1. Riding our most physically challenging test twice in one weekend is out of his reach right now, and it may always be that way.
A smarter decision on my part would have been to enter 1-2 and 1-3 on Saturday and 1-1 and 1-2 on Sunday. I can get him more fit, but he's not a Thoroughbred, and even if he is physically capable of surviving a hard test twice in two days, that second time won't be as good as the first. Quality matters a lot in Dressage.
|Those are two exhausted faces right there.|
2. 1-2 feels really f'ing good.
It just does. Love the way that test rides for us.
|We look awesome, Liz looks bored.|
3. He doesn't need a whole lot of warmup...at First.
Even now that he's more of a professional and less fired up about showing, he's still easier to ride at shows than at home. I'm not sure if it's because he actually is easier to ride, or my "welp, gotta ride what I got," mindset at shows. Turns out what I got on any given day and any given moment is good enough for First Level, but I'm know my warmup will have to change when we start showing 2nd.
4. We HAVE to develop more thrust from the hind end.
Pulling breed = naturally travels with his hind end trailing behind him = would rather pull than push. We've come a long way with the "stop pulling with your front end" campaign, but not nearly far enough with the "start pushing with your hind end" campaign. Our 1-2 scores would be low 70's for sure if we just scored better on the lengthenings. And in fact, while I was in Vegas, Connor was in partial training with the explicit instructions to work on the lengthenings.
5. Judges like his canter and free walk.
I don't think we've had a free walk yet that scored less than an 8. And if you had told me two years ago that our highest scoring gait would consistently be the canter, I would have laughed in your face. But it's true.
6. Stretchy circle champ
...when his rider realizes they do sometimes tell you whether you're allowed to sit or post a movement...file that under "mistakes that will never happen again."
7. We ARE ready for rated First Level
I hemmed and hawed and skipped the first rated show of the year in our area because I wanted to be certain we were ready. I don't regret that decision, and it's clear now that we are ready.