That evening, I re-iced Pig's leg and gave him his last USEF allowed dose of bute. Then I headed home dreaming of good things for Saturday.
|Is there anything worse than trying to wrap a wet ice pack to your horse's sensitive leg with an inadequate amount of vet wrap?|
With Pig braided, wrapped with an ice pack, and completely ready to tack up, I dressed and headed out to support my show friend and see how the competition rings were rolling along.
|While watching my friend, I may have fallen in love with this gorgeous and hot Grand Prix Trakehner stallion (Elfenperfekt, by Peron). You can't blame me!|
Luckily I didn't have to test that feeling, as once I got Pig into the ring he felt great. The entire (long!) walk to the show rings was on dry and hard ground. But Pig attacked it with a big stride and swinging back. I listened closely to his footfalls, and was happy to hear him slamming down his left front just as hard as his right with every stride.
Still, I didn't want to push anything. Knowing I had a long ride ahead of me with two close together classes, I planned to walk the majority of my warm up. I did a lot of suppling work in the walk: with changes of bend and alternating turns on the forehand to get Pig's back and hind end stretched out, and turns on the haunches to encourage sitting and shortening. I kept Pig in a much lower neck frame, insisting he stay in the contact and think about what I was asking, rather than look around and make his own decisions. Finally, we did a little rising trot, focusing on changes of direction and taking half halts without dropping out of the contact. After another stint of walking and suppling, I asked for the canter and we schooled one simple change and a tiny bit of counter canter in both directions. I just wanted to ensure we were thinking counter canter, not flying changes.
Feeling confident, I headed to the show ring at the walk, again thinking of maintaining Pig's soundness and mental calmness. I laughed to myself as I walked around that I was channeling my inner Laura Graves, as she is known for walking her Verdades around the edges of the competition rings-- in contrast to many other top competitors who trot around testing buttons and jazzing their horses up.
When the judge blew the whistle, I did a couple of sitting trot circles to feel that Pig was still sound and with me, and in we went...
We ended up with a 60.909% and 2nd place out of 4. I was very happy with the test and my horse. It was very conservative (on purpose), but I was impressed with how quiet Pig was in the contact and in the movements. I didn't have to push hard for anything. That said, if I had insisted he stay a little more forward I think he would have been more consistently in my hand and less waggy in the head. His sensitive mouth leads him to wiggle his head around with my every movement, especially if I don't have him collected enough.
We had a slight issue in the first canter depart, which I attribute to losing my focus for a moment. I wasn't quite prepared to ask for the right lead when we got to the letter, but sprang on the transition anyway. My fault entirely, and Guinness certainly made his displeasure known.
|(Click to make bigger, but I can't promise that makes it easier to read...)|
|(Click to make bigger)|
Again, I headed in at the walk. I really liked how the walk tactic had worked out for us before. I picked up the trot and circled a bit at the far end of the ring before the judge blew the whistle, hoping to get Pig a little more forward and in a relaxed collection.
Unfortunately somewhere between entering the ring and the first real movement, I had a memory malfunction and forgot the first medium trot. You'll see us go straight into the shoulder-in instead. The judge blew the whistle and I immediately knew where I went wrong. I guess I thought I was doing 3-1. While a little upset with myself, I giggled and yelled back to the judge, "Oops! My fault! I guess I just really wanted to get ahead of myself!" She laughed, we lost two points on our already unspectacular medium, and life went on. Oops!
(Sorry, my phone ran out of memory in the middle of this video and I don't have the whole test!)
I was even more happy with this test than the first. Guinness felt pretty darn good here. The only real issue we had was in the first turn on the haunches, where I stopped riding his shoulders and he escaped out the back. I pulled it together for the second one (which has been the more difficult recently), and we managed a 7 on that one. I am pretty proud of my save there, as those movements are coefficients.
While Pig wasn't forward enough to really get the scores he's capable of, just like in the first test, we rode an accurate test I am proud of. I feel the scoring was very fair. I am also pretty sure the 7 awarded to Guinness on Submission in the collectives is a first for us at this level. I can't explain how proud I am of that.
We scored a 60.385% and placed 3rd out of 5.
|(Click to make bigger, though scribe's writing is still very difficult to read)|
|(Click to make bigger)|
However, I see glimpses of the more relaxed and strengthened horse I've been working on developing. In the last centerline of 2-1 Pig looks strong, and in our simple changes he stays quiet and with me. The medium trots also show a horse willing to push a bit without hollowing his neck and back entirely. With Guinness, quiet and round has been such a serious challenge. I am happy to see it in the ring, even if the tests aren't stunners!
|If your test can't be stunning, at least kill them with consistency. Right?|
|A happy and tired Guinness observing his favorite horse show tradition, the hours-long afternoon nap. Gotta get that beauty sleep in!|