As per my plan, I took it easy on Sunday. I fed early like I always do and took Speedy out for his mandatory lunge/walk. He simply won't eat breakfast unless I do. But after he was tucked back into his stall, I climbed back into bed and read until 7:00 (I was RV camping, so I had that luxury). I eventually coaxed myself out of bed and made a leisurely breakfast.
Unlike the previous two days, I also kept my sunglasses on, wore a wide brimmed hat, and stayed in the shade. Since my ride time wasn't until 2:26, I had the whole day to wait through. In fact, I was the last rider of the day.
I am not sure if you noticed Speedy's braids, but I kicked some butt on those babies. They were so neatly done that they held through the night and were still good enough to use on Sunday afternoon. I was pretty proud of them. After the last time I did this particular braid, I knew I finally had it down pat.
My strategy for Sunday's ride was pretty clear: stay out of the heat during the day, do a short 15 minute warm up, and don't give up before I'd even started. I slept in, hung out in the shade all day, and forced myself to wait to saddle until even friends thought I was pushing it.
I felt kind of bad about the last part of my strategy, but I was seriously intimidated by my competition, no matter how friendly they were. The one thing I forced myself to do was to NOT watch any of their rides. I was just as worried about them making a critical error as I was about seeing them put in a brilliant ride. I didn't want to place well due to someone else's mistakes, but I also didn't want to lose my confidence by watching a winning ride.
By the time the ring steward gave me the go ahead, the heat had returned, but I felt better equipped to deal with it. I marched Speedy into the ring and gave it our all. He was still behind my leg and he still curled, but we put in a pretty solid effort.
When I finally had time to sit down and study my test, I was relieved to see that we had nothing lower than a 6.0, and there were only four of them. We also earned eleven 7.0s, which was what I had been working towards all summer! Our final score for the test was a solid 66.029%.
If you read my post from the other day, you know my finishes at RAAC have been either first or eighth. While we didn't win, I was very relieved to not be in eighth place. I was more than happy to receive that red neck ribbon!
First place always receives a lovely cooler (I already have two of them), but second gets a leather halter. I know it's silly, but I am so in love with the thing!
Here's the video of the ride followed by the score sheets.
We have one more show in a few weeks to finish out the 2017 season. So far, I am more than satisfied with where I am towards accomplishing this year's goals. Win or lose at Tehachapi, I'm calling the season a success!
While my super powers were fully restored, they don't combat everything, especially the heat. Like a lot of other places around the world, California is having an unusually hot summer, even for us. While the mornings in Paso Robles were pleasantly cool, by afternoon, the temperature was almost unbearable.
Because of the heat, at least one rider scratched. I considered it, but I knew Saturday's second test was our last opportunity to really prepare for Sunday's actual RAAC class. We trotted in when the judge blew her whistle.
My goal for this show was to earn as many 7.0s as I could. There are a smattering of them for sure on this test, but there are also more 5.5s than I am happy with. As low as the scores look, I know most of it was because of the heat.
As we exited the ring, my mouth was so dry that I couldn't conjure up enough saliva to even swallow. Unlike the morning test, this ride was a best effort. I pushed Speedy as hard I could. Getting him in front of my leg, even when it's hot, is a new goal of mine.
Even with the slew of 5.5s, we still managed a middle of the road 64.412%. My goal for this season was to finish First Level with scores in the mid-60s. I felt like this score was within that range.
Some of the movements I really wanted to fix were the leg yields (6.5 and 7.0) and the 10-meter trot circles (7.0 and 7.0). I also wanted to improve the change of lead through trot (5.5). We managed to improve in at least two areas.
Here is the video and the score sheet.
As we exited the ring, I felt good about the ride, but I knew we could do even better. I had switched out the less-than-perky and now slipping pad for the larger, but sturdier Union Hill, so that problem was solved. I couldn't do anything about the heat, but I knew I'd have more horse with a shorter warm up.
