|Early morning Cuna|
In order to maximize Happy Cuna, I hung a hay net for him at the trailer and left him alone for the next 30 minutes. He does like his me time.
The real test was when I came back. I know he'll sometimes hold a grudge, and after the trauma of the day before, I wasn't sure how he was going to come out. I speed tacked him, brushed the hay off, and climbed on. We walked to the warm up ring and I picked up the reins.
I was shocked. He was soft, almost bendy. He moved off my legs and didn't hurl his entire bodyweight into my hands. Oh. Wow. Admittedly he wasn't very forward, but I was happy. I didn't want to piss him off, so we walked around for a few minutes before we went in for our test.
He promptly spooked at the judges' booth. I had trouble containing my laughter as we readdressed it. He definitely noticed the atmosphere difference between the show arena and the warm up. Instead of being soft and bendy, he was a bit braced and against my hand. We battled our way down centerline, braced through the corners and decided against stretching at all. Given that training level coefficients are on the free walk and stretchy trot, it was not the best test ever. Regardless, he did most of the movements and we stayed in the arena. I took him back to the trailer and let him chill in the shade with his buddy for 10 minutes.
|At a dressage show|
We were using the full dressage arena for our next test instead of the tiny small arena. Cuna and I trotted around it and waited for the bell to ring. I did some bend/counterbend when he wanted to get stiff and we headed down centerline. The advice S gave us was ringing in my ears, "Don't rush your halt. Get it right, then salute."
So we did. I took my time, had Cuna standing on all four legs, and then saluted. I broke the test into pieces and rode each piece like I would a jump course. Cuna blew me away. He was soft and round. I found myself chanting the mantra S loves. "More leg, MORE CORE, shorten the reins." When we turned up the longside for our free walk on two diagonals, I pushed my hands forward and asked Cuna to stretch. HE DID IT. No bracing, coming above the bit, or otherwise pissing off with me.
At our final halt, I couldn't stop smiling. My horse was soft, bending, and responsive. We had put all the pieces together into a lovely test that I was super proud of.
Both S and Steph congratulated me as I rode out of the arena and I explained to the ring steward about how Cuna was the cutest horse OF ALL TIME. I pulled his tack off, gave him a drink, and let him relax at the trailer.
|Plus we got ribbons!|
There's always room for improvement, but I was absolutely thrilled with how Cuna went and how I rode. We have come so far together that it's kind of ridiculous.
He thought the whole thing was completely asinine. When I turned him out that evening, he galloped around like a wild man and played with his buddy.
No worries--next time we show, there will be jumps.
PS I will post show pictures when I get them.