Monday, June 4, 2012

Coles Notes

After 3 crazy days, I've traded my breeches for a skirt, my tall boots for sandals. Yes, the weekend is over, the horse show concluded, and it's off to spend the next 3 days in a conference instead. Thankfully, it's an animal-focused conference, so maybe someone will say "horse" and regain my interest...

Since there's a good chance that with conferences running late, me being MIA from my desk, plus a bunch of catching up to do at home, you won't get any updates on the 2nd show weekend for awhile.

So here's your Coles notes....keeping in mind that brevity is not my strong point.

Friday was a LONG day. I did manage to get my trailer roof paint and it looks awesome. Now to find time to put it back on the trailer.

The good news is that us ladies have come to a group consensus that we'll not be doing the June DW Show, instead focusing on the July 1-day show and I still toy with doing Brandon in September...and maybe getting coach W to come along.

With 6 weeks between now and our next show, that means hopefully we can make some more solid forward progress...

Everyone moved in well on Friday, it was a lot of packing and unpacking and eventually heading home for last minute prep. I must say, for all of my disorganization, I'm obsessive with my tack. And I really, really look forward to getting my horse trailer set up for showing.

Saturday started early, did my first set of button braids in about 1 hour, 45 minutes, thought they were 'acceptable' at best until I saw a good chunk of the other Black yarn in white mane, HUGE buttons, giant rubbed out spots...yeah, went from acceptable to pretty darn awesome braiding job. : P

We headed out to warm up for our x-rail course, and I think there was a moment when W (while she'd never say it to my face) was thinking "Bad Idea". You see, Moon and I went to pop over an x-rail in the warm-up ring, obviously I was a nervous wreck and he way over jumped it, popping me half out of my tack. The x-rail was higher then those in the actual competition, and since I had jumped him a dozen times of a narrower x-rail successfully and nicely the day previous, I was a little taken aback.

Needless we went into the ring and gave it our best...

And for his first "hunt class" I was thrilled. He slowed at a few of the jumps to eyeball the flower boxes, and we had only one refusal (a very slow stop) as we rounded to the 2nd last jump that is beside the "scary tractor" corner. He was eyeballing the tractor and wasn't even aware of the jump until he finally looked ahead. So he just slowed even further and stood there. Oye. Once around and he finished the course like a champ.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, but I'm really glad I did it. More and more work to be done on our jumping form and style and we'll hopefully do it again. I certainly don't think at that height he was unhappy doing it, just unsure in the environment.

After lunch was the dressage walk-trot test. Unfortunately, as we came to learn, the old school idea that everyone should work tirelessly at low hunters before even trying high hunters or jumpers seems to have gone out the window. We wound up with one serious fall that resulted in an ambulance and led to a 2 hour delay in the schedule. The chopped out lunch, and even though we were now only 1 hour behind, things got slower and slower in the dressage ring.

Despite a 1/2 hour drive to get a western saddle thanks to an 11th hour change of opinion from the show committee, I found myself being called for the Trail class (that I was sooo excited about that I had borrowed that 11th hour saddle just to do it), and as I approached the ring, was told everyone was waiting for me to finish the class. Yes, the next class was all lined up on the way into the indoor, and there I was in full dressage attire.

"Oh sure. They'll let THEM ride in english gear, but THEY'D never let US ride Dressage in our Western gear" someone sniveled, and a chorus of girls in brightly colored tack giggled.

Yes, nothing like walking through THAT to get into the ring. Honestly, I wouldn't give a hot dang what they wore if they did dressage. Put the right bit in your horse's mouth and go do it.

I walked in, not having a chance to even preview the layout in the ring, and was confused if there was a starting point. When I asked the judge where I should start, he said "Just open the gate".

Let me say, it was NOT a gate. I don't know what these folks are doing on their farms, but a rope on two posts is NOT a gate. A gate is metal and has a hinge.

Moon was scared of the gate. To be honest, the whole weekend I found him rev'd higher then a kite in that big indoor arena. Regardless, we got it open, couldn't get it closed, and moved on.

He was a champ over the bridge, trotted the cross rails really nicely and then SURGED into the back-up alley.

We started backing okay, but I was seriously rushing since I *was* only 2 people back for the dressage test when I left, so we wound up going out sideways after a few steps. Then over to the 360 box...

Rather proud of our 360 except...I turned left instead of right. 1/2 way around I realized that, looked over at the judge and said "Well, THAT wasn't right!", and he looked at me like a smoking idiot.

Yes, I new the pattern, and everything but the gate I was pretty confident about. But my nerves were rattled and it all just went to hell. Whatever, I just wanted to be back out in time for the dressage test anyway.

...not that it even mattered.

They were even further behind and swapping spots of people who were supposed to be in the western classes. Many people were missing their western ones because of the english and it was a big mess. And it wasn't even due to the fall in the hunters, since the western and english events started at the same time. I just came to find over and over that we had WAY too much time between competitors in the ring. Seriously, the one person would be walking out after finishing, the next person circling, and you'd get around the WHOLE ring 3 times before they'd blow the whistle. Usually when you were at the opposite end. Slowed the whole thing down. I think they were doing the math of something after EVERY competitor.

Things got further and further behind. I kept going up to ask when I'd be in the ring, and it changed every time. Over and over. The weather was HOT, the sun was full on shining and the horses were dripping. I trotted and walked and trotted and walked over and over again while waiting. FINALLY it was my turn, and I started into the ring...

"MY STUDENT IS NEXT!" someone shouted at me from the sidelines (or some very close approximation).

"Excuse me?" I asked (I mean, they had messed the order before), and the woman very snappily informed me that HER student was next according to the order of go.

"You checked the most recent schedule from today?" I asked, as the ring steward walked up.

"The one emailed" the woman snapped again.

"Yeah," I chuckled, "If we were still going by THAT one, I'd be DONE by now!"

The ring steward then assured me that I was in fact on, and I headed into the ring. Holy snobbery!

I lapped the judges a few times, and at one point a team mate called "Good Luck!". The ring steward yelled "Luck is for the unprepared!"

"Well, *I* am BOTH prepared AND lucky!" I called backed. Now all I wanted to do was smoke this test!

We trotted in. It didn't start perfect, but it was improving. Most was a blur (other then that wobble at the opening where we nearly went out if it wasn't for a lot of outside leg which caused a loss of bend).

But it all came down to ONE moment. When we were transitioning from walk to trot right near the end...

Head low, smooth, he engaged beautifully and flowed off into his trot.

I could have died right there and been happy.

PERFECT. I didn't care about ANYTHING before or after then. It was soooo awesome to feel him move like that. THAT was what we were looking for. YES, it was one movement in an entire test, but sometimes, that's all that matters. All that counts.

We finished, saluted and left.

I. was. beaming.

: )


And now I'm out of time. The story will continue later...

BUT, we DID beat our last dressage score! 58.1%! Just 4% off the ribbons. : ) AND the judge even commented on how awesome that one upward transition was!! Whoop, whoop!

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