Our Fourth level debut!

Another milestone. Fling and I made our Fourth level debut at Marie’s “Dickens on the Sand” show today. It was a fun show – this is always a fun show as everyone dresses in holiday garb which is a refreshing change since the usual boring dressage ‘uniform’ is black and white. It was COLD though and I am a cold weather WIMP. I had on a turtle neck and festive red plaid down vest, but was so cold I warmed up wearing a red down coat over that. Fling sported a red velvet saddle pad which was about all the ‘bling’ she needs since she is a pinto.

Unfortunately, I did not really allow enough time to warm her up, considering I had taken her straight from her stall where she’d been standing all night and then loaded her into the trailer to go to the show. I got on her 30 minutes before our ride time and 40 would have been better. She really needed to just walk for 10 minutes before doing anything else. I had to rush her into the trot/canter without spending enough time stretching and bending her at the walk. Between the time constraint and other people in the warm-up arena, I did not even get to practice a flying change before we had to do it in the test. Totally my fault.

I was not really nervous. Nothing riding on this – just a chance to actually ride through the test in a show situation. There is really no substitute for riding a test in a show situation, even if it is just a schooling show. I ride through portions of the tests at home, but can never make myself actually ride the entire test from beginning to end.

The trot work went ok, but she’s ‘lost’ her right half pass and her right turn on the haunches. Those movements were some of her better. Her haunches are trailing in the half pass – we need to work on that.

She was late behind in her first flying change and the second direction, she uncharacteristically broke from canter to trot during the counter canter before the change. That was my fault – I almost dropped my whip and in futzing with that and trying to move it up higher in my hand, I quit riding and that’s when she broke.

Her canter to halts in the entry and exit were good, and her canter half passes were better than her trot half passes. She also nailed her downwards from medium and extended canter and her very collected canter strides from quarterline to quarterline within a 20m canter circle. And, because Pam was judging, she got a 72.3. Truly a “Christmas gift.” I think the high score of the show ended up being a 77 or a high 76 at training level. Marie saw some of my ride in between calling it for me and she said it looked pretty good. I am most happy with her canter  – she is finallly listening to my aids and not blowing me off when I ask her to sit and collect more. Now if _I_ can learn to _think_ and prepare her and cue her properly for the flying changes, and fix our half pass right and turn on the haunches to the right, we’ll be ready to take on a recognized show.

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