Even though it's not a recognized show, I make a point of trying to go every year I can, for a few reasons:
a) it's the only place I can show dressage that is less than 3 hours away
b) it's local, so I can sleep in my own bed at night and don't have to use much gas
c) it's a super friendly environment and I always have fun meeting and re-meeting other local horse folk
d) I think it's important to support the local show as if people don't enter, they won't be able to keep holding it
e) Nostalgia - this is a show that I watched and competed in as a kid, I spent several years living in other cities, and there's something cool about returning full circle to be back here showing as an adult.
f) It's cheap - as well as saving money on gas and hotel, entries are super reasonable at only $10 a class so why not?
Thursday night, I bathed Kachina and hauled her to the show grounds.
I got to the show grounds fairly late, but there was just enough daylight left for a quick schooling ride in the warm-up arena. Kachina started off rushing, but we were able to get some lovely walk and trot in the end and I went to bed feeling pretty good about the next day.
Friday was dressage day. I was signed up for Walk/Trot test B, Training 2, and Training 3. My ride times were about 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30. Since I knew I'd probably stay on between my first and second test, I had planned on a fairly short warm-up before our walk/trot test. Unfortunately, when I got on, Kachina immediately refused to go forward. Kachina is a very very forward horse and so this was totally out of character for her. I tried getting her to just walk on a few times but she was seriously balking, she even kicked at the girth a few times and almost reared. I could tell something wasn't right and so I got off and scratched my first class.
Two tack resets and modifications later, she was finally back to her regular self. I still don't know what exactly was the problem, but something with the saddle or girth must have been pinching or somehow irritating her. I love my Ogilvy half pad but I do find that its thickness makes it hard to get the girth the right tightness so that may have been a factor. I've never had this problem with her before though.
Even though Kachina was finally going well, the previous issues really affected my mental game. I wasn't confident that the problem was completely solved and I couldn't stop worrying and focus on doing my warm-up. I walked around for a ridiculous length of time because I couldn't get myself to work on the trot. I was seriously considering scratching for the entire day. Finally, I got over myself and got to work, schooling the trot and canter. We've been working on canter transitions recently so Kachina was really anticipating them and was getting tight in the trot or going into canter by herself. Her canter transitions were nice though so I didn't want to punish her for them. I decided that we were going to go into the ring and attempt the test, but I wasn't going to worry about the canter part of the test. If we did it, great, but even if we just trotted or got the wrong lead, I wasn't going to stress. This was a day where just getting into the ring was a success.
We did get into the ring and we did our tests including the canter. The trot work was quite tense though. Kachina kept wanting to transition up so we did a couple of unintended canter transitions. We also had one corner of part walk, part trot, part canter, I'm not even sure what her legs were doing as it really felt like a combination of all 3 gaits. We had the wrong lead to the right and just did a circle of counter-canter, but we got a lovely canter transition to the left. We got a deserved score of 54% and lots of comments about tension and above the bit. The second test was much the same and scored a 53%, though there were some nicer moments.
|Before my first test - Kachina is hollow and above the bit,|
but I'm actually sitting back (we'll celebrate the small victories lol)
My hand and arm position needs work, but in both the tests and the warm-ups I succeeded in not tipping forward and not hanging on her mouth, those are huge wins for me especially when I'm tense, so yay!
My non-horsey friend M came to watch my last test and we went out for lunch after I had put Kachina away. That was a nice distraction and helped me to not dwell on my disappointing performance. I wish we could have done better, but Kachina was trying to please, and I do think just getting into the ring was a success that day.
I came and went from the show grounds a few times that day, chatted with other riders, checked on Kachina, hosed her down, and took her out for walks and hand grazing. The stall was small, only 8'x8' but Kachina handled it like an old pro.
Saturday was the English Performance and Hunter classes. I was entered into English Pleasure, English Equitation, Road Hack, and Show Hack.
The very first class of the day at 8am was English Pleasure. I got on to warm up with plenty of time to spare and was pleased that whatever tack issues we had the day before were not being repeated. Our warm-up was pretty good, but Kachina was still anticipating the canter whenever we trotted. We did get correct leads both directions though.
When we got into the English Pleasure class, Kachina was hot to trot. It's a massive arena (it's built for chuckwagon races), and she wanted to trot instead of walk and canter instead of trot. We had a few times where she broke gait upwards, and we had to try a couple times to get the right canter lead. It was such a disaster that I just had to laugh. Needless to say, we didn't place.
|The massive arena (this was taken on western day)|
After English Pleasure, I went back to do some more schooling. At this point, the warm-up ring had been transitioned to the trail arena, so the only place to work was on the track, which was hard, sloped, and not ideal. I was able to get some really good work out of Kachina there though. We trotted circles and were able to get a more relaxed headset and rhythm with no cantering. We also got come nice correct lead departures and were able to go back to nice trotting afterwards. I was super happy with this ride even though it wasn't in the show ring.
Next up was English Equitation. In this class, you have to do a combination of rail work and a pattern. I looked at the pattern and it was as follows:
We struggle with trot to canter transitions, so I saw that we were supposed to do two canter transitions, one from a halt, and I just about scratched. In fact, I did scratch, but then I realized that this was the smallest class I had during the show and I wanted a ribbon, even if it was a pity default ribbon, so I decided to go for it. Of course, once I entered the ring I found out that there were more entries than I thought and there wouldn't be a default ribbon anyways haha.
We did the rail work first and Kachina was actually awesome! We wobbled in our right canter transition but we stayed in the gait we were supposed to at all times so yay! Also, it being an equitation class, sitting trot was one of the commands and we can totally rock that!
Then came time for the pattern. It was a pretty tight pattern and nobody found it super easy. I did some trot steps for the first canter transition, but I got both leads properly and our turn on the forehand was perfect! We ended up with a 5th place ribbon. I felt it was a well deserved ribbon and was really happy with it.
|Green is totally our colour|
Next came road hack and show hack. These are also rail classes but they ask for more gaits and tougher transitions. Road Hack had walk, walk on a loose rein, normal trot, strong trot, canter, extended canter, hand gallop, and a halt directly from extended canter. Show Hack had walk, normal trot, collected trot, extended trot, normal canter, collected canter, and extended canter. I was so proud of Kachina during these classes. She was right with me and super adjustable. Despite the fact that we haven't worked on it much lately, she had a clear difference between the collected, normal, and extended gaits. I actually thought we might place, but they were big classes and we had a couple bobbles that I guess were enough to keep us out of the ribbons. Also, in every class, I knew and felt genuinely happy for several of the riders who came out ahead, so it was pretty hard to be bitter about them beating me.
With that, I was done for the day, and it wasn't even noon. I untacked, Kachina got lots of treats and some hand grazing, I packed up, cleaned out the stall, and hauled home. The awesome thing about showing locally was that I didn't have a long drive ahead of me and I was able to be home by mid-afternoon and put my feet up with a cider and pizza (just because I was home, didn't mean I felt like cooking!).
We might not have had the success I wanted in the show ring, but I was happy with Kachina, and had a great weekend with some wonderful local riders. We'll be back again next year.