My big decision has been how much I want to spend and where I want to go. I did kick around the idea of going to the World Championship for Western Dressage, but it would run me about $5,000 to do it. That's mostly to get both of us to OK which is a crazy long trip. That's longer than moving the horses to Aiken or even Wellington. Seems a bit drastic when we've only done two rated shows. It would also be quite a shock for Theo who has never been in a trailer for longer than two hours. 10 days of travel and a show? He would be a wreck.
Pony says no
Since we aren't going to OK, our focus will probably be traditional dressage. I want to do some multi-day shows since I like having more than one chance at a test and it's less time in the trailer per test. Theo is still a bit of a monster in a stall, but he's learning to cope so long as I hand walk about three hours a day, hack out, keep hay in front of him at all times, and generally cater to his every whim.
Pleaaaaase release me, let me go
Keeping all of that in mind, I've got some goals for next year.
Second Level Debut
I keep putting this off for good reasons but now I think we're ready. The shoulder in, counter canter, haunches in, reinback, and 10m circles are all non-issues now. I always wonder if I have a 'collected' trot or canter like it's some sort of switch I can flip on, but Janet Foy had a good sanity check. Can you do all of the movements easily? Will the judge clutch their pearls and hope you make it or will they sip their coffee? If they're sipping coffee, then you're collected enough. So let's do this thing and start getting some feedback.
I've got the qualifying score, time to see if my pony can dance. All I need is music. And choreography. And a perfectly measured large court to practice in. Easy peasy?
Western Dressage it up
Theo's good at it, we both enjoy doing it, we need to keep at it. Probably at Level 2. Assuming we have any local shows, we may only have the championship which seems kind of crazy. I'd be more interested in campaigning Theo in western dressage if there were some actual, you know, shows. Or other competitors at Level 2. I may be the only adult ammy at this level in my region.
Schooling jumper shows
Theo also enjoys jumping. I think some jumping shows will help keep him from getting bored with the showing thing. Jumping also gets him nice and forward with no nagging from me. The more we jump, the more oomph I have. I don't want to waste my time at rated shows since I won't go higher than 2'6" (I like my clunky, front heavy horse sound), so I'll save my pennies by doing schooling shows.
This is where things get a bit crazy. I want to go back to Saugerties, specifically the regional championship. I want to qualify for the First level championships and potentially for the freestyle championship. Do I have a prayer at the championships? Nope, not in New England, but I know we'll be better prepared than our first trip and this time I'll be staying for the whole show weekend and being all the DQ I can be.
It's time. We're hard at work installing his trotting half pass, time to add the other movement we'll need for that Third 1 score. My goal is to get a change on him before he gets any older. It will take at least a year to get a change confirmed, we're going to run out of time. He's had a flying change before, but we never did get it on an actual cue and it wasn't out of a collected canter. I'm hoping that means he'll still be able to learn them even though he'll be fifteen because it won't be a new concept and it will be bigger because he's now up off his front end in the canter. I'm freaking out, but it needs to happen.
One crazy clinic
Whether it's another bombproofing clinic or working cattle, I will do one completely off the wall clinic because it's so good for us both. Occasionally horrifying, but it's made such a huge difference in our confidence. I'm leaning toward working cattle, but I heard the same fella is coming out this spring to light things on fire. Can't argue with his results.
I'm hoping I'm not setting myself up for another fall, but 2019 is currently slated to be a showing year. I'm already pinching my pennies and getting my show wardrobe ready. I'm tentatively getting excited. I do enjoy showing when my horse knows the drill and there's minimal drama. I think we're ready to go show and actually enjoy the experience.