He travelled well, he unloaded quietly, he stood at the trailer happily munching his hay, and he was very polite to the many people who came to greet such a nice looking Arabian (said with surprise at least half a dozen times throughout the day).
So what was the problem? It was the riding part that was such a bummer.
The show at Classic Equestrian Center was well run. There were competitor bags for each rider filled with cool goodies. The ride secretary was easy to find and ready with show numbers. The footing was lovely. Things were on time. But ... It was the warm-up ring that did us in.
Since Speedy and I had such a long drive to make, two and a half hours each way, the ride secretary graciously let us ride our tests after lunch. The problem with that plan was that the more advanced horses and riders go after lunch. And I don't mean to offend anyone here, but those "advanced" riders were a tad bit rude. The warm up was done in a standard-sized dressage court, which isn't huge by anyone's definition, and which was made much smaller by the three riders schooling their large, loud horses. I tried very hard to follow the hunter/jumper rules of left side to left side and so on, but these ladies were oblivious. One was actually riding the entire test! I tried to stay on the rail. No good. The "test rider" came barreling behind us which sent Speedy into a tizzy. He reared to the side and nearly leaped out of the ring. Another came flying at us from the side. It was quite obvious that we were beginners, but those gals didn't care. It didn't matter that this was a simple schooling show. They were not going to share that space with me.
In frustration, and nearly in tears, I left the warm-up area and tried to warm up along the dirt rode that wound around the two dressage courts. Speedy did get a little softer, but really, it was just too late. He was so anxious by the "near attacks" in the warm up that nothing I did could soften or relax him. My name was called and I rode up to the judge's booth to introduce myself and verify the test that I was to ride. To my dismay, I saw that I had forgotten to attach Speedy's number. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was already frustrated, and now I was going to have to scratch.
The judge kindly asked if a runner could retrieve Speedy's number, but I pointed out that I had arrived alone. She saw my tearful expression and gently reminded me that it was only a schooling show and that schooling shows were where we made mistakes and learned from them. It was no big deal. I could ride without my number and she wouldn't disqualify me or take off any points. She encouraged me to have a good ride and sent me out so that she she could ring me in. I took a deep breath and plowed through the test the best I could. Speedy was a pain-in-the-patootie as he hadn't heard the judge say it was just a schooling show. He was still pretty upset by the horses in the warm-up.
After halting at X and thanking the judge, I walked back to the trailer and had a good cry. I was very frustrated with Speedy G. He has been to a handful of endurance races, many camping trips, and at least nine dressage shows. He really doesn't have any reason to be so unwilling to listen. I gave myself a little talking to, and went back to the warm-up ring for my final test. Since I was third from the last of the day, I figured it would be nearly empty. There was one rider, from the previous group, and I made it clear (with words) that I needed the far end of the ring to school some of the naughtiness out of my horse. She said fine and kept walking her horse.
It took a good 15 minutes, but I finally got some softness out of Speedy and a few canter transitions that didn't include kicks and bucks. When we were called to ride the test, I approached the judge with a big smile, called out my horse's number, and thanked her for her earlier kindness. She smiled and encouraged me to have fun and enjoy the ride. It wasn't a perfectly ridden test, but at least we got the canter without too much fuss. There were no 4s this time, but also no 8s.
We collected our ribbons, loaded up, and began the long drive home. The next morning I rode Speedy G and was pleased to find my softer, more willing pony. We did some nice circles and cantered with just the mental thought ... and canter here.
Here's Test C - Walk-Trot-Canter: