Well, we tackled and beat down the first show of the year. Got those first show nerves out of the way, I think. I hope.
I was glad I decided to trailer in the night before the show so we could ride in the arena before the actual tests. Ava’s normally a laid back lady, but she was jazzed up at that place. It felt a tad bit like a powder keg was beneath me. I didn’t feel out of control, but it did take a wee bit of convincing to stop her from skedaddling out of there at warp speed. I chose to see it as having more forward energy then we’re used to. 😉
The great parts:
Medium canter: I haven’t practiced lengthen/medium canter much. The judge said the strides weren’t long enough, but I was actually really happy with the fact that she didn’t fall on her forehand or lose her balance too much. And I was super happy that when I half-halted with just my seat she listened and came back, all while keeping her weight more over her hind end.
Travers, Shoulder-In, and Renver: These went so much better than I had hoped. Ava, for the most part, kept her balance well, she didn’t suck back and didn’t lose momentum (not too much). Our haunches-in to the left is our hardest way, and she powered through it. The haunches-in right should’ve been the easy way, but we lost momentum. I blame it on the scary chairs and flapping things at the end of that rail.
Collected work: Some of the collected work was fantastic. We had moments where you could start to see that beautiful trot she can do. Her canter was better than I had dared hope it would be. She was balanced and engaged and it was easy to move her around.
TOH: The turn on the haunches at walk went so much better than I had hoped for. Ava was really jazzed up, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to maintain the same rhythm in the walk through the turn. I really had to fling her shoulders around her butt to keep up with her. We got 8’s on two of the four.
The bad parts:
She’s still tense. Especially during counter canter, but you can see it through most of the test. I think that we’ve come a long way with addressing this though, and I’m hopeful that by the end of the summer we can show some clear improvement in this. I think she’s improved a ton since last fall. In fact, a couple of people commented to me later that she looked less tense than last year. So, Yay! Progress.
Medium Trot: This was horrible. Just horrible. We’re just at the point in training where I can squeeze a really good one out of her when everything is set up correctly, but we’re not anywhere near anything resembling consistent. And she’s not quite strong enough yet to hold a medium trot from corner to corner. We can do a few awesome strides before she loses balance. Definitely something I’m working on this summer. We lost a lot of points on those. I think I might try cavaletti work this coming month and see if I can get her used to the idea of stretching those legs out. She’s not naturally gifted with lengthens, so we’ll have to work a bit harder at them then others do… but we’ll get there eventually.
Rider issues: The rider is tense. I didn’t ride very well. I think partly it was due to nerves. I was having a heck of a time sitting the trot though. Some days it’s easy, some days I can’t sit the trot to save my life. This day was the latter. I was also too strong with my aids in places which contributed to Ava’s tension, and in several spots I was sitting way too far forward. I need to be especially aware of my upper body during the canter. There were spots where I am way up over her withers and definitely pushing her on to her forehand.
The judges comments were descriptive and concise. I agreed with all of her assessments. The weak parts she saw were the areas I knew I was having problems with. It’s always nice to know that your views on your progress line up with what others think.
I had originally signed up for all three tests at Second Level. Test 2 and Test 3 were the first tests of the day, with Test 1 following. I ended up scratching Test 1 because I was tired, Ava was tired, and it seemed so anti-climatic to do the easiest test of the level last. Plus, Ava’s a bear to load when she’s tired, and I had wanted the whole experience to be positive for her.
That didn’t work out so well though.
It took me over an hour to get her to load. It was horrible. I just don’t get what is so scary about the trailer. If I work with her at home she’ll gladly get in and out of the trailer a dozen times without an issue. Before I take her some where she’s happy to walk right on the trailer. After I haul her some where she wants nothing to do with the trailer ever again. I take her home after a disastrous episode, work with her on loading again, and she’ll pop right on after a 5-10 minute discussion and she’ll happily stand in there munching hay with out a care in the world. Once I haul her somewhere and am trying to leave again, she won’t get on without a massive, massive fight. Every. single. time.
It was a poor way to end a really good show.
Anyway.. here are the videos. I couldn’t get them to load earlier, that’s why it took me so long to post about the show.
Second Level Test 2
Second Level Test 3