The Show That Was
The Wednesday before Bast's tragic fly sheet incident, we hauled back to Loch Moy for a schooling show. We needed to run through 1-3 in front of a judge in a real ring, if only so I could be sure I had the geometry remotely correct.
I love Loch Moy's Twilight Eventing nights for these sorts of things. There are always a ton of entries, so you get a true show environment exposure. However, it's extremely cheap to run through a dressage test (I think the whole thing set me back $25?), and therefore an opportunity to go work through some things without feeling bad if it all goes downhill. Perfect for my little screamer.
|Showing during COVID is a strange and sweaty place.|
Bast and I were coming off lessons with Jim Koford (more on those ... someday), and I had a new warm up to figure out. We also had some new ideas about how to apply half halts in the ring to get Bast appropriately set up for the rapid fire hell that is 1-3.
Bast was totally chill at the show, which surprised me. A big storm system was hitting Maryland as we pulled up, splitting at the show grounds and nailing areas north and south of us with tons of wind and rain. While I warmed up, the wind kicked up strongly. However, Bast didn't blink an eye. I love my field boarded thoroughbreds. Weather is just no big deal to them.
The warm up paid off, and Bast was feeling relatively supple. He was still a bit stiff to the left, but I had more throughness than I normally get off property. This allowed me to get the forward and back half halts without Bast stiffening against me and trying to climb out of the contact. Success!
|Look at this supple freaking leopard.|
I was feeling so confident as we headed into the ring. I knew I had my horse with me. I knew our strengths and weaknesses, and I knew exactly how to ride every moment. I just needed to do it.
Honestly, everything just went to plan. Our biggest issue was going to be the leg yields, I knew. Koford had asked me to raise Bast's poll in that movement, to free up his hind end a bit more. This unfortunately stiffens him, but I knew we needed to really work on it in the ring. Bast was a good boy, but it's clear we need to work on this.
|Leg yield? Sure. Now with added tension!|
As we came up for our medium walk transition, it started actually raining on us. Bast was a little spooked by the sound of rain hitting the metal roof of the judges booth, which introduced some tension to his walk. That plus his usual walking issues lead to the judge dinging us for getting a bit lateral. That's something you can bet I'll be watching as our training continues. The walk on contact is probably the thing OTTBs struggle with the most for the longest time, and I find that I just can't work on it a lot without making them angry. I see a lot of transitions in our future. Even more that we already do!
The next hell point in this test is always the set of transitions directly after the free walk. You go from free walk to medium walk to trot to canter over the space of three letters in the corner. It's a lot to process, especially on a horse who tends to get stiff in transitions, especially trot-canter transitions. I can't wait to leave trot-canter behind. Ugh.
We managed a fairly civilized set of transitions, though Bast tried to leap into the canter during the trot transition. Then the canter transition felt a lot wilder than it actually looked. Thank god the horse is beginning to immediately come into a half halt in the canter. The canter work was mostly uneventful. The counter canter loops are so reliable on this horse, compared to his older brother, the auto-change king. Unfortunately I did forget our 15m circle, which I think is going to be my kryptonite in this test. Watch for that notorious off course whistle in the video.
|Look at this counter canter machine. (But I can hear it now, "needs to be rounder!")|
The throughness in the canter continues to need improvement. I was able to access a lot more suppleness during this test than previously, which tells me Koford was on track with his instruction. We'll get there.
The change of lead through the trot needs a lot of finesse, but it's survivable. Our canter lengthening on the right lead was much stiffer and a bit harder to pilot. However, the rest of the test was just fine. I came up to the last halt rather happy. Bast felt a place to escape, and wiggled in the halt. Ah well.
|With a test as smooth as this, I couldn't really complain too much about a slightly crooked halt. Well, I can complain. It's entirely my fault though!|
The judge ended up giving us a ridiculously generous 72% on this test, including the only 8 on rider I have ever received in my actual life. I was giggling to myself at the score. What a freaking confidence booster. Right?
Aren't schooling shows just the best for that? Also, did anyone notice? Not a single screaming whinny was heard... Miracles do happen, folks.