Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pony's First Show!

I hemmed and hawed about signing up for Pony's first dressage show. When it was about the time to send in the entries, we had a really cold snap and I couldn't foresee myself getting up at 5 a.m. to go to a show when it was so cold outside. But I decided I'd rather have the option to scratch if the weather report was bad versus having a good weather report and then not being able to go. So I sent in my entry. Turns out, is was a beautiful day for a horse show, after all.

I signed her up for Intro A and B (walk/trot classes) since all I wanted was for her to have a good experience, and I figured the easier we kept it, the better our chances would be of having a nice go of it. Colin was a champ and came as my groom and to video our rides. It is really helpful to have a second pair of hands, and he did a perfect job of it.

Since spring-time, I've prepared Princess Fancy Pants as best I could. She couldn't have been any more ready, I don't think. I've been hauling her out at least once a week for some sort of lesson; first we started with some ground work (tarp and improving trailer loading) lessons with one person, did some other lessons with a cowboy, and just 10 weeks ago had our very first dressage lesson. Five weeks ago we had our very first jumping lesson. She's been to an away 5-day clinic in California, and for the past couple weeks she's had one dressage and one jumping lesson per week. She's handled it all very well.

So Sunday was show day. I got out of bed at 5 a.m. (probably woke up around 4!) to feed the horses and give myself enough time to eat and do some yoga. I had my whole morning planned out. Wheels up at 6:30 a.m. to get there at 7 a.m. and hand walk and check everything out.

I wondered how she'd do about loading up in the dark and so that was my first hurdle. Well. We loaded up no problems! Started down the driveway, and . . . automatic gate would not open. Great. Colin had to run back into the house to get the key to the gate arm to swing it open manually. I hoped it wasn't a sign of how the rest of the morning would go.

We were the first ones there and got parked (in the wrong side of the parking pasture, but I didn't know!) and unloaded. The facility is lovely - immaculately maintained - and had a round pen. I thought I'd offer her a chance to run around if she liked. Nope. She just wanted to be with me. Instead of trying to make her go out and gallop around, I decided it was nice that she wanted to be with me and seemed to be feeling confident and curious, so we just hand walked and got our number and hand walked a little more. They let you walk around the perimeter of the dressage arena (which is set up in a fenced arena), so we did that in both directions. I made sure to stop at the judge's booth to give her some cookies.

She was so non-plussed, I just shrugged my shoulders and said it is time to tack up!

So we tacked up. Numbers were bridle tags, which I hadn't practiced with. But she didn't care.

Ok. Off to the warm-up arena with the other horses. Thought it might be interesting and a potential disaster since we only always ride by ourselves. Nope. Perfect pony in the warm up arena.

I didn't want to over-warm-up so after the first rider went out, I went out after her to just hang out by the arena (we were third to go). Dooo deee dooooo. Boring.

Okay, our turn. Go have a lap around the outside. Hum deee dummmm, la deee daaaa. Nothing. Trot? Sure. Walk? Sure. Whatever.

Bell rings. We trot around the outside and up centerline and then do our test. She felt a little pokey once we got in there so I felt like I struggled a bit with impulsion and then contact - head up, head down, whatever. I tried to at least focus on having decent geometry.

Finished the test. Nothing exciting happened. Nice halt at the end.

(I decided to have my coach read the test for me - I've never done it before and I had my tests memorized inside and out but thought it would be good to at least have one less thing to worry about, so that's her voice you hear.)

Well that was certainly uneventful!

I only had 10 minutes or so before the next test, Intro B, and so we hung around outside the arena for our turn again. Went in for our circle around the arena and then the judge rang the bell (why do they always do that when you are not in a good place? I had to turn around, walk back a little bit so I'd have room to pick up a trot and prepare and go in). Ugh. Got a horrible turn up centerline so was very wiggly and our halt wasn't really a halt. Figured I got a 5 on that one! I thought our trot circles were nice and round and our free walk was okaaayyyyy - we'll need more work on that, for sure.

The rest of the test went fine. I tried for more impulsion and so gave up more in other aspects. My geometry wasn't as good in the corners, contact was still hit or miss, but we had a decent up centerline for our halt and salute.

All in all, though, I couldn't be more proud of her!!! I told Colin that morning as we were driving there that all I wanted was for her to have a good experience. And she did. She was amazing. You wouldn't guess it was her first show. It was my first show in years and it was so much fun!

So, for our scores . . . . drumroll . . . .

Intro A we got a 72.5! We got three 8s and in the collective marks actually got a 7.5 for impulsion and a 7 for gaits. Acceptance of contact was a 6.5 but that's no surprise. We got an 8 for geometry and the judge wrote "appreciated your attention to detail and geometry!" "Well done!" "Nicely ridden test!"

Intro B we got a 65.625! We did get a 5.0 for our centerline/halt/salute, which I expected. No 8s and more comments about bracing and stiffness. It is funny that I tried for more impulsion but actually lowered our score in that area to a 7. I felt like we were less consistent going between forward and bracey and stiff and whatever. Judge's comments were "Cute, energetic creature" with a smiley face - can't go wrong with that! Stiffness over topline was the theme for that test.

So we came home with a blue and red ribbon and a very happy and proud Pony mom and a perfectly fabulous Princess Fancy Pants! I couldn't be more pleased, she surpassed my expectations.

Now to plan ahead for a little h/j show at the end of the month and then it is Pony vacation time!