Theo's called Expect the Unexpected for a reason. I never know what he's going to do when I head into the ring. Leading up to this show, a lot of people were excited for us. He'd won his last four tests in a row and done no worse than second all season in western dressage. Those odds are not bad, especially when it's all the same people going to the championship. But I didn't want to get excited because naughty Theo could easily show.
He came off the trailer like a nuclear bomb on Tuesday. Snorting, prancing, much carrying on. I seriously considered lunging him until I remembered I didn't pack and lunging gear. Whoops. So into the saddle I went to go get him used to the spooky indoor ring and wear down some of that excess energy. 45 minutes later, good Theo was back and strolling around the indoor with loops in his reins, totally chill.
His reward for his good behavior? A bath. He was not pleased.
We walked around the property until the bugs drove him back into his stall. I tucked him in with enough hay for the entire row of horses, gave him a kiss, and took off. The morning found him with zero hay left and a bored pony wanting to know why he was still in prison. More handwalking for the pony, this time in the indoor warm up due to passing thunderstorms. My first test was at 9am so I hopped on at 8:15. Early, yes, but he was starting to drag his nose along the bars in frustration in his stall. Better to chill in warm up and let him spectate. Our test was at 9am right on the money. I walked him into the show ring on looped reins and he settled in without batting an eyelash.
We got a 68% for the test and won the class. We got dinged for a 'labored' left lead canter and Theo was a bit distracted by the food truck setting up outside. I can't complain about a 68% in any way, so Theo went back to hand walking and eating everything in sight while we waited for our second test. I swapped to my rowels since there's a lot more canter in Level 1 Test 4 and I didn't want anymore 'labored' comments.
I liked our second test better. He was more up in front of my leg and it all felt more confident. It's a tougher test so we ended up with a 66%. Still won our class, but I know we can get a few more points. I got dinged on accuracy for this one since some of my circles wobbled and our leg yield to X included Theo overshooting X and not noticing me trying to send him back the other way.
The average of 67% got us the Level 1 Adult Amateur champion ribbon.
Theo and I aren't usually the pair to get a big ribbon. I've been middle of the pack (or lower) since before I started riding Fiona. Theo is used to getting participation trophies on his good days. For us to get a real, honest to goodness champion ribbon is blowing my mind. Yes, the division was small, but it's a new discipline and damn it all, we were the best today. I'm not going to let myself make this into anything other than a total win.
I may have teared up when I got my ribbon. Just a bit.
Our whirlwind 2018 season has come to an end. My western saddle is coming home so that I can clean it and put it up for sale. I found the most amazing, perfect saddle at the show so I need to sell my current one and fund the upgrade. It's all dressage gear for awhile as I eyeball doing Second at a schooling show or two this fall to set my goals for the winter.
Someone asked me if I was going to Worlds. I laughed and said no way. And they said 'oh, then next year, right?'. Crap. Now I'm thinking about it. Oklahoma isn't that far away, right?