It's amazing to me how adaptable humans are. I was horrified to go Training just last week, and this week? I went about in a relatively calm and non-chalant manner. Once the paradigm has shifted, we seem quite content to accept the new reality as though it's always been that way.
It's not to say it was perfect. Or even overly good. But I was out there doing my job without hysterics or a panic attack. It's progress.
My dressage was 'pleasant', to use the judge's words, but needed more. More energy, more bend, more self carriage. I was far too occupied with trying to ride my first Training test in that little dressage arena to worry about little things like actually riding my horse. The letters come up fast when the ring is little. We got a harsh score of 42.7, but she was a bit rough with the class. The lead score was a 35 or something like that. We were last in a division of six, but I was pleased that I had remembered my test.
I went to swap my gear to jumping equipment and realized I'd forgotten my vest. Of all pieces of equipment to forget, it was my vest!!! That's what you get when you work long hours and then pack at 4:30am. In desperation I went looking for anyone that would lend one to me, but everyone riding with my barn was off helping. I didn't recognize any of the equipment in the trailer, so I dejectedly went to stadium thinking I wouldn't get to ride cross-country. Lo and behold, I found the barn's teenagers playing jump crew. I told them why I wasn't mounted and they immediately took off to get me vests. Of course this means I was stuffed into a skinny teenager's vest, but I take it as a point of pride that I was able to get it zipped up. Who needs to breathe while jumping? I don't usually breathe while jumping anyway!
At this point, the horse before me is already heading into the ring. One of the girls gave me a leg up and I took off for warm up. I trotted into warm up and right over the cross rail. The poor Meathead was still figuring out that we were jumping now when we moved on to the Training height vertical and oxer. 30 second warm up and then we charged into stadium, just barely on time.
I also didn't get a chance to walk my stadium course. I read the map, but never actually went into the arena. Oops.
So there I am, facing my first Training stadium course in wet grass with no idea on distances. Thank goodness for all of those years riding as a jumper. I rode very forward and we actually had a really good round. We left all of the fences up and didn't miss any jumps. We did have a bit of trouble with the combinations, since I didn't know how many strides they would be until I was on top of them. The one stride worked beautifully, we took a long spot to the two stride and ended up chipping in to get the second stride in. All that matters is that Ben and I got around and left everything up, a bit of a rare feat for that course.
Due to half of my division getting eliminated by missing fences on cross country and someone else getting a stop, Ben and I finished second. We were the only ones in the division to end on our dressage score. I was definitely feeling proud of our achievement, even if our cross country time would have been terrible due to my schooling.
Ben's next outing is with a junior rider that is borrowing him due to her horse's injury. Yes, yet another junior rider wants to borrow my pony. I seem to have a theme. He'll be off to UNH to run Novice (or Beginner Novice, depends on whether or not they were able to change her division). She's a tough cookie, I'm sure she'll be able to handle him cross country. But I already told her, leave the spurs behind for that phase. I forgot to take them off with the vest fiasco. It led to a sharp stadium round, but an explosive cross country course. I don't think she'll need that for Novice.
As for me? I'm going to take August off from showing so I can focus on my school work and getting some of the pieces in place. As the dressage judge said, we have a lot of work to do and I have some fitness work ahead of me if I want to compete at 400 mpm.
But come September, we may be ready to go Training at a sanctioned event. Paradigm shifted.