All right. Time for a big deep breath. The past three weeks have felt like they've gone by at a million and a half miles an hour and I'm feeling distinctly behind the eight ball. My clothes are a massive disgusting mountain in the peak of the dressing room. There are shopping bags filled with empty food cartons filling the passenger seat of my car. My tack and show stuff are balled in a dirty pile in the tack room. I've survived three solid weeks of showing (the longest continuous streak I've ever done) and am thoroughly exhausted but also immensely satisfied.
Here's the first part of a recap of the past few weeks (which is going to take a few posts because hella stuff has gone down):
9-10 September: Dressage Derby with Ringo
I took Ringo up to beautiful (read: 103 degrees and flat, flat, flat!) Vacaville, CA, for our first show back in California and our second level debut. Rachel had originally thought that she might come with us but her horse ended up not being quite ready, so we were on our own. Though I'm sure we would have scored better with help in the warmup, it was also a good experience to go and realize that we can also manage pretty well on our own.
(The perennial step one for bringing Ringo to a show: attack the white bits with as much QuicSilver as I possibly can)
(Ringo loves his baths. Clearly.)
Ringo was pretty faultless both days. It was so. freakin. hot. that he felt a little lazy, and I was glad that I had decided to buy a pair of big DQ-ey spurs (1"+, uncurved, and blunt) right before we left. In our first test on Friday we had two judges, which gave it a very official feel for a regular second level test. Ringo was awesome in warmup and then got a little tense around and in the ring, which mostly carried over in our canter work, where he felt a little unbalanced and wild at times. Still, I was very pleased, especially since I was so hot that my brain was on semi-meltdown.
(Ringo looking so pretty and white when he first arrived!)
I finished my test only to have the judge at C blow the whistle and tell me that I'd gone off course. Huh?? I was so hot that I honestly couldn't remember if I had or hadn't. Fortunately the other judge stepped in on my behalf and said that I was fine, but it was still pretty strange. The judge at C then presumably had to give me scores for movements that she didn't actually watch (or remember watching) me do. It was unsurprising, then, that her score was a good deal lower than that from the judge at E. I got a 61% from her and a 69% from the other judge (!!) for a 65% aggregate score. Not bad for a first attempt!!
(Endless Vacaville sunset - beautiful, but insanely warm)
Saturday we came back for the same test again. I shortened my warmup a bit and ended up timing it pretty perfectly. Ringo was much more relaxed and we put in what was by far the best test I think I've ever ridden to date. It felt incredibly fluid and easy. The canter work, especially, felt super balanced and square, which is something we struggle with. Unfortunately we jigged in our free walk, which not only blew up that score but also our collective marks for gaits and submission. Phooey. We still got four 8's and our entire canter tour scored 7s and higher, so I was thrilled. We got a 65%+ but with the one mistake of the free walk rectified would have come very close to breaking 70%. Good boy Prowler!!
The pictures are posted and viewable here:
After that it was a whirlwind week to get ready for the Woodside dressage show the next weekend, which I actually did write about in real time (mostly to feel sorry for myself. Whomp whomp).
I had some great lessons with Dayna in the meantime, which I would write about more in detail except my brain feels like a cotton ball and my three lessons with her have all blended together. The big takeaway: more leg, less rein, sit up tall, don't freak out. I'm pretty sure I could have that shouted at me for the rest of my life and it would never stop being applicable. But man, Kiki has been improving in leaps and bounds under her instruction and I'm excited to keep moving forward.
Next post, my clinic with Heidi Gaian on Ringo (Ringo go PSG?? Maybe, my friends) and then my most recent outing at Twin on Kiki. Until then, I've got a lot of laundry to do.