Back to the Slog

Levi was on the back burner until I finished the last show with Joy.

He had a couple weeks off.

Pulled him out, tacked him up. Didn’t lunge. Hopped on.

Meh, he was fine. A bit more balky at the start, but nothing terrible.

Now that he’s back in work he’s progressing quickly.

I broke down the idea of outside aids to him before the “vacation”. He kind of gets the general idea.

This week I introduced the concept of moving the shoulders and haunches independently of each other with baby Turn on Haunch and Turn on Forehand.

I really thought he’d struggle with the concepts a lot more than he did. Especially the moving the shoulders part. His understanding of outside aids is still really rudimentary, so I wasn’t sure if he was ready or not. He got it though. I was shocked. Haha

We’re still working on leg yield idea. We’re progressing. He’s not the most naturally gifted athlete. Stiff, crooked, unbalanced. In walk, we can now leg yield from center line to rail either direction, LY on a diagonal line, and I started the LY to decrease/increase size of circle (spiral in/out).

It’s all baby level type work with bobbles and issues. But I was really happy with how willing he is.

What else.. he still hates the mounting block. He’ll acquiesce with bribes, but he’s still pretty sure it’s “The Place Where Beatings Occur”. If i get too aggressive about making him line up and stand, he becomes a nervous wreck.

He’s not terrible about it. It’s just annoying that I can’t walk him straight up and mount. I have to guide him up into place, assure him he’s fine, allow him to assess the situation, and then I can mount. Once I’m on though, he won’t move. I have to boot him, or drag him off balance to move away. Which completely baffles me.

He’s got this really funny behavior in the pasture. I have run-in stalls and full access to pasture currently. Joy wanders out to the pasture first. Levi stands in his stall and yells at Joy to come back.

He can walk out to her. 🤦‍♀️

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As the Judge Groans

Show Day…

The day started off with me waking up at 1:30 am for no reason and unable to fall back to sleep.

At 5:00 am, I braid up Joy and try a new technique I read about. I give her a thorough brushing, brush out her tail, and stand back to admire this glossy and beautiful pony. I almost take a pic of her, but decide not to.

I run inside to change and grab something to eat. 

It’s load up time (which is always kind of hit or miss with Joy). I run out to the barn to grab Joy and she’s COVERED in poop. Top to bottom coated in it. 

Now we’re running behind.  

It’s STILL DARK OUT!!!!

I grab the pony and head over to the trailer to load. The trailer is a black pit. Joy balks. 

I finally convince her to get in. My other horse, Levi, is hollering his fool head off. Joy’s hollering back. Everyone’s upset. I’m rattled. We’re late. I’m freaking! And our running lights refuse to work. Did I mention it’s still dark out.

Ugh!

By the time we pull in to the show grounds, it’s finally light out. I see SA there already. She was looking calm and cool. Her majestic mare was unloaded and calmly eating hay. 

We pull in and I feel like a too-wired coffee fanatic with a semi-feral pony. My heart is pounding, my hands are shaking, Joy’s screaming inside the trailer.

The slope on the parking spot was so great that I felt like I hurled Joy off a cliff to unload her.

It is at this point we realize we have lights INSIDE of the trailer. That would’ve been useful to know an hour earlier.

Joy was a ball of nerves. Her whinnies are ear shattering.  I decided to hop on and put her through a warm-up to settle her down. It’s either that or lose my hearing.  

Oh, and Joy’s braids are slowly popping out, one by one. 

First Level Test 3.

Why would a show host put Test 3 first thing in the morning?! So sadistic!

I’ve got my test memorized. My pony is responsive and feeling good. My body is working fairly well for the lack of sleep and earliness of the day. I’m a little tense, but I’m okay.

And then I realized I would have to approach the judge’s booth to give my number. The booth where my old trainer sits. The one I’ve burnt my bridge with….

Eek!!!

Wait… it was…. pleasant!

Whew!

The whistle blows! 

I entered at A.

First center line and I’m feeling okay about this. We’re fairly straight. Halt, salute. All good. Ask to trot forward and Joy decides she has the world’s worst itch that she has to scratch right at that moment.

We recover.  

I get to about the half-way point in the test and my brain blanks. What comes next?!?! Suddenly all I can think is ‘Please don’t let her blow the whistle for off course.’

Aaaaahhhh!!

Just as I’m at max freak out, I remember the rest of the test.

Whew!

Joy and I spent the rest of the test bouncing between stalling out and rushing forward, but we nail the leg yields and do passably well on the canter loops. Yay!

Then it was SA’s turn.

She enters the arena looking poised and elegant in her maroon jacket and matching fly bonnet.

And that is the exact moment someone wanted to talk to me and I missed the rest of her ride. 

I caught moments of it. She does a better lengthen. Her canter is better. I can’t tell from my view point, but her centerline and halts look better.

The scores take forever to come out, and it’s a hike to go get them, so I have no idea how I’ve done by the time the second class starts.

I’m pretty certain at this point that the whole thing is moot. I didn’t feel like the first ride went very well. There’s no way I can beat SA or SC’s highest percentage scores for year end awards (I had NEVER gotten a score higher than a 63 all year). It’s hot, I’m tired, and I can barely remember the tests.

First Level Test 1

Why am I always first to go?

