Our ride times for By Chance were good, 10:30ish, which meant I got to wait until it was light out to wake up and head out, which psychologically makes a big difference. The horses were out, but despite the torrential downpours we’d been having, Cally had remained pretty clean following her bath on Friday. Mercifully, I had a few dirt spots to remove and just her socks to scrub.
The GPS seems to enjoy sending me down the most tiny, random backroads possible when I’m towing, which I really, really hate. It needs some kind of “I have a trailer behind me, moron!” setting, because the scenic backroads detour through Frederick county wasn’t so fantastic when I really just wanted to get to the show and warm up.
But, we got there, and the parking area was reasonably dry giving the rain, and the rings looked great. Since I was alone, without helper/videographer/carrotfeeder, I took my time getting ready, getting myself together first, then dealing with Cally, who had been chill enough at home but was being rather looky in the flat windy field. Then as I was leading her to the front of the truck where I’d set my mounting steps, she swung her head up and around, clonking me on my (thankfully helmeted!) head, which scared her and sent her leaping backwards. Sigh. Just what I want right before getting on.
Yet she warmed up great in the indoor. We started off just doing a lot of walking like Kelley had us work on on Friday, getting her soft in the bridle, giving and bending and listening before we started to trot. She felt really lovely, even the canter work, so I felt pretty good heading up to the ring.
On the way up to the ring she spooked at the ornamental grass, which was blowing every which way, so I was a little concerned about how she’d be on that side of the ring. Our first test was BN-A, which I feel like I could ride in my sleep, and felt perhaps the best it ever has, marred only by a moment of freakout during our trot-walk transition between M and C, which got us a 5 but no comment on the silliness, which I thought was generous. We actually earned FOUR 8s on that test, and a 31.7, which is a new best score for us, in spite of gusting winds.
For BN-B, we managed what felt like a very nice straight centerline and good turn down the diagonal M to K, but after that the wind felt like it kicked up a little more and every time we hit the long side between F and M, she’d have a little freakout as the wind hit her. Nothing particularly dramatic, other than head flinging and disinclination to do any kind of downward transition. But the judge seemed to be pretty understanding of the weather adversities in her scoring, so we finished better than I expected on that test, with a 35.7.
We ended up pretty respectably with those scores, finishing 2nd and 5th, good enough for Reserve Champion.
While we had some not great moments, we also had some very nice ones, in spite of adverse weather conditions. I can only hope that it means we’ll continue to do better as we go this season, since we’re finally starting to get competitive dressage scores.