Saturday, June 23, 2012

A dressage show, step by step

Going to a horse show isn't simple business.  It takes months or years of training, weeks of preparation, a few frantic days of grooming, cleaning, and packing, and a long day at some far flung location.

Friday found me parked in the aisle cleaning tack.  It was just too darn hot out to ride in the middle of the day and Fiona had a very busy weekend that required nice turnouts.  We had highs in the nineties three days this week and heat indicies over one hundred.  This did not lead to a lot of practice going into our dressage show.  However, it did lead to some very clean tack.

There's something very zen about tack cleaning.  I took the day off from work, so rather than sitting in my AC and waiting for the temperatures to drop, I headed out to the barn.  No one else was around, so I got comfy in the aisle, turned on my iPod (Lady Gaga, for those that are curious), and scrubbed every bit of tack.  It meant that I was offline, away from my phone, and chilled out in a way that so very rarely happens in the modern world.  It was probably the last bit of peace I was going to have for 24 hours.

After the tack was spotless, I snagged a quick jumping lesson after the heat broke so that Fiona could stretch her legs in a way that wouldn't worry her or put her in a bad mood.  She was extremely good.  Next came a bath, some trimming, a braid job, and a lycra hood to protect her braids.  Her braids needed to last two days, so keeping them clean was crucial.  The princess was very stylish.
She is the Great Masked Avenger!  Or a very embarrased eventer being forced to be a dressage horse, one or the other.

Finally, finally, after 8pm, everything was packed and ready for our show.  Since Dorkzilla had an 8am ride time, I would be back at the barn at 4:20am.  Who needs sleep?  Clearly not me.  I went home and took care of my last minute preparations.  Due to my own sleep schedule, I didn't even attempt to go to bed until midnight since I was so very awake.  I'm a bit of a night owl.

Total sleep?  Approximately one hour.  Ugh.

Back to the barn to feed, brush, put on the shipping boots, and load.  At least I think that's what we did, we were already in zombie land.  We may have danced jigs and run amok around the barn for all I remember.  We tossed the princess and Dorkzilla onto the trailer and headed off to UNH for our big ol' sanctioned dressage show.

Now Dorkzilla had an 8am ride time.  He also have a 4pm ride time.  My ride times were 11:33am and 4pm.  That leaves a lot of time to sit around and do nothing.  What do eventers do when bored and they have their horses with them?  They go cross country schooling.  No, seriously, after Dorkzilla did his Second Level test 1 (and won his class), we changed into our cross country gear and went out for a school.  I have never seen so many double takes in my life as when we walked back through the dressage show in full cross country gear.  The people running the show kept saying 'oh, you're those riders'.  I'm not sure what to think of that, but yes, we were those riders.

While some people warm up for dressage in a nice, relaxing manner, we went out and jumped cross country with some fun canters between fences.  Hey, whatever works.

My great debut at First Level was solid.  We didn't hit the 60% I hoped for, but with 57% and a sixth place finish, we weren't exactly laughed out of the ring.  She was workmanlike and ignored my tension due to not being used to being in the large arena.  I was in the big girl ring!  Unfortunately there isn't a video of that ride, but there is a video of my later ride at Training Level test 3.

We got a 60.2% for that one.  I'm proud of the test because I was breathing through the whole thing and actually rode my test rather than being petrified.  Not competitive in a class of 24 riders, but progress for us.  I know we can do better, but right now the struggle is with myself and no one else.  Once I get it together?  Fiona will be unstoppable.

In the meantime, Dorkzilla kept himself amused.

I think that's an entire bale of hay.  We spent most of the day shoving the hay back in the trailer, only to have him yank it all back out.  It's like pony Nintendo.

After a long day at the show, we packed up while a big thunderstorm rolled in.  The timing was perfect for us, our horses didn't even get wet, but it meant that our last classes didn't even get to finish.  Tomorrow we'll find out how the Dork did in his class.  I'm not in the ribbons, not even close, but Fi was never intended to be a class winning dressage horse.  At least not with me in the saddle.

Now I'm at home, enjoying a home made beer and processing my day.

Hey, this is an important step in the dressage show experience.

There probably won't be that much productive processing until tomorrow.  Right now I'm mostly just staring at the computer screen and wondering how I'm still awake.  Evaluation of the performance and what it means for the princess's career will come tomorrow.  Tonight?  I will have a beer, relax, and enjoy the fact that I have a mare that got the comment 'sweet horse' on her test today.  I've never heard that from a dressage judge before.  Finally, they're catching on to what Fiona is really like.

1 comment:

  1. You two are turning into a great team! :)
    That photo of Dorkzilla cracks me up, he looks like he is laughing!