Most days that kick off at 5 AM tend to be… rather rough days.
This one, however, turned out to be pretty damn awesome. After stumbling bleary-eyed out of bed, conveniently forgetting to shower, and belatedly rummaging through a pile of laundry I’d dumped on my floor instead of folding for something resembling show clothes, I zipped out to the barn in the pitch dark morning. It took half an hour to assemble the group competing, tack, and miscellaneous supplies, and then I went to fetch baby C from his stall and found this.
He was blinking sleepily in the lights in the barn and stayed lying down (in denial, just like his mom) until I actually stepped inside the stall and asked him to get up. Sleepy C got shavings brushed off, shipping boots strapped on, and loaded into the trailer, all before the sun came up.
As expected, I was a bundle of nerves. Even with the reassurance of my barn big sister (BBS?) that our babies were just there to check out places away from home and ultimately it didn’t matter what happened, I couldn’t help but feel all twisty in the stomach. Probably a combination of coffee, lack of proper breakfast, and nerves. When we arrived at the derby location, it was 7:30 AM and I had my dressage test at 8:48, so I was able to watch BBS do her test at 8:06. She and her 4-year-old OTTB had a great test, which was seriously encouraging even though she was technically my competition!
I was also encouraged by the bling.
Explanation: I love pink. And sparkles. And bling. So when it came to little C’s dressage browband, I knew I’d want something to literally blind the judges with the rhinestone-y glory. We would dazzle them, if not with our super awesome baby movement, then with a gemstone browband. One of my closest friends, who also rides at the barn, got me a beautiful browband I’d been eyeing on Etsy for my birthday.
And oh. My. God. It is perfection.
Does that browband look white? It’s not. Those are rhinestones. And he looks like the dazzling princess he is.
Anyway, armed with Swarovski, we warmed up. C was a rockstar. He looked around for a few circles, took it all in, and processed it. All the new things didn’t get stuck and jumbled between his big cute ears, and he eventually settled enough to actually give me a little bend. He was only a little sticky to the left, and after a brief warmup we were called into the main arena.
It was a little spooky; the arena is huge and covered with lights, the walls just high enough to encourage horses to giraffe to look outside. Thankfully, C only did this extensively in the warmup and a couple of laps around the outside of the dressage court. He spooked once at the judges but seemed marginally less concerned after we passed them a second and third time.
Whistle, deep breath, and into the court. We noodled up the center line at the trot and walk, but after tracking right at C was much better. He gave a little bend, stretched into my hands, and responded well to cues. It was better than I had imagined for both of us. I mostly avoided ZAS and overall, it looked pretty darn good.
This was reflected in our final score, which was a 33.4%! I was only hoping to break 50% so it was above and beyond my expectations. This set a pretty great groundline for our jumping round, which was a combination of solid and stadium obstacles on a grass field. He was also a star for jumping, but I’ll publish a post on that later since this one ended up being massive!
What I learned today… my horse looks great in sparkles. He can be a great dressager if I ask correctly. And I need to have a little more faith in that level head of his, because as soon as we got in that arena and I felt that he was actively listening, all that nervous energy dissipated and I was able to focus on the test and my riding instead of how worried I was about not succeeding.
Comments from the judge included my failure to ride proper 20m circles, and C’s quiet head. Yes, my 3-year-old OTTB was said to be lacking energy/impulsion.
Tune in later for jump round recap and whether or not we placed! Cliffhanger– am I a mean blogger or what?