As I lay in bed that night, I contemplated my strategy for Sunday which included sleeping in and staying out of the heat. I also planned to eat and drink more often, and I decided not to assume my competition was going to win.
The "Big Test" tomorrow ...
One of my strengths when I show is the ability to shake it off, whatever it is, and get on to the next movement. My super power failed me on Saturday though. I am not sure what my kryptonite was, but it was lurking somewhere near ring 1.
Everything about the show was going so well. The grounds were fantastic, including the stabling and parking, and my barn mates were all about good fun and friendly competition. Not like a few years ago when one of the competitors said that her friend was showing in my class and was going to win. Turns out she didn't, but I did!
Anyway, things were going well until I made a slight miscalculation in how long I needed to warm up. Apparently, showing is now old hat to Speedy and 15 minutes is all he needs. I gave us 30. After the first 12, I knew I had gone in too soon, so we walked and walked and walked. Just before my ride time, I decided to wake Speedy up with a big gallop.
Two things happened. First, he got really annoyed at me, and second, my trusty show pad, that one that wasn't looking as perky as before, nearly slid off his back. He gave a few bucks before I saw what had happened. In horror, I jumped off and reorganized the pad. From that moment, my confidence was shot.
As we trotted down center line, all I could think about was my stupid pad slipping off during the test. I kept glancing down to see if it was still there! Once I forced myself to forget about it, the next worry took over.
Speedy was behind my leg, note the curling above, but I knew that if I really goosed him forward, he'd flip me the hoof. That would be okay for one movement, but when he feels like I am working against him and not for him, he quits trying. Instead of sending him forward with a big cowgirl kick, I just nursed him through the test.
And really, it wasn't a bad test. My goal was 6.5s and 7.0s. We got more 6.0s than I would have liked, but considering how behind my leg he was, it wasn't terrible. That 4.0 though, I have no recollection of not being in canter. It's right in front of the judge though, so if she says we weren't cantering, we weren't, but that score came as a shock to me.
As with the comments we've had all summer long, the judge's further remarks were spot on. "Capable pair. Needs balance in transitions up and down. At times, horse over round and low in outline today." I love how generous she was in using "at times" and "today" as though yesterday we weren't and tomorrow we wouldn't be!
As we exited the ring, I knew it wasn't even close to a best effort, and I acknowledged that I had given the test away. I let the bigness of the show and the quality of my competition intimidate me.
I shook it off almost before we made it to the ring steward. Yes, I had let my confidence slip for a moment, but I recognized it for what it was. I was already planning my comeback for Test 3 which was to come later that afternoon. There was no sense in beating myself up about it, and suddenly, I felt my super power return!
Many of Sunday's riders didn't even bother with riding Test 2, so it was a very small class. For the adult amateurs, Saturday's classes were all warm ups for the actual RAAC classes held on Sunday. The scores from Saturday's tests still counted for USDF, but I knew that I still had time to get my little team squared away for Sunday's "big one."
When John and I compared our tests, we laughed at the point difference. Just 2.5 points separated our tests which would prove to be a theme for the weekend!
More to come ...
Chemaine wasn't able to coach me on Sunday because she had a schooling show to attend with a different group of students. I am totally fine going to a show myself and wasn't fazed by her absence. Don't get me wrong - it's way more fun when she's there, but I've been hauling my horses to competitions for several decades on my own, so it's no big deal to fly solo.
As it was, she coached both me and another student on Friday and Saturday, so I was more than grateful for her time. She had other places to be. As a side note, that other student rode her very first Prix St. Georges test to earn a 63%. We were all really proud of her!
Chemaine's advice was to warm up with lots of half halts and then push Speedy for MORE! I am not always sure what we need MORE of, but I asked for it in the warm up.
