Our 2015 show season is now officially in the books. Done, finished, O-V-E-R. We didn’t finish with any major victories; there were no victory laps. Well, Ike may have had a gallop or two around his paddock, but I think that was more at the urging of his brother than for his show efforts this past year. All in all, I am tickled with what we accomplished…and we are now two thirds of the way to our USDF Bronze Medal. 🙂

So, just when my husband thought our show season was over, I got a wild hair and decided to head to one last schooling show to try Second Level one more time. And, to make it just a bit more challenging, I signed up for Second Level Test 3. Hmm, test 3. Had not even contemplated trying that test until 10 days ago so I had to quickly memorize the test and actually school it in its entirety. Second Level Test 3 morphs pieces of Test 1 and Test 2 into one “supertest”…the reinback is there, shoulder in, travers, the simple changes, and everyone’s favorite turn on the haunches. Let us not forget the 2 full-sized canter serpentines to showcase your countercanter skills. Oy vey. What had I done?

While our score was only a 59.76%, I am pleased with our overall effort in this test. (If you remember, our Second Level goal this year was to hit the 60th percentile.) When you look at the movement by movement scores, we are on the cusp of acceptability and we are going to work diligently over the winter to boost the low marks. If you have a spare 6 minutes, here is a video of our ride…

So there it is, out on the internet for all the desktop judges to critique.  No need to tell me what we need to work on.  I am well aware.

Our medium trots need more oomph (I’m pretty sure this should be a dressage term defined in the USEF rulebook.)  Ike needs to engage his hind more and push.  It is a strengthening issue that we are plugging away at in our lessons.  Our goal is to always get at least a 6, and we did that with this test and even exceeded our goal with a 6.5 on our first attempt.

Our 10 meter circles are another area that we are giving away points.  We should be able to nail these, but I just can’t seem to keep Ike’s hind end from swinging out.  The 5.5 on our 10 meter circle to the left definitely didn’t help our final score.

Shoulder in and Travers are getting better and better.  Even I can tell from the video that Travers right is solid.  Travers left is a little more sticky, but it is coming.

The big surprise of the day was our Turn on the Haunches to the Right – we pulled a 6.5!  Whhhaatt?!  Yes, we are finally digging our way out of the lower end of the scoring for this movement.  The Turn on the Haunches to the Left was a bit sticky which earned us a whopping 4.5 (times 2 for the coefficient), but I have the utmost faith and confidence that we can improve it.

Most of our canter work scored 6’s and 6.5’s.  The costly mistake was on my first serpentine.  Ike decided to demonstrate “a movement not called for at this level.”  Thank you Ike for showing us your flying change skills, but since Mom was a goober and did not stop and fix it, our score reflected my failure to correct it (gotta love that 3 in the score column).  We then got a big-ole FOUR for the next simple change since we didn’t show any change.  Oops.  Lesson learned.  We also need to continue to school the simple changes.  I’m still not strong enough to support Ike in the canter-to-walk transition to eliminate the trot steps.  Occasionally I get it right, but more often than not, I am a goober and fail to do the proper prep work.

Having now ridden all the Second Level tests, I have to say that I like Test 3 the best.  I’m actually surprised at this admission since Test 2 was my favorite at Training and First levels.  That being said, if we intend to head to the Region 1 GAIGs next year at Second Level, we have our work cut out for us.  We have 10 months to practice, but we’d better get started…the 70th percentile doesn’t happen overnight.