Our first USDF show was on Saturday, and I must say that Cally exceeded my expectations. My only real goal was to go in and do our tests, and break 60%. Well, our average for the day ended up being 60.4%, so goal met! We also have our first qualifying ride for the PVDA Training rider pin, so there’s another point in our favor. Given the absolutely ridiculous heat, I’m really just happy neither of us melted at X!
With our later ride times, I was able to sleep in a bit for a show day, and get to the barn around 9. Trailer hooked up quickly, and Cally got her bath, and I got to work braiding. I am NOT a great braider, and I’m slow, but they’re presentable, especially at a dressage show, where anything seems to go for braids. She does look quite sharp braided!
We made really good time getting there and getting settled in, so I had plenty of time to take my time getting ready, hydrate well, dampen the horse a little to cool her off, and do a small happy dance that coats had been waived so I could show in a polo. The idea of putting on a black wool coat in 90 degree weather with 95% humidity was just revolting, no matter how pretty the pictures would have been.
She warmed up really nicely, if a bit quiet. Not tired quiet, just felt like she didn’t want to work too hard in the heat; I couldn’t blame her, I didn’t want to work too hard either! I may have overcooked her a bit in the warmup, as there was a delay with the watering/dragging following the lunch break, and as we were up right after that, we had to wait around an extra 10 minutes, which is a big deal in that kind of weather. It also felt a little ridiculous to be in the same warmup with the people doing their tempis and pirouettes for their PSG and Intermediaire tests, but I have to admit, it made me feel a little bit fancy! Cally didn’t bat an eye at any of that, or anything in the ring, except the letter A, which is seemingly always scary. Maybe because she knows it means a dressage test is coming!
However, I feel like we both rose to the occasion and went in and worked well together, and while we had a few bobbles, overall had a really solid test. There were moments of very nice trot work that I was quite pleased with.
We even, miracle of miracles, had a bit of stretchy trot! Not super fancy, but something, and managed to score a 6.5 on it, so I was beyond thrilled with that. The canter work was pretty solid, too, and we even managed a few comments about our canter transitions being “on the forehand” rather than “hollow/head up” like we normally do, so I’ll take that as a small victory, too.
Granted, you could see from her expression after the final halt that just maybe, maybe, Dressage is not the horse’s favorite thing in the world. I’m pretty sure that the look on Cally’s face is what earned her the comment “very complacent horse” on the remarks; I’m still unsure whether that was meant as a compliment or an insult, though I can’t argue with the veracity of it!
I was just thrilled with her, though, and couldn’t have been happier with how nicely she performed. It was also maybe a bit obvious that I love my horse.
We then had 2 hours to wait around between our first test and our second. It was so hot that I couldn’t bear to eat anything, so for “lunch” I had a strawberry smoothie, which was at least cold and had some calories and sugar, and possible nutritional value to it.
I could definitely tell she was tired warming up, so we didn’t do much, just a lot of walking, and a bit of trot and a long side each way of nice forward canter that I got up in a half seat and sort of hand galloped, to get her going forward. Apparently not forward enough for our test, though. We had a last-minute judge emergency so just for my final class’s group, we had a different judge, who’s known for being tough. Our test was a little lacking in energy and I needed to shorten my reins, but watching the video, I’m not unhappy with how it looks versus how it felt. I actually think our stretchy trot circle was better in this test than the first, even though we only got a 4.5 on this one!
We ended up with scores I’m overall happy with. For our first test, Training 1, we got a 63.33%, ending up in 4th place. The second test, Training 2, scored a 57.5%, which isn’t great, but isn’t terrible either, considering as I was waiting for scores, several other people in the class were talking about scores for championships and finals, and I was only a few points behind them. A decent start, and we can only improve.
I was happy with our first excursion into Dressageland, and think we’ll try a few more recognized shows next year.