I’m still trying to put into words the emotions I am feeling from yesterday. They run deeper than proud, or happy, or even elated. It’s a feeling the I haven’t felt since the last time I crossed a cross country finish line, and all I did was dressage!
Dressage on my super mare, the one that I have owned and trained from weanling to 9. The one who had a couple set backs, from a broken splint bone to an SI injury, who vets were unsure would come back to work for me, who I went as slowly as I possibly could with for months, hoping and praying that she would just stay sound. Not only has she stayed sound, she’s showing now. The feeling is just indescribable.
Anyways, show run down. I was so unbelievably exhausted Saturday morning, after riding Friday morning, packing, working, going back to the barn to bathe Dawn and clean tack, then leaving there and getting home at 12:30. Let me tell you 7 came quick. so of course we had a late start to the day, and instead of getting to the barn at 8 like I had planned, it was more like 8:30. Registering was a breeze, then I braided Dawn up.
Dawn is pretty easy to braid, and her neck is thick so I only have about 8 or so braids. She has one tricky spot where her winter blankets rubbed her mane out. It’s growing in nicely, but is still think and spares compared to the rest of her mane, so it was the odd braid out. I have to combine what would be 2 sections into 1, so yeah a tricky braid. I braided her forelock too, but it was terrible so I tossed on her bonnet to hide it. It only takes me about 20 minutes to braid, so I wasn’t worried the night before.
I was already running behind, so I was behind for my warm up too. It actually worked a bit in my favour, because for the first time in our history Dawn was a quiet, kick ride. It was a total bizarre warmup having to kick on my chestnut mare, and something I never would have guessed would happen. For our first show though, a slower Dawn was OK in my books.
We did a quick warm up and headed out for our first test. I rode 2 walk/trot tests and 1 training level test. The first w/t went well, she was obedient and did all the things, which was wonderful. No breaks or mistakes, so I was quite happy. She spooked at the judges car a bit but did get over it after 2 passes. This test earned us a 67.5% and 3rd place!
The second w/t was 30 minutes after the first, so I stayed on her and we just relaxed for about 15 minutes, then got her brain back in the following 15. She had definitely woken up by this point and was more forward, though not as forward as I’m used to. The second test rode well, but I made a few mistakes- in the free walk I asked for too much and she broke to trot, but came back quick and settled in. I also got a bit of a jig in her walk down our last center line. She moved better in it and even with the mistakes we scored a 63.61% and got 2nd place!
Between the last walk trot and my first training we had a 4 hour gap. I put Dawn in her stall and let her hang out while I watched and ate fries from the food truck. My life is fries, honestly, so I was so happy they had them. I watched some of the other training groups go and felt a little intimidated, which I expected. The Training group had more experienced horses and riders, some horses stepping down a level, some younger horses ridden by pros, and then there was me a total amateur adult on her self trained young horse.
Our last warm up went well, in fact she was giving me the best canters I have ridden in quite a while. The test went really well, and I did have a few bobbles- the first canter I didn’t ask enough and I think it surprised her I did, because we had a late transition. Saved it a bit on the circle and then when I went around the corner down the long side I lost her shoulder a bit and almost exited the ring stage left. After the first half of the test we nailed the second half, including the best right lead canter and both transitions, a great loop, and nailed the center line. We earned an amazing 67.8% and 3rd place.
I was definitely emotional after the training level test. I had a group of friends there and they all came up and we celebrated, I cried a little. Then I went to the barn and cried a lot and thanked my little mare for everything.