Figuring out Summer

1. Cholula’s summer sore is healing! Slowly, but surely. I stopped wrapping her foot 2 nights ago and switched over to fly boots. So far they seem to be working well enough – they keep the flies off, and that’s the main thing. This also makes her care infinitely easier while I’m away next week in Minnesota.

choflyboots

The wound care arsenal
woundcare

2. Her lumps and bumps have all been gradually fading, so perhaps she just had a bad spell of reacting to the flies with the stress of the summer sore. There haven’t been any new welts and I’m happy for that.

3. I have a few really great people taking care of Cho while I’m gone, which makes me feel better about leaving for over a week. Especially as it’s going to start hitting the 100s next week. I never do well traveling and leaving my animals, but she’ll have eyes on her every day and I’m sure she’ll be fine because she always is. Right? Right.

4. Riding. I have noticed that Cho has not been terribly effective at cooling herself. Going by the standard of heat + humidity = over 150 = dangerous, this isn’t very surprising…most days (morning, midday, night, whatever) it’s over 160. Many people say “Ride in the morning, it’s cooler!” …but the combined temperature and relative humidity is often higher in the mornings because the humidity is so high. I can’t believe I’d rather ride in 93 than 79, but there you go.

Because I hose her off before I ride, it’s hard to tell if her body is still sweating as it’s supposed to. I primarily worry because of how heavy she breathes after a moderate amount of work that isn’t walking, and if we do anything nearing “normal” trot and canter work it takes a long time for her respiratory rate to go down.

I’ve been paranoid about anhidrosis since moving here, and with google the other day I may have overreacted and decided that her ability to sweat has been compromised (though I recognize it’s not stopped completely). I researched every supplement and what has worked for every other person on the internet, consulted my MN vet, and opted to go with One AC.

I have since realized that perhaps my fat Northern horse with a coat that’s visibly thicker than any Thoroughbred’s is just having an adjustment period and perhaps we don’t need to jump to treatments for things she doesn’t have just yet. She is turned out at night and is doing well with that. She gets to stand under a fan all day in her stall with access to plenty of clean water. She is the master of not expending energy, and the odds of her moving enough to necessitate more cooling are small.

I knew summer was going to be hard and we’d probably have to take a break, or greatly reduce our workload. I am trying to balance crazy paranoia with healthy concern. It doesn’t come easily to me.

SO. We changed gears. Our work has to be different — now is not the time to train for stamina or endurance. I get a little twitchy with the thought that Cho is losing fitness…but there is nothing more I can do about that, and walk work is better than no work.

Our sessions are slow and methodical. I’m not in any rush to “get to the real work” because everything is real work. I walk her on a loose rein for 10 minutes. I gradually take up contact, and note where she’s stuck. Not giving to the outside rein means not yielding to the inside leg, so we work on that. When it gets a little better I change direction and give her a break. Small, collected lateral work to warm everything up and big, stretchy walk breaks between each.

The result of all of this is a supple horse that’s on the aids and ready to go. I can’t spend multiple trips around the arena in trot or canter to do these things, so I want the trot work we do to count. We don’t trot until the walk work is there. We don’t continue trotting until she stays on the aids through the transition. As soon as she gives what I ask, she gets a walk break.

We do poles often. A lot of walking, but I try to make a point of passing over them as many times as I can in a session.

Sometimes I spend the end of the ride practicing sitting trot without stirrups until she needs a break (I could do with several more hours of that).

My expectations are different. I expect good transitions, and we do them until they are. I expect correct work. If something isn’t right – she’s not through, she isn’t quite bending around my inside leg, she is bracing in the rein-back, hollowing in canter transitions — I take a step back, think about what I can do to work it out, and try again. I don’t get frustrated. I don’t feel rushed.

This is probably how training should always be, but it’s easy to get caught up in the check list of “you must do these things for this test.” I’ve been thinking a lot lately in regards to my riding during show season vs. not show season. How I am dying to just enjoy my horse at the end of show season, rather than worry about scores and tests and competition. Don’t get me wrong – I love showing, I love dressage, I think riding tests is important. But, I can only focus so much on that before I need a break.

