Spring Show Continued ...
There is no way I would have taken a “questionable horse” to a show had I needed to drive any distance. Fortunately this show was just minutes away from the barn so it really wasn’t a big deal if Speedy G were to trot out lame once he was under saddle. I arrived at the show grounds with ample time to check in, set out hay and water, and tack up without feeling rushed.
I changed into my show clothes and got on.
As Cha Ching’s mom says, better to ask for more go than whoa. That’s Speedy G all the way. He doesn’t need to be lunged, and there’s no fighting to get him quiet. On the other hand, I have to do a lot of asking to go forward. He loves to walk, but as soon as I ask for a trot, there’s a quick pinning of the ears, a swish of the tail, and then we ... walk. He usually needs to be asked a few times for the initial trot. He likes to make sure that I am absolutely certain that I really want him to trot out. Once we’re trotting, it takes a bit to establish a rhythm and get him working from behind. I should clarify that our level of working from behind is still in the baby stages, but it’s there.
This is where I made my first mistake of the day. Since I was still really worried about whether he was sore or not, I didn’t really warm up. We did a lot of walking and I asked for a few trot circles. I was mostly checking for stiffness, soreness, or lameness, but I wasn’t really warming up for the tests. I told Taz’s mom, who was the warm up arena time keeper, that my goal for the day was simply to make it through the tests without a whistle from the judge for lameness. If that was the goal, I should have considered my rides to be a roaring success!
We entered at A for Introductory Test B. It was awful from the very beginning. We missed the center line by a mile, he was counter bent off and on throughout the test, he had no rhythm, his nose was way out front, and I forgot to bend my elbows. Rats! I rode Introductory Test C a few minutes later and had essentially the same ride. The best part of the test was the nice kick that Speedy G gave during the second canter transition. He kicked out hard enough to earn a 4 on the score sheet. My butt left the saddle by a good six inches and I lost my outside stirrup.
I actually felt like this was the most successful part of the day. I didn’t panic. I slid my foot back into the stirrup and rode that circle anyway! I absolutely loved that I kept my composure and even smiled about it as we finished the movement.
I was disappointed about my rides, of course. I still am. But it’s not the end of the world, and there are many more shows to attend. It wasn’t until I got home that afternoon and watched the video that I was able to understand why I had such bad rides. It wasn’t Speedy G’s fault. He wasn’t being sour. He wasn’t being a jerk. He was simply traveling where I put his nose. My reins were too long, and I was sitting forward again and not using my seat or legs to push him up to the bit. I was also able to see that he didn’t look sore or stiff at all on the video.
At the lunch break, just before leaving the show, I took Speedy G to the round pen and worked him without a lunge line to see how he moved after being under saddle. Taz’s mom came to watch and neither of us could see anything. He went in both directions, stretching down nicely. I love to see him trot long and low rather than with his head up and his back hollowed. I still wonder if the knee "adjustment" helped, had I just been too "rough" on him on Tuesday, or was he just sore from sleeping wrong?
The next show on my calendar is in two weeks. I haven’t decided yet whether to go. Speedy G will have had most of the week off with no riding, just turnout. I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, by the way. I am sure you’re wondering how “bad” my scores actually were. Here they are: Introductory Test B – 53.75% and Introductory Test C – 54.5%.