So the bad news first: if you look at the results bar on the side of this page, you'll see that, between the four rides I had over the course of the weekend, I only broke into the 60s once. In terms of raw scores, it was one of the least successful dressage shows I've ever had.
In a more qualitative sense, however, I could not be more pleased with the weekend. Both my horses were absolute stars, I rode well, and together we produced the best tests we were capable of producing. Both Ky and Ringo are works in progress right now, so it wasn't surprising that we weren't blasting the barn doors off the competition from a score perspective. But they both produced exactly the tests that I was hoping them to do, so I have absolutely no problems with not getting winning scores this time around.
(Definitely no complaints!!)
What a star. I literally have nothing even remotely negative to say about Ringo for the entire weekend. He was perfect. He came to each test calm, relaxed, and ready to work, and responded to pressure beautifully. He got a little tense in the arena the first day, but was markedly improved by the end of the weekend. It was a night and day difference from our lesson on Tuesday, where I'd felt like I was barely able to hang on; on both Friday and Sunday, I felt like I could sit down and ride and Ringo was right there ready to do what I asked. It was magical.
(Also, check out my sexaayyyyy shadbelly!! I took my old pikeur shadbelly and found silver buttons and grey suiting fabric, then had a local tailor make new grey points and a new grey collar for it - I think it looks so smart!! All four tests I got back commented on how well presented and turned out we were)
(Ringo getting exuberant in the changes, pretty standard)
There were some weak spots, but they were the usual suspects: medium/extended trot (though we did get a few 6s and 6.5s!!), walk pirouettes (where I did get one 3, ugh), and canter pirouettes (here we got a big range, from 3 to 6). In both tests I also made a few careless errors that ended up being very, very expensive in terms of breaking the 60% barrier--in the first test, I let the shoulder-ins get wobbly and lose the bend; and in the second test, I dropped the curb rein and proved completely incapable of picking it up again, which one judge did not appreciate and commented on multiple times.
(Ringo got 7s on his extended canter again, keeping the streak alive!)
From a scoring perspective, I was a *teensy* bit disappointed to not get a qualifying score towards my silver medal, but honestly no more than that. I scored 58% and change both days, placing 4th and 2nd, which is a totally respectable score for a first time out (especially for a first time out for both horse and rider!). I had two judges each day, and one judge actually gave me a 62.5%! So I know I'm on the right track. We've just got to keep building strength and finesse.
(I love this warm up picture - we both so relaxed and loose)
Good boy, Ray!!
(Sigh... if only I'd picked that curb rein up!!)
(My favorite picture of Ringo from the weekend in the middle of the 3 tempis - look how hard he's concentrating!)
This was Ky's first sleepaway show in years and years and years, and his first USDF show EVER. So obviously, my expectations were... modest. I basically was hoping to stay in the ring every day and not humiliate myself. Ribbons and good scores were totally secondary to that.
The other slight stress factor was that I had signed up Ky to get measured for his USEF Permanent Pony card at this show, which, while not a huge deal whether he got it or didn't, meant a few extra hurdles to jump through over the course of the weekend. The measurement process is pretty official, complete with a jog overseen by a vet and a measurement on PAVEMENT ONLY with an official 'metal-shod' USEF measuring stick (that apparently costs $400!! WTF?!). It's also an all-or-nothing deal: if you get measures once and flunk, there's no redo. Ky was out of control during the entire process, screaming his head off and generally acting like an idiot because he was separated fro Ringo, but mercifully passed with a centimeter and a half to spare! Phew! Ky is now officially a pony in the eyes of the USEF and so is eligible for the pony-specific classes I'm hoping to enter him in later in the summer (though his behavior definitely served to remind everyone present that, measurement or no, he is certainly a pony at heart).
(Classic Ky, making his feelings toward this boring dressage stuff perfectly clear)
Given his general craziness in the stable area all weekend (he screamed constantly, barged around, and even broke out of his stall at one point), it was sort of shocking how well behaved he was when I actually got on him to ride. Every time I rode him, either schooling or showing, he was calm, happy, and willing to go to work. I'm hoping he'll relax a bit in his stall as the summer progresses, but if he's going to be calm in one place, I'm glad he's chosen the ring!
(Looking like a little buckskin Andalusian schooling on Friday!)
(A photo in which Ky looks adorable and I show my inability to keep my reins at a reasonable length. Again.)
The first day he warmed up AMAZINGLY--literally the best he's ever been, ever--and then lost it a little in the arena. It was the end of the day and the judge was a little over it, so we scored a 56%: not the best score, but since the winner of our class only got a 59%, obviously not totally out of league with everyone else. And he even got a shiny white ribbon for his trouble! Good boy!
(Struttin' - and look how well he fills up my leg, all things considered - how can this animal be only 14.1hh??)
The next morning I had to get on Ky literally right after getting off Ringo, so I still had PSG on the brain and rode accordingly--I was on fire! Ky rose to the occasion and was a very, very good boy. He was a little tenser in warm up but only a hair, and maintained his composure much better in the arena itself. We scored a 63.7% (an almost 8% improvement in one day!!) and came 2nd in our division and were only a whisker off 1st--way to go, little dude!!
(I love this one - the colors are so pretty!)
So overall, it was an amazing weekend. We didn't win it all this time around, but we laid the groundwork for a really good summer to come. Of course, I couldn't have done it without great coaching from Kim and great grooming, driving, and overall emotional support from Pa (and great photography, too! The man's a quadruple threat). I can't wait for the next show!