And, tangible results?

-Cho will sit and lift for half-steps some of the time. She doesn’t really ‘get’ piaffe yet, but once or twice in a session a light bulb will click. This light bulb could be the moment in which I get my shit together and ride properly.

Consistent half-pass! In walk AND in trot! So much so that I really have to be mindful about my aids, because some of the time when I want to circle and I’m coming off of the rail she goes into half-pass.

-Shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, travers – all of these things are getting easier. We are definitely communicating better with lateral work.

-Walk to canter transitions are steadier: she doesn’t lift her head as often for balance, and she is doing more of them the first time I ask (as opposed to trying to trot, not staying on the aids, etc). Downward transitions (canter-trot) have also improved a lot, and soon I’ll start mixing in canter-walk again.

Putting together a 2nd level test may be a challenge right now, but the past month has been a good reminder that my horse is awesome.

chostallguard

Figuring out Summer

And it gets worse.

On Tuesday I noticed Cho had a small scratch a few inches below her eye. Ugh. The vet told me that any sore, scratch, wound, etc has the potential to become a summer sore if the flies can get at it (actually, it doesn’t even need to be open! They will just deposit the larvae into the skin if they feel like it!). Thankfully, faces can be covered with fly masks, so this spot shouldn’t be an issue.

Last night, however, she had a big hard lump on her neck that had opened. Right along the crest on the non-mane side. Slightly harder to keep fly free, but I smeared it with swat doused the area in fly spray. I felt her over and she had a couple of other large, hard lumps – though most (thankfully) didn’t have broken skin (yet).

And then I found this beast in between her front legs:

cholump

(Sorry for the atrocious picture quality, there is only so much I can do with a black horse in a barn after dark.)

–This is definitely the largest of the bunch. She has gotten bumps like these on occasion (I recall something similar happening not long after she first arrived here) but not this big.

I’m at a loss as to what to do, other than the fly spray before going out and swat on the open ones. It’s too hot for her to wear a fly sheet, though with night turn out it may be an option again? It’s still in the low-mid 90s when she goes out most nights, but it usually drops below 90 by 9 or so.

I’m going to add a little note of positivity here (it’s the only one you’re going to get): she doesn’t seem bothered by any of these things (including the chewed up foot wound). Last night she only cared about GOING OUTSIDE, as I arrived right before she was to be turned out. She hit me with her head a couple of times and had a pawing hissy fit, because apparently she thought that I was unaware she should be outside and eating grass. I saw it as a good sign that she’s feeling well enough to be sassy, as obnoxious as these little outbursts were.

So.
The vet had mentioned oral steroids for the summer sore, and I’m starting to think perhaps that’s just the way to go for the summer and her apparent allergies to the demon flies here. I’m loathe to put her on them, but it may be our best option here.

And hey, then EVERYONE can be on prednisone! (The cat is on it for the rest of her life, and I occasionally have to take a burst of it as well.)

Dear Texas,
STOP MAKING MY LIFE MORE DIFFICULT. BETWEEN YOUR SHITTY DRIVERS, HOT DISGUSTING SUMMERS THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO DO NOTHING BUT HIDE INSIDE, AND TRYING TO MAKE MY HORSE A BREEDING HOUSE FOR DISGUSTING BUGS YOU ARE WINNING NO POINTS.

And it gets worse.

Summer Sores.

At the schooling show a few weeks ago, I noticed Cholula had a small abrasion, just above her front left hoof. I figured she stepped on herself while loading or in the trailer or whatever, and made a note to clean it up when we got home.

Fast forward to a week later, and it still was looking about the same. Which was weird, because a skin abrasion like that shouldn’t still be oozing, right? So I decided to wash it with some viodine, put more ointment on, and reassess at a later date. Except as I was feeling around her pasterns, I noticed lots of little scabs.

Can you believe that in all of the wet Springs and Falls Cholula has lived outside through, she has never had scratches? But she gets them in Texas?

Ugh. So we are dealing with that. They were better after a week and now I feel like they are the same, but at least no worse.

