Between Test 2 and Test 3, I only had about a half an hour. I walked Speedy back to his stall but left all of his tack in place, even his bridle. He took a good drink of water, which I was happy about, and then just stood and waited patiently. I reviewed Test 3 for the hundredth time, and just thought about how I wanted to ride. I didn’t know what my Test 2 score was, but I knew I had ridden it as well as I could so I would do the same with Test 3.
With 20 minutes to go, I walked Speedy back over to the warm-up ring. I’ve learned that he doesn’t really need a second warm up. All he does need is to stretch his legs and maybe move his neck and back around. Since it is the trot loops that are the difficult element in Training Level Test 3, I focused on changes of direction by riding a few shallow serpentines. As my time approached, I called the warm-up quits and walked over to the covered ring to wait our turn.
Just like the test before, as I entered at A, I knew we were prepared. The loops weren’t perfect, but I felt like I was in control. Even on the long canter stretch that starts at A and finishes at X, Speedy stayed with me. In the past, he has gotten stronger and stronger as we near X. Not this time; he was listening and transitioned pretty nicely; we scored a 6.5.
As always, our stretchy trot was just barely satisfactory, and I suspect the judge was lenient there as she gave us a 6. I find the placement of this stretchy trot a real challenge because it comes at B as we head for “home.” Speedy knows that trotting down the long side means we’re nearly finished, but in this test, the stretchy trot interrupts the flow of that long side trot. He can get pretty pushy as I ask for the right bend, which takes us away from A. Even though the judge might have been a wee bit generous, I know it was a better stretch than in the first test.
So what was our score? An impressive 65.000%, and again, no 5s anywhere on the score sheet! All day long I kept checking the posted scores to see how our scores compared to everyone else’s. Since I don’t usually score in the upper 60s, I really wanted to see if the judge had just been generous. What I discovered was that my scores definitely fell within the top third of the scoring spectrum. She gave a couple of 70-somethings, a few 50-somethings, and a lot of scores in the low 60s.
Does scoring in the “upper” 60s make me something “special?” No. Will I still earn disappointing scores? Undoubtedly. For now, I am going to take this “win” and hug it to my heart knowing that on this day, Speedy and I showed that we are a capable team.
Sunday’s tests tomorrow …