We survived. I'm happy about that.
I've been away from the computer all weekend, which is probably just as well.
Our rides were at 7.01 and 7.30 (pm). Cathy rode earliest, at like 5, which meant we had well over an hour to just hang out and look at stuff on our first trailer ride of the year. That was good. Izzy was sparkling clean (even her white sock). We wandered around purposefully, looking fabulous and seeing the sights. Izzy was tense and spooky at first, but it's amazing what a little hand grazing will do to calm things down.
When we were about an hour out from our first ride, I went to tack up. I was thinking that I'd get on, we'd meander around some more, then warm up, do the test, you know... basic stuff. Izzy was thinking PANIC!!!! Don't ask me why. She had a 20 minute long melt down while tied to the trailer. She leaped around, reared, and acted nutty. When I went to try to work with her, she kicked me. (Yeah. Never done that before.)
So I left her. When she would stand still, I'd come talk to her and give her a treat, then walk away again. Finally, she stood still long enough to actually tack up. I didn't just want to hop on after the performance she'd given, so I tried turning her loose in the round pen. That was probably a bad idea because it gave her more time to look around at stuff and since there wasn't even a lunge line, she wasn't focusing at all. I'll have to remember that for next time.
As soon as I got on, I knew I was riding a completely different horse than I was used to. She was on the edge of an explosion. Another shameless Ansur plug: because there is literally almost nothing between myself and Izzy, I can feel her back like well, there isn't a saddle. It keeps me very much in tune with her. I focused on sitting deep in the saddle while walking calmly around the arena. We did a lot of walk/halt transitions to try and get her to listen to my seat. The arena is not really level, so she wouldn't go into the contact on the uphill and then dove into my hands on the downhill. There wasn't a lot I could do, because even when she settled a little, she was still very much on edge.
Apparently, they were running the tests about 15 minutes ahead, so we didn't have much warmup time. When they told me I was next, I took Izzy quietly around the dressage arena while we waited to be called. (Visual note: the dressage arena was marked off in a corner of the much larger arena). She spooked in one corner, but I just sat and let her look at it, and then we went on. The test (Training 1) wasn't great. It also wasn't bad. She was looky. She tried to jump out at one point (I stopped her). We didn't go into our corners and our circles were only semi-round. I wasn't too worried about it. We got all our transitions in the right place. She was no worse than could be expected of a green horse.
After the test, we had a few more minutes until the next one. We worked on the same things we had before, but Izzy was getting upset. Whenever I halted her, she ran backwards. I think she was just making blind associations without really paying any attention to me. Since we've done a lot of halt/back lately, she just did it. I just tried to keep from upsetting her more. I learned from my old girl that in situations like this, I just have to wait for her brain to come back to me and upsetting her will only make it take longer.
I didn't really have her together for the next test, but we went in. Again, we weren't straight on center line and our circles were more oblongs. Still, I couldn't help my ear-to-ear smile as we did our canter circle. She felt amazing. She wasn't really happy, but she was trying her best in this terrifying new environment. Ok, so we didn't have a free walk. Yeah, our contact never improved. Sure, the halt was crooked. I was happy with her, though.
I hopped off as soon as we were out of the arena and we took Izzy and the other horses home. On the drive, I got to look over my tests. The judging seemed fair. We got a few sevens. We got a few fours. We got a lot of fives and sixes. We had some strong comments on the inconsistent contact, which was ok with me. It's something we're working on at home, and I'm aware of the problem. Izzy got sevens on gaits in both tests. I bet she'll get eights next time if I can work on the whole submission issue (we got a 5 for that).
Here's what rankled me. I got a 5 for riding with comments that the test wasn't accurate. That bugged me. Yeah, it wasn't great, but a five? I was in kind of a funk on Saturday. Cathy told me I rode well, but she's not one who dwells on the past and I'm one who tends to read too much into certain things. Yeah. I rode well for someone who's finally back in lessons after years away. Well for someone who can't be expected to do much better. It rankled me. (Not Cathy; just my interpretation of the comments). I wasn't upset with Izzy. She did exactly what could be expected. I just wanted to throw in the towel. It didn't help that my eventer friend and her halfie got a 68% and a 73% to our 55% and 56%. (Of course, they also did intro A and B).
I guess I'm over it. It wasn't as if the judge was a paid professional; she's a local (and very good rider). I'm happy with how Izzy and I did. There were a few things I wish I'd done differently, but I don't know that they would have made a difference. Izzy was nervous at her first show, which is to be expected. I could have pushed harder, sure, but she was already on the edge of an explosion. It was better to just ride her softly through it and make it a pleasant experience for her than to really drill her in hopes of getting a higher score and risking a massive meltdown. Plus, after talking to my eventer friend more, she assured me that Cathy actually said very nice things about my ride while I was out there. She probably just didn't repeat them because I really didn't ask much. I knew what was wrong, and she needed to get back and feed.
;-) Sometimes it sucks when your coach has that much confidence in you.
So, all in all, it was a good experience. Here's the only picture of Izzy from the day:
Yep. Took a picture of her white (shiny white!!) foot with my cell phone. I have pictures of Cathy and my eventer friend riding, but they're still on my camera. I totally forgot to ask someone to take pictures of us when Izzy was having her meltdown.... whoops. Maybe it's just as well. Picture us being awesome, and maybe next time we'll live up to it.