I took Fling to the annual “Dickens on the Sand” schooling show today. FYI, “Dickens on the Strand” is a holiday event in Galveston, and the name of the show is a ‘pun’ on that event! I dragged out my red saddle pad, found my Christmas turtleneck and my blinking Christmas light necklace. I tried to rig some reindeer antlers on the crown piece of Fling’s bridle, but every time she moved her ears, they hit the antlers and I figured that would probably distract her – she would endure it and soldier on – that’s the kind of gal she is – but figured Third level is hard enough without any ‘handicaps.’ 😉
I entered Third level Test 1 and Third level Test 3. It was a beautiful day – perfect temperature and blue skies..
I quickly discovered that it is quite different warming up for a third level test in a crowded arena than it is at home! Successfully schooling half pass and flying changes while trying to dodge ‘traffic’ is a skill in itself. One that I have not fully mastered yet! Fortunately my first ride was the first ride after lunch, and halfway through my warm-up, the arena cleared out and I had plenty of room to work. Fling was fussy about taking contact at the walk – it’s something she’s started doing the last few months. The best way to handle it is to go ahead and trot and work on getting her connected. I tend to want to get her ‘perfect’ at the walk before moving onto the trot, but that’s not always the best way to work. So I have discovered. I really didn’t feel like we were quite ready when it was my turn in the arena, but I never feel ready!
It was a pretty clean test – no huge mistakes and she even got both her changes fairly well! I thought the canter half passes were fairly good – those have come a LONG way. I had someone call my tests – good thing – I get so focused on riding the test, I sometimes forget what comes next! I really hate riding through the entire test at home – I don’t know why, but it’s not something I like to do. I ride parts of the test, and will ride through either the trot portion or the canter portion. But the whole thing – all the way through? I have a definite aversion to it! lol!
One of the toughest things about riding third level tests, start to finish, for me, is keeping my reins short enough! There’s not enough time between all the movements to mess with shortening my reins so I have to really work at keeping them short – even if it means I have to move my hands forward a little to give her _enough_ rein, that’s better than ending up with my hands in my lap trying to half halt!
I had about an hour between my tests, so I took Fling back to the trailer and gave her some cookies and a few bites of hay. I didn’t even go check my score – I really prefer to wait until I’m completely done to find out! LOL!
In my Third 3 ride, we had some trouble with the flying changes – which are done out of the half pass. Those are usually more reliable than doing them across the short diagonal, as in Third 1. She was very late for the first change, and a little late for the second change. But her half pass at canter was very good – in fact, they were actually a little too steep, as we kept arriving at our ‘destination’ a few strides early!
Her final halt was great – she went straight from collected trot to a perfectly square halt and really ‘sat’ as she came into it! I was very happy with her and took her back to the trailer to untack and enjoy her ‘hay buffet’ while I socialized a bit and checked my scores. I had NO idea what sort of scores I would get. Since I’ve never seen us work on video, and I haven’t really watched any third level rides at shows, I really have no concept of what a good third level test looks or feels like! Plus I am my harshest critic and am usually pleasantly surprised by my scores!
I had to l look twice at the scores – I wondered if I was looking at the wrong line when I saw a 75%!! Nope. I got a 75% on my first ride! It was almost embarassing! Now, I must say this judge is known for being quite generous. However, the last time Fling and I showed Third level under her -one of the few times I’ve shown third level – I got scores of 65 and 63. So I’ve definitely improved. There were also other people in my class and I won both my classes. I got a 71.6 on my second ride!!
So, the closing date for the HDS January show is Dec. 29. I have to decide if I think I am ready for the ‘big time.’
And my sweet horse, who stood patiently tied to the trailer munching her hay while I was checking scores and talking to friends, gave the softest, sweetest little nicker when I walked up to her. And I proceeded to stuff her with peppermints and “stud muffins,” a particuarly luscious horse treat she got as a Christmas gift from a friend!