I couldn