages than Penn and me. I did catch the one's test and it was quite fussy, yet she ended up 4th. That combined with me tying with a horse with a first level average for the year of over 70% (with 8 tests ridden I believe), makes me think the judges relaxed a little in the afternoon.

I love this picture. Maybe Penn knew I was upset, but he came in for a snuggle while I was sitting in his stall. He pressed his face up on me, not the other way around! My love for this horse grew several times over at that. Ribbons are nice, but the love of the horse is so much better. He really reminded me that that is what's important, not the ribbon.

It was a really hard pill to swallow when I did the math and realized I would have tied for 6th if I hadn't forgotten that circle. It's still bitter as I write this 2 weeks later. However, we competed against really good horses and riders that day. Losing to the high caliber of rider and horse that showed up is nothing to be ashamed of. They had a better day than I did. And 9th out of 45 horses and riders is not bad either!

Top 11
I thought it was interesting that these judges didn't agree very often. 11th place had a large percent spread like my score.
Once the sun started to set, Karen and I hid in the shade on the other side of stabling drinking (she too made a rider error that cost her 6th place. We commiserated together.).
I'm pretty sure this is when I melted my brand new Higher Standards Lavender soap- it was in my blue grooming bag and the sun was HOT.

Karen and I commiserated together over missing a placing due to rider stupidity. Part of getting a ribbon means getting to partake in fancy prancing around an award ceremony and doing a victory lap. We decided we'd have to hold our own fancy prance in a back field somewhere!

Another hard pill to swallow (but no where near as bad as losing the place due to my own error), was not earning the wildcard score for Finals (68%). I felt better than no one in the class did either, other than the people who earned their trip to Finals by being first and second. I was actually ok with not going- Husband, Penn, and I were kind of burnt out on showing.

There was an AMAZING competitor party that night. One of the ladies in our stabling group had two horses, so she got two wristbands for the food. She gave one to Husband, so we all got to engorge ourselves on really really awesome food.

I lost 12 pounds for championships, and I felt no shame in eating almost all of this delicious food!

Overall, we had a good test that would have been right up there without my mistake, my horse was great, I got to spend time with some great people, and ate great food, so it must qualify as a great day anyway!

Next is part 4, our departure day and the excitement never ends!


  1. It was so awesome to meet you! I didn't realize it was that circle you forgot. Was it the second one? I just forgot that damn circle last weekend at IDS Championships! And I've done that test a thousand times! I think it's just at a weird place, since the first one you do immediately upon picking up the canter and the second one is like 30 meters into picking up the canter.

    Come back next year, you're awesome and we should all hang out more!

    1. Yea, the second one! I've almost forgotten the first one before, but never the second. I think I've been riding 2nd/3rd level tests so much, and they do a change of some kind and then medium/extend. I suppose I was running on auto pilot - changed my lead, time to move it!

      Next year would be so fun! I probably won't though- my region's championships will be in VA, and yours will be at Kentucky Horse Park. While it would be AMAZING to go there, VA Horse park is only 5 hours from me!

  2. I'm still blown away by how far you've come in the short time you've had Penn. :-) Congrats lady!

    1. Thanks! We have come a long way! (I've got a post brewing about that too, once I get this backlog of posts out)

  3. ugh what a bummer about that error! while i've never competed with the stakes quite so high, i do relate to feeling like i let my horse down or missed an opportunity. blargh. seriously tho you should be so proud! Penn looks fantastic and has done so so so stratospherically well this year!! he seems to get better and better with every show!

    1. Last year was disappointing, but felt ok since I knew I had done my best. Forgetting the test is NOT doing my best, which makes it so much worse. Plus we missed the fancy prancing award ceremony with victory gallop (which I forgot to add!), and 6th place I believe came with prize money. I mean, it's like $50 tops, but still!

  4. I did NOT need to read this today. iwillnotforgetmy1-3test, iwillnotforgetmy1-3test, iwillnotforgetmy1-3test...


    1. I forgot it for you! You won't forget it now that I have :-)

      I've ridden... 1-3, 2-2, 2-3, and 3-1 multiple times this year. I'm surprised I didn't have an error yet!

  5. So proud of you guys! It was so awesome to spend the weekend with you. You and Penn will do great things! Pilot error happens. There will be redemption!

    1. Yes, there will be redemption at the next level!

  6. Daggon girl. Just caught up with all of your recent posts. What a freaking eventful month you had. Daggon! So many positive amazing things throughout, too. Congratulations on achieving all of the things and sticking through the down moments with such tenacity. You have so much to be proud of!

    1. It has been stupid eventful on my end. Part of the reason the blog posts have come in huge chunks. Yes, the year finished out rough but definitely had high points!