He was ridiculously heavy on the left rein, so I did about 10,000 half halts followed by GO. I did every kind of transition within each gait that I could think of. My whole focus was to get a JUMP forward when I asked for it. When I asked for a half halt, I kept asking until he got soft, and then I sent him forward again with the expectation that he JUMP!
In all honesty, that warm up was a total crap shoot. Speedy and I probably looked like a pair of dorks zooming around the warm up only to halt a few strides later. GO!!!! STOP!!!! GO!!!! Fortunately it was a huge warm up ring and the show was small, so I had the space pretty much to myself. There was the Spanish guy galloping around, but he seemed to know what he was doing and proved quite adept at staying out of my way.
As we were warming up, all I could think about was just wanting to get the whole thing over with. I was tired and super ready to pack it up and head home. When First Level Test 2 was over, I left the ring shaking my head wondering what in the holy hell had just happened. It felt terrible. Speedy was so heavy in my hands that I was forced to jerk on him for every transition. I have no photographic or video evidence of this, which is why it's hard to believe the score we earned.
How is it that we scored better on Sunday than we had on Saturday? The judge gave us a 66.093%. For an Adult Amateur, that's a pretty solid score and one that I'll never turn my nose at. The only thing that I can say is those half halts must have done something, and that feeling of being nearly out of control is one that I should probably start trying to repeat.
My First Level Test 3 ride was just a few minutes after what I was considering "The Disaster" of test 2. There wasn't time to check the scores between the two rides, so I didn't know that the judge had actually "liked" our attempt at test 2. If I had been wanting to get test 2 over and done with, the desire to fast forward past test 3 was almost enough to make me want to scratch.
I am too cheap to throw in the towel though, so unless the TD or judge force me to quit, I am riding no matter how bad I think it's going to go. When I halted and saluted at X for the final time of the weekend, I thanked the judge like I always do, and then told her how happy I was to be done with THAT.
I patted Speedy's neck like I do after every ride, but I shook my head in frustration. How disappointing to work so hard for so little reward. That's what was going through my head as we passed by A. Up in the barn, several people complimented my rides, which I found slightly embarrassing. I was certain both scores were in the 57% range.
I finally stiffened my backbone and trudged over to the show office. I ran my finger down the list of rides squinting through half closed eyes. When I got to the first score from test 2, I did a double take. A what?!?! I shook my head in disbelief. But there it was for all the world to see - a 66.093%. I slid my finger down a bit further and saw the score for test 3. Not only was it slightly higher than Saturday's score at 62.794%, I had actually outscored another rider for a fourth blue ribbon.
Over the course of the weekend, Speedy and I somehow managed to bring home four very satisfactory scores. I am always grateful to break 60%, and the truth is most of my scores are above 60. Anything lower feels like a miss. As time goes on though, I have come to recognize that we are capable of high 60s and low 70s, so just eking out a 60% is not exactly a win anymore.
The judge said it best on my final test:
Nice horse with ability to perform much better. You must get him more forward and correctly into the contact so he accepts the bit and energy travels through the back. Only then will half halts work, and he will start to carry instead of fall on his forehand. - Sue Kolstad, Judge at C
No judge has ever written a better summation of my test. She absolutely nailed it. Chemaine has her work cut out for her to be sure. I think all three of us are up to the challenge though.
I still have some soapbox stuff I want to share, so there's a bit more coming about the show. In the meantime, what's your cut off score for an acceptable ride?
I've been a fan of Audrey Hepburn's Eliza Doolittle since I first saw My Fair Lady as a kid. I love everything about the movie - Eliza's dresses, the music (oh, the music!), and that great horse racing scene where you don't see the horses but you hear them thundering past. Eliza very coarsely hollers out that infamous line, "Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin' arse!"
While I was watching our First Level Test 3 video from Saturday, I found myself urging Speedy on. Come on dude, move your bloomin' arse! As we rode, it felt like Speedy was zooming through the test. Boy, was I wrong. It looks like he's stuck in molasses. No wonder we earned our lowest score of the weekend on that test.
