It would be sufficient to say that this week did not go as planned. Not that I’m terribly upset; all is well and the world isn’t going to end, but if I’m honest it is not the way I wanted to end the season. But before we get to all that, let’s start at the beginning!
Saturday Dressage Schooling
Our schooling Saturday was utter crap. Foster started out nicely but progressively got heavier and heavier in my hands. He bounced between my aids like no one’s business- if he leaned on his right shoulder, I would block it, and he would lean on my left hand, and so on and so forth. Not wanting to get myself or him into a tizzy, I said a few bad words, found a decent note to end on, and called it a day.
The Course walk
We got out on course with just a little daylight to spare. Just like at the last course, which made it clear that it was a recognized course from a maximum height first fence, this course was evident that we were once again at a schooling show. Fence 1 was shared with beginner novice, and the following 3 fences were quite straightforward. Fence 5 was on a downhill slope, then 6A-B was the sunken road where the B element was on the tougher uphill side. Then breeze over 7, attack the scary brush fence (not so scary since we jumped it last time!), and the rest of the course was somewhat nondescript fences from there, with the addition of a bank and a water element. We definitely ran out of daylight about halfway around, and as you can see, it was really tough to spot the last several fences!
Warming up Sunday for the real deal, he felt not quite as heavy, but I bit stiff in my hands. His jaw was not nearly as supple as it has been, and there was not a hint of foam from my normally-rabid-appearing horse. Sitting him back on his butt and lightening up front was just not happening, so I made the decision to post the test, even though my normal preference is to sit.
The test itself felt mediocre at best. I felt like I had him forward, but not at all supple. Because of his wandering haunches, I sat both centerlines, as well as before both canter transitions to try and keep him round through the transition itself. Here is the video of the test itself:
The test definitely looks better than it felt, which was really surprising to me. The judge’s comments are kind of a mixed bag. We got our first 6 on our free walk, two 5’s (wtf?), but a 7 on a canter transition (yay) and an 8 on a canter circle (double yay). Here’s the test in its entirety:
Our score of 35.7 tied us for 2nd out of 18, which made pretty much every competitor I talked to think that scores were a bit harsher than normal. I definitely wonder how this test may have scored under another judge, but of course, we’ll never know.
Following dressage was a short reprieve, and then it was onto jumping, where the going gets a little more interesting!