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Today was Dressage, By Chance? which I was hoping would be the outing where we would get our 5th and 6th scores needed for USDF All Breeds, and that second 60% at T3 required.  Things didn’t exactly work out as planned.

Firstly, I wasn’t able to get Friday off work, because two folks were already off, so I had to work.  That didn’t seem too terrible, because usually in the summer, the upper level stuff runs first (when it’s cooler) and the lower level stuff (like our Training tests) runs in the hotter part of the day.  I also added a note on our entry that I would prefer a later ride time if possible.  But I guess it wasn’t, because while I was scheduled at the end of my division, I was scheduled to ride at 9 and 10.  Which meant that given time to get out to the barn, bathe, braid, hook up trailer, and get there, I’d be getting up at 4AM.  After working til 2AM.  Awesome.  Sort of kind of a nap!

But I groggily got us all gussied up and ready to go, and headed up to the show.   We were rocking some awesome really dressagey fat braids, which I was pretty pleased with.

Or at least awesome until she tried to rub them.

We’ve done schooling shows there before, and I love their indoor, which has fantastic footing.  Everyone at By Chance was really welcoming and friendly, and we got parked, checked in (With a packet that contained maybe the most useful freebie ever–a keychain that is both a flashlight AND a bottle opener.  Clearly they know their target audience!!), and then I pondered my options.  Coats were waived for the whole show, but it wasn’t very warm (I think the truck said 73?), and there were photographers at both rings.  So I opted to go with Coat, then tacked up and headed into the indoor to warm up.  I overestimated how much time we’d need to warm up, and had forgotten how chaotic and crowded dressage warmups can be, where people are going every which way, in circles and on angles and squiggles and whatever.  Cally does not care for this, as it’s way to easy for other horses to enter Her Personal Space Bubble. She also sort of felt a little deflated when she realized that we were just making circles and not jumping anything.  But she warmed up well, and while she was a little looky heading around the ring, I felt confident headed in.

Actually, I felt pretty confident the whole test.  I would have liked a little more energy from her, but she was quiet and accurate and moving pretty well into connection.  We had a few little bobbles, but nothing major, and I was really happy coming out of the ring.  Even Bit Check Lady complimented our test.  So I felt good as we headed back to chill for a few minutes between tests.  I took off Cally’s bridle, let her have some water and enjoy her hay, and I chugged a bottle of water and contemplated coat removal. I opted to keep it on, and so we headed back to warmup, mostly to walk and keep her loose.

I was feeling pretty good as we went over for T3, until she spooked badly at a stroller with a baby by the corner of the ring, right as the judge range the bell. Great. We circled, but I could tell Cally was not trotting down the centerline with the most focused approach. So our first shallow loops were less supple and more tense than I’d like, and the whole test felt a little tense. This was not helped when, as we were cantering past C making the turn to to down the diagonal, the horse circling the next ring spooked badly, causing Cally to assume that death was coming for her as well, and spooked, lept a few feet sideways, stepped on herself, then nearly fell down. Um, ok, so trot here at X-ish? Fine, close enough. Then of course when we get back around toward C, and have to make a trot transition, it ends up being another freakout, because obviously Death lives there now. We actually got a 3 for that movement. Oy. I wanted to cry as we halt, saluted at X to finish the test.

I was even more disheartened as I stopped on the way back to the trailer and picked up our first test, where we finished 4th, but only got a 56.9%. I was really puzzled by that, because while it wasn’t an amazeballs test it was consistent and steady and correct. Plus, if the good test got that, what the hell was I going to end up with for the metldown test? Turns out we got a 51.5% on the one with the meltdown, so if the test that was that bad got that score, there’s no way that first test should have been a 56. For all the people who tout objective scoring–it’s not, you just see the numbers, versus something like hunters where you just smile and collect your ribbon without a clue.

By grace of being the only Thoroughbred in the division, we ended up with the super fancy ribbon for TIP Training Level High Score. I actually do feel like we earned that, because I was quite pleased with our first test, and have absolutely no complaints about how she went there.

Pretty prizes for a pretty girl

This also leaves us way in the red on trying to get the scores we need to qualify for All Breeds. I’d been planning on coming back from vacation a day early to show at Loch Moy the end of the month and get the last two scores, but given what I’m working with, I’d need not just the 60% at T3, but I’d need to score better than I ever have on both tests, and honestly, my heart just isn’t in it. And I know Cally’s isn’t. She’ll do it, because she’s a good girl and I ask her to, but she doesn’t love it.

That just confirms to me that we’re making the right move tomorrow, heading down the hunter/eq route with her. Because Cally does light up when you jump her, and you can tell she’s having fun with it. And I’m certainly having way more fun, too. And by not worrying about the whole All Breeds thing, we can stay at the Cape another day, and maybe even take our time heading back down from there. WBBF was generous in offering to come back early and he was really delighted when I came home and told him that we should just stay on the Cape, and stick with the jumping thing.

Maybe that’s why it was so easy to suggest to him that the perfect belated birthday gift he’d been mentioning might be something on sale today for International Helmet Awareness Day. Indeed, he is the World’s Best Boyfriend, and I have a shiny new OneK headed my way!  Even more to look forward to, and hopefully will be on my head by next weekend for a hunter show!