Our warm-up was an effort to just not explode and take out the rest of the riders. I didn't even try to trot. I simply insisted on a calm walk without his head twelve feet in the air. His back was so hollow that his belly almost touched the ground, but I kept working him. Eventually, I just walked down to the show ring, and since I was the first rider, I was able to finish warming up in there.
Surprisingly, as soon as we got in the ring, some of his tension melted away and he actually started to relax. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. The only good thing about the test was that we actually got both the left and and right lead canter departures. For the left lead canter we earned a 5 with the comment, needs more forward stretch. For the right lead, we scored a 4.5 with the comment, spooking, good recovery. (The next rider's horse had started fussing near A which caused us some big trouble. We earned a 2 for the downward transition).
My plan for the second test was to be much more insistent that he focus on me. I can't push him too hard or he'll have a melt down, but I knew that I needed to be much more assertive. I walked back down to the ring and picked a spot to just let him stand. To his credit, he stood rock solid for three full tests. He chewed his bit and shook at flies, but his feet never moved.
When our time rolled around, I walked him into the arena (there was no alley) and down to the judge. We chat for a minute, and then she rang the bell. I continued walking and then at about B, I asked for a trot. The test was still far from good, but finally, we made it through a test that was actually worth scoring. We earned a 57.50%, a full 10 percentage points higher than the first test. We had no 4s and ten 6s! We also had three 6.5s on our collectives.
The best improvement was for impulsion. On the first test, we scored a 4.5, but for the second test, we bumped that up to a 6. In fact, my collective marks rose from 38 points on test 1 to 47.5 points on test 2, a 9.5 point difference! The judge wasn't effusive with her comments, I'd been warned about that, so her very short, Better test. Will be a nice team! was very welcome.
During the warm-up, a less experienced rider lost a bit of control and came at us head on. Not knowing which way she was going, I stopped. She came so close to us that she brushed my inside leg. Sydney stood rock solid, for which I was extremely grateful. She apologized profusely, but since no one was hurt. It was fine.
So now, the venue part of the experience is not an issue. I can depend on him to load politely, travel well, and settle in to a strange stall. That's at least one part of showing that I can put in the no problem column. Getting him to focus on me while in the ring is the next hurdle. If anyone knows how long that takes, please feel free to share.