Unfortunately, when I checked in on Pig I found him practically shivering in his stall. He was obviously cold and uncomfortable, not even interested in eating his hay. I immediately threw his cooler on him, and took him out to walk a bit and eat some grass in the sun to warm up.
|Frozen Pig warming up in the morning sun.|
Unfortunately, I don't think the tension from being cold ever really left Guinness. He was even worse in the contact than the day before, though tired and less reactive. My goal for the day was just to keep my % at each level in the 60s, so I wasn't feeling too pressured to go out there and lay down a spectacular test and stress out my horse.
However, I did end up getting after Pig more in the warm-up. I think that helped me get him slightly more in front of my leg, but he wasn't having anything to do with my left rein. He was just incredibly stiff. I didn't push the envelope, and just worked on straightness and getting him to relax a little. I went into the ring knowing I had a ball of tension under me, again.
Our 1-2 test felt much flatter than the day before. I felt our halt was more prepared than the day before, but still wasn't straight. The bit of trot after the halt was just as terrible as normal. We pulled a 6. The leg yields were still fairly on point. We managed a 7 on the one to the right, despite losing straightness in parts. The judge really liked how nicely he was in my outside rein. Our second lengthening was also nice, getting us a 6.5. I ended up posting it because Pig was lengthening his stride nicely, but wasn't through enough to make it a "sitable" trot.
The second leg yield scored a 7, despite me being unable to keep our flexion correct. It was fairly straight, and dramatic in points. I ended up riding too much sideways in the middle and needing to kind of boot Pig forward to hit the letter. Oops!
Our walk work started with a slightly backwards walk transition right in front of the judge. She was generous and gave us a 6 on that. I think I would have given us a 5, maybe. The free walk took a lot longer to develop than on Saturday, and the stretch wasn't as good. We ended up with a 7 on that.
At this point every single comment on my sheet reads "+ round". Pig was really having none of being a dressage horse. His canter depart is leapy, not because I surprised him like last time, but instead because he wanted to pick up the right lead instead and I corrected him mid-leap. Once in the canter, it was very flat, especially for us.
Every single score from the moment we finish the free walk is a 6. After watching the test, I can't even argue. We did all the movements, but without any brilliance. There were little flaws in everything. Our connection was incredibly flawed, and his back was so tight he couldn't really move. We did manage a 7 on our final centerline and halt. I can only imagine this was because the judge was as happy the test was over as we were!
Here's the test!
Again, the overall feeling of this test is that we have it. Nothing about First feels hard for us, it's just difficult to get all of our points without full cooperation on the part of my horse. We pulled a 61.875%. I'm not even disappointed with that score, just kind of amazed that we held things together as well as we did.
We had slightly less time between classes than the day before, but I didn't want Pig to sit in his stall and get cold. We ended up heading back outside for a bit of a walk and graze to keep warm while we decompressed.
|Is there anything prettier than a chestnut in the warm sunshine? I mean really...|
The entrance and first halt was probably some of the most connected work we had all weekend, and the halt was nicely stepped into. We pulled a 7 for this. As typical, Pig again started trying to make his own decisions about the turn after the halt, and was just ugly for this portion.
I'm actually really happy with his medium trot. He was lifting off the ground. We wiggled a bit, but it's not "non-existent" which is our usual problem. We managed a 6 (way better than a 5!). Our shoulder-in left fell victim to our normal issue of "too much bend." It's obvious when you watch the video that he just isn't engaged enough to support the straightness. Oops.
In another "oops" moment, we have a fight about changing bend in the second 10m circle half, and that persists into the travers. Pig fights me so much here he almost looks lame. I promise. He's not. He's just considering slamming on the brakes and rearing.
Our turns on the haunches (6s) are not the worst things ever, but the good steps are few and far between. At this point, it's pretty obvious I'm just trying to keep a lid on my firecracker of attitude masquerading as a horse. The free walk pulled a 7, which is amazing because I didn't feel like he stretched at all. Maybe the judge felt bad for us and noticed I was basically trying as hard as I could.
After we pick up the trot (6.5 for transition), things get really interesting. We head into the shoulder-in right where ... nothing happens. Seriously. We end up with a 5 for this movement, which is super generous. I was actually laughing a little bit, because my horse just totally flipped me the bird there. His neck is turned, but, I promise, his shoulder is still pretty much stuck to the wall.
At this point, I'm kind of holding together Pig's mental state with super glue and hope. Our half circles and travers left are solid 6s. We get through them, but barely. Pig tries to throw a fit about changing bend, and I just kind of push him off balance to get the transition. He's so far behind my leg in the travers, it's almost not funny. Almost. No wait... who am I kidding? It's funny.
We finally get to pick up a canter (6, inverted) and somehow manage a 7 on our half 10m circle and counter canter in the left lead. On the counter canter the judge noted "ridden to wrong side of horse." She isn't wrong, but in all honesty-- she gave me a 7, and sometimes you gotta do what it takes to get the job done. I was just happy he didn't swap.
Our simple change is a 5, but at least we end up with the correct lead. The counter canter in the right lead is another 7, and really the highlight of our test. The second simple change is a well deserved 4 again, as we flub the lead a second time. I cannot believe that. We're a mess. We pull off 6s for the rest of the test, and end with a very grateful halt.
Here's the test:
I've never been so happy to get off after a test. Pig was fried and tired, and I was fried from dealing with him. I was pretty sure we'd managed maybe a 55% on that disaster of a test, but was floored to walk away with a 60.128%. Clearly all those 7s saved us, big time.
We did end up with two more blue ribbons (yay small show!). I felt like we kind of deserved them after all the tension I had tried to mask all weekend.
|Pig is screaming. I am laughing. I feel like this is pretty much the sum of the weekend.|
Overall, I'm really happy with how this show went. It was basically a schooling show, but with the benefit of having USDF scores. We kept our %s in the 60s and managed one of our highest First Level scores ever, despite being totally disunited all weekend. I can't wait for summer so we can show when it's warmer and hopefully have a little more equine cooperation!
** Note: I'm the feature on Ammy Hour over at SprinklerBandits. Check it out!