And things were going so well.
The theme of today's show was 'how many ways can Catie try to get eliminated?'. Let's see:
1. No throatlatch. I forgot to grab my throatlatch since I was packing off of the list from the hunter show. That's required equipment and I realized it was missing about 35 minutes before my test when I was about to get on. No other bridle in the trailer since I was the only one at the show. We ended up taking my spur straps, hooking them together, and clipping them to Theo's browband. Tada, throatlatch! Sort of. I had enough of a throatlatch so we could show, but I was on pins and needles until after the tack check about it.
2. Corner of death. We were at the same facility as the hunter show on Saturday. The one where it took me 20 minutes to get him to go all the way around the ring. When we pulled in and I saw a competition ring set up with the judge's booth right on top of the corner of death, I just knew we would be assigned that ring. And sure enough, we were. The good news is that having Theo in dressage gear and doing a dressage warm up got him through the corner in about 15 seconds, but the judge was checking her watch as my horse bucked, spun, and generally threw a fit.
3. Step in/out of the ring. While he was temper tantruming, he started to jump into the ring as an escape route. I was able to stop that, but it was a close thing. He bumped the rail. Pretty sure jumping over the rail and into the ring before the bell rings is a problem.
4. Spur rub. Yes, he still has a rub, and dying the coat or hide is illegal. So I left my spurs in the trailer (and the spur straps on his bridle) and rode like that. No problem with the tack check since I didn't have spurs on, but that meant that my horse thought it was ploppy pony time. Spurs = serious business ride. No spurs = school pony ride. That does not lead to good scores in my experience.
We did manage to get in the ring, complete the test, and not get eliminated. But we got a 58%. I wanted to cry. I was so upset my chest hurt. It's so frustrating to come so far, then have it all fall apart as soon as we go to a sanctioned show.
What happened? My horse was freaked out by the ring (though light years better than on Saturday), so the first half of my test was me trying to baby him along and complete the movements in a recognizable way. He was off the contact and unfocused. For the second half? He dropped behind my leg and I had no damn way to get him back. He realized I didn't have spurs and I suddenly got the Theo from over a year ago. I didn't think I was going to make it through my canter pattern without a break. One good bump with my spur would have gotten him back on the contact, but that wasn't an option. I guess I'm not the only one that thinks the spurs are mandatory equipment.
It wasn't the show anyone expected or wanted. Trainer A is throwing Theo on the trailer for every outing with a dressage ring, even the three phases, just to get both of us over this hump. We can do that test quite nicely, but we fell on our faces today. Badly. I growled and grumbled and sulked. She's not concerned, she's seen us go enough times to know that we can do it and quite easily, but we're both easily distracted by being at a show. A couple of little oopsie moments going into the test and we were thrown completely off the rails.
So I'm still upset. Very upset, frustrated, disappointed. Not with Theo, really. Considering the theatrics he gave me on Saturday, his reluctance to go into K in his test was very mild and generally I was more concerned about it than him once the test started. Mi papi has done enough dressage tests at this point that he understands how it works and things outside of the little white box are not a problem once we've gone down center line. He didn't want to leg yield into that corner, but most of the test he went along with the plan. No bolting, barging, bucking in the test even with the terrifying corner.
I'm frustrated with him that he relapsed to being completely behind my leg in the warm up once he realized I had no spurs (whip taps didn't really get us much, they've never been much of a motivator for him). Trainer A says we need a more gradual weaning, not to rip my spurs off and then go show, expecting it to be just fine. I agree. It was a mistake to ride a test in a ring that gives us so much trouble without my very effective tool, but it was also the choice I had to make because I screwed up and gave him a rub.
Video of the test is uploading for everyone's entertainment. No video of the broncing display, Trainer A cut the video at the first sign that it was going to get ugly. And I paid for photos, so hopefully there will be some pics out of the ride that don't embarrass me too much. His new navy browband is gorgeous and matches my navy coat perfectly, so at least our turn out was on point.
So we had a bad outing. It happens to everyone. Olympians get rung out for disobedience and the best horses in the world have days where they just aren't feeling it. It's horse show life. I get that. That doesn't change how awful it feels.