Let's just say last weekend's show didn't go to plan. Or that it was a great reminder that horses are horses.
|After 1-3. Connor "WTF just happened?" Me: "Dammit, horse."|
Thanks to Paul Wood for the photo!
Our first test went really well. Once again, a test that I didn't feel was that great scored several points higher than the rest of the class - 68.75%. I don't know how to talk about this phenomenon without sounding conceited so I am REALLY sorry, but I think I'm getting used to his "Wow!" quality of work at home, and when I only get 'meh' out of him at a show, it feels bad to me but has consistently scored well over six straight tests now. I guess that's why they say show one level below what you're schooling?
The first judge was determined to give you a 7 unless you gave her a reason to give you something else. So one 6 and one 6.5 (just like the last show, lowest scores for the opening trot work), 8's in the medium walk and free walk, and 7.0's for literally everything else.
The first test, 1-2, was in a grass ring pretty far away from the second test which was in a sand ring. And before I tell you how 1-3 went (the test I needed 60% on, remember) let me remind you we have never shown here before, and we haven't shown away from the Hoosier Horse Park in a long time.
I gave him a great warmup, and then we went into the ring, which as of 8pm last night was being sump pumped out because there was a lake at C. The ring was in sunlight, but the judge was in a tent shaded by a building with a wall of potted roses in front of it.
You can probably see where this is going...
Every time we passed the judge at C, Connor threw his head up, bent away from the judge and skittered sideways. There was also a ton of mud at C, which doesn't bother him, but I'm sure combined with the scary judge it didn't help.
|I swear he can go around relaxed. Honest. Photographic evidence.|
The first time he teleported was on the stretchy circle, and I actually forgot my test for a moment, I was so caught off guard. I gave him a couple of movements past C where I was relaxed and trying to get him to relax using my body, but he wasn't listening, so I said "F you horse" and MADE him listen. We actually managed to get close to the letters after that, but it still wasn't relaxed or accurate, because I took up a ton of contact on purpose to try and, y'know, get somewhat close to the rail at C.
Her remarks were "Although willingly on bit in most of test, was against your hands and not keeping steady, relaxed tempo. Once you can get the relaxation so more give and take (?) scores will rise and you will be able to ride more accurately."
Sigh, I know. I have five other tests from the past 60 days that prove he can go around like the ten year old he is and not a pretend three year old. But, they can only judge the ride they see. 55%, our first sub 60% (sub 62% actually) all year.
I'm not that disappointed, honestly. I learned a good lesson: no matter how good he is at home and the Hoosier Horse Park, he can still be a twit when we go to new places, depending on the ring setup. (He was totally fine in the grass ring we rode in for 1-2!) The first time we go to a new place needs to be a schooling show or as a non-compete, and my expectations need to be really low.
|Why I show at the HHP so much: 6 rated shows and a pile of schooling shows every year, and my horse is closer to my house during shows than he is normally.|
No matter how educated he gets, he's still always going to be Connor, for better and for worse. Mostly for better. The quirks keep me on my toes in a good way, but I was caught flat footed on this one.
|He spent the morning figuring out how to pull that ball on the sliding door latch, and probably would've gotten it if he'd had another couple of hours. Ponies, I tell ya.|
Finally, I have to mention that although I was showing alone, I didn't feel like it, as Kelly, Paul and Alexis were stabled right across from me with Fergie and Riva (and Liz was right next to them). We even got this super cute picture of Fergie and Connor - go Castleberry Cobs! A massive thank you to Paul Wood for staging and taking this photo, it's one of my favorites ever!
|LOVE everything about this! And believe it or not, there was no squealing involved in this photo. They sniffed politely as long as we allowed them.|