Throwing It Back to June: Recap of Loch Moy I

When last we spoke about the events of early June, I had updated everyone on Pig's mysterious leg wound and subsequent battle with cellulitis. I told you that Pig was sound, so I loaded him and took him to the show. This is the story of that show.
Finally! A show recap! Only 2 months late!
I had signed up to do 3-3 and 4-1 on Saturday of the show, and 4-1 only on Sunday. However in consideration for Pig's leg and overall soundness, I decided to scratch 3-3. There is nothing for us to prove at 3rd level right now.

My 4-1 ride was at 8:30am, so I was up and on bright and early. This was a blessing, as the true DC summer had decided to start this weekend. The highs were forecast to be quite hot, and we would get to escape the worst of it.
We would also escape the sun, which did not make for great photos.
I went into the warmup more concerned about Pig's soundness and his gross leg wound than I was about our test. I shouldn't have worried, however. He warmed up like a champion, and felt the soundest he ever has. He was also completely on his mental game, like he came to this show to dominate.
"Unsure about the leg. Very sure about my training." -- Pig, probably
Unfortunately, I was not quite so focused on world domination. My head felt like it was spinning. I was still so stressed out about the leg, I just wanted to survive the test.
Pig: "Hell yeah! I am the champion!"
Me: "Omg. Was that a lame step?"
Note: It was definitely not a lame step.
Our warm up was disjointed, but Pig's generosity helped me pull it off. By the time I headed down to circle the ring, I was pretty sure I was going to be the limiting factor in this test. I just could not get my brain in the game.

I ran through some of the basics of the test, however. It was at that point I remembered that my half passes had disappeared in the last week, and I hadn't had a chance to get them back. I also hadn't schooled a turn on the haunches since the last show.
I did have a trot transition, though. Thank god.
The last 10 minutes before you go in the show ring is a terrible place to try to reinstall some movements. So, let this be a lesson to all of you. Run through your level-appropriate work every once in awhile. You can't just work on half halts, straightness, and strengthening work and expect your cues to work like magic out there. We basically survived this test because my horse was on his most saintly behavior.

I did school plenty of canter-halts in the warm-up, so I was pretty sure we were going to nail our entry. Which we mostly did.
A: Enter collected canter / X: Halt, salute / X: Proceed collected trot
"Haunches R in halt. More forward."
I took a moment to give Pig a quick pat, overjoyed to just be in the ring doing a 4th level test. We then trotted off to do our weird medium trot/collected trot thing.
C: Track left / HXF: Change rein medium trot / Over X: 6-7 steps collected trot / F: Collected trot
"Tempo quick, needs lift, clarity in transition, and sitting"
I was pretty happy with the medium trot. The transition over X is always a hard one. It comes up very fast, and our crappy medium makes manufacturing a nice collected trot really difficult.

My mind was on the half pass at this point. Worried about Pig blowing off my lateral cues, I might have over-aided, and he put in the start of a canter transition before he got the idea. Thankfully these half passes aren't hard for us at this point, though these lacked some of the bend we've been working so hard to develop. Still, once we got started they were steady and relaxed. I couldn't ask for more. (Literally, my brain was not working. I could not and did not ask for more. Sigh.)
K-X: Half pass right
"Unclear start, needs cadence"
We rolled right from the half pass into the 10m circle right at X. The judge gave us a 6.0, commenting "More impulsion". I love how this circle sets us right up for the shoulder in on the centerline, a movement I am far less intimidated by now than at the start of the season. We rode it confidently, though I struggled to keep the angle consistent.
X-G: Shoulder-in right / C: Track right
"Too much angle at times"
With our impulsion a bit more ramped up from the shoulder in, we turned the corner to do the extended trot from MXK. While this trot was much improved for us overall, the judge wasn't impressed at all. She gave us a 5.0 with the comment "needs more power and reach". Fair enough. The transition score was another 5.0, "needs engagement." That score should have been higher, but again, I wasn't riding mindfully and blew through the transition completely.

