This past weekend was the USDF show at Haras. It was a really small show since most of the local big players were in Lexington at USDF Nationals. No big deal, we had plenty of fun showing our ponies nevertheless. As stated previously, we LOVE showing at Haras. Sure you're there to show horses, but it's easy to pretend it's a vacation. After the past few weeks, we all on the farm could really, really use a vacation. Instead of shuttling the horses back and forth each day, I said forget it, and we just dragged the RV down and grabbed stalls for the horses. We have two awesome training camp dogs in right now and they got to come along with us and enjoy the sights (and boy they did!).
So the main goals this weekend were really for me to just get out and FINALLY show. I don't mind helping out our project horses and awesome riders, but man, I haven't shown myself since April! I wanted to do PSG x 2 each day but the FEI Test of Choice wasn't readily offered and I didn't feel like torturing ShowSecretary.com anymore than I normally do so I opted for PSG x 1 each day. If we got 60+% both days then I get a Silver Medal. If I blew either ride, then no medal for me. In April I believe we got like a 56 or 57% for this test so we're in the ball park but honestly, we prepped HARD for this show this summer to show in August and the hurricane messed that up for us so we just pushed onward towards working on I1 and GP things.
Vana had been riding really well this week so we arrived and rode Friday PM in the big arena. He was again, really good so who knew what I was in for. Sarah was riding Luna at (Luna's) first recognized show with us and they warmed up nicely. The goal for Sarah was to grab some First level Bronze medal scores at 1st level so she was riding 1-2 and 1-3 each day. The horses settled in easily and we got ready for our ride times the next morning.
This was also my first show as an Open rider. I want to say I felt SO MUCH WAS ON THE LINE, but well... it's not. I don't feel any different than when I was an AA rider and really, while I'd love to attract people to our program, I love producing horses and am not worried about lessons and clinics in the least. If nothing else, it was rather freeing since I didn't have to worry how we appeared. When you ride a 22 year old dragon warmblood, it pays to be free and not worry about what anyone else thinks. I rode my test accurately and it was boring for a 57% or 58% score. We had two judges which I wasn't ready for and I decided to not alter my one judge plan for the two judge plan and just rode the thing. Vana was curling (not as bad as the CDI) again and he needed more energy but we were boringly accurate although I miffed the tempis. Meh.
Sarah rode her first test (1-2) and Luna was a star. Sarah has been working on her core strength as well as her contact and that showed through the test comments of course, but she kept her head together. Luna was amazing at taking it all in stride and trying her heart out for Sarah. I can't wait until she gets even stronger - she's a special one. Sarah ended up scoring 62.734% and her first score. She was happy before the score so to have earned the score made her even happier.
Her next test was the 1-3 test a few hours later and they did an accurate job but a few mistakes and just general tiredness from Sarah and Luna got them a 58% score.
That night Alex joined us and the three of us went out to eat and hit Dover to see what they had. I didn't have high hopes and it looked like I was going to end up with 5 hoof picks, 2 buckets, and a bag of braiding wire. Once I paid for those exciting items, I decided to try on this fur trimmed jacket they had at 25% off. It was super cute and flattering plus I get cold super easy and this thing is SO WARM so I dropped some money for that too and we all headed out to find a restaurant.
The dogs got to run around like banshees when we got back. It was dark and they just raced around having a blast before retiring to the RV for dinner and bedtime.
The next morning my ride was early (like 8:20am) so we were up to do the things right away. Vana and I warmed up and I was determined to kill off some of the FH (forehand) and "heavy/curling" and "needs activity/energy" comments. I knew our geometry would suffer a touch but I was going to go for it. I hate riding a boring test and getting a boring score so if we were going to "mess up" I wanted to have a blast doing it and encourage activity and fun. I probably wasn't "serious" enough in the warm up as I kept laughing and correcting Vana who was feeling really exuberant with his changes and movements. I worked on lightening him up and he was ready to fly. Our pirouettes felt a little gummy so I didn't expect much for those but the extended trot was better so who knew how this was going to pan out.
