Alright alright, I’m gonna try to climb down from Cloud 9, where I’ve been hanging out since XC on Sunday, to recap this show properly. Even though I don’t really want to do anything but skip straight to the XC part. Alas, there were 2 other phases (still waiting for those to become optional).
On Friday we loaded up early and headed up to Tyler with our new friends Lucy and Sophie. Lucy’s trailer is nice and big and her mare Sophie is super sweet, so Henry was in love. He had been acting a little weird earlier that morning though. He was very slow eating his breakfast, which isn’t normal, and pawed a couple of times, so I was instantly on alert. Otherwise he still wanted cookies, was pooping normally, and his vitals were all perfect. I made sure I had Banamine packed in my trunk, just in case, and decided to just see how the day unfolded. If he was feeling a bit weird, I figured the trailer ride might help anyway.
He looked normal when we got there, and peed and pooped and drank half a bucket of water. I kept an eye on him while I unpacked but kept doing the super overanalytical horse owner thing of “does he always stand like that?” and “is he napping or is he dying?”. You know how that goes. Ultimately we all decided (because by this point I had recruited more overanalytical horse owners to my cause) he looked fine, so I got on to do a quick dressage school with the rest of our group. He felt good, and gave me work pretty close to how he’s been at home, so I decided he probably wasn’t dying. Because if he was dying, he sure as hell would put up a bigger fuss about having to do dressage in his last moments.
The next morning I got on for dressage and he still felt pretty good. Tighter in his topline than usual, but there were a lot of horses going every direction in the warmup and Texas Rose has a lot of “atmosphere” so it wasn’t surprising. I have literally no media, not even a picture of my test sheet because I never went to pick it up (see earlier note about Cloud 9 after XC, who the eff thinks about picking up a dressage test after that?). I actually never even checked scores AT ALL, so I had to go look at them while I was writing this so I could say what we scored: 39.3, for 12th of 17. The lowest score was 32, so we ended up right about where we normally do if you put it on a sliding scale. I feel like that was fair, he was tense and got “stuck” a few times, especially in the right lead canter. Someday the horse I have at home will actually make it into the arena at a show. We’re getting closer… that good horse made it at least as far as the warm up this time. It was a better test than MeadowCreek, even though this judge was harsher. Work in progress. More dressage shows for you, Henny (I can hear him groaning from here)!
After dressage it was time to focus on stadium. The course was kind of weird, super twisty and tight for the first few fences, and then pretty much just outside, inside, inside, outside after that. I started off with not enough forward and by the end I let him get a bit too quick and flat, so we pulled a rail at fence 1 and then at the second to last, for two totally different reasons.
Consistency, I needs it. He’s different to ride at shows than he is at home, so I still need to figure out that middle ground. I think we’re close, we just need more miles and I need more focus. Again, it was better than MeadowCreek, just not quite up to par yet. It’s a lot harder to go clear at this height on this horse, especially since he’s not particularly careful.
Honestly though, I was just really glad to be through the first two phases and get to move on to cross country. I wasn’t there to try to win, I was there to find our feet at this level, and cross country was where we were going to find out what we were made of. I was kind of terrified that I’d end up doing something incredibly stupid in the first two phases and get myself eliminated (am I the only one that has nightmares about getting rung out of dressage?) before we got to the good part. Hence why I never even checked scores. I legit DID NOT CARE.
So, while it wasn’t a “winning” day by any means, it was definitely a learning day. I can’t get away with a lot of the little errors at this level that I used to skate by with at Novice… now we pay for them with higher dressage marks and rails down. And that’s ok. Growing pains and all that. I was still proud of my pony, and even better: WE WERE MOVING ON TO XC.
And y’all… I was so friggin excited for Sunday that I could barely sleep…