It's quite a steady ride, but there is nothing special happening. There is no energy, no impulsion ... nothing but quiet and submission (most of the time). That's great if you want scores in the low 60s, which is what I got - 62.500%. Chemaine reminded me that to get scores in the high 60s or 70s, I need to channel the nearly out of control so that it looks controlled. That's when we'll score higher.
I liked how this ride felt, but it seems that I need to develop a different type of feel for what is a good ride. I know they call it positive tension. Izzy has it all the time even though it wavers between out of control and ooh baby. It might be that Speedy just doesn't really have the personality, or work ethic, for that kind of energy. I am going to have to learn to get Speedy ramped up at least a little more and then channel that new energy.
I don't think this was a bad or disappointing ride; we actually outscored the second rider in the class. Right now, breaking 60% at First Level is my goal, but by spring, I want to be consistently scoring in the mid to high 60s, especially if I want to move to 2nd Level by late summer.
I know that our move through the levels (Intro and Training) looked just like this. We slowly built from high 50s to high 60s with a few bobbles here and there. And it has been quite characteristic for us to start scoring well at Test 2 before Test 3, which is exactly what we did this weekend.
I don't have media from Sunday, but I'll share our rides from day two tomorrow as my scores didn't turn out the way I expected. I think there's a lesson in there for me somewhere.
Goals met, even exceeded, but I have no idea how.
The only ride that I thought went quite well was Saturday's First Level Test 3, but that ride earned us our lowest score of the weekend, a 62.500%.
On Friday evening, I had a warm up lesson with Chemaine. We worked on the canter lengthening and the trot lengthening, neither of which got any kind of decent score on the tests. The warm up was still productive however since I was able to work Speedy through the spooky corners so that by Saturday, the ring was a non-issue.
We warmed up on Saturday morning like we also do. Having Chemaine there to coach us was reassuring. I wasn't anxious or nervous though, and in fact, I decided not to use Chemaine as reader. She wasn't going to be able to coach me on Sunday, so I memorized the tests like I should have done already this season.
Speedy was heavy, heavy, heavy the whole weekend. In the video below, you can see non-stop head wagging which is so frustrating. This is something from several years ago that has resurfaced. I know it has to do with my ineffective half halts, and I've made Chemaine promise that we're going to be addressing that at our next next lesson.
Normally, after a two-day show, I have oodles of take aways to share. For this show, only a few things stand out.
Here's the score sheet from the first test of the weekend.
We scored a whopping 65% for Saturday's First Level Test 2. My goal was to break 60% so that I could earn my USDF First Level Rider Performance Award. I guess I hit that one out of the park.
I knew I would be the only rider in the class, so I had already expected the blue ribbon. When I went to the show office to pick up my score sheet, I gave a little "Ooh!" at the ribbon laying on my test. They were much nicer than the average ribbon. Earning four of them didn't break my heart one little bit.
I do have some very interesting "soapbox" things I want to share later this week as well as some statistical analysis of all of the show's scores, not just my own. Chemaine was able to video Test 3, so I'll share that tomorrow.
More to follow!
While the First Level Test 3 RAAC class felt wild and wooly, it actually doesn't look that bad except for one or two places. The judge sure nailed us on those movements though. We slunk out of the ring with a dismal 56.765% - nearly an all time low. I have some great photos, but I'll let you watch the ride first so you that you can decide if it was worth more or less than the 56% that the judge gave us.
Here's what the judge thought ... (click images to enlarge).
I didn't watch the video until late Sunday afternoon. I am glad I finally watched it because I drove home thinking it was a disastrous ride; it wasn't. Yeah, Speedy put up a serious stink at the first canter lengthening - did you see the buck? And that second canter loop on the left lead was a bit fussy, but all in all it wasn't horrible.
