Well, it finally happened. We went out in public and completed our first Third Level test in front someone other than Ms. C and the local wildlife population. The best part is that we survived without any humiliation except for a runny nose from the cold air.
Our debut came at one of our favorite schooling show venues at a Fix-a-Test clinic. For those who don’t talk “horse,” that means you ride your chosen dressage test, the judge discusses what she saw, you have a quick schooling session with the judge, and then you ride your test again trying to implement the judge’s feedback.
Sounds easy enough, but as I write this, my muscles are aching from the effort and stamina it took to ride two Third Level tests in a 20-minute span. It is a good ache since I came home with great feedback on what we need to work on to up our scores and with the confidence that we are where we need to be in competition. As one of my wise friends told me, “Sure you can continue to get 70% doing 20-meter circles, but where is the fun and challenge in that. Go for it! Try the harder levels, take your hits, learn and move on.” Of course, I want 70% at every level…but that is just me being a little greedy.
Our goals for today were 1) Finish the test. 2) Hit the 60th percentile. Well, we finished, but we just barely missed that second goal in our first attempt with a 59.871%. The high points of that first ride were surprisingly our flying changes (what?! No way!), our transitions in and out of the extended trot, and our extended canter with the comeback to collected canter. The not so good – well, our turn on the haunches continue to vex us. We start off strong and then someone plants his hind legs and pivots. Ike also struggled with the correct bend in his half pass work, but we know who takes the blame for that and it isn’t his majesty.
The judge noted that I looked like I was perched on Ike rather than really sitting deep in the saddle. Grr, it is one of my rider issues that continues to plague the journey. So we worked on that in the schooling session as well as improving the bend in our half pass work. Right now, I must be very clear with my aids and remind Ike almost every other stride. Lack of focus for me means a straighter horse under me. So trying to stay focused, we took a deep breath and headed up centerline for the second try.
Our second test was much better and thanks to the best horse show husband ever, here is the ride if you care to watch:
Maybe some of my nerves had stopped firing on overdrive since I realized we could do this. Maybe I really did stay more focused and tried to ride every stride deliberately. Maybe I did keep my ass planted deeper in the saddle. Whatever the reason, we managed a respectable 63.589%! Go Ike. Big man improved his trot half pass scores to 7’s. Our shoulder in and renvers scores all improved. Our canter half pass right was a 7, but the change was a quarter stride late. The left lead half pass was not as strong (rider error) but the change was solid. And Ike again showed the judge how much he likes the extended canter (7.5) with the comment “Bold.”
So there it is, we can now claim to be a Third Level team…that bronze tinted dream is starting to come into focus. Squeeee!