March 16, 2011

Schooling Show - Take 2

I took Dexter to another schooling show held at the same barn as the first last weekend.  When I got my ride times on Wednesday and saw 15 people in 2 of my classes (gulp) I got a little discouraged.  We could barely place when there were 5-6 people in our class.... No way were we going to be in the top 3rd and get a ribbon.  My only solace was that we entered the apparently dreaded Training Test 3 ... only 5 people.

Now my goal wasn't to win, or really even place, especially since we had so much competition, it was just to do better than we did at the first show.  Which considering we got last place should be hard to do, plus increase our scores. 

I was hopeful still, it was warmer, so we'd have an actual warm-up area, and he had been there before so his nerves should be less of a factor.  We got there extra early this time (I felt a little rushed last time).  So we had time to warm up then un-tack while Dexter got to chill out for a while.  We warmed up in a separate ring from everyone at first.  He can get bratty when I start to ask for the canter and with his size he can be intimidating when he starts to buck.  Plus the "Warm-up" ring was a small dressage ring with a low rail, too many people and I wasn't 100% sure he wouldn't hop right over the rail and keep going.  By the end of our warm up he was listening, going nice and steady and being an overall good boy. 

I went to check my times to make sure they hadn't changed and found out that due to a fire in the near-by area a few people had scratched.  My 15 entry classes were now 10... I like those odds a bit better. 

Fast forward to our first test... Training Level 1.  Last time we started with a wiggle down the center line and a back-up/side-pass instead of a halt.  This time, I overshot the center line, but he was straight, and we halted... square!  So far so good.  I won't go through every movement, but I can say half way through when we had just finished our first canter work and he came back to the trot without rushing all I could thing was "Oh my God! We are doing it!  He's paying attention and concentrating.  I'm relaxed and having fun!"  His stretch at the walk and trot still sucked but I knew they would.  He refused to stretch down unless he knows he's done. 

Test 2 - Same concentration, he broke into the canter a few times when he wasn't supposed to but I'll forgive him because that's all we worked on in warm up.

Between Test 2 and Test 3 I got my results from Test on..... 4th place!  I was so proud of Dexter and up 8 points from our last ride!  I read the judges comments and she said he needed more impulsion in the canter.  Oops!  I was so afraid of him barreling around the ring like last time I had cranked him back a little too much.  Oh well,  now I know what she wants I'll kick it up a notch for test 3.

Test 3 -  It was getting to be a long day and Dexter was finally relaxed, prior to this test he refused to stand still waiting to go in the ring, now he stood with his head down... "good boy, we are almost done."  Again, he did well and I made a few mistakes.  I forgot for half a second when we were supposed to transition from the canter to trot.  So in my hesitation Dexter made the decision and trotted a little early.  Drat, almost a test with no mistakes.  I pushed him at the canter and after the test the judge commented on how much better it looked.  I love dressage and the immediate feedback you get.

I took Dexter back to the trailer and got him ready to go home while the rest of the riders rode.  I know I should watch my competition but with a husband and horse ready to go home its kinda hard. 

We went and got our results... Test 2 - 5th place, good boy Dexter!  Then I looked at the results for Test 3, only 4 people in the class.... We got 1st Place!!  Oh my goodness!   GOOD BOY DEXTER!!!  From last to first in a few short weeks!  I'm not trying to brag but I am so happy for him.  You never know how things are going to go with a new horse and a 13 year hiatus from showing.  I love showing and I can pretend its not about winning.... but it sure is more fun!!

This was my fist blue ribbon in 13 years and Dexter's first ever.  And all I could think on the way home was "I did it."  This has been a goal of mine ever since I bought Gunner back in Texas, 6 years ago.  I never knew if we'd get here, I didn't know if it was possible but I needed to try.  And even though riding at home gives me a lot of joy and reminds me of what I love to do, showing is who I am.  And I finally felt like I found myself again, like the little hole had been filled.  I'm not just a horseback rider, or a dressage rider, I'm a dressage "competitor".  That is what all the riding at home is about for me and that is where I shine (inside, still trying not to sound cocky).

For some years now, with getting married and changing jobs and new horses, I wasn't sure if I'd ever really compete again.  And I had serious doubts that if I did start showing again, I wouldn't be good enough any more.  I know this was just a schooling show and some of my competition were 12 year olds, but it was the first step and it was the boost I needed.  I now know we can do it, Dexter and I together.  I can't say it enough - What a good boy!!!

If anyone is interested in our test 2 video I'll post it, otherwise I'll just keep watching it myself, over and over and over.... :)


  1. Hey, congratulations! That's amazing! Placing in every class at your second show? Very impressive.

  2. Thanks Kate! Like I said, I certainly wasn't expecting it, but we'll take it! :)