I love the feeling of being done with a horse show! Finally those nervous jitters are gone and I leave feeling motivated and inspired to keep going.
This weekend’s show left me feeling inspired to be a more effective rider.
Saturday stared off brutally with a 4 a.m. alarm. We arrived at the show by 7 a.m. in time for a 50 minute warm-up. Willoughby felt awesome. He was totally calm and relaxed and felt very supple in the warm-up. I really focused on keeping him soft in all the transitions and riding each stride so I could catch him before he took over (he likes do things his way sometimes!). We went in for our 2nd level test 3 totally focused. He was with me each stride and the movements at times felt easy. Towards the end of my test I was feeling really confident so I really asked him to extend for his medium canter, and he did. For our final halt, we practically extended down centerline. We both we’re digging the test! We scored our personal best at 2nd level with a 70%, winning the class.
2nd level test 4 didn’t go as well. There was a horse off in the distance grazing on a hill so Willoughby was distracted. But so was I. I don’t know who was fixating more on the grazing horse, Willoughby or I. With both of us slightly distracted, the test didn’t go as smoothly. Willoughby was a little bit more up in his neck, making his back more hollow. During the transition back in our medium canter we hit the side of the arena, startling us both so I had to throw in an extra circle to regain the quality, which ended up helping but also costing some points. We placed 2nd in the class with a 63%. Not perfect, but oh well.
Today I went out a groomed for Eva and Final. The weather was horrendous and they were brave to face it! As we tacked up there was a huge gust of wind, turning the parking lot in to a giant dust storm. I was ready to call it quits there but not Eva and Final!! They rode out in the rain for 40 minutes preparing for their 4th level test. Final looked like a pro out there and didn’t seem to mind the rain. Eva was really happy with the way he felt in the warm-up but felt he got tense during the test. She still ended up winning her class though, stormy weather and all!
On our ride back to the barn today we talked about how we should really be more diligent about test riding. We’re going to make it a weekly habit to ride through our tests and simulate a show experience. We both need to figure out how we can regain ourselves in a test. So I leave this show motivated to learn how to be a more effective rider at home, in the warm-up, and in the show ring.