OMG GUYS, MY PONY IS AMAZING.
But seriously. That was SO. MUCH. FUN. Ky was a total champ all day, loved being at the show (and took full advantage of a full afternoon of undivided attention being paid to him, ample hand grazing opportunities. and tons of candy time), and did everything I asked of him and more.
I was super pleased with him in the dressage. I know that he's still not ready to produce a blow-your-socks-off barn burner of a test, but it was really exciting to feel in both the warm up and the test itself that he's actually close to being able to do so. Today I rode him like a real dressage horse: deep deep deep into the corners, sitting, daring him to be as flexible and cadenced as he possibly can be. He fumbled a few times, and especially lost it a bit in a few of our transitions, but dangit, he really felt like he was almost there, and (best of all) I was really impressed with how hard he buckled down and tried for me. I know that if I can get him really bending consistently through his body and nailing his transitions, he's going to start getting real competitive, real fast. We can do it! For where we are in our training now I thought the judging was thoughtful and fair, and that our midpack position after the first phase was pretty accurate given the rest of our division.
(We've got some length of neck issues, but I think we've got the uphill quality to the canter pretty much covered!)
(I feel like we look like a pair of British show hunters... I am not opposed to this look, haha)
After dressage I got a chance to walk my course... and get really, really nervous. Since when did Novice jumps look this huge??! I passed the 2 hours between dressage and show jumping in a state of low to mid-level butterflies, and while I then felt OK during warmup, I got VERY nervous right in the two minutes before I went into the ring. It didn't help at all that the rider in front of me got eliminated and that a bitter wind had kicked up, making the already small and spooky show jumping area at King Oak even flappier, noisier, and spookier. Gulp.
Fortunately Ky grew an extra three hands or so as soon as we got into the ring, and made it really clear that he could have gotten me around a prelim course as long as I managed to steer him semi-accurately from fence to fence. This was actually easier said than done, since Ky, though jumping beautifully, was spooking at everything in sight, making our steering abilities somewhat nonexistent at times. Still, we finished double clear, and I was massively relieved. Show jumping was easily the phase I had been the most worried about, and Ky stepped up to the plate absolutely beautifully. It was even sort of fun!!
After that, I was really excited to go cross country. Ky was absolutely amazing again, though still very spooky (to the point of almost ditching me in the trees a few times as we galloped between fences). He was also quite peaky at the water and allllllmost thought about stopping (though I was proud of my riding to get him through no ifs ands or buts) and I rode like a total pillock to the last fence, resulting in one of the crappiest jumps I've had in a looooong time, but other than that I had a complete blast. The jumps that I'd thought looked massive earlier that morning now looked totally doable as I cantered up to them. It was the best feeling.
(Classic Kate and Ky problem: foot below belly, in danger of skimming top of fence)
(Blurry, but a picture of Ky totally owning the table that I could have sworn was approximately 18' high when I walked my course this morning)
In an added bonus, Ky finished on his dressage score and moved up five places to finish 3rd in a big (15-horse) Open Novice division. Wahoo!!!! I don't think we're ready to move up any time soon (or at least not until we can gallop from jump to jump without me fearing sudden spook-induced death or canter through the water without major growling and crop usage on my part), but I'm so, so excited for our next event together. I'm feeling so lucky to have this awesome little horse in my life, and so thankful for my wonderful parents (including Pa who was back as my groom and photographer today) for letting me compete him this year. Next stop: Groton House!
(I've got a Ronald McDonald theme going on so far this year in my results - no complaints!!!)
(Pa and my mighty little steed)