This test went just like the Introductory Test did. We came in with a few 5s, but once we got to the canter work, Sydney fell apart. For both canter movements, he blew through the shoulder at the same spot, the open end of the circle at A. The judge was very generous in that she didn't mark us off course like she could have. He left the circle completely, and I didn't get him back under control until around X. And just like the earlier test, I simply pat his neck, told him it was okay, and put him back on course.
The first time he left the B-E half circle, I focused on getting him back on track knowing that I had lost any score for the downward transition. Right at about K, I realized just in time that I needed to do a stretchy trot circle at A. With no preparation, I just gave Sydney the reins and hoped that another bolt wasn't on his mind.
Sydney loves to stretch so much that even with no help from me we still scored a 6. I am over-the-moon happy when Speedy gets a 6 for the stretchy trot; Sydney does it well with no help. I wonder what will happen when I actually prepare him? We followed the stretchy trot with a score of 7 for the medium walk and another 8 for the free walk. The trot transition was good enough for a 6. We repeated our earlier trouble at the right lead canter with another blow out and a missing transition from canter to trot. Instead of a 2, 1, 2 for the canter sequence, we at least bumped the scores up to 4s.
When we halted at X, we received a large round of applause and some verbal atta girls. It felt really good to be recognized for riding through a tough situation. I know that the crowd was "rewarding" my riding. Afterwards, I again received numerous compliments on my quiet and tactful ride. Several people asked how I was able to stay so calm even though my horse was bucking and bolting. I just smiled and replied that it wouldn't do any good to get upset.
And that's really the truth of it. Sydney wasn't being naughty to irritate me. He was genuinely anxious about what I was asking him to do. Getting upset with him would have only confirmed his fear. I didn't take it personally at all, and in fact, felt that it was my responsibility to reassure him that he was doing a fine job and that he wasn't going to get into any trouble. Hopefully, as we continue showing, he'll develop more confidence and will look to me for guidance.
Again, I am actually pleased with the test. Sydney is showing some real potential and has improved from show to show. Scores of 7 and 8 are not easy to get, and yet Sydney was able to earn them even after being upset and anxious. As his anxiety is reduced, I just know we're going to be a competitive pair.
We're going to Hansen Dam Equestrian Center on Sunday for a schooling show. I am hoping that following up this weekend's show with another right after will get him thinking about what his job is. I am not expecting total relaxation, but the only way to get there is with experience.
Here is the score sheet for this test.