I have to give myself some credit as a rider. It looks a lot more pleasant than it felt. He was ticked off about that judge's booth and was letting me know it. The reason he gave a buck as we started the canter lengthening was because I had to dig my spur into him to keep him as close to the rail at C as possible. He wanted to dive in and bolt for A.
So yeah. It wasn't a perfect test, and I am kind of blaming Speedy for at least 60% of it, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. The judging was tough, but that's what you get when you enter at A at a big USDF show.
Here's some eye candy. These photos are all courtesy of Edyta.
Once again, we placed dead last in our RAAC class, but here's the funny thing. When we first showed at the 2012 RAAC, we won our Introductory Class with a solid 67.000%. The next year, we were dead last in the Training Level class with a 61.200%.The year after that, in 2014, we won the Training Level class with a whopping 72.600%. So really, things are looking good. If everything goes as it has in the past, we're looking really good for next year's First Level RAAC class!
We finished eighth out of eight riders, but we still showed up for the honor round and cheered on those riders who had a much better day than we did.
You're probably ready for some Izzy news by now, but I have one more post about the show to share. I really want/need to talk about all that I learned at this show. And it's a lot.
On tap for tomorrow... What I learned.
While our first test left something to be desired, like 1.5 points, the First Level Test 3 Green Horse class was certainly an improvement. It wasn't like we went in and kicked a bunch of butts, ours was the only one in the class after all, but Speedy was much more malleable and focused.
This photo says it all. I had no idea at all that other riders were in that warm up end of the arena, and I don't think Speedy did either. He didn't even flick an ear that direction.
While I had been in the Equidome before, Speedy sure hadn't, so I was a bit concerned about how he was going to react. I shouldn't have worried. He was far quieter and more relaxed in there than he was in the large oval where our first ride had been. It was really nice riding inside though. It was quiet, cool, and they played some lovely music that was quite soothing.
Right from the start of the test I knew it was going to go well enough. Speedy was really listening to me and trying (there is video down below). I liked our entry and halt, and I think the first trot lengthening was slightly better than the score indicated. You watch and be the judge.
Chemaine did give me some good exercises for improving the trot lengthenings. The first thing I need to do is keep my hands much lower, and we need to practice doing them for a longer distance. Speedy is showing me that he isn't strong enough to carry the lengthening across the full diagonal. With a bit more practice, we'll both get it.
Of the skills introduced at First Level, the 10-meter circles (and half circles) are definitely our strength. Speedy nails those every time. He finds them easy which is why we practice them a lot. When he gets fussy doing leg yields at home, I'll switch up the work and go to something he likes. He does these well so we do them for fun. I even think these look good on the video.
I spent a lot of time this month working on the trot to canter transitions, and I think this photo shows the improvement. Yeah, his head still pops up a bit, but I like that his croup is getting lower, and he's trying to sit down a little.
Just like the trot lengthenings, the canter lengthenings need more work as well (no photo). It's funny because it feels like Speedy is zooming down that long side, but when I watch the video, I can't see a difference in stride length at all. I've heard my jumper and event rider friends say the same thing. That is definitely something I'll be working on.
The single loop that includes a bit of counter canter is showing improvement though. I am getting Speedy closer to X which means making the loop deeper. It's a tough one to practice at home because I don't have a 60 meter length court. Even so, I am going to start working on deep loops to help improve his balance over all.
The left lead canter is a bit harder as he hangs on my left rein and has trouble moving over onto the right rein. This makes the loop more challenging as he wants to take the bend away.
Not only are the trot to canter transitions really improving, but so are the down transitions to trot. While the quality of this video still is really poor, I like it because it happens at the exact moment of the canter to trot transition, I had to look at it in slow motion about five times to catch the transition. It was that smooth.
And to finish it all off, we had a pretty decent halt, although you'll see in the video that my fan club startles him a little with their enthusiastic applause!