As it turns out, however, scratches are the least of my worries. That small abrasion? After a few weeks of it continuing to weep and bleed and me going “Shouldn’t this be a scab by now?!” it suddenly looked…absolutely disgusting. And huge. It’s grown to about 2-3x the size of the original abrasion, and looks like raw meat.

summersore1

summersore2

I didn’t really know what to do at that point. Of course from Tuesday-Saturday it exploded, and I didn’t want to overreact but it looked really gross. Not infected, at least. I took a picture and asked facebook. I got everything from rain rot to an abscess to flies eating it, and then…summer sore. One of the vets called me back and left a message around this time, confirming that it sounded like a summer sore.

And this is why I do not recommend living in a state without winter because NOTHING DIES.

The vet came out yesterday and told me to make it my “new religion” to keep flies off of it or it will never heal. Basically, some flies picked up some nasty larvae from somewhere (presumably manure, but seeing as her deworming is on schedule I’m not convinced they are living in her belly) and then decided her foot was dinner, and while they were at it deposited some of this disgusting larvae in the wound. She is apparently allergic to this business, which is why her body has reacted the way it has.

So, steroid cream with swat over it, some gauze, and a vet wrap bandage that CROSS YOUR FINGERS STAYS PUT. And then all of that doused in fly spray. I put the first bandage on yesterday and will be changing it this evening – not ideal, but hopefully it will be fine. I am going to add some wonderdust tonight to assist in making a crust/scab that will stay on it better, but I’ll be out every night to change the bandage. She has also been dewormed with Ivermectin and I will deworm her again in a week. I ordered fly boots that drop down over the top of the hoof and hope that will help assist if bandages come off. I will also be adding duct tape to at least secure it on the hoof.

bandagecho

On a positive note, she’s completely sound and we’ve been having a lot of fun in our rides. So…that’s something I guess. Also, she has taken to grooming me. This started the other day, when she was acting like she had a fly or an itch on her chest but was cross tied and couldn’t reach it. So I went over to look, saw nothing, and she started grooming my back. Yesterday she was grooming my head and arms. She is kind of adorable. And weird.

groomcho

Summer Sores.

Last Show (for awhile)

Warning: This is largely a post about me complaining about the weather.

Texas has decided that it’s time for summer and therefore I am in a perpetual state of making a face of disgust. I tried to find a picture for you but apparently I am smiling in 95% of my pictures, which is weird and kind of ruins my image. But just know that I am busy giving Texas the middle finger (and yes, I know it’s “NOT EVEN HOT YET.” Shove it.)

I don’t really understand what to do in this weather other than hide in air conditioning. When it got to be 95 in Minnesota (granted, when it does that it’s usually a lot more humid than it is here), I went to the barn to hose off my horses and stick them under fans for a little break. And then I went home to air conditioning.

Occasionally we’d go on an evening trail ride, or have a light ride, but usually 95 meant no riding (again, with the humidity the heat index was such that it wasn’t recommended to ride anyway, so this wasn’t just me hating the heat).

Make fun of my Northern blood all you want. Winter is coming.

A couple of weeks ago it was in the 70s. While I thought I’d be done showing by May at the latest, it was nice out! One night we even got a cold front and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees in 10 minutes! DOWN TO THE 60s! I am fairly sure that will never happen again, but that one night was magical.

Because the weather was nice for all of 25 seconds, I thought “I am going to sign up for this show the first weekend in June.”

And then the week leading up to the show was when Texas decided that the temperature is 95+ all the time. And then they scheduled my ride for 3:20 in the afternoon. Not only at the hottest part of the day, but a solid 2 1/2 hours after the other riders in our group rode. Super!

To be honest, once I’m out working in the heat I’m fine. I get over it pretty quickly. I drink a lot of water and I sweat and I deal with it. Cholula, on the other hand, may explode. It doesn’t take much to get her puffing and I haven’t figured out how to effectively work her in this weather. I’m terrified of her overheating, so I am working lighter, and somehow she still requires massive walk breaks in between work sets to cool down. It’s going to take awhile for her to acclimate to this, I think.

