I love my horse.
After two days of showing, I decided to scratch my T2 test and just run my T3 test. As I got my second qualifying score on Saturday, it was just for the experience. After seeing things like 'lazy' and 'sluggish' on previous tests, I went in on a mission. I wanted to razz my pony up and get a fire burning. I didn't dare to do this before when explosion was a real risk, but this time, I took the risk. What did I have to lose?
I also let him wear his big bling. I told him that horses that don't bronc get to wear bling. After two days of solid tests, I figured he'd earned it.
He was surprisingly hot in the warm up. Short warm ups seem to be the way to get him through multiple days. Saturday he did two very short warm ups, one was 15 minutes and the other was 20. That left him with enough energy for a 20 minute warm up today even with the over 80* temps and hot sun. I did a lot of transitions and pushed his buttons a bit, getting him up on his toes. I took the risk that he would explode and wound him up like I do at home when I want him to really lift.
When the horse before me trotted out, I turned and trotted him directly into the competition area. And like clock work, I heard a bunch of bangs from the road. I looked over and a trio of tractors pulling empty trailers were going by at about 35 mph. They made a horrible racket. The horse in ring 4 spooked and went sideways. Theo turned into a giraffe and started to rear. All of that explosive energy?
I have a specific way I say Theo's name when I call him in from his field. It's a sing song version that comes out 'Theee-oh'. I have trained him to trot up to the gate in exchange for a treat. I immediately said 'Theee-oh' and grabbed a cookie from my pocket. Forget being scared, there were ginger cookies! Theo immediately forgot the terrifying trailers and reached around for his treat. It was like a light switch. I adjusted my reins while he chewed and then we trotted off to circle around the ring like nothing had happened.
I loved my test. It wasn't as accurate, but it was energetic and responsive. I went big. I went for the energy, the forward thinking. I didn't play the cautious game. I rode my ass off to ask for more without having a melt down. We did have a miscommunication and a gorgeous walk to canter transition that wasn't in the test, but screw it. He felt amazing, confident, almost eager.
We got a freakin' 57%. I couldn't believe it. It was the same judge that was marking us 4-5 points below everyone else all weekend. She didn't like Theo. She called him LAZY in the comments. It was the most energetic test he's given me! Trainer A gave me a big thumbs up for going big and a complete stranger came over to compliment me. I was so proud of him, I floated back to the stables. Seeing the comments made me see red. WTF. Seriously, I usually will find something I agree with in every judge's comments. No, not this time. Theo gave me everything he had. With our accuracy issues, I figured 61% or 62%. Not good, but not terrible. 57%. Everyone that saw our test was slack jawed at that score. For the record, 54% is what we got for the test where Theo bronc'd and made everyone gasp in fear.
That judge will be one to avoid. She has a thing against draft crosses. She knocked 5 points off of Trainer A's ride with a green bean as well, even though the second test was better and more relaxed as an Introductory test. She went from a 69% to a 65% in the span of an hour. Lesson learned.
We packed up very quickly and had the kids home by 2pm. I sent Theo out into a pasture after his four days of stall life, despite the mares all going into stalls for the night.
Right after this, he had a big roll. That was followed by some bucking, loud snorting, and cantering about. He's learning to deal with stall life for shows, but he's much, much happier outside. When I left, he was grazing and looking more relaxed then he has since Thursday.
I'll do my analysis of the weekend later, but for now, we had a successful weekend. He didn't bronc in the ring and we got our second qualifying score. We also scored our best as a pair. It wasn't perfect, but he wasn't recognizable compared to our previous show. Our first show we averaged 59.6%. This show was 62.3% and no bucking or spooking in the ring.
Bring on First Level.