Another braid popped out.

I put my game face on. I enter the arena.

Our trot work goes okay. Again, our canter work was lacking. 

We get through it. The test seems easy in comparison to the first ride. I’m tired. Joy’s tired. Some good spots, some bad.

I noticed Joy HAD to take one final step at EVERY SINGLE HALT at this show. 

At this point, I’m still under the impression that I’m just putting in the face time to get the Year End Reserve Points spot because SC didn’t show up. 

We finish the test and I hop off. Joy’s soaked in sweat. Lathered. When I scratch her neck it turns white. It’s hot and she’s been working on building her winter coat for a few weeks now.

I pull her tack, hose her off and cool her down, and then run over to the office to scratch the last test.

When I tell the office manager I’m scratching the last test, she screeches “WHAT?!?!”

I thought “Oh, how sweet, she’s worried about my pony”.

Instead she says, “Your going to win High Point if you do the last test. Get back on your pony!!” She said it with such conviction and authority that I damn near ran back to tack up my pony. lol!

I take a moment to consider how much I love ribbons, but I love my pony more and she’s been so good that I’d rather we end the show season at this point.

I tell her again I’m scratching, hand her my bridle number. 

Results:

First Level Test 3: 67.361% – https://youtu.be/VXihZHfaCYE

First Level Test 1: 68.793% – https://youtu.be/Cr-OQoPuNzE

Plus….

We won Champion High Percentage and Champion High Point.

I found that twist highly ironic.

The final scores for all the riders:

One last thing.. and more important than the show…

SA did really well with her mare. She has a horse that I highly doubt anyone else could’ve gotten to this point, and even though I have no doubt SA will be able to move the mare up the levels, she will always struggle with this mare…  And, this is the first horse SA has trained herself. Joy is my fourth I think.  SA is not only a very talented rider, but a great sportswoman and wonderful friend.  She’s someone I feel really honored to be able to compete against, and she’s a strong competitor who brings out the best in me.

At the show, we parked next to each other. After SA’s second ride she tells me that some jerk bystander (not riding) made an extremely rude and derogatory comment about her size. I mean, horrible comment. SA took it in stride. I lost my shit about it. SA rode her final test (Test 2) after the comment. I can’t even express how much I admire her. 

While she was riding her final test, I reported the jerkoff to the show managers and they scurried him off the show grounds. 

For everyone else out there showing or riding, and you’re not feeling the most confident about your weight… You’re amazing! Go ride, and I’ll flying tackle the basement dwelling jerkoffs when they show up.   

The Twists Keep Coming

It’s T minus 1 day ’til show day.

We’ve just received word of a Judge change for my classes.

The new judge is the old trainer I had a seriously bad falling out with….

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu *k!

The show Saturday, the one where everything rides on me scoring well, just got harder.

As someone who already turns into a ball of nerves wrapped in anxiety on show days, this new development adds an extra special sauce of EEEK to the experience.

Will I be able to hold it together well enough to pull out a passable rendition of First Level, WHILE being judged by the old trainer I pissed off?!?

Will I forget my all of my tests and be DQ’d for off course, sending myself into a humiliation spiral for our final show?!?

Will the judge spit on us as we turn at C?!?

Stay tuned for more of “Avandarre Really Knows How to Burn a Bridge”.

….

I’m eagerly awaiting how all this plays out on Saturday! 😂

The Twists, the Turns!!

Its T-5 days til show day.

That’s right. I entered one last show this year. I had no intention of showing for the rest of the season… BUT…

I found out I’m in the running for Reserve Champion at First Level (Year End Awards)!

Plus I need 3 shows to be eligible for year end awards.

My two main rivals are SA and SC.

Now, SA has busted butt this year to clinch the Champion spot for points. She’s attended every show and earned 47 points! Plus, she’s a mere 1% off the high Percent Champion with a 68%.

SC has only been to a few shows (like me), so her points are lower (26 points), but her high percent is 69%, which puts her in lead for Percentages.

Disclaimer: Both SA ad SC high scores were from a specific judge at the show I was going to go to but decided it was too hot. Now I wish I’d gone.

SA is a hard working, very dedicated young lady who has worked tirelessly for every gain she’s made this year. She’s improved immensely.

In the two shows earlier this year where I competed against her, I was able to beat her.

But SA’s improved a lot over the course of a year. Will I be able to beat her again at the last, and final show of the year??

Or, will SA finally crush me under her heel, proving that she has overcome training and horse issues?? Will she wave the blue ribbon at the last and final show??

SC, the far better rider than both SA or myself, chose to step aside this show.

SA and I will battle it out beteen ourselves this show.

If I beat SC in points, it’ll be a hollow victory. One earned by forfeiture rather than skill and talent. SC could’ve easily beaten me on points this show.

Will I be able to top SC’s incredible high percent at my final show (a score I’ve never gotten close to in all my years of riding? Or will SC hold on to her title of High Percentage Champion for First Level?

Who will win? Who will lose?

Tune in next time for “As the Judge Groans” to learn how it ends!!

** I really like SA and SC. I couldn’t be happier for their success this year.

I also really like how much they challenge me to become a better rider.

Hopefully no one takes this post too seriously. It’s tongue in cheek. I’ll be happy if I stay on and no unplanned ring depatures.