I was worried about this show. I was showing her off of the trailer, I had no idea what the shade situation was at this facility, and while the dressage arena was covered the warm up wasn’t. Second level is a lot of work for Cho, and we had to do SOME warm up to get her settled. That was the whole point of this trip – sometimes you have to go to new places and warm up and then do a test, Choface. Settle down.

All in all, it went really well! We managed to find a nice, shady area to park the trailer and tie the horses. There were enough trees in this spot that even when the sun moved we had shade. That and a bit of a breeze pretty much saved the day. I think we both would have been miserable if we were in the sun all day.

juneshowshade

Cholula spent most of her day pawing and screaming, broken up by eating her hay as fast as she could.

juneshowpaw

The facility was beautiful and has a huge cross country course with lots of trees.

juneshow1

Cholula was jealous of the horses walking the course, and I debated galloping around instead of showing my test.

juneshowwatching

I got on about an hour before my ride. I really wasn’t planning on riding that early, but it was pointed out to me that I could use the time to get her to relax and stop screaming. She largely stopped calling to her friends once we were working. Most of the ride was walking from shady spot to shady spot and circling tree trunks. After the first 20ish minutes, I took her into the outdoor ring to warm up her trot and canter for a few minutes. We returned to the shade to walk, back to the outdoor for a little lateral work and transitions, back to the shade. I decided to work on transitions – trotting from one shady spot to the next with a walk or halt in the shade.

What you should get from this is we really weren’t doing that much work. But around 3:00 I stopped over at the arena to see how things were running, and Cholula was moving me back and forth in the saddle because she was puffing so badly.

Cue “I broke my horse” panic. We still had a test to ride! We didn’t even do that much!

We walked, strictly in the shade, for 20 minutes. By the time it was my turn to ride around the ring she had (thankfully) stopped puffing.

I’m glad we started the warm up when we did, all things considered. She settled into the work and wasn’t terribly looky around the grounds. It still took a good 20-30 minutes before she really relaxed and let me ride her, but once she was there she stayed there.

With what little warming up we did of the actual 2nd level movements I thought the test went well. Mostly I was thrilled because we did ALL THE THINGS. No breaking in the canter! It was a relief to finally be able to ride through the test without incident. It wasn’t pretty and I have had much better days riding-wise, but I definitely needed the reminder that we CAN do the test, now we just need to refine and improve upon it.

And now we have all summer to figure out how you work horses in the heat. She is fit, and once she switches into “work mode” she will go and go and go, so I have to be VERY careful. She won’t give me any indication that she’s hot and needs a break. If I ride in the evenings I think we’ll be limited to walking, and maybe a few trot/canter transitions for good measure.

(By the way, for all of you who like to say “Well at least you can ride year-round there, unlike in Minnesota where you can’t ride when it’s too cold!” I have news for you: I guarantee I lose fewer riding days in Minnesota than I will lose here this summer. My job prevents me from riding early in the morning most weekdays, and when evenings are still in the 90s it’s too much. Cholulas are not meant for hot weather.)

Last Show (for awhile)

Proof

I just got the proofs from the show yesterday and they are kind of hilarious, as Cho’s ears are in high alert mode in nearly every picture. “WHAT IS THAT? WHY ARE THOSE PEOPLE SITTING UP HIGH? WHAT ARE WE DOING IN HERE? I AM SO DISTRACTED! HEY THERE IS THE JUDGE! HI!”

She had plenty of forward in that test…just not enough engagement to pull it all together.

There were some nice moments captured.

Largely, though…not. Through no fault of the photographer, mind you. I wish I had video even more now, because I understand my score a little better after seeing some of these. CHO WHAT ARE YOU DOING. She was above the bit in just about every canter photo. Sigh.

I chose this one as our facebook upload. (I bought some others as prints. There is a headshot of Cho that I’m kind of obsessed with).

cholula20152ndlvl
(Copyright Lisa Tannehill Photography)

In other news, no show on Sunday after all. It’s been postponed due to flooding at the facility. I’m sad because it was going to be cool out for this time of year – high of 75! That will probably not happen again until the fall. I am not sad because I feel like we need weeks of canter work right now.

