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.”
-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.
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
Now, a little light rain? Fine. Hell, even a heavier rain 2 days prior? Ok.
The rain we were getting?
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).
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 😉
…and then I sent an entry in for a schooling show a week from this Sunday, since clearly we need more show practice.