Last Chance @ By Chance?
|No. I don't know why this farm uses so much punctuation in their show name. I am sorry.|
For those who have never shown under two judges, it’s always good to know that the judge at C is the “head of the ground jury” or in charge of the whole operation. That’s the person you salute to (please don’t waste time saluting to everyone), and the person in charge should anything go wrong in your test (like you go off course, or your horse bites his tongue and is bleeding). Typically the judge at C will be the judge with more experience.
All that to say, I ended up with 4 score sheets for my two tests this week. It’s kinda fascinating to see all the feedback, and compare/contrast the judging. Honestly, I feel like the experience proved some of my biases towards less experienced judges. In fact, I might as well title this post “Why I Personally Hate Showing Under Inexperienced Judges”. But, you know. I didn’t. So let’s get down to business, and you can draw your own conclusions.
As I mentioned yesterday, Bast lost his brains about 5 minutes before heading into the ring for our first class, Training 3. His screaming was legitimately intense, and I was pretty worried about how well I’d be able to pilot him around. Looking back, I honestly should have just scratched him at this point. Ah well, live and learn. We headed to the ring anyway.
|His worried expression just gets me in this photo. Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out if the judge rang the bell.|
Bast’s screaming made me unsure whether I’d heard the entry bell, so I called out to the judge that “I wasn’t sure you had blown the whistle?” She replied that she had a horn, actually. And honked it. I didn’t realize that was her actually honking for my entry, and so we continued to circle. Whoops. Miscommunication fail. She got frustrated and honked it at me twice, ushering me into the ring quickly. Time to get over that issue and get on with piloting my drunken trumpet around.
Our entry, as described by the judge at C, was “tense”. The halt was abrupt. As I’d entered unsure of my half halt, I was honestly surprised by how much Bast was letting me influence him, and that really affected us. I slammed him to a halt, expecting him to blow me off. My bad. We gathered a 6.5/5.0 respectively.
|Pretty square, though...|
|My whole body was asking, and this is all the bend I could get. Ugh.|
|For a fun challenge, try to find the photos where he's actively screaming. Hint. This is one.|
|I believe this is what Janet Foy calls "being a tourist".|
|This is terrible. And I hate everything.|
|Unfortunately when he loses the bend going left, he loses the straightness through his neck, and then he also loses his rhythm. It's basically the worst.|
|Worst photo ever, but his topline is right. His impulsion however ... is lacking.|
|Good lord. What a mess.|
|I don't know. I'm just not sure what about this ride deserved a 5. Especially since there was no comment next to the score, and the collective comments didn't indicate anything except horse tension. Also, my hands were not pulling. So, I'm at a loss.|
I was so worried about Bast being another screaming nightmare that I nearly scratched right after my first test. However, I thought I'd try to bring him down and see if I could manage to get him a bit calmer and more focused. I fed him a ton of carrots when he started to scream, which took his mind off things. Then we relaxed for a bit between the class, him snacking on some alfalfa and me learning my test. When we headed back up to the ring his head was in a much better place, and my pockets were filled with mints and sugar.
|Stuff the screaming baby full of pacifier candy...|
Our entry started with a super wide difference in score. I thought our centerline was pretty steadily straight, and the halt rode forward. The judge from C agreed, awarding us a 7.0. The judge at B had a better view of Bast, and did not like how he stands behind the bit in the halt. I honestly am not sure how much of a fault this is (he's not moving forward, so why would I want him pulling on my reins in the halt? Someone have any insight here?). Regardless, he gave me a 5.5 for Bast being "behind the vertical". That's a difference of 1.5 points. Kind of significant.
|Definitely not as square (note the dropped right hip), but our straightness was killing it!|
Then we turned up centerline and started on our leg yields. First of all, now that I've read the test closer, I'll pay more attention to the turn up centerline, as it is scored separately as a half 10m circle. As it was I didn't bend enough to get higher scores here, but that's on me and is easily fixed. The leg yield left, meanwhile was a bit twisted and uninspired. C awarded us a 6.0, but B came up to a 6.5. This can be a strength, but needs more relaxation than we had to come off well in this direction.
|More bend, Austen. Practice these at home. It takes too long right now to get the bend required from the horse.|
|Always reward and be happy with a horse who tries. Always.|
From here we had a terrible downward transition into our walk work, which was all 6s. Tension marred everything about the walk all day. However the judge at C did comment that we had a "correct topline" in the free walk, but that the tension knocked down our points. That's unfortunate, but not unexpected given the horse I had to ride that day.
|Anytime someone wants to call my horse's topline "correct" I'm all about it. I don't know about you.|
|Ugh the bend, balance and jump this direction need so much improvement, and yet have already come so far.|
|Yeah. I'm definitely pulling a bit here. But, it's not terrible.|
|Starts good. Gets downhill and off balance two steps later. Stretching is so hard for horses at this level.|
|Remember when these used to be so very drunken? I do. Haha.|
Overall, we ended our First Level debut with a combined score of 61.8%. Judge at C had given us a 62.57 and B had given a 61.14, so definitely much more consistent scoring in this test.
In the collectives, both judges remarked on Bast's tension. While he hadn't screamed nearly as much in this test as the first, he was certainly still a bit noisy. His tension also expresses in his mouth opening and closing a lot. It was clear the judge at B hated that. The judge at C either didn't see as much or realized it was just tension. I've come to understand Bast opening his mouth like that isn't a reflection of my hand, as he'll do it on a loose rein. That's just actually how he shows his tension. It's unfortunate that his "tell" is so obvious. I'm brainstorming ideas on how to deal with it, but I honestly just think it's going to take time, miles, and more relaxation development. Not the sexy answer, but probably the right one.
|Look how much softer his expression is here. Love it.|
Bring on the homework. I can't wait!