Proof

The Report: Part two.

Sunday:
Oh boy. I don’t even know how to make this not a novel.

-6:30: lightning and tornado clouds in plain sight of the show grounds, and scary storms coming our way on the radar.
-6:45: all of the above but tornado wall cloud overhead and looking scarier. “The show is still on time.”
sundayshow1
-6:57 (3 minutes before the first rider was to start): Show put on hold.

And then it started pouring. Between the rundown barn we were in and the wind, there were no dry spots in the barn. Cho was wet by the time all was said and done. Everything in the tack stall was wet. Rain was coming in from above and the wind was blowing it in the sides.

Sundayshow2
Cho did not like this.

8?: They announce we’ll resume the show at 8:30.
8:40: First rider goes into Ring 1 (the covered, indoor ring).
8:50: Nothing is happening in Ring 2 and 3. Everyone is complaining. Not only are the outdoor arenas under water, but there hasn’t been a break in lightning.

They move the judge’s stand out of the way and park a car in its place. It pours some more. The judge is going to be able to see NOTHING. Meanwhile, I’m waiting over by the office because I want to see someone ride in ring 2, in order to decide if I’m going to scratch or not.

I’ve never scratched.

I’ve always felt like even if I know we won’t do well and will have to ride a very conservative test due to the footing, I am there and may as well get the experience. However, after the struggle that was the first level canter last year, I basically made up my mind that if we were presented with a sloppy, soupy ring, we’d have to scratch at 2nd. It’s not fair to Cho.

…But I wasn’t scratching until I saw someone ride. Because here’s the thing: everyone kept telling me the footing is “fine” because they “rolled the ring.”

Physics work differently in Texas, apparently.

“Rolling” the ring is something I had never heard of before this show. Basically they drag the arena, and behind that they have a…roller? To smooth out and press down the footing. This magically “seals” the ring and makes it impervious to water.

JK BECAUSE THAT’S NOT A THING

sundayshow3

Now, a little light rain? Fine. Hell, even a heavier rain 2 days prior? Ok.
The rain we were getting?
Nope. Nope.

FINALLY, around 9:15? They decide to move Ring 2 inside, next to Ring 1 (why yes, that arena is large enough to hold 2 dressage arenas inside of it. Don’t ask me why everything wasn’t moved inside before the giant storm came, I don’t run these things).

sundayshow4

At 9:50 they start. But not with 2nd 1, which was the first class scheduled in Ring 1 (and also what I was riding in). Rather they start with Training 3, and announce all qualifying classes will go first.

So I have hours before I’ll ride. I don’t mind the wait, but there is no longer a schedule, which I do mind. I won’t know when to get on to warm up for some time, and even then it’s a guess at best. All day long people were being told one thing only to get on, make their way to the warm up ring, and be told that they still had a good hour before they should even be warming up.

My poor nerves can’t handle that kind of continuous let down after getting all hyped up.

And then…we hear mutterings of classes being canceled. I think nothing of this. I think it must be Ring 3 since Ring 3 doesn’t exist anymore? No one really knows what’s going on with Ring 3. (As it turns out, they moved it as a short arena into the back covered arena on the grounds at some point after the main rings were up and running. Most people did not know this).

But then there are more mutterings. And when asked if they have an idea of when 2nd one will run, the ring steward kindly blows us off with “It’s not, it’s cancelled.”

Many four-letter words come out of my mouth.

But we should probably check with the office before freaking out, right? Right.

So we check.

They have canceled all non-qualifying classes. (Unless they were Intro or Training level, which could be ridden in the short ring).

I was livid. Apparently, my money wasn’t as good as people trying to go to Regionals. Apparently I shouldn’t bother to do a recognized show until I’m ready to do the 3rd test of that level, or risk not being able to ride at all? Excuse me? I’m fairly sure USEF didn’t design 3 tests per level so you could ride 2 of them solely at home and only show your face with the 3rd.

