|we meet again|
I mean, let's be honest. This has been a big goal of mine for a long time now. Naturally, that meant that Courage decided not to play last week. At all. Just NOPE. Thankfully, we've been partners for a long enough time now that I was able to make some smart decisions about his care and some educated guesses and I thought I was on the right track until we noped our way around our warmup on our last pre-show ride.
It was bad. I seriously considered just getting off and crying. But hey. That's terrible training and I'm nothing if not stubbornly determined, so I took a walk break and a deep breath, patted my horse, and tried again.
It got better. Still not great, but better.
Which brings us to Saturday. Great things happened Saturday--I braided by myself and it looked ok (until the stupid rubber bands started randomly failing and falling out of his mane for NO ACTUAL REASON). Courage got on the trailer on the first try with zero fuss and even unloaded without scaring anyone, which is fantastic. He hung out at the trailer and didn't try to mount his show buddy (uh yeah it's happened before.) Heck, I even stayed in the arena, remembered my tests (except once when I totally blanked but somehow accidentally did the right thing anyways), and more or less rode the horse I had under me.
And what's more, I don't have to guess what would have happened if I just pushed a little harder.
If that sounded ominous, well, it should.
You see, there were also things that were not so great. I made a good plan for us at the show, but then I didn't stick to it. My first ride was around 11.30, which means I need to put my ass into the saddle at 10.30. Not watch my friend ride at 10.40, then mosey back to the trailer, then tack up and groom, then try to put show clothes on and realize I don't know how stock pins work, then get a tutorial, then meander into warm up a whole TWO RIDES before I'm supposed to be in the ring.
Nope. That was a really, really terrible idea. Of course, Courage was super looky and tense. Of course, he didn't have time to settle. Of course, I tried to make the best of it and just ride anyways. Of course, he was not so much having it. Still, tension adds that little flash of brilliance and he was almost good... so when we went to lengthen trot across the diagonal early in first-two, which is something he's normally very good at, I asked him to GO FOR IT and yeah his brain peaced out so hard...
|aka lengthen trot #firstimpressions|
Which is cool too. The judge thought it was so cool that she said "much tension" and gave us a 4.
He also up-periscoped and screamed as we headed down centerline. That got us an "inattentive". Which hey. Was fair. The whole test buzzed with tension (ya think?) and was scored accordingly (not complaining) and was my fault for completely botching the warm up. I KNOW Courage needs an hour for his first test. I screwed up and that's on me. (We landed 58% and 4th in a large class).
I stayed on and worked to get Courage relaxed. Our next test was, um, "conservative", was the word my trainer used. The judge was a little more blunt: "Use your lengthen trot as your working trot."
Again, fair. I didn't push Courage. It was our first time at first level and to me, calm, positive experiences are more important. We can add brilliance. I know he has the training. I need to plan better on the day of the show and I need to put more miles on him at this level. Showing is definitely NOT old hat to him at this point and I know that. (We got 61% and 7th NO SATIN SOB in an even larger class).
All in all, I'll take it. We stayed in the arena, did most of the movements in more or less the right places, and we definitely knew where to improve.
The only question was whether or not we could nail those things down by Sunday...
|look into my eyes|