I've written before on what moving up means. It's usually a lot of nerves and anxiety, particularly in the jumping disciplines. I've discovered that there's a certain level of anxiety that goes with moving up in dressage, but there's a lot of panache that goes with the title. So and So is a Third Level Horse. Note all of the capital letters. But in order to get that title, you have to go show and get that score.
Today I officially moved Theo up to First. This was not a move up for me, the Princess and I put in a lot of miles at this level and the Hellbeast introduced me to this level many years ago. For Theo, it was a milestone. The last time he was at UNH, he was eliminated for using the rail as a warm up fence. After our busy spring campaign, I felt it was time to move him up to the level we're actually working on at home.
His leg looked fantastic this morning after a night out in turnout with a poultice wrap. No worries at all there!
Our first test was Training 3. I had it as a back up in case we didn't qualify at GMHA. UNH is usually a very compact show, but they decided to run three sand rings and not use their grass ring. That had us hauling across the campus to ring 3 for our first test. Mi papi was quite sure the high tunnel and silo the students use were going to eat him. He turned himself inside out trying to get away from that thing. He was being a bit of a stud all morning so I showed up to warm up with an hour to work. It also gave Miss Thang company for the walk down. After about fifteen minutes and a game of Touch It with a tarp, he decided being a stud was dumb and we stood in the shade and watched the other horses warm up.
Our test couldn't have worked out any more perfectly. Something happened in the test before mine and the TD needed to talk to the judge. That left me circling the ring for about three minutes. That gave Theo time to stick his head in the judge's booth and say hi to the scribe, spook badly at the tent full of judges in training and then go stick his head in to visit them, get cookies for his bravery, completely circle the ring at the trot in both directions, and then canter on his right lead around the outside. The judge was great about communicating with us what was going on so I didn't wear Theo out while they sorted something out (I heard the word 'eliminated' so it was serious). When she rang the bell, mi papi marched down center line like he owned it.
Trainer A said it was the best canter work she's seen us do in a test. 65% and third place. Whoop whoop!
We got an hour to let Theo graze and chill with his saddle off before my First 1. The saddle went back on and we went to an all new warm up before marching across a grass field, behind another judge's booth, and on to our ring. For my agoraphobic horse, it was a nightmare. I was more proud of his trot to the ring than anything else he did all day. He trotted from warm up, across that field, behind the judge's booth, and right up to his own ring. We had more judges in training, so he had to give them a hard look. He saw a blue cooler peeping out from behind the judge's booth and that was the only thing that made him fully stop. I think he was ready for lunch.
He laid down a very nice trip. I got yet another error due to mixing up tests in the middle, and we both started to circle at B in the right lead canter out of habit which totally nixed our lengthening, but the test was confident and calm. The canter transitions were accurate, the lengthenings were a little sad but we tried. We got an 8 for one of our 10m half circles. I got a 7 for rider's aids and accuracy. Overall, we got a 63% and second place for Theo's grand debut at First Level!
Trainer A was proud as punch of us. I was ecstatic with my pony. This was our first show in a while where I couldn't school the rings before the show. I was worried he wouldn't go in and work, but he's figured this game out. Centerline means it's time to go to work and cookies are a thing even when in competition. There's no rule against handing a horse a cookie before the bell rings and I've done it three times now to convince him that trotting boldly past the judge is a wonderful thing.
Now we have a month and a half off from showing and I'm so ready for it. Time for jumping and trail riding July!