Theo has been called Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde on many occasions. Today he took it to the extreme.
First test of the day was Training 2. I tacked up and headed up to warm up, no big deal. I noticed he was a bit edgy, but figured that was because the upper level horses were doing their big, powerful cantering and passaging and whatever else. Little did I know that Miss Thang was screaming for him in the barns. As we left warm up to go over to the area for on deck riders, he popped a couple of bucks and tried to barge out the gate to go home. Huh, that was rude, but whatever. I turned and sent him to finish warming up by his ring.
He was tense and distracted, turning his head toward the barns. I thought I heard Miss Thang, but disregarded it as paranoia. When it was our turn, he gave me some trouble about the judge's booth, but it seemed manageable. I came down centerline, did my salute, and went to track right. The wheels promptly came off. I made the tent full of training judges inhale sharply at one point in my test because they thought he was going to get me off. The judge was quite diplomatic in her comments. The first obnoxious canter depart got me a 'too playful in transition'. The next move was 'a little rude'. Going from medium walk to working trot (when everyone winced and thought he had me), I got 'strong resist' and a 2. Never gotten a 2 before. Then a 3 for our canter right lead with a 'resistance' which was a polite way of saying 'attempted pirouette to escape terrifying judge booth'.
Final comment: Horse not a team player today. Rider handled a tough ride tactfully.
Submission score: 3
Final score: 54.4%
Well. Okay then.
We went back to the warm up ring and Miss Thang was brought up by her teen so she'd quit screaming. Someone's coming into heat. Once she shut up, Theo was able to focus. Fifteen minutes of work got us to the point we could take him down to the barn with a good last impression in his brain. He got an hour off to chill and give me some time to come up with a new game plan. Back up we went for test 2 of the day, our Training 3 test and the one we needed a 63% in to get our qualifying score. This suddenly seemed an impossible task.
Miss Thang was riding right after us so no screaming from her. Mi papi had worked himself down pretty well and with another 40 minutes of work in the warm up ring, he was ready to listen so I'd quit bugging him. We went back into the ring to redeem ourselves. The training judges braced themselves as we started to circle the ring. Theo froze next to the judge's booth, peeking around to see who was inside. The judge quipped 'I didn't bite you last time, you know'. She rang the bell, I girded my loins, we marched down centerline.
Damn my life if the pony didn't decide to lay down a perfectly respectable trip. He shied one time which got us a 4, but otherwise did very well. He got six 7's and a comment about us being an elegant pair that handled the tension well.
Submission score: 6.0
Final score: 65.0%
Why couldn't he have done that the first time?! I know he was barn bound and scared, but the bucking was quite obnoxious. But since he didn't manage to rattle me or escape, he learned that he has to go in and march. Even when there's no one around for support and the judge's booth is terrifying. It's a good reminder that although he's been very honest for me, he's still a green bean at showing. This is his first away show. His second sanctioned show ever. His first completed sanctioned tests. Considering in his past they couldn't get him in the ring, this is a big win.
I am now sunburnt, coated in aloe vera, exhausted, eating ice cream, but accomplished. That was our goal for the weekend, to get that first qualifying score. We did it. Just one more to qualify for regionals and our score tomorrow doesn't matter. We can't get two qualifying scores at the same show. Tomorrow is just practice for what kind of warm up he needs and marching into the ring on the first try. It's just extra miles for him. Hopefully he'll remember what he did today and won't make me spend another day getting compliments about my excellent seat because my dressage horse didn't succeed in unloading me.
Though I don't really mind people being impressed by my riding. I just wish it wasn't for my ability to be unrattled when my horse thinks the move is 'bronc hard at C'.