People scratched, went home, gave up on riding that day. I know two women who trailered in to show that morning and one of them had all her rides canceled. So after waiting out the storm, braiding her horse, and getting everything ready, she put her horse on the trailer and went back home.

Thankfully, trainer had the brilliant idea of asking them if there was a possibility of riding at the end of the day. Yes. If all of the more important classes (Please note that this is not a quote but my interpretation of the situation) finish early enough and it’s before we must get the judges out because of some USDF rules and flights, then yes. There is a possibility I can randomly show up in the ring and surprise the judge.

Sidenote: People entering the ring, handing their test to the judge and announcing their name and number and the judge dealing with random tests all day is sometimes a thing here. TEXAS Y’ALL.


And so we ride

Around 3, I ask the ring steward how Ring 1 is going. Ring 2 will never, ever be done and I recognize this.

“We are done. Well, I mean there is one rider after the rider in there now, and then a freestyle. And then we’re done. Maybe 30 minutes”
“Wait you ARE DONE?? It’s 3:00! I am going to be able to ride!”
“I can’t answer that, check with the office.”

Run over to the office.
“Yes, we’ll be ready for you in 30 minutes.”
“…”
“I’ll let the judge know and bring them your test.”
“…30…minutes? I NEED TO GO GET DRESSED (I just typed ‘dressaged’) AND TACK UP MY HORSE.”
“We’ll work with you.”

I run back to the barn. The only person in there to help is the fiancé of one of the other girls from my barn.

And thank you thank you thank you, he is a competent fiancé. He brushes Cho and picks out her feet and gets the shavings out of her tail while I change. He helps tack her up. He probably thinks I am crazy but if that’s the case then he hid it really well.

Cho and I start warming up, and trainer comes over. “DO YOU HAVE A MINUTE TO COACH ME I RIDE NOW.”
Still being crazy. I don’t really function any other way at shows.

Quick and dirty warm up goes really well. Cho focuses and works with me and everyone is happy so we go in.

Unfortunately, with the moving of Ring 2, Ring 1 is now right next to the bleachers and all of those people walking on them. So she was a little distracted, but forward! Forward is good. I zoned out in my test. I was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a Ring 2 right next to us. And overall, I felt the test went pretty good. I thought there were some really good movements in there, despite breaking the canter several times (damnit). She felt kind of tired at that point, and I definitely wasn’t riding the canter as aggressively as I should have.

Sadly the judge didn’t agree with me on things that I thought were really good, and because of those breaks we managed to get nearly the exact same score as the day before.

I wish I’d had video of that test, because it’s nice to know if what I think feels good sucks in reality, or if it actually is good but the whole -Cho is a beastmare and will rarely score awesomely- is working against us.

The worst thing was that I fucked up every single center line of the weekend. THIS makes me really mad. I practice the hell out of center lines, I know how to ride them, they FELT PRETTY GOOD. But every single time the judge said I was off center line. I don’t think I’ve done that since Cho couldn’t really turn, in our Intro days. I always manage pretty good CL/halt scores. I know how to turn out of the corner to be lined up with C. TO ME IT LOOKED LIKE I WAS LINED UP WITH C. Apparently not. There is a video of Carl Hester teaching Charlotte Dujardin, and he just makes her go down the center line over and over and over again until she does it perfectly. Perhaps I need a day where I just have someone yelling at me to ride correct center lines.

BUT, being that this is dressage, I still (hilariously) managed to place 1st and 2nd. 2nd out of two riders in my class, 1st because it was just me 😉

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…and then I sent an entry in for a schooling show a week from this Sunday, since clearly we need more show practice.

The Report: Part two.

The Report: Part one

showtrailer

I have been attempting a write up of the show this past weekend for 3 days. I can’t seem to recap 3 days of stuff without hashing out every little detail, so this will be broken up into 2 parts.

Friday:
showstall
-we got there around 3:15
-I was a little horrified at how many people were there
-Our warmup didn’t go awesome. Which was a little disheartening seeing as we were riding at 7am on Saturday. I seemed to have forgotten that while Cho isn’t BAD at shows, she is looky and can be very…evasion spooky. I never really felt like I got her full attention.

showfriday
Cholula approves of being able to harass anyone and everyone that walks by her stall.


