I started by braiding my trainer's lovely Friesian/Wamblood gelding. I'd promised her free braids all weekend. Then I moved on to braiding my own horse. I have to say, Khan's thicker mane certainly helped make the braids even better. They looked stunning on his periscope of a Friesian neck, too.
|I'll miss watching this pair!|
The moment I picked up my reins in the warm up, I knew I'd made a mistake. I had come out my usual 30 minutes before my ride time, but my horse was perfection. He didn't need a warm up at all. Not wanting to tire him, I simply walked around for long stretches of time, picking up the reins every once in awhile to put him together and keep him limber and working. He seemed to be mentally handling everything fine. Honestly, I'd rather have too much time in the warm up than not enough, I suppose. We worked all the buttons I would need in the test, except for lead changes. I kept my warm up work to counter canter to simple change work, and figured we would either get the changes in the ring or not. It wasn't really a big deal.
|Look at that uphill canter! It might have taken a whole year, but we have finally started to conquer the "lift your withers" training block!|
The movements from 1-4 were scored at either a 5.5 or a 5, including our half pass left. The judge felt that Guinness was very tense, and our bend in the half pass and shoulder in were not consistent enough. Those comments are completely fair. On top of our greeneness at the level, I entered the ring a little mentally intimidated and was a little too worried about remembering my test and not screwing up to focus on actually riding my horse.
Luckily, the half pass to the right managed to set us back on track with a 6.5 and a comment of "smooth" from the judge.
|Let's face it. Half pass right is basically our best movement ever. I wish there was a test JUST for half pass right. We would wipe the floor with people...|
|Still, his overall reach is so much better than it used to be. I think we're really on to something here...|
I don't really want to talk about our walk work for this test, as I rider-errored the crap out of it. The turns on the haunches lost bend and were absolutely huge. In addition, Pig lost all forward momentum and actually started to come to a halt in the middle of both turns! I will admit to completely losing my focus here and assuming Pig could just do these without me. I'm not sure why I would ever think that as turns on the haunches are always supremely difficult for us. With the walk work acting as a coefficient score, I immediately knew I had just completely blown my score. It's just too hard to recover from a coefficient of 4.
Still, I tried to put my brain back in and have fun with the rest of the test. We managed to pull a 7 on our medium canter, and 6s on the rest of our canter movements. The change was a 4, as expected as Pig was late behind. Still, he did the change on my aids and did not anticipate. I am happy with that, for now.
|Canter work. Perpetually our best section.|
We redeemed ourselves with a 6 for our last medium trot, with the comment "modest effort" (Gee. Thanks.), and strolled up the centerline to wrap up the test.
|Nothing "modest" about the effort here. I can tell you with certainty that I am completely out of breath here...|
Beyond all that, I was so pleased with how adjustable and pleasant Guinness was during the warm up and the test. He was such a solid gentleman, and was so rideable. I couldn't have been more proud of him.
Unfortunately, when I picked up the reins in the second warm up, Guinness was a completely different horse. The forward and adjustable horse from earlier was gone. Now he was both behind the leg and the bridle. No amount of pushing forward could get him to go back into the rein reliably, and using the whip resulted in a tantrum. What I should have done (hindsight being awesome), was really get after him and ride through the tantrum to get to the more cooperative horse in there. Of course, I didn't do that...
The whole test, I was so sure Pig would break that I had my legs clamped on to his side like crazy. I felt that if I took my legs off just a little, we would dawdle right into a stumbling halt and just never get started again. As it turns out, I wasn't wrong. Still, riding a test with your legs clamped on as hard as possible does not make for a smooth ride.
Our first halt scored a 7, probably because all Pig wanted to do was stop. The medium trot that followed was a 4, which I actually thought was a bit low. I thought it at least deserved a 5, though probably not higher.
|Sorry for the blurry start!|
|Seriously. How is this a 7?|
Let's talk about what I am proud of during this test. See, the 2-3 test calls for a canter serpentine maintaining the same lead, meaning you must hold the counter canter for what turns out to be one very small diameter circle. (I'm currently writing this slightly tipsy in a DC Starbucks. Please forgive me if I cannot remember if this is a 10m circle or a 15. Please. Someone. Remind me. My brain is mush.) If you were smart (which, clearly, I am not), you would never enter a horse in both a test that called for lead changes and 2-3. You're just setting yourself up to fail.
Or you would think you would be.
My horse? He was a stellar kid. We did those serpentines, and they were kind of ugly, but they were all on the same lead. He did not change on me. He did not fight. He just did what he was told.
Doesn't that deserve some kind of special award?
Apparently this judge did not think so, as our 2-3 test scored an utterly unimpressive and slightly embarrassing 58.2%. Ouch.
After finally finishing my test, I was done with the day. I met up with some friends and cracked open a bottle of wine. So did they. Several bottles... that, friends, is how you end up taking a tipsy ride back to Jen's house with Karen in tow and end up passing out from sheer exhaustion and wine inhalation at early o'clock. Epic blogger party? Yes. Do I wish I hadn't been so tired and such a lightweight? Double yes.
Dear Karen and Jen, let's do it again sometime!
|So. Much. Fun.|