Our goal was for me to score 60%+ in as many classes as I could. If I did that, I'd have completed my Bronze and 2 of my Silver Medal scores. I didn't foresee how strong the bromance was between Vana and Simon and I know I should have.
These two are pastured together and are basically in love. It's like an old man married couple honestly and a bit gross at times with the way they love and pick at each other. Naturally upon arrival Friday night, they were screaming at each other (ok, Vana was screaming and trying to look over the stall walls while Simon uncomfortably walked a few circles trying to figure out why we were getting worked up before starting to eat hay). Vana would continue this throughout the weekend without fail or tiring. Yay me.
Simon was up first with his 2-3 test and he was a little tense and trying to whinny here and there but was doing a good job of working hard. While.Vana.Screamed.From.His.Stall. The rode the test and it went pretty well with some expected amateur bobbles from both rider and horse and they ended with a 47%+. Yuck. It didn't really look all that bad, but the judges were on it and that's what they got. There were some nice scores throughout and some really not nice scores (many where it was already expected). Not a bad start for their first time at second level overall honestly.
I went next with Vana in the 4-1 test and he warmed up perfectly. Like seriously. I had a bad feeling at this point because he NEVER warms up that well but whatever; we're here to show. We headed for the arena when called and he promptly decided that all the flowers and judge's stands were spooky and he'd never seen such things in his life. So he was up. Really up. We did our trotting around the ring until the bell went and then we entered. Vana tried to be a slug and I basically reminded him repeatedly during that test to not be a slug. He kept it together for most of the ride but we had an issue coming off our counter canter where he wanted to change, I said no, he said oh well and did it anyways. I pulled him to a halt with only two strides before our letter to change (gulp) and had a discussion about him picking up the counter canter lead again and he did; then I asked for the change and we got it right at the letter. Go us. We were later complimented (well me, not him, the loser) for being so professional and realizing how to handle that, etc. It was nice. Also, people were smiling at my big goober when we were leaving and asked how old he was. I said 21 going on 22 and they all gawked and expressed their disbelief. 21 going on 5, I know.
That test pulled down a 61%+ and that was ALL me pushing for every point of it. We even got THREE 8s in it! I felt like a rock star for my performance. Vana just wanted to see Simon...
Simon went next in 1-3 but I had to hold onto Vana because our 3-3 was coming up fast too. I didn't see Simon's ride but I heard he decided he needed Vana and managed to do his job, but broke his canter FOUR times to a trot because he was trying to work and whinny (ugh, bromance) and couldn't. The rest of the test was lovely though. They earned a 57% despite the issues and some really nice comments (about the rest of the test of course).
Vana and I headed to the other arena for 3-3 and I thought man, we're going to get this test easy. It's basically the PERFECT test for Vana's strengths and he can do it in his sleep. I can do it in mine! This was going to be the best ever. Warmup was fine, entering the ring was fine, the first portion was pretty good until... Vana realized that this arena had a different view and maybe, just maybe he was close enough to the barn where Simon might hear him. So every time we hit this one corner, he couldn't help but neigh. Mostly he was working well, but then he started curling and I started asking him to stay mentally with us. Apparently the test (and me) weren't that mentally taxing and he chose to do whatever he mentally wanted. Our half passes were bleh at the trot but done, when we came around for our right canter half pass, it was in THAT corner and he just belted out and I whacked him for the half pass with my left leg and he swished his tail, kicked out his right hind (I saw it in my peripheral ><) and somehow we ended up almost to X without having done much half passing. I halted and debated what to do with the remaining 2 strides. I thought we had enough padding (if the judge was kind) to try for the two strides vs rider error, so we did that rather than the error. The rest of the test was passable but Vana was curling and tense so yeah, not so bueno. So much for the easy test... The score on this was a nice 53.8% and a big fat DISOBEDIENT on that half pass. I agree judge, I agree.
So yeah, basically my horse was a fruit loop but I handled it really really well and actually SHOWED and was mentally present each step of the tests. I felt really good about what I'd done despite my horse and by the end of the day, Simon knew that looking for Vana was dumb (they'd be back at the stalls later anyhow so meh?). Sarah did really well for her first time out at those levels and stayed focused and goal oriented. I did a good job coaching (if I do say so myself) so all in all we felt good about Day One. Oh and I got one silver medal score!