Hubby brought Tobias, who was a very good boy, so I had some good moral support. I was also blessed to have Lois Quinn coach me through both warm-ups. She had me watch the video of the first test as soon as I had finished so that I got some immediate feedback. This is a good strategy. Not that I usually have access to video, but when next I do, I'm going to watch it if possible.
So, where to begin?
Here is what went really well:
- Sydney loaded up like a seasoned pro. He was practically eager to get in the trailer.
- He traveled very quietly and ate the whole way, both directions.
- He stood tied for quite a long time without any fussing. After my rides were over, I ate lunch with friends and never worried about him at all. I could see him off in the distance, and he looked perfectly happy.
- He drained a full five gallon water bucket and even drank out of a ditch that had some creek run off.
- He emptied the hay bag.
- He actually walked for the first 15 minutes of the warm-up.
- He never bucked or reared, and I never felt afraid. And even though I am stiff and braced in the video, I was never worried that he would explode and get out of control; thank you, wide open field!
- He went from the warm-up to the ring very calmly (both times) and even trotted up to the ring for our second test when we were running late.
Lois is working with me to break some pretty strong habits: I want to pull back when he rushes off, and my hands go all over the place as I try to maintain the contact. Learning something new in the warm-up (who does that?) is really hard, but I take my dressage lessons where I can get them. Lois had me trying to establish a rhythm while insisting that Sydney maintain the pace I set without pulling back.
To do that, I posted the pace I wanted. If he hurried, my task was to halt him in one stride and then RELEASE the frickin' rein immediately. She had me working on giving my hands forward with my thumbs on top. You won't see that in the photos though as I struggled with releasing my death grip on the reins. Ultimately, she wanted us to trot with a loop in the rein so that he understood that carrying himself while maintaining my pace was a good thing. I cannot tell you how often I do that at home. That is ultimately how we fixed the bolting at home; I just rode with a loose rein.
We got it sometimes. Other times, I was riding a stiff freight train. After watching the video, I can see that I need to learn a new feeling of give when Sydney is high and tense. I have a lesson with Lois next Monday. The weather where Lois lives is much more wintery than here, but I hope to go up at least once a month for as long as the snow holds off.
Overall? We actually warmed up which is a HUGE improvement. Having a coach at a show is such a huge advantage. Lois helped me help Sydney have an experience that wasn't exactly fabulous, but at least it was controlled and calm.
With that, here are some photos of our warm up. Video of the first test will be up tomorrow, but be forewarned; you will cringe for me when you see it.