Saturday:

-Up at 4
-At the show grounds by 5
showsaturdaymorning
GOOD MORNING CHOFACE
-feeding, watering, braiding, grooming, tacking up
-On by 6:25 (slightly later than I wanted to)
-Repeat Friday’s warmup.
(That whole “bad ride before the show = good ride in your test is not true)

Here is the problem with shows and me: I basically forget everything I know about riding, warming up my horse, getting my horse through, suppling my horse, etc. No matter how much time I leave for my warmup I feel rushed. I’m too afraid to take time in the walk and at the halt and doing things slowly and quietly because what if I run out of time?! This is especially bad for my first ride of the weekend.

Obviously this isn’t logical, because that is what we do at home to get Cho where she needs to be. I know this is not logical. I do not have a brain during these times, however, so it doesn’t matter.

It’s also hard to do all of that when she too has show brain. It’s not like I can get her to give me a nice, relaxed, stretchy walk to warm up, because she is too damn busy not walking past like 7 things around the arena.

And, we just don’t do this often enough to have a warmup plan in place. I LIKE TO HAVE A PLAN. “Freaking out” is how I operate until I get through at least one ride.

Oddly enough, once I am riding my test I’m fine. I focus on what we are doing/what we need to do. I ride what I have and do what I can. I don’t get stressed out when I screw something up because we need to be thinking about the next movement.

I thought we’d be ok after our warmup, but apparently I didn’t quite get her where she needed to be. She didn’t have that push we need in the canter – we need the canter where SHE is going, not where I am pushing. If I’m pushing, she’s not sitting and collecting, and basically the medium to collected is shot, and getting through the counter canter is also shot.

I also went off-course. First time for everything, and it was bound to happen sooner or later. I forgot the first 10m canter circle, which no one is surprised about. If I forgot anything going through the test in my head, it was that. In the test I thought, “wow the counter canter seems to come up really fast, shouldn’t there be some sort of prep for that?!” Yes, yes there should.

Sadly the counter canter BEFORE forgetting was good. After, we broke into a trot early.

I watched the test when I got home and despite not having that trot with impulsion and her THERE with the canter, it didn’t look bad at all. Not nearly as bad as it felt!

We scored a 54%. Everyone asked me how it went and I’d say, “oh it went ok” or “It went fairly well” but as soon as I added “but I went off-course” their faces would fall like it was the most terrible thing that could have happened. And then I was reassuring them. “It’s fine. It’s our first time out at this level, we just have some things to work out and improve. And I’ve never ridden without a reader…but I won’t be forgetting that 10m circle anymore.” I was probably the least upset person about forgetting that circle.

I decided that we needed to school again in the afternoon. We definitely needed to establish that yes, it is time to work and no, that is not acceptable behavior. It was supposed to be a short and sweet schooling session. Cholula had other plans.
“I DON’T LIKE THAT DUMPSTER
PILE OF STUFF
TREE
THE FACT THAT THERE IS A CREEK OVER THERE
THAT SMALL HOLE UNDER THE RAIL
EVERYTHING ON THAT SIDE OF THE ARENA”

Ah, that moment at a show when you need to have a Come to Jesus with your belligerent mare but you’re at a show.

Every time we came around to the far end of the arena, she’d grab the bit, drop her shoulder, and run past it…about 10 feet off of the rail, no closer. And, of course, until I got her focused on me and not spending all of her energy evading everything I threw at her via “spooking,” we weren’t going to accomplish anything.

So with a gritted teeth smile on my face and the assistance of my favorite spurs and whip we worked through all of this until we could actually school our 2nd level work. And then she was great! We did all the things!

As it turns out, this worked really well for the next day (which was my hope). So, note to future showing self: Get all of that worked out before you try to ride a test.

Sunday was a whole new level of special…more on that later.

showwantfood
I SEE YOU ARE IN THE TACK STALL, EATING SOMETHING

The Report: Part one