Thanks also to R.D. who came out to cheer, watch, and took the video and picts of dressage. Your talents are much appreciated! Maeve, thanks for horse-sitting Saga, making sure I had water, and keeping track of the puppies. E.R., thank you for taking care of the puppies and cheering. FuzzyPony, thanks for cheering and reading my tests. And congrads on your fabulous tests yourself!
I also should say that the crew at Hy Court Farms were absolutely amazing. The staff was so kind and helpful, they really made Saga's first experience out wonderful. In the Hunter Versatility class, the judge had lovely things to say about both horses and riders. It was just such a positive experience, I highly recommend anyone who's thinking about showing to go to Hy Court. It's great!
Ok, on to the details. Warm-up for TR1 was fairly short and uneventful. I worked to get him out and in front of my leg in hopes of avoiding the canter hopping episodes of Saturday. Every time he thought about sucking back, I pushed the reins forward and clucked him on, closing my leg softly. We had a few moments early on where he thought about hopping, but he never really got into it. I only did one canter depart in each direction, and those went reasonbly well. However, we were warmed up and then we had to sit and wait for a bit because they were behind. It was super hot and humid, so we did a lot of standing in the shade, which was bad for our warm-up but good for Saga.
Training 1 was not my favorite test ever. We got off to a poor start because the footing at A was really chunked up and so we got screwed up on the entry. Saga was counterflexed on the long sides and especially in the corners, but he was nice on the circles. Our canter departs were decent, but he cantered with his haunches to the inside on the long sides, which is new. I rode very conservatively and didn't really push any of the issues, which made for a lackluster test. Our upward transitions were quite nice but our downward transitions were really downhill. The trot-halt transitions were especially divey, which was difficult for me to ride because he's so strong. Watching the video, I think our transition from free walk to medium was nice, and our right trot and canter circle were quite nice, along with the downward canter/trot transition to the right.
What did the judge say? Well, I should have listened to Joan... she totally pegged our score with a 69.56% ! We got 8s on both trot circles and our center line entry. Everything else was 7s with the exception of the left lead canter and the trot/medium walk transition, where he dove down into the bridle right in front of the judge.
So, in between our tests, I went and schooled better bending, more responsiveness off the leg, and better downward transitions. I also decided to just GO for it and not ride so conservatively, and as a resulty I felt that Training 2 went much better. He was straight on the long sides, we had more bend in the corners (but not perfect), and his downward transitions felt more responsive and less divey. I was very happy with our second test!
We got 8's across the board for our trot work and 6's on the left lead canter transitions (both up and down) and left lead canter. Everything else was a 7 except for medium walk, which was an 8. I have never, EVER gotten more than a 6 for any of Cash's walk work, so I'm pretty thrilled about that! Overall, I felt like the test was much steadier and more consistent, and we scored a 70%! If I had been scoring our tests, I would have scored TR1 lower, but I thought the score for TR2 was fair. Clearly, I know what we need to work on!
After our tests, I tacked him down, hosed him, and he drank a bunch of water (did I mention it was super hot and humid?). I got a snack and then went back and tacked him up again for the hunter versatility class. Maeve was kind enough to hold Saga while I went and walked the course, which was a mix of 2'6 jumps and some trail-like obstacles, including a bridge, serpentine among stumps, 360 box, and backing through an L. My goal was to have a quiet, rateable jumping round where I didn't throw him at the fences, and the rest of the obstacles I wasn't too worried about. I also wanted to see how he did in a field full of jumps that he'd never seen before.
I wouldn't say our jumping was exactly quiet, but he was rateable and I think I only threw him at one fence. I sort of laughed my way through the obstacles but he actually did pretty well and figured them out, despite never having done anything like backing through an L. The "flat class" part of it didn't go too well since he was pretty wound up from jumping, but hey, I was out there for fun. The judge was complimentary of my ride and said she appreciated how considerate and positive I was with my horse over new obstacles, and what a lovely bold jumper he was. I thought her comments were very kind!
D.A. got two really nice shots of us jumping. I like that it looks like we had good spots on both and that I'm not jumping ahead of him, but my leg is slipping back. I really need to work more on two-point interval training to get my leg to cooperate more - I'm just not as strong O/F as I used to be.
You know, somehow this 2'6 vertical looked a lot bigger when I walked the course. In this picture, it looks like it's so small he can barely be bothered to get his knees up. Oh well, at least our spot is decent!
He's trying a bit harder here but still making this fence look tiny. See those fake green grass bits sticking out of the hay bales under the fence? He tried to eat those while we were waiting for our turn to go. My horse is so smrt.
So for the day, we ended up in 1st place for TR1, 2nd place (behind a pro) for TR2, and 1st place in Hunter Versatility (there were only 2 of us though, so that doesn't count for much!). I was very pleased with our day and it was a good confidence builder for the event next weekend.
The only down note was that about 5 minutes from home, I got a call from the barn saying that Red was found in the pasture 3-legged lame. And he was... he almost wouldn't put any weight on his right hind. But, there were no signs of a kick, cut, impalement, or anything else (no swelling even!), so that was odd. We pulled Saga and Taran out of the trailer, loaded Red up, and headed to Elgin Vet Hospital.
The good news is that they think it was just an abscess, which they lanced and drained. There is a chance that his coffin bone is fractured - three different vets looked at the x-rays and they all agreed that there is a "suspicious" area, but nothing definite. He's on stall rest with daily soaking and wrapping for a week, then he's supposed to be x-rayed again to see if anything's changed in his foot. Keep your fingers crossed that it's just an abscess!