The takeaway from this past weekend is:
“Even when progress appears to be stagnant, never give up.”
Why, you ask? Well, Facebook reminded me that it was one year ago on March 26, 2015 that I wrote a blog about being “Stuck” and feeling all together depressed about my lack of progress in moving up the levels. In March last year Ike and I were just not ready to test the waters of Second Level, so we continued showing First Level and schooling our collection at home. Later in the season we did finally test the waters at Second Level and earned scores anywhere from 59% up to 64%. Not bad, but nowhere near where we would need to be in order to make it to the regionals.
So this winter we worked hard on the skills needed to up our Second Level scores – ,ore throughness, more hind end engine, more collection, and more tactful riding – but I still wasn’t certain that it would be enough to compete successfully at the local licensed shows. Region 1 has A LOT of talented riders and freakishly talented horses with jaw dropping gaits and they are very good at getting high scores on a consistent basis. I had decided that if I couldn’t get mid-60 percentile at schooling shows, that I would not throw my money into any licensed shows. My dime would be better spent on more lessons.
My internet search turned up a March 26 schooling show about an hour away at Morningside Training Farm, a stunning eventing facility that runs a combined training/dressage show series. Most of the folks who attend are there for the combined training show, but a few dressage-only people invade the property at the end of the day. I made sure that the calendar was clear and that Ms. C could attend, and then threw my name into the mix. We signed up for Second Level Tests 1 and 3 to establish a baseline for the year. Where would we end up?? Well, it turns out, this show is best summed up as “A Tale of Two Tests.”
Test 1 was pretty solid. The judge told us that we needed to commit to our medium trot and that she knew there was more to Ike than he gave me in the test. She explained that I should use the corners better to set him up for success in our medium gaits. We also had one over exuberant simple change, but overall, though she seemed to like our ride. I believe that I even remembered to breathe throughout the entire test – that alone is a big accomplishment. While we didn’t see this score until after both rides were complete, I am happy to report that we scored a respectable 67.12%! What?! There is hope for us yet! Here are the videos of the first ride…my phone decided that it is best viewed in two parts:
Second Level Test 1 Part 1
Second Level Test 1 Part 2
I only had two riders before Test 3, so we really just kept Ike relaxed and his focus away from the misbehaving horse being schooled in part of the warmup. My hope was to implement the judge’s suggestion for my medium trot and to maintain the dreaded canter serpentine without Ike thinking flying changes. Well one out of two isn’t bad. We had two very respectable medium trots, but our first serpentine was a hot mess. We fell out of our canter in the second loop of the serpentine. Poor Ike was fired up and even my quietest canter aid sent him to the moon with the wrong lead, a disunited canter and finally the correct lead. The horse breezing on the training track also gave us so much extra oomph for our second medium canter that I was not certain that I’d show any comeback. Can you say “unfortunate tension?” And sadly, our turn on the haunches were wrought with Frankenstein-like stiffness. Unfortunately, our mistakes were costly, so while I did manage to get a 6.5 and a 7 on our medium trots and a 7.5 on our transitions in and out of the medium trot, we ended up with a 58.659% due to our costly mishaps in our canter work. Tension is definitely not our friend.
While I was hoping for two scores in the 60th percentile, I am okay with the outcome of the outing. Ike was a perfect gentleman on his first outing of the year at a very busy schooling show. He didn’t even react to the “flying horses” in the jump ring or the loose horse on the cross country course. Ms. C was very pleased with our work for the day and is working on a game plan to improve the low scores. We left the show with some new found confidence and the feeling that we are no longer “stuck” in the lower levels.
Happy spring everyone! We look forward to seeing everyone this season!