And such an adventure it was...
(This is a really, really, really long post. Bonus points if you make it to the end!)
Originally, the plan was for me and my friends ML and AC to get a ride in KP's big trailer up to the show on Friday. Despite having big living quarters its got a tiny tack room, so I opted to take my trailer too just because it was already mostly loaded (lots of my show stuff lives in the trailer) plus it'd just be easier. There was also some indecision on sleeping arrangements for everyone so I figured if I brought my truck I could sleep in it if I needed.
|Cleaning stalls before we left = too tired to get up|
|"Clean around me"|
Luckily it was a good plan to bring my own trailer. KP was on vacation in Canada and was driving back on Friday when the car broke down and took forever to get fixed so there was no way she was coming all the way down to get the truck and trailer and the horses. ML was having a slight panic attack because she couldn't get anyone to coordinate anything. JM, the trainer, wasn't answering his phone and she was trying to get him to drive the big truck and trailer up since none of us have driven a big gooseneck before and I was not about to try it for the first time with KP's shiny new trailer. AC was being non-cooperative since she hadn't slept in 24 hours due to schoolwork and trying to get things together for the show so she was sleeping and ultimately decided on coming up the next day because she didn't ride until 1:30. I offered to pick up ML's horse and get up to the show grounds and unload.
I stuck ML's horse Addie in the trailer, briefly thought that I shouldn't tie her because her lead rope had a knot in the end so it wouldn't slide out of my blocker tie rings if she pulled back, but decided because she was being so good and willing to go in the trailer, that I'd have no problem leaving her tied while I shut the trailer door. Wrong. She pulled back, snapped her halter and took off.
Lovely. I had visions of her galloping the whole property with me trying to catch her... Luckily I was able to catch her quickly, I had an extra halter for her and I got her onto the trailer. Phew. The drive was uneventful, got there and unpacked the ponies and our stuff.
Misty definitely majorly feeds off other horses. When she's solo, she is fantastic. But if another horse is being spooky or wound up, she will be too. Addie was pretty amped when we got to the fairgrounds, growing from her already tall 17h to about 18h complete with snorting and prancing. She pretty much immediately settled once I stuck her in a stall but Misty did not. She was now amped too, bucking and rearing in her stall. Oh geez mare.
Finally ML and JM arrived with the big trailer in tow. Luckily that finally worked out.
We finished setting everything up with the stalls and ML and I set up our tent for the night before going to ride. It was nice getting there the night before to school in the arena and everything. Misty got to see the judges booth and scary arena. She settled right down while under saddle which was nice. She was still figety in the stall, but not as bad as beforehand.
Afterwards, JM was still schooling another group member's horse Ducati (which is now my new favorite horse, he was so cute!) and ML and I were starving so we decided to get dinner going. LE cooked a lasagna and brought it frozen so we just had to reheat it in the trailer's oven. We got to the trailer and first of all, there's no oven. There's a stove and a fridge and a microwave. Hm. Secondly, the plug for electricity and the socket don't match. We needed a converter. Finally, through our starving haze (and possibly some small amount of alcohol), we decide that we can use the propane stove to heat the lasagna, which is frozen. In a glass pan.
Let's just say I will never ever make that mistake again. It literally exploded. No lasagna for us and glass shards everywhere. Oops. So we ordered pizza. It was definitely a rough day.
Basically by this point I had virtually decided that I was never going to a horse show with this group EVER AGAIN. Nothing was going right and it was just adding so much stress when usually going solo is minimal stress for me, though I often wish I had a support group.
I had to wake up bright and early to get Misty ready for our classes. I rode Intro C at 8:35am and Training 1 at 9:17am. She needed to be fed and watered, her legs washed, body brushed, mane braided and I needed to memorize my tests and get dressed.
Everything went smoothly and we went in for our first test. She was quite up and tense, looking at everything (especially the newly installed video booth). She wasn't awful but there was a buck thrown in there during the test and I could have been a more effective rider.
We ended up with a second place out of 5 which I was quite surprised at considering how awful the test felt to me. We got a 61.5% which was good because it definitely felt more like a 58%. Mostly 6.5's on our movements except for a 4.5 for the buck and a 7 for our left lead canter and final halt. Comments: "Talented horse and so cute! Some lack of confidence in this test in rider's hands. Try to help balance to gently steady connection."
We had some time to school in between and KP made the comment that I needed to really get her into the outside rein to keep her focused on the job at hand, which was a really helpful reminder. I got her head down a bit to get her to relax, really got her onto the outside rein and kicked her forward. We had a really great Training 1 test. I rode her well and she did quite good for being the baby that she is.
