I’m trying to find something to say about this day that doesn’t sound like whining or sour grapes. That could prove to be a little difficult, honestly.
It started well… we rolled out of the barn around 7am and arrived at our destination in west Texas well before noon. We were one of the first groups to arrive so we had lots of room and time to unload and set up out stabling area. AND, since our group was the first to send in our entries, we got the best stalls/spot on the property. Major score.
After settling in we tacked up the horses and took them out to stretch their legs. The facility has a trail running all the way around the perimeter of the property, so we had a nice little light trail ride and then put them away.
Bobby and I both had volunteered to do our dressage on Friday evening to help speed things along on Saturday, so we pretty much sat around the rest of the afternoon and played the waiting game. Finally 6pm rolled around and I hopped on to head to the warmup.
Our dressage at home has been kind of tense and crappy the past couple weeks, for some reason he’s been in canter-canter-canter mode, so I was really just focused on coaxing Henry through the test without him getting upset. Our warmup was mostly walking and halting and trotting and walking and halting and leg yields. That tactic has worked really well for me, almost like boring him to death a little bit so that he settles.
As soon as we started trotting around the outside of the dressage ring he screamed once for Halo, and I got a little concerned for a second. But he went in and honestly tried super hard to be a good boy. He was a bit tense throughout, his little mouth was chomping at times, and the trot-canter transitions & halt were of course not good (they never are), but otherwise I was super pleased with him. Not our best effort but certainly not our worst. Fairly steady, at least, with no major loss of rhythm or disobedience.
When I saw that the score was a 38 I wasn’t very happy – our worst ever. When I got the test itself and read the comments, I was even less happy. When I saw that we ended up 12th of 14, behind horses that were explosive, had their noses way behind the vertical, and/or were flipping their heads the whole time, I might have had a bit of a moment. We got the same score as a horse who did all of it’s canter work traveling completely sideways and barely kept all 4 feet on the ground. I kept watching the video and reading her scores/comments, trying to see what she was seeing, and 75% of the time I just couldn’t.
Comment for this canter circle: heavy on forehand
Comment for this canter-trot transition: crooked
I sent the video and the scores/comments to my dressage trainer at home and he at least validated my feelings by saying “That’s bullshit”. I guess sometimes the judge just really doesn’t like you, and this was our day.
That said, I really could not have been happier with Henry. I felt like he showed a lot of maturity to keep himself together even though he was tense and nervous. A few months ago that would not have been the case. He did everything I asked him to do, when I asked him to do it. The pieces will get better as we go along, and I thank the judge for her opinion, but this score sheet is going in the trash. I don’t disagree with the score I got, we all know how subjective the actual numbers are, but I definitely disagree with where we ended up in the pack as compared to some of the other tests I saw.
Tomorrow – on to the fun stuff! And a bit of redemption…