When I looked at the score sheet, I was pretty happy. We earned fives 7.0s one of which had a coefficient of 2, but our total score was still only a 61.765%. Good enough to count towards my USDF First Level Rider Performance Award, but not as high as all of those 7.0s would suggest.
Click images to enlarge.
And now ... the video!
Since I was in a class of one, I did get a lovely blue ribbon. At first I found it puzzling that I was the only one in the Green Horse class, but then I realized that this was a pretty big show and many of the horses and riders there had more experience than Speedy and I do. The Green Horse class was for horses who had five or fewer blues at their level.
Tomorrow ... How We Missed the Mark Completely!
I had so much fun this weekend, and I learned so much that I just want to skip the riding recap and go straight to the here's what I walked away with. We Missed It By a Hair, Made it By a Hair, and Missed the Mark Completely, but since none of that would make much sense without seeing how we did, I had better stick to a more linear story line.
Before I do that, I need to give a huge shoutout to Team Symphony, led by the always awesome Chemaine Hurtado. She runs the most motivating training barn that I have yet seen. I am not sure if it's a deliberate strategy or if it just happens because of Chemaine's attitude toward life, but with her, dressage is fun first followed by sound practices and hard work.
If Chemaine provides Team Symphony's structure, it is her daughter, Morgan, who is the glue that helps hold the team together. This up and coming Jr/YR is not only a talented rider herself, but she epitomizes the ideals of good sportsmanship. She's a motivator, a butt kicker, boot polisher, horse handler, videographer, Jill of all tasks, and all around good friend.
With Team Symphony, it doesn't matter who is in the saddle; everyone pitches in to polish boots, remove leg wraps, take photos, check scores, and cheer loudly no matter what the score. I feel so blessed to have been included in this wonderful family. Thanks, Team Symphony!
Missed It By a Hair
My least favorite score of all is the 59%. It's not like a 55% is all that pretty either, but 59% means you probably missed a "satisfactory" by just a point or two. In my case, it was one and a half points that kept me from earning my last score towards my USDF First Level Rider Performance Award. Womp womp.
Speedy was a fireball during the first warm up, which was completely the other end of the spectrum from where he was at last month's show. Remember that? He ended up needing to pee. Well that wasn't a problem this weekend. He was jazzed up for this go round.
Speedy and I have participated in the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition for the past four years, but this year's show was far bigger than the previous three. There were four rings going, all brightly decorated. Between rings one and two there is a raised platform covered with a circus-like tent and flags snapping in the breeze. There were tables set up for the evening performance and for spectators later on. There wasn't any one thing that spooked Speedy, but the general atmosphere was exciting with lots of color and movement.
There is no question that Speedy was against my hand through parts of this first ride. He was also pretty stuck on the left rein, as usual. My position was certainly not as good as it can be, but when he and I brace against each other, that's what happens. Most of the tension came from the C end of the ring where the judge was seated. He didn't want anything to do with that red, white, and blue bunting. There's video down below.
Overall, the ride felt rushed, and Speedy was heavy in my hand. I also made a stupid error, aren't they all, near the end of the test. I have the test memorized, but I was listening so intently to Chemaine's instructions that I mistakenly heard C 10-meter circle instead of B Half circle 10-meters. Even as I was making the 10-meter circle at C, I was wondering why Chemaine would ask me to do that. She hadn't of course.
I knew before the judge blew her whistle that it was an error and just finished the circle and headed to B to make the 10-meter half circle to finish at G. I now know this test so well that I can do it without a reader. There will be no more off course errors for that test. The 2 point deduction for going off course cost me the 60% score. I missed 60% by 1.5 points.
This was certainly not our best test, but it was a heck of a lot of fun, we both gained some more experience in a "bigger" ring, and I have plenty of time in which to earn that last score for the Rider Performance Award. I am not being negative here, but we'll be working on First Level for a while.
Here's the video.
Here is the score sheet for the First Level, Test 3 AA (RAAC Warm Up Class) ... click to enlarge.
