This weekend was pretty rough and I certainly wasn't having the best of luck during prep for the show. First, on Friday night for some reason I shut a door that I don't normally close and then proceed to walk into it head first. I really banged up the bridge of my nose and sort of wondered if I'd have a black eye the next day. I'm writing this on Monday and my nose is still swollen and quite sore. I've also still been recovering from my cold so let's just say that I haven't been feeling my best.
On Saturday I went to the barn in the morning for a lesson. The beginning of it was "interrupted" by a horse outside having a meltdown and Katai was very bothered by it so I actually had a great opportunity to practice what it would be like to ride her at the show. We ran through both Intro C and Training 1 and they were great! That evening I went back and gave her a bath so that she'd have as little time as possible to get dirty again.
I don't think I had mentioned it by my ride times for Sunday were 7:44 and 11:04 and the person who trailered us didn't ride until 3:16 so we knew it would be a long day. Due to pony trailering issues (even though she'd been walking in on a loose lead rope prior she realized we were going somewhere and refused to get in) we showed up with an extra trailer about 20 minutes later than I would have liked and I pretty much needed to throw the tack on her and jump on. I did end up doing about 10 minutes of warm up which went well and then we headed into the outdoor ring for our Training 1 test.
With the prep we've been doing I was hopeful that it would go better than our test last year which was Intro C in the same arena. Unfortunately the judge was in a trailer at C again and that proved to be our kryptonite. The judge this year is a fixture in our local dressage community and a really incredible woman. When I finished my test I thanked her and she said it was one of the most dramatic tests she'd seen that day which made me smile. I was smiling and giggling through most of the test actually because stubborn Katai showed up in full force.
Parts of the test were actually worse than last year but I rode WAY better, and actually got a canter in each direction on the correct lead (probably the best part of the test) and most of the movements so we scored much better and received a 50.22%. We also have a new nickname, Drama at C lol.
|Reading drama at C still makes me giggle|
I've been getting as much practice riding Katai with scary things as possible. I've thought that I'm prepared to deal with it but at this test Katai grew roots into the ground and literally would. not. go. forward so all of my aids were pretty useless. Oh well, Jane is going to park the trailer outside and we're going to ride near it to get her used to it. Katai was just scared so pushing her wasn't going to do anything I don't even cary a dressage whip. I did pony club kick her a few times with Jane whooping from the sidelines (lol, I love my instructor) but it really didn't have much effect.
Afterwards Jane said that I looked cool and confident though and I really was grinning through the whole thing. This is Katai's second show and she's always been a difficult ride so what can you do, she just needs more miles and not a beating (more on that later).
I brought her back to the trailer and we relaxed for a little while. She was actually REALLY good about standing there, even when her friend left, and there was way less drama and rearing than I expected. Poor pony baby did get quite exhausted from stress though and fell asleep a few times which was AMAZING to see!
|Katai with her "mommy mare" who showed 3rd level this weekend :)|
I ended up having a bunch of friends at this show. My co-worker happened to be there, the women who took the amazing photos from the show last year was there and took pictures again this year (which I'll share in my next post since I don't have access to them quite yet), plus just a whole bunch of other riding friends that I've made over the past few years. Most of them were standing at the door to the arena, along with Jane, while I rode and after I finished they were all cheering. It was so amazing to have so many wonderful people there routing me on because this has felt like a tough time trying to get Katai to this point and they all recognize that and have seen us at various points in our struggles.
J was also there (the rough instructor that I left) with a few students and one of her students rode Intro C right before I did. We pretty much ignored each other all day (at least until later that day...) but even though I don't really care, it meant something to me that she saw me riding my AMAZING pony at this show and doing well with her. It was even more amazing to have my absolutely incredibly wonderful trainer there with me all day, supporting me and Katai and talking us through this show. I can't believe how lucky I am to have this amazing person in my life.
After that test I got Katai tied back to the trailer and untacked and then went to watch some people ride. Jane went to pick up my test(s) and when she came back to me her face was stormy. She had picked up my Training test but thought it was Intro C. I reminded her that it was Intro C that I did better on and she said "thanks for stopping me because I was about to go shoot that judge". Have I mentioned how much I love having a coach like her? I ended up scoring 64% for my Intro C test which was awesome! We would have scored higher I think but Katai picked up the wrong lead for the second canter circle and was pretty tired by that point so she kept trying to stop. She goes from trot to walk so quickly that even though I was doing my best to keep her in front of my leg, there kept being these weird pauses in our trot rhythm and she actually broke from canter once before I got her going again. Going down the center line at the end of the test she tried to stop 5-6 times and it took everything I had to keep her going. Poor tired baby pony.
|I feel like an alternative title to this post could be More Bend Needed|
Finally I tied her up to the trailer and we hung out for an hour or so. By 12:30 we were ready to be done but still had at least 3-4 more hours to go. We alternated walking and hand grazing and sitting by the trailers. I'm hoping that between all the grass she got to eat, the peppermints I shoved in her face, the grooming, and pettings, and all the people that admired her (she seriously collects fans wherever she goes), that she'll have good memories of this show and be even more relaxed next time.
|If you look closely you can actually see the brains oozing out of her ears|
While I was hanging out I happened to look up and see a horse that I recognized in the ring. The rider prior to K was one of J's students but even from that far away it was clear that J was actually riding. The horse was very clearly upset and there was quite a bit of whip being used. At one point the horse froze up by A (and by froze up I mean it was dancing and rearing and freaking out but unwilling to go forward) and then it bolted. It went straight forward and leapt out of the ring (that happens) but was so panicked in it's bolt that it kept going and went straight over the wooden arena fence RIGHT past K and onto a gravel path between arenas. J got it back into the arena and then got called over by the judge for a talk. They talked for awhile and while she, of course, got eliminated I'm hoping the judge was pretty firm about how inappropriate that was. It's just my opinion but I'm really, really, really glad that I'm not working with J anymore.
K ended up having a really great ride!! She doesn't show a ton and is hoping to receive her last two bronze medal scores this year. For not riding in a ton of shows she got a very impressive 60% and is well on the way to getting those scores, hopefully, next weekend!
Finally we went to load pony for the ride home. I'd had my fingers crossed all day that she would be so tired that she'd just walk on but unfortunately it wasn't to be. We tried first to see if she'd ride home in the trailer with K's horse but that wasn't happening (it's a 2 horse straight load with a step up) so we tried Jane's trailer instead (larger two horse straight load with a ramp and with the ability to swing the center divider). She still put up a fight but I will say that she gave in quicker and didn't escalate quite as bad. She still had some bad rears (I actually worried that she was going over backwards at least once) but we ended up getting her on after about 15-20 minutes. Just not the way we're supposed to. Unfortunately I did something stupid and tore up my hand. I ALWAYS wear heavy gloves when I'm doing this and I've had enough rope burns that I know to not try to hold on. I was tired though and also had a long day so I grabbed and held the rope at one point and lost some skin.
|Before I got it cleaned up|
I'll share pictures in a followup post once I have access to them. I can't wait to see them!