I took two days off last Thursday and Friday to work on big farm projects. Thursday we put in fiberglass fenceposts for some electric cross-fencing. The actual tape ‘rails’ will go up later. Friday through Sunday my husband and I worked 10 hours + each day installing 1,000 feet of waterline to access the three new paddocks I am building (hence the fencing.) It was grueling work – digging the trench was actually the easiest part, thanks to this big orange guy:
Laying out the pipe, glueing it together and cutting the sections to go to each stock tank/faucet (five in all) was the hardest, most time-consuming part of it. My knees are bruised! Getting the 20′ sections of pipe home was interesting too – with the very ends tied in the bed of the truck and the rest tied over the top of the cab, and then tied again to the front bumper! And we had to buy so much, we made two trips. Good thing Home Depot is only a few miles away! Glad that is finished though! I didn’t even ride Friday and Saturday – and only rode Sunday because Faeryn went to her first schooling show of the year.
This was a new place for Faeryn and she settled in pretty good. She only got about 5 minutes to look at the arena – spooked and gawked a bit, but not bad. It was our first encounter with the new tests at First level. Even though I showed her first level last year, I never showed her the highest test of the level. One of the main reasons I didn’t show her First 4 last year (which is now First 3, since they reduced the number of tests in each level to 3) was that her canter was not balanced enough to handle the shallow loop serpentines OR just the enormous amount of canter in the test. You canter for what seems like forever in this test, and the canter work in the new test is exactly the same as it was in the old test — 10 meter circle, then lengthen down the long side, then shallow loop serpentine down the next long side, then across the diagonal and change leads through trot, then do it all again on the other lead. There’s more canter work in this test than in most of the higher level tests even!
She was very calm when I unloaded her and tied her to the trailer with her hay net. Ho hum!! The only time she got wound up was when I was on her and they let a horse out into an adjacentpaddock and it went bombing around. she got a little up -b ut I had time to ‘wrestle her into submission’ before our test. She had about 3 minutes in the totally unfamiliar arena and then we were kicked out until our ride time.
In an interesting note, there was a barn worker working IN THE ARENA while I was riding my test. There’s a new one for ya! LOL! He was pulling grass outof the corner. We got a wrong lead at that end and I think the judge gave us some slack for that. Faeryn stopped DEAD in her tracks and then veered to the center when we came to a spot where there was a 4×8 sheet of plywood in one section of the arena fence.
I found out after the fact we’d gotten a 62.4 on that ride – eh, considering she’d been getting mid 60s at First level most of last year.
I thought First 3 (the ‘new’ test 4′) went much better. The shallow loop serpentine, which had been so difficult for her just a few months ago, she nailed – both of them. The only thing I thought was not good is a new movement where you come around the corner and have to leg yield from the rail at K to center line, then do a 10m circle left, then circle right, then leg yield from x to wall. You’ve got the horse bent to the inside as you go around the corner, and there’s NO time to straighten, or change your weight, etc. since you have to start at the first letter out of the corner, and it’s JUST right after the corner. I think this movement is the most difficult movement in the entire first level – and wonder why they put it IN first level at all. I’ve practiced it at home over and over again and I haven’t figured out the ‘secret’ to executing it well. She does a great leg yield when I have time to prep for it – but you’ve got a nano-second in this test. Anyway, Faeryn got a 61. on 1/3 and I was a bit disappointed in that – 5s on both leg yields, 5s on her trot lengthenings, which I really disagree with -but 7s on all her canter work! I was the only one in 1/3 and there was one other person in 1/1 and I did not hang around for ribbons or to see placings – I had to get back home and finish up the plumbing job. I’ll have to wait until the results are up on the HDS website to see how that scored relative to the other rides. But I was very proud of her canter work. She stayed very balanced, and in really good self carriage and was very easy to ride. It was only a few months ago that her canter work was a struggle for both of us! Now it’s easy. The next step is to build strength, work toward more collection in general, and really focus on teaching her to respond better to half halts so we can start working on those canter/walk transitions, and medium gaits.
In other news, work is planned to start on the arena as soon as my dozer guy is done with a few jobs ahead of me. Meanwhile I’ve started riding Faxx in the field because if I want to start serious work on him until my arena is fixed, he probably won’t be ready to show at the May Arab dressage show! He is a little grumpy about having to go back to work – and was definitely not happy about having to leave his buddies to go work ALL BY HIMSELF out in the field – but I just kept insisting and he finally got down to work. I haven’t had any lessons on him in about four months, so we need to get back to those, too. Just not enough time – between Marie being gone, our barn projects, having to help my parents some weekends – I have not been getting really regular lessons on anyone.