Surprisingly, we got a first place in a class of three! With a score of 65.3% too. I was quite proud of the pony. I think our work is finally starting to pay off. Unfortunately, no video of this class. The whole group I was with disappeared during most of the morning, either still sleeping or helping ML who had forgotten her braiding kit so they had to go buy new stuff. That was a little disappointing not to get any help before the class when I needed it or have anyone who watched it let me know what they thought.
We got a lot of 7's on this test. Even an 8 on our left lead canter! Definitely need to keep working on our right side work. Comments: "Talented horse! Try to be the balanced center (s)he needs and ride more with body to soft contact. Maybe a gentler bit." I'm not sure how much gentler we can get than a happy mouth but I may pull out a fat french link loose ring and see if she goes any differently in that, just because.
The rest of the day was just watching everyone go and helping out. AC arrived super late, she overslept by two hours so she arrived an hour before her ride time. Luckily she had all of us to help her out, one person groomed her horse, while I braided while someone else tacked him up and she got dressed. Her horse is such a schoolmaster so she did great even with a 15 minute warm up.
LE had two awesome rides on her little horse Ducati. He's the brother of the horse that she offered to sell me last summer for $50 and I wish I had taken her up on it! He is a funky cross but exactly what I like build-wise and has an amazing temperament. He scored a 74% and 71% in Training 1 and 2... and this is all after 5 months under saddle.
|Newest favorite baby|
ML ended up having a rough couple rides on her horse. She is going into heat and the transitional cycles are the worst for her. She had some really nice, forward and relaxed moments, but she also had some rearing, spinning nonsense. Poor girls ovaries were hurting though because normally she is the most tolerant horse ever for being another baby in the group!
|Nice relaxed moment for ML and Addie|
It was a long day, but by the end we were all having fun despite the nasty weather that had rolled in. It was so cold and pouring rain the whole time. We started drinking and went out to dinner, basically having a blast. This is the group of people I go boating with in the summer and they are so much fun. Nothing better than a group of crazy horse people.
(Somewhat Okay) Sunday:
Oh my goodness. Never ever am I drinking the night before I have a ride in the morning. I was so hungover for my ride. I was just crossing my fingers that Misty wouldn't throw in a buck or spook during our ride because I wasn't quite sure of my stickability.
Luckily I still remembered my test from the day before and despite forgetting to put Misty's blanket and neck cover on (she only wore her cooler overnight) she had stayed perfectly clean which was astonishing.
I got on really early because I just needed to ride and not think about my headache or the fact that I just wanted to curl back up in bed where it was warm and I didn't have to worry about riding straight lines or round circles.
The test went fairly well. Misty was much better than the day before in terms of transitions, relaxation and contact. But I was obviously not at the top of my game so I didn't give her the ride she needed. Our circles were a little too small, we lost impulsion and I didn't ride her into the outside rein enough and she popped her head up above the bit a few times. She really didn't put a foot wrong though, and I was still really proud of her. Of course this was the test I chose to get videoed, so once I upload it you will get to enjoy my test in all its hungover glory.
We ended up with a third place out of 5 in that test. Score of 61.8%. This was a much harder scoring judge than the day before. Not a whole lot of positive comments. Mostly got 5.5's and 6's. A couple 7's and a 7.5 on our trot work. I thought we had a GREAT stretchy trot but only scored a 6. Comments: "Very nice partnership. Horse seems a little reluctant to contact, so (s)he is not really stretching over the back. (S)he is still so elastic that I see lots of potential. Be very tactful in asking for stretch over topline so (s)he is willing to reach to the bit and show more bending and suppleness."
|Loot for the weekend|
Everyone in our group absolutely loved Misty. I got some great compliments on her and the consensus was that she is a great little dressage horse that hopefully can go far! And KP is currently trying to convince me to take her First Level at a recognized show in California next month! I don't know about that...
Overall, what a good experience for Misty. I feel like she needs all the miles she can get at this point, which she definitely did this weekend. She improved a ton in terms of contact and transitions just over the span of three days. She got to experience an overnight show and while she wasn't great in the stalls the first night, by Sunday she was perfectly fine. I ended up having a lot of fun, even with all the stressful elements. It was a good weekend.
Take away for things to work on:
- Halts were almost always to the right. Need to work on straightness.
- Our right-side still needs work overall
- Contact (of course)
- Impulsion - it was fantastic this weekend, but I really had to work for it. I carried a whip which helped but didn't use it because she gets so offended by it. Maybe spurs next time?
- First level work! Lengthenings and leg yields need work.