I don't generally criticize the judging, but they did seem a little tougher at this show. Overall, we finished the test with a 59.559% which was sixth out of a class of nine. We've definitely done better, but I am not that disappointed. I can see where we need to improve (more length in the trot lengthening, more length in the canter lengthening, and catch those drifting hunches in the leg yield), but the good thing is that Chemaine gave me some great exercises and advice to help me.
Tomorrow, Made It By a Hair!
On Sunday, Speedy didn't get a lunge. He did get his morning walk, but I skipped the lunge work out of a healthy respect for the wet ground. He didn't seem to mind.
My rides on Sunday were late, very late. I rode just before 2:00 p.m. and then just shortly after. It was a warm day, but Speedy was back to his regular self. Instead of being sluggish, I had to deal with the usual resistance and fussiness in the bridle. For Test 2, he was being a bit of a stinker and just did not want to let go. It would seem that my task is to get the same level of obedience with energy that he offered when he was sluggish!
After the test, I went back into the warm up with Chemaine. She wanted me to get him deeper and rounder with a small release accompanied by some leg. When he's deeper and rounder, I can push my hands forward a bit to give him some room so that when I add leg, he can shoot forward into a longer stride. So we played around with that for a minute before I headed over to ride First Level, Test 3.
While on paper this test earned a solid score, I was really disappointed in how I rode it. I was having trouble hearing my reader, and since I don't have this test truly memorized, I didn't always know where I was going. I ended up making three pretty big mistakes that affected how well I rode the movements.
Movement 2 is a trot lengthening across the diagonal. Right after that, the test calls for a leg yield from the corner to X. I didn't hear my reader, so instead of leg yielding to X, I rode straight toward M. As I neared X, I finally remembered what I was supposed to be doing and was able to change the bend quickly enough to get the next leg yield from X to H.
The first leg yield earned a 5.0 (it wasn't a leg yield at all, so thank you, Judge!). The leg yield left earned a much more respectable 6.5. I detest giving away points. Not that I would have necessarily earned the 6.5 for the leg yield right as it is the harder one for us to do, but a 6.0 wouldn't have been out of the question.
The second error I made was on the 15-meter canter circle at C. For this movement, you come from a free walk to S where it becomes a medium walk. At H, you pick up a working trot and then a working canter at C. But instead of cantering into the corner, you have to pick up the canter already making the turn for the smaller 15-meter circle.
It's an easy enough movement if you're paying attention. I wasn't. I simply asked Speedy for the canter without having the necessary bend for the 15-meter circle. Fortunately, within just one stride I realized what I was doing and I added a boatload of outside leg and rein and managed to get Speedy's shoulder up and over for the 15-meter circle. He was a very good boy to make such a quick adjustment.
The judge commented that we needed bend, but we still scored a 6.5. You can see the score and comment at movement 12.
The third riding error I made was after the left lead single loop at canter. I was so focused on getting a good canter to trot transition that it happened a smidge early (movement 21). Once we were trotting, I realized that I didn't know where to go; again, I hadn't heard my reader. At the last second, I remembered that the final trot lengthening comes after that canter loop.
I don't know how good the half halt in the corner was, but the panicky feeling I had must have been read loud and clear by Speedy because he hustled himself out of the corner and across the diagonal. I don't know what the lengthening looked like, but the judge gave us a 7.0 for the whole debacle!
As I look back over the test and my scores, I realize that while I felt the mistakes quite acutely, I must have made accurate and timely corrections as they didn't have too much of an effect on my scores. Either way, I need to make it a priority to get that test 3 memorized. I'll be riding it three times at the RAAC in late August.
So. I think my First Level debut at a USDF/USEF-rated show went as well as I could have hoped for.
While the scores are fun to tabulate and apply, having a good time with friends and bringing home a healthy horse is really the best part. A small pile of ribbons to stash in my ribbon jars is also fun, too.