After working on the left lead canter, I started to work to the right. At this point, all hell broke loose. I became one of those riders that trainers warn about in the warm up ring. To those who were trying to warm up, I offer my sincerest apology. I know that we were scary to be around, and I hope that I didn't mess up your own warm up.
Every time I asked for the right lead canter, Speedy either gave an enormous kick/buck, or he dove to the inside, or he did a combination of things. He was throwing an all out temper tantrum. Each time he blew a gasket, I slammed the breaks on, and asked again. I would get one semi-decent canter transition for three ugly ones. Before I knew it, my fifteen minutes were up and I had to report to the show arena. Crap.
As I stood at the gate waiting to go in, I had a panic attack. I simply couldn't remember the test. Speedy's shenanigans had me pretty flustered. After my first season of showing, I decided that memorizing my tests was the only way I could be successful as I always travel alone and don't have a reader at the ready. On this day, flying solo was not going to to the trick.
To no one in particular, I simply said, I need a reader after all. Several ladies looked in my direction. They must have had some sort of show down in the eye meets eye duel, because one of them clearly lost. She asked which test I was riding and looked genuinely sorry when she said she didn't have a copy. I pulled my Winnie Widget out of my pocket and handed it to her. We both talked through the test; she was trying to learn it while I was trying to get my brain moving again.
The second lady, the winner of the eye duel, kept telling me to just breathe and remember that it was one simple test and no big deal. She shared her own earlier problems with her own horse and reminded me again and again to breathe and relax. By the time I went through the gate, I was smiling and laughing at the whole thing. I greeted the judge who also smiled very good-naturedly. It's been more than two years since someone has read the test to me. I would not have made it though without her. Thank you, Kind Soul!
Our trot up the centerline, always our best movement, earned a 6.5 and our first loop to the left also earned a 6.5. I could feel that we were on a track for a solid ride. Our left lead canter earned a 6, as did the canter circle at B. In this test, the rider circles at B, but then continues on past C to H where she has to cross the diagonal returning to trot at X. We haven't done much work on this movement, so I wasn't surprised by the 5.5 or the judge's comments. This is an area we need to work on.
Our medium walked earned a 6.5 as did our free walk. The single loop to the right earned a 6 which is a solid score especially since we've only done it twice.
The next section of the test cost us many, many points. For the right lead canter, Speedy threw a wild fit. He bucked, kicked, and refused to pick up the canter. We earned a 3. Once I did get a canter, it was on the wrong lead so I brought him back to trot and asked for the departure again. The second time he actually picked up a decent canter, but it was too late for a good score: 4.5. However, our downward transition to trot after those shenanigans earned a solid 6. I felt it was a good recovery.
Training Level Test 3 saves the stretchy trot for the very end. We scored another 4. Halfway through the trot, which was nothing like stretchy, he hopped into a right lead canter, SERIOUSLY - this is when you canter??????. I am quite sure the judge should have been harsher in his score. I was grateful for the 4.
After failing at the stretchy trot, I set my eyes on nailing the trot up the centerline. I know we do this well, or at least better than anything else, so I positioned us for the best score possible. The judge rewarded our effort with a 7 and the comment, straight.
We scored a dismal 55.800%, 10.5 points shy of a 60%. The right lead canter depart has a coefficient of 2. Earning a 3 there really hurt our score, as did the 4.5 for the canter circle. I am trying hard to look at the movements separately rather than the overall score. We goofed in only three movements. The rest of the test was very satisfactory.
I keep reminding myself, my goal is improvement, not perfection!
Here is the score sheet. Click to enlarge.