To my left were huge banners welcoming the CDS Championship and USDF Region 7 riders. Next came the enormous Equidome with its numerous offices, including LA Saddlery, an onsite tack store. At the end of the road, I was met by the traffic coordinators who directed me to my barn. As soon as I pulled in, Chemaine, my out-of-town trainer and coach, one of her clients, and her assistant, greeted me with big smiles.
Symphony Dressage, Chemaine’s barn, had a great spot with three tack stalls, which meant we all had ample storage space for tack, feed, and the million other things that we brought with us. Chemaine has all the coolest toys, which meant I had a permanent spot for my bridle, saddle, pads, and other stuff. There were also hanging baskets and coat hooks for our show coats. (Click images to enlarge and see captions.)
Inside the packet was a thick schedule of events that also included a small write-up of each rider. There were also tickets to the various hospitality events and a detailed awards schedule. I knew it was going to be a very competitive show, but I held onto the awards schedule … just in case!
As we warmed up, she had me start by getting Speedy’s neck rounder and lower with lots of half halts. Once he was soft and low, she had me ask for a bigger stride. We rode the bigger stride and then half halted to rebalance, and I asked for bigger again. All the while, she kept at me about getting that inside bend.
We then worked on the canter departure. The trouble I have is that I don’t get enough activity behind which means that Speedy has to hoist himself into the canter. Chemaine had me use the half halt at every corner to get him back a bit on his haunches and help him rebalance. Then, I asked for a bigger, more active trot, and once I had that, I asked for the canter. By the time we were finished, Speedy was looking was pretty darned good.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel at all intimidated by the quality of horses and riders at the show. This far into my dressage journey, I’ve leaned that there are always going to be better horses than mine, better riders than me, and better horse and rider teams. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that I was part of one those better teams, but all I can do is the very best that I can with the horse that I have.