After my awesomely fun few weeks in Ireland, I returned with just one week to get ready for our first show of the year, doing a PVDA dressage show at Training level. We’ve done Training 1 and Training 2 before, so it was mostly a matter of reading them over and jogging my memory of what we were supposed to be doing.
Monday I just got on and made sure I still had a horse who wasn’t totally feral. Check! Tuesday we made a bit of an effort at actually doing dressage, and working through our tests. I sort of got the giant middle hoof on that one, and we only ran through Training 1. But she did get a bath, and was looking much more civilized. At this point, I realized I wasn’t going to get to have a lesson on Friday, which sort of complicated by plans, but I decided to let her do something fun to remember that riding isn’t always about the boring circle drill. So we did a bit of a jump school up top. I could tell she felt a bit rusty, as she hasn’t really jumped a lot recently, but once she got warmed up and going, she was feeling good, and even totally saved my bacon when somehow I managed to catch the bight of my reins on the buckle on my breastplate and loose my left rein in the air over a 3′ vertical. Good Cally was a little confused at the abrupt right turn, but she made a circle and stopped and got a lot of praise.
We had a lot of rain yesterday, so I was a little unsure of how parking and footing conditions would be today, but while parking was a little soggy, the rings were just lovely. We may have appreciated them a little too much, because while we had a fantastic warmup, we lost that mojo doing our lap around the ring and had a really tense and stiff first test. It wasn’t terrible, in that it was accurate and had decent geometry, but just wasn’t what I know she’s capable of doing. So I decided that for the second test, we were essentially going in without warming up. And that’s what we did. When the rider before us entered the ring, I started picking her up at the walk and getting her supple, and we trotted exactly two circles, one each direction, before going in. Wow, was our test so much better! She felt a lot more relaxed, and more willingly forward without feeling rushy. We still don’t have much of a stretchy circle, but hey, sometimes you have to choose your battles, and I was willing to let that one go today. We ended up improving by 4% over our first test, and I was thrilled with her. She got lots of carrots while we waited around, and while we had a ton of people in our divisions today, we did end up with a 5th, even with less than ideal performances.
I think we got off to a good start to the year, with a lot of solid moments, a few very good moments, and a few things to work on, most of which are easily fixed. We’re still tweaking the warmup routine, but I’m really thinking Less Is More is the way to go with her.