After my mediocre ride at Training Level Test 3 earlier that morning, and the struggle with my pride that followed, I knew that I had to get myself together if I had any hope of putting in a decent championship ride. Chemaine and I had a long discussion about what I could do to ride the test better, and then we took a solid thirty minutes to warm up. I also decided that it would help if she read the test to me. I know the test, but with my new focus on properly riding the loops, I thought it might relieve some of my anxiety to hear her voice guiding me.
The championship rounds were held in the late afternoon after most of the RAAC classes. Surprisingly, very few riders entered. There was no First Level entry, one junior entry for Second Level, two riders and a junior for Third Level, Hilda Gurney in the Grand Prix, and of course, me, at Training Level. Even though I knew I would win the championship round, I felt just as much pressure as I had in the RAAC class. How embarrassing to "win" a championship with a mediocre score.
As we approached the ring, I noticed that the "A" end of the arena had a rail covering the entrance. I'll admit that I've never ridden a test before where "A" was closed. I was a bit excited because I knew it would help us make the turn more easily. The ring steward (pal, Jen) explained that since it was a championship round, "A" was closed, no whips were allowed, and riders had to ride their tests from memory. D'oh!
It's a good thing I actually do know the test. Chemaine's final words to me as I entered were, flex, flex, flex!
I knew we were coming into the corner a bit fast so I did my best to give a soft half halt without stopping him too abruptly. I could tell that it wasn't enough so I made a conscious decision to make the transition slightly late rather than abruptly. The judge clearly appreciated the smoother downward; she rewarded us with a 7.0!
Our trot up centerline is almost always our best movement so I focused on making that turn at A and getting him as straight as possible. To finish a busy weekend and a long season with a solid square halt was as good as it can possibly get. We'll take the 8.0 with a huge smile and a thank you to everyone who supported and helped us this season.
This is Speedy's last show of the season. I am glad we finished on such a high note. I don't know what our schedule for next year will look like yet, but I am fairly certain we'll be attempting First Level in 2014.
I'll end this with the Collective Marks and some photos of Speedy's Championship neck ribbon. Thanks for all of your encouraging words this week; you don't know how often I told my mom how important it was to me to not let everyone down. :0)