Running through First Level

I didn't intend to keep it a secret that I'm planning to show Bast this weekend, but I guess I did it unintentionally. So, uh, surprise guys! We're heading to a show!

Back when COVID started, I wasn't sure if I would show at all this year. Bast was at a totally weird place in his training, and I didn't really want to show first level again. But then his training has gotten way better (amazing how that works when you have the time and energy to devote to it), and I am excited about the possibility of getting some additional scores. So when a friend mentioned trying for her bronze medal scores this year, I was all in with my little guy.

It's time to DANCE!

Of course, we haven't schooled a centerline and halt since our last show almost a year ago. And, I haven't really been practicing the type of prompt riding that dressage tests require. Running through my tests was a requirement to feel slightly more prepared for this weekend. 

We're signed up for First 1 and First 2. Since 1-2 is more advanced than 1-1, I have been spending most of my time running through it. Our first attempt felt attrocious. My poor horse was dead on his feet in the 95° heat and high humidity. I felt like I was riding a zombie as we went around, and I found myself making all kinds of simple mistakes.

Having video of that initial run through was super helpful. I was able to notice a lot of the ways I was sabotaging my own ride. Like how I allowed my position to get really weak, letting Bast lose his uphill balance. And how I managed to make every turn onto the centerline without bending my horse at all. Eek!

Wow. That's bad. But fixable.

Luckily, I was able to pinpoint several places where just changing my own riding would result in huge improvements in my test. I'm not exactly training anything new into the horse in the next week, after all. I ran through the test again a couple of days later, with much better results!

Look at that improved centerline turn! #bendthehorse

It's hard to shift from hardcore training and conditioning mode back into a showing mindset, and I find it's giving me some anxiety. Luckily, I've trailered the horse off the property recently and he was amazing. That takes one anxiety off my plate. Plus, I don't exactly need amazing scores. I'm trying to give myself realistic expectations for this performance. We're going to go out there and survive our classes, do the tests accurately, and I am going to do my best to ride mindfully. How hard could that be? Right? Haha.

Our stretch circle and halt is looking pretty great right now, at least.

It helps that Loch Moy is doing a phenomenal job of hosting shows in the land of COVID. Masks have been required there longer than USEF was requiring them, and everything has been really smoothly run and quiet. I'm not surprised, as that venue is always on top of things. Not worrying about a horrible experience at the show really takes some of the anxiety away. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to wear when they waive coats. I'm thinking my navy/black or light green sun shirt.

As for the test itself? I'll just be spending every moment not working or riding watching this video of our most recent test run through and imagining how I could improve. Mental game is everything, right?

Anyone else looking at shows right now? I feel really lucky to live in a part of the country taking this virus seriously, and with numbers low enough to make showing feasible. This whole year has really made me appreciate being able to just ride my horse, so looking at showing seems even more exciting and privileged than before. I'm doing my best to appreciate just being able to do this, no matter the results!


  1. We've got some shows and clinics still on out by me (PNW - Seattle area) The shows are able to make things work within the phase restrictions imposed by the governor, which is excellent. Some have cancelled, some haven't.

  2. I am aiming for Majestic and IDS ... I feel comfortable since masks are required and no body is on top of one another at those venues. We just won't go out to eat, or have any contact other than the girls who are barnmates. I feel like this is acceptable risk for me, but understand for others it may be too much. Such weird times we are in.

  3. Oh I hope you guys had a fantastic show!


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