Thankfully we had more trot work to help raise up our score. I rolled right around into another half pass, which felt better to me than the other direction.
F-X: Half pass left
"Needs lateral reach"
The following 10m circle had an astounding lack of dramatics, especially if you know our recent history.
X: Circle left 10m
"More thrust"
The shoulder in was much more consistent this direction, and our score reflects that.

I think it's kind of funny. This is a direction we struggle with more at home, but seem to have down better at shows. I'll have to think about the reasoning for that. It's also funny because Pig's left front is the leg with the injury, and if he was lame I would thing it would be more apparent in this left bend work. It wasn't an issue.
X-G: Shoulder-in left / C: track left
Better angle
Our walk work scores literally saved the day. I think that's an indication of exactly how little I was piloting the horse, and how good he was being.
H: Collected walk / S-R: Half 20m circle in  extended walk / R: Collected walk
"Rhythm clear, needs overstep"
We lost points in the pirouettes, however. Again, we should have practiced these and I needed to be more present during the test. The first felt okay, but I could feel how sticky Pig felt behind.
M: Turn left / Between G & H: Half pirouette left, proceed collected walk
"A bit large"
The second was worse. Seriously. I'm pretty embarrassed about this effort.
Between G&M: Half pirouette right, proceed collected walk
Thankfully, our collected walk was good enough to win us some points back.
(Collected walk) HS/RMG(H)G
"Rhythm clear"
All season I've talked about my worries about the initial canter transition in 4-1. It's onto the left lead, in the middle of the ring, and right in front of the judge. Pig was so quiet, I thought if I just actually put a moment of thought into the transition, we might actually pull it off cleanly. Apparently the judge thought my effort was worthwhile.
G: Collected canter left lead / H: Turn left
"Fairly prompt"
The medium canter in 4-1 is really pretty tough. It comes right after all the walk work, and immediately following the canter transition and sharp turn onto the rail. Our medium canter is often not big enough, anyway. This test didn't show it to the best of our ability, either.
S-K: Medium canter / K: Collected canter
"More power, lift"
With such a mediocre medium canter, the turn up the centerline for the first canter half pass was easy enough to prep and nail.
A: Down centerline / D-E: Half pass left
"Steady bend"
Our counter canter was fantastic, but unfortunately Pig anticipated the change. Every time he anticipates, I get left behind and the change is awkward and late. See for yourself...
E-H: Counter canter / H: Flying change of lead
"Late behind"
It was easy to put the change behind me, because I know this is where I tend to make mistakes in my test memorization. Thankfully I remembered we had the extended canter to do next, and did not turn down the centerline. Unfortunately, the extended canter was derpy and relaxed not big and fluffy. Ah well.
M-F: Extended canter / F: Collected canter
"Need much more volume and ground cover"
(Transitions M&F)
"More clarity and engagement"
I love seeing a higher score for an extended than a medium. It tells me a did a much better job of riding the extended and showing a bigger difference. Thankfully our downward was nice, and the turn up the centerline for the half pass tour right went smoothly. The half pass was a little sticky, though. Our right half pass as been failing for awhile.
A: Down centerline / D-B: Half pass right
"Needs more balance at start"
Thankfully things went very smoothly, right into the counter canter and change. Pig was waiting for my cue more, so while still late behind things were much smoother. The judge disagreed.
B-M: Counter canter / M: Flying change of lead
"Late behind"
The flying change is always so exuberant that I lose Pig for a bit. This makes prepping for our very collected canter super hard. Still, the test always goes on.
C: Circle left 20m, 5-6 strides of very collected canter between quarterlines
"Need clearer collection"
Now it was just a sprint to the finish, as we turned down the diagonal for our line of 3 changes... which did not appear. Like at all. I kept cuing, and Pig just pretended he couldn't hear me. It was... not our finest moment.
H-X-F: Change rein, three single flying changes of lead, near first quarterline, near X,, and near last quarterline
"Only 1 change of lead"
I was so horrified. I could get Pig to leap up in the air, but we just weren't doing any changes. His heart was set on the right lead, and he could not have his mind changed.

