After a solid lesson on Friday, where Kelley had us working through some of the sticky spots in our tests (namely the transitions), I felt pretty good as I got stuff cleaned up and ready to go on Saturday. Though none of that made the 8AM and 8:07AM ride times feel that much better.
It was still dark as we drove to the barn and hitched up the trailer on Sunday morning, and dawn was just breaking as we loaded up and headed down the driveway to Schooley Mill Park. Shockingly, I wasn’t the first rider to arrive, despite having the first ride time, so I got my hustle on and got unloaded, dressed, and tacked up. The warmup rings there are not the best, and one seemed to have been taking over by a lesson/warmup, so we did a brief warmup in the sloped, wet-grass ring, then headed over to the small bit of cross country course to loosen up a bit with a little trot and hand gallop. She was feeling looser and more swingy as we headed back the the trailer for a final once-over and sip of water for me, before headed into the ring. We had a few minutes to mosey around the outside while they finished setting up, and in we went for BN-A.
The test was pretty solid for us, which makes sense since we’ve ridden it dozens of times now. It’s improving, and our transitions are still getting better. We need to work on being a little more forward and a lot more relaxed. There was a big divot/soft spot near H that we about fell into on our circle at C, so I mentioned that to the next rider, and the ring crew. The judge apologized for not having much room to write comments on the test, but didn’t give me any comments verbally, to do for the next test, so we went out to walk and stay loose for our next test.
BN-B came after a long delay after the next rider, for some unknown reason. We had a really nice stretchy walk going as we waited, which seemed to serve us in good stead as we headed in for the test, since we got a 7 on our centerline and an 8 on our first diagonal. From the comments, we need to work on more suppleness and bend in our figures, but she felt pretty nicely forward, if not as relaxed as she could be, but definitely a bit better than the first test. I like riding BN-B better, because I feel like we don’t have the time to dwell on things too long, because stuff happens a lot faster than in BN-A. The upward transitions to the canter felt really good, probably the least rushy they ever have, and we actually got a 7 on one of them, which delighted me! Overall, it felt like a really good test, and I’m brave enough to put it online for all to judge.
After our tests, I went and swapped out saddles, and traded my jacket for a body protector, and then headed out on the little XC course they have there. The grass was still very wet, though not too bad in the areas the sun had been up on. We popped over a few things, mostly anything either on sunny level ground, or sunny uphill ground. I wasn’t going to chance the wet grass or trying to go downhill on questionably slippery ground. Once she settled in and we stayed on the dry stuff, she was going along pretty nicely, including a nice BN sized trakehner they have there.
We walked back through one of the trails in the woods to the parking area, where I went over to get our scores and found that I’d finished 1st and 2nd, with a 66.6% on BN-B and 66% on BN-A. We got 8s for gaits on both tests, and I was incredibly thrilled, both with the solid start to the year, and the fact that in addition to ribbons, I got a medal! I wore it around the rest of the morning, because how often does that happen?
Maybe this dressage thing isn’t so bad after all!