1. The Warm-Up… this is still a tricky one for me. Speedy isn’t hot, at all. In fact he’s a pretty mellow fellow who thinks he’s tired after twice around the arena. He doesn’t need to be lunged. He doesn’t need the edge taken off. He doesn’t worry about the hoopla and is in fact, quite content to sit and watch the world pass by. In short, he thinks shows are about eating the goodies he gets when he’s finished.
So what’s the trouble? The trouble is that I never know how long I really need to warm-up. For us, warm-up is about warming up our bodies. We both need a few minutes to stretch and get our blood flowing. I also need a few minutes to remind Speedy G about rounding up a little (we’re still at the little stage) and to accept the bit with some obedience. And…that’s…it.
So how long does that take? I am finding that all I need is about 20 minutes. Too much? Not enough? I don’t know - that’s the trouble!
2. The Judge… I like the judge. I like to be judged. I want to develop a relationship with the judge. This strikes me as quite funny since at my first show I couldn’t even see the judge. I simply saluted into a void. It wasn’t until about the fourth show that I realized the judge waved back!
After a few shows, my perception expanded beyond the letter markers to include the judge’s station. I am still completely unaware of anything outside of the actual dressage court, including people. I genuinely can’t even see them. I am pretty sure it was Coach who instructed me to ride forward at the end of the test to address the judge in some way. I had been flippin’ a u-turn and high-tailin’ it outta there. Address the judge? Why would I even want to do that? I was already afraid of getting kicked out for being an idiot!
But I did it. As I enter the arena, I now stop at the judge’s station. I wait quietly until she looks at me and I politely give her my rider number and clarify which test I am riding. Each time, the judge acts pleasantly surprised that I have done so. Am I onto something? Is this an unusual thing for riders to do? At the end of my test, as I continue forward, I also thank the judge for her time and usually receive a very warm, “you’re welcome!”
I like the judge. Without judges, how would we ever be able to test what we’ve learned? Thank you judges!