Chevaux Write Up, Part 1

"Locked and loaded, Mom! Let's go!"
Saturday dawned early, and promised rain. After bathing Guinness and braiding him in the quiet of my barn, we loaded up and headed out to the show. We arrived with the perfect amount of time to do a quick hand walk, tack, and warm up.

Unfortunately, Captain Guinness MacPoopmachine managed to smear poop all over his butt in the trailer (it's one of his favorite hobbies). He came storming out of the trailer with wet poop smashed deep into his still-wet tail, flinging it around like a deadly poop-whip. He was playing dirty ... literally.

After managing to wash out his tail again (by dumping buckets of water on it, as the facility lacks running water or a bathing space anywhere near the trailers), I turned my attention to getting tacked up. This is when my front right billet strap stitching finally gave up the ghost and decided to rip the last 3/4ths of the way out. The front quarter of the stitching has been loose since I've owned the saddle, and I've been watching it carefully. So far it hadn't shown any sign of deteriorating any more, and the task of getting it fixed kept getting shoved down on my to-do list.

Oops, I guess I'll be making a long drive into Amish Country ...

Luckily, my barn-mates had brought along the medium tree County that also fits Guinness. So, I traded my saddle for it (quickly!) and leapt on. Thank god for small miracles. Finally, I headed for the warm up.

Sadly, all the rushing and saddle changing had transformed my formerly Sleepy Pig into the dreaded Stress Pig. He was jiggling his bit, and refusing to walk forward and stretch. I took a deep breath and decided that the only worthwhile thing to do was to walk around and reestablish a connection and a semblance of calm. After 25 minutes had passed, we had developed a little bit more calm in the walk and a halfway decent trot. It was clear to me that our canter was going to be our best gait of the day, and that I was going to have to ride extremely tactfully to get through the tests without a blow up. I made a plan in my head, and headed over for my first test, First 2.

That's when the lightening started.

The 20 minute lightening hold actually served to let Guinness decompress a bit more. He took a brief nap while the storm passed over, and when we started back up he was in a slightly better mindset. I still had to be really tactful, but he wasn't quite the ball of stress I started with.
While lightening storms overhead, I make silly faces and Pig naps.

The test itself went fairly well. My trot lengthens felt pretty nonexistent, and we had some crookedness issues in them (I lost the haunches almost completely in the first one). The leg yields were MUCH better than I was expecting, and if I had sat up more I think we would have been even better. I lost the haunches slightly on these, and some points for that. Our circles and half circles to the left were a strong point. He was bent around my leg and contained well by my outside hand. To the right we still need to work on Pig's flexibility and my straightness in the saddle.

Canter work was fairly good, and we actually had pretty fantastic canter transitions (a rough point for us in the past, previously a place for head tossing and bucking). I wish I would have been braver with the lengthens, as I start to get good activity then back off. We'll need to work on these. There was a minor meltdown moment in the first downward transition from the canter to the trot on the diagonal. Pig clearly believed that we were schooling change of lead and offered a canter. I brought him back a bit more severely than I needed to, and he took offense. Luckily the walk work was up next and I was able to bring him back out of his tension and have a decently good free walk (I love getting 7s for coefficient scores!). I wish I'd been able to ask for more forward in the walk work, as he's capable of really fantastic stuff, but he was just too tense to ask for more. Plus, I'd forgotten my spurs (There's always something...).

I did have one incredibly stupid mistake. I sat the stretchy circle, which is required to be done at the rising trot. That was a -2 error, which is a stupid way to throw points down the drain. The stretch was better while I sat, so I don't feel too bad about my mistake. However, we'll be throwing more posting trot relaxation moments into our schooling.

Here's the video of First Level, Test 2! Stay tuned for Test 3, and my final show reflections!
Note: For a more authentic experience. Please watch this video while imagining me screaming at myself: "Sit up, Sit up! Sit UP!!!" and "Of course you can't absorb the contact with your elbows, your hands are practically underneath your thighs. WTF?!"


  1. ooo I'm sitting on the edge of my seat for more updates!

    1. Haha, I might be overestimating the excitement level a bit. ;)

  2. Before I forgot: I TOLD you the leg yield left was nice. :0) It looked great during the test, too! You're right - he was pissed about the correction during the transition, but he didn't seem to hold it against you as he was fine for the second one. I know you think you need to sit up more, but your upper body looked fine to me. Nice job!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence! You're right, he didn't hold the correction against me, maybe I should remember to return the favor ;)


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