I did my entries for Showplace Spring Festival and MD National as soon as Cally’s abscess blew out and she was looking sound, but I was reluctant to plan anything before that.  Showplace is usually pretty light entries anyway, and would be fine for a shakeout cruise.  But as I was out cleaning all my tack in the gorgeous sunny weather on Saturday, Holly and a couple of the girls who showed at BEST came back, and were encouraging me to come down with them Sunday.  Well, I had the clean tack, and it would be a good excuse to hook up New-to-Me trailer and give that a test drive, too.  We scoured the prizelist, wanting something that wasn’t much jumping but that I wouldn’t be a ringer in, and found it: Open Pleasure.

“Aside?” I asked.

“Of course!” said Holly.

So I loaded up the trailer, finished clipping my horse’s legs, did a quick online entry via my phone, and headed home to try to find my boot polish.  I still can’t find my boot polish, but they looked reasonably clean, so I threw stuff in the truck and crossed my fingers.

I let the office know I was planning on doing the division aside, and they were totally fine with it, said they didn’t see why anyone would care.  I didn’t either, but figured it was best to let them know.  Then we waited, in what turned out to be a horribly cold damp morning that never warmed up and was the total opposite of the sunny day before, and I wondered why I had let myself be talked in to showing.  I left Cally on the trailer until the (massive) Novice Hunter division before us started, then got ready.  It was so so so fabulous having my own dressing room to work out of, everything organized and being able to go in there and get ready.  I do need to figure out how to mount a little mirror somewhere in there for tying stock ties.  The trailer walls are aluminum, so I don’t think a magnet would work–any ideas, dear readers?

We headed over to the ring, and Cally didn’t bat an eye at the show hubub.  She’s such a pro.  Waited around, attracted some attention, and ended up probably over-tightening the girth by a hole.  It was also cold, and I didn’t have a proper cooler, just a cotton sheet, so she was a bit cold and cranky til we went in the ring.  She warmed up OK, and there was a ring hold while we waited on a pony from the other ring to finish up to fill our class, so I worked on doing a bit what I could to get her attention, which was a bit of leg yielding.  That’s a bit harder than usual aside, but at least I know I can do it, at least at a walk, in the sidesaddle.  All we need to do is figure it out at the trot and 1st Level Aside, here we come!

Class finally started, and she was faaaaabulous!  I mean, look at this trot.

I was thrilled with her, and thinking we might actually get a decent ribbon, despite the big class of 11, because she felt great and we looked super elegant. Then I was a giant moron and totally failed to set us up well for the second canter, and blew the right lead. Which is the EASY lead aside. I was so mad at myself.

But the second class was something called Pleasure Park Mount, and I had no idea what to expect.  That was interesting, because I had to figure out how to do an extended trot (like, hunterland extended, not like proper Dressage Extended) aside.  Which resulted in a lot of Cally trying to canter, because she’s been back in work for two and a half weeks and we’ve gotten nowhere near being back to doing any lengthenings.  At least she got the idea of more forward, and I managed it somewhat passably in the sidesaddle.  And both canters this time were perfect and felt like we could go all day.

I was a little less pleased at how she went this class, because she was a bit more revved up by the second trot, and not going as nicely as in the first class. But the judge must have liked how we went well enough, because we ended up 7th! She really doesn’t go like a Pleasure horse–she does much better when you put her together a bit more and ride her like an eq horse and keep her focused rather than looping the reins at her, so I’ll take that as a first ribbon of the year. I wasn’t going in to win, just to get her off the farm for the first time since September, and do something with her before heading to an A show on Friday.

So I’ll take that as a start to the year. We’ve got a very busy couple of weeks coming up, especially because Holly also wrangled me into a little dressage schooling show, where we’ll do T3, then use the warmup arena to run through what I want to do for my musical freestyle and video it, so I can get cracking on music for it.

Big things are coming!