Last weekend marked our first competition of the season! I was nervous going in. Most years I’m riding five days a week, at least, while showing. However, I’ve only been riding Gordon three days a week. I worried that I might not be putting the necessary time in to thrive. I worried that we just wouldn’t have the necessary foundation to work out of.
But Gordon blew me away.
I read an article a few days before the show (on Horse Listening), about how you can expect to perform up to 50% worse at a show than at home, because of distractions, nerves, etc. I mentally prepared for this and set my sights really low. My goals were to have fun, and to not pull on Gordon’s mouth. That’s it.
Instead we had an amazing warmup and one really focused test. Our first test we got a very low score, a 52, because Gordon was a lonely boy. He kept calling for his buddy, Merv, that had come with us. My coach was holding him right next to the ring during our test – I asked her to have someone hold him out of sight for the second, which I think helped.
The test had some really accurate transitions and he was nice and round all the way through. However, we lost marks on each movement for the excessive calling (lack of focus), and for not having enough impulsion. My issue is when I sit the trot I sacrifice impulsion in order to have a prettier seat – I won’t make that mistake again!
In our second test, things were much better. Gordon gave me a mysterious buck right before we headed in to the ring. This buck ended up giving him a lot of “oomph” from the get-go, and we had a lot more impulsion (although there is still a lot of room for improvement on this front). We also had very accurate transitions, although we could have had more bend in the corners and on one of our circles.
We got a 59% on this one though and came in second out of four in our open division! That’s our first qualifying championship score of the year! I only need one more, I believe, to qualify to compete at training level in September.
One of the things I’m most proud about is the fact that my coach had a class during my warmup, and I managed to get Gordon’s attention and focus and get a great warmup without any coaching – something that I’ve never been without at a show before. To me, that’s progress!
Since the show, Gordon and I have had some great, higher impulsion rides. I’m going to try rising the trot at our next show, two weekends from now.
I also will be writing a post on our new barn soon. I spent all last weekend lifting and hauling all of my coach’s stuff to the new place… and there is some drama worth writing about happening there already.
Never a dull moment when you ride horses!