At least we were on the right lead for the turn up the centerline?
A: Down centerline / X: Halt, salute
"Quite straight"
I was quite happy with that halt. It was prompt and felt super square. Apparently the judge agreed. I never thought I'd see the day where we had a well deserved 8 for a canter centerline!

The scores were a bit all over the place, so I really needed nice collectives to help get me to 60%. They were okay, but not quite enough.
Those 5s really hurt. It's funny to get a 5 for submission for a test where I thought Pig was really quite cooperative!
When I collected my test later, I remember calling my score "the most heartbreaking score." A 59.189%. So close, and yet so far.
Find the full test here, or watch below:

Despite missing my 60, there's a lot to be proud of in this test. Pig and I went in unprepared. We hadn't schooled the level movements since the last show, nor was my head in the game. This tells me that Pig is capable of almost a 60 on his own. That just means I need to work a little harder to get our final score at 4th! A worthwhile lesson for the day.
The BEST cheering section.
The rest of the day was low key for me, but super fun. I just love hanging out at horse shows with friends. Jan had two rides, which she wrote about here. I took Pig for both of her rides, so he could graze while I took photos.
Jan killed it during her 1-3 ride, finishing up her qualifications for Regionals!
Of course, it wasn't just Penn getting pretty photos taken. I tried to take some updated nice conformation shots of Pig. Unfortunately he kind of done with me by this point in the day, and let me know he'd rather have a nap.
"Am I pretty enough with this expression?"
No. Pig. Ugh.
It's funny how much time you have to blow at a show when you ride only once at the crack of dawn. I let Pig take a nap, while I reclined and caught up on my reading.
Though I got distracted sharing part of my lunch with him through the stall bars.
I also spent time poking at his leg and making sure it was continuing to improve.
Watch out. Loose horse.
After the show was over, I hopped on bareback to keep Pig's leg from stocking up too badly.
Captain Pygmalion reporting for duty.
I think this might have been the highlight of the show for me. I know it'll be a long time before I feel like my next horse will be able to be ridden around an unfamiliar and empty XC field bareback in a snaffle. This horse is definitely special, and I appreciate him so much.
Such an amazing memory.
When I rode back up to the barn, one of the other riders remarked "now that's the dream, right there." I laughed, but honestly couldn't agree more. Here's a horse I showed 4-1 with moderate success earlier in the day, and then putzed around bareback on in the evening. What more could you ask for?
"I guess you could ask me to not shake out my braids?"
When I tucked Pig in for the night, I knew we'd already won the weekend. No matter what happened on Sunday.


  1. Intraspecies love story between you two. Bitter marital spats and all. <3

  2. Your journey with Pig is so inspiring <3

  3. man the bareback ride at the end of the day would be what i was most proud of too

    i hope to have that one day!

  4. Awwww <3 You guys are the coolest.

  5. You two are my heroes. So heart-burstingly proud of all you have accomplished with this special horse!

  6. So happy for you both :) Very well-deserved!

  7. darn it i entered something and it didnt save earlier. In a nutshell: I would take a cooperative horse over good scores anyday but I love you got an 8 on that centerline! YAY. And you sure looked good to me. Keep on trucking you guys are amazing!! (And riding him bareback is great too) :)

  8. Some really nice moments in that test - you'll get that 60 yet!

  9. That's totally the dream though! My ultimate goal is to have a horse I can do both medium/upper level dressage with plus bareback putzing. It's a testament to you and Pig's partnership that you have that. Both halves of that equation are important and neither of them are easy to achieve. Congrats on a good day.

    I can't wait to hear about Day Two!

  10. I love this so much and agree completely, that really is my dream to have a horse that can do both.

  11. Some lovely moments! Sounds like a fun day.


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