We entered the ring and Vana was hell bent on half passing so I had to manage him a LOT going down the center line. We did our halt and I once again had to manage his trot to C. I was super focused on going big and getting him with me that I forgot my mantra when riding PSG... "TURN RIGHT TURN RIGHT TURN RIGHT" so naturally habit kicked in while my brain was full throttle on my horse and we turned LEFT and hit an AMAZING extended trot. Bell rings and I'm like gdi... So I get him in front of my leg and we right our wrong. The rest of the test we kept going for it and I was really happy with everything. He felt like he was enjoying himself which makes my job a lot easier. I laughed at him in one spot, called him a dork near the judges, and I smiled through most all of the test. It was fun and we got lots of comments on how fun it was to watch us. Vana was hot in our 4s which I knew was going to be the case and we were PERFECT until the last set where he bounced me for a 3 and I hauled him up. A few months ago this would have resulted in a melt down with him and instead he was able to go OMG SORRY and we got the last line PLUS the change just in time for the letter. We then nailed our 3s so it was a big win for us.
PSG isn't meant to be easy and I honestly find it a really nice flowy test. It is a very kind test and easy to get a little mellow during it especially with someone like me and a horse like Vana. We do MUCH better at I-1 so we'll see where we go from here at the January show as we're still on pace to do GP in the spring. I'll figure out the show planning later. All of our mistakes and comments were things that were easily remedied without a "start over from scratch" so I'm not worried. We're SO much better than we were in April and our scores continue to improve each time we show. Also... I've only ridden this test like 4 times. Also also... I was able to go out and basically earn my scores in a single weekend for each level (save for stupid boring 3-3) so it makes sense at some point we're going to have to give it a few tries to get right. I don't mind that it's at PSG and I1 where Vana is happiest. We had a great time and we're really becoming partners so I can't wait to see where we go from here. Plus entertaining myself, my team, and the crowd is really fun.
Once more, Sarah had the 1-2 test followed a few hours later by the 1-3 test. After a night of plenty of sleep and a great meal, they looked pretty good. We played with blue tooth communication in the warm up and that was a nice help vs blurting out phrases to Sarah. (Although the other trainers do it and we got some serious gems to laugh about when you overhear them out of context). Alex was back this AM and she was recruited to read Sarah's test so I could run media with the video and my camera. We got lots of nice shots and it worked out really well. Neither Alex nor I really saw the test because of our roles but Sarah was happy with the rides and so was the judge - 60.781% Sarah's goal for her bronze medal scores were done and I was happy with her progress. Luna again was a star and performed better than Sarah rode. Such a good girl.
Later that day, the pair returned for one last try at 1-3. It was an "extra" test at this point and I told her to practice "going big" and having fun. I was calling the test so again, I wasn't really watching her performance but she had fun. They ended with a 60.441% again even at the end of the weekend.
Really, really not bad for a horse that just got pulled from the kill pen in July and is just starting to be in decent physical fitness. Sarah only began riding her about a month or so ago so they're just growing in leaps and bounds. Now to spend the winter with them getting them ready for 2nd and 3rd level so hopefully Sarah can get her bronze (or someone can buy Luna and get an amazing Christmas present!)
So basically, we were good this weekend. We wanted a vacation and we got one. It was restful and we got to show ponies. I had fun with my awesome horse Vana and we showed big and have a lot of little things to work on (seriously FEI tho) but we will be knocking on some high scores in the upcoming year (or if Jade takes over she should be great). Sarah has grown so much as a rider since joining our team and she's handling the show environment better and better each time out. Luna, well, Luna is just amazing. She was so solid the whole weekend: well behaved in the stalls, loved being in the big arena, made adjustments, and was a really really willing partner who gave a lot to the tests. Her gaits were consistently 7s so I can't wait to clean them up more and see how much more floaty we can get her!