There was a scheduling change made after the original ride times were posted. My Saturday ride times were changed slightly, which was no big deal; the changes in the times doesn't throw me. Before I went to bed on Saturday night, I decided to run back down to the show office to confirm my ride times for Sunday. A quick glance revealed that I had been scheduled to ride at 1:56 and 2:00 in two different arenas. Well that certainly wasn't going to work.
Early Sunday morning, I returned to the show office to reschedule with the show secretary. I lucked out by getting an abandoned time from a scratched rider, 11:34 a.m. This worked out well since Speedy grouses about riding both tests back-to-back. The only unusual aspect, for me anyway, was that I was going to ride Test 3 first. I was looking forward to this opportunity as I usually score lower on the second test. This would give me the chance to see if it is because it is a harder test or if it is because Speedy just grumbles about working twice in a day.
Chemaine Hurtado, a local trainer that I have met several times before, had her horses stabled near Speedy G. Having met her and her clients before, I spent some time visiting with them and talking about riding the tests as an FEI level rider; Chemaine is quite accomplished. Not only is she a very talented rider, but she is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet (as are her clients and students).
As we were watching other horses warm up and school, I took a chance and asked her how I might fix the "head tilt" thing as well as what she thought I might try to get Speedy straighter and off my inside leg. She very kindly talked me through a few suggestions. She explained the head tilt (left hand is stiff while right hand is following) and suggested I open my outside rein when I need him to move his shoulder out.
As I warmed up, I kept Chemaine's words in mind. Opening the outside rein was immediately helpful. I also focused on keeping a more even feel in my contact. While I am still not even in my contact, I know it improved just by being aware of what I was doing.
I loved riding Test 3; it was fun, and I felt a new sense of balance. Our scores were very good. We did score a 5.5 for the right lead canter and a 5.5 for the stretchy trot, but all the other scores improved. We earned FIVE 7s for the directives, two 6.5s, and four 6s. That means that seven of the thirteen scores were 6.5 or higher. Even better, eleven of the thirteen scores were 6s and above!
Even though we didn't win the class, I was elated! Eliminating the 4s and 5s made me feel quite successful. Here are a few photos of Training Level Test 3.