We Only Scared the Children a Little Bit=Dressage Success

So a week before the schooling dressage show, Lefty’s cellulitis episode seemed to have resolved. I never scratched my entry, so we had about 5 days and one lesson to prepare for our Training level  1 debut. Great idea!

Now the Training level 1 test is pretty straightforward. Trot centerline, halt, trot to the left, trot circle in the middle, canter circle at one end, canter down the long side, walk, change direction and do the same thing on the other side. Guess which aspect of that is most exciting to a rotten Thoroughbred? Flat-out running down the long side of the ring. I had to do a one-rein stop in the damn arena! It was news to Lefty that the test did not call for “Go as fast as equinely possible at F.”

By the time the Sunday show rolled around, we could at least stay in control for the duration of the test. It was not necessarily pretty, round, and fluid for the entire test–but at least we did all the movements in the correct places. My goal for the show was for Lefty not to kill me or any of the Pony Club children I was competing against, so anything better than that was just a bonus.

We hacked over to the show, hosted at a nearby friend’s barn. Ponies, ponies everywhere! Lefty was mostly behaved and the hack over was good to settle his two brain cells. I felt quite fancy being all cleaned up for our debut! Unfortunately the show was running late and as we stood around waiting Lefty was getting a little dancy and impatient.

My coach shooed me into the warmup arena to put Lefty’s little brain to work. There were some ugly faces. Ear pinning. Head tossing. But I just kept repeating my mantra, “Just keep riding, just keep riding,” and kicked him into my outside hand every other step, and it all seemed to work out. He did make me ride every step though, especially near the short end of the dressage arena bordering the warmup area. We might have had to jump that, you know.

It was our turn to warm up in the arena–since it was a schooling show, and every single horse seemed to be spooking at the judge’s table, they allowed a few minutes for each rider to school in the ring. I was so focused on my leg yields toward the judges’ stand that I didn’t hear a word of the commentary in this video. Oddly enough I think I rode the warmup better than the test!

Video of our test, with whispered commentary from the peanut gallery that I didn’t hear until I watched the video. Highlights: “Kick him. KICK him!! Asshole.”

Thoroughbreds. I do think we did better than our snail’s pace Intro A dressage show last year, and honestly I was thrilled that we did all the movements in approximately the right places, without blasting down the long side of the arena.

While I was waiting for the class to be pinned, I was chatting with one of the teenage riders who seemed frustrated with her performance. Apparently her horse was not forward enough.

“I can understand…” I said, “Lefty does the same thing. But I figure being a little behind is better than galloping around at Mach 10 in the dressage arena.”

“That’s for sure,” she said, “I saw your horse acting up in the warmup and you did pretty well with him…I would have been scared!”

So we didn’t run anyone over…but we might have scared the children.

Unfortunately, a day after the show Lefty’s cellulitis came back in a different leg and he got another round of meds and about a week off while the swelling went down. Thankfully this time it resolved faster, and now he is on some supplements the vet recommended. We’re thinking he just wasn’t getting certain nutrients he needed.

We’re just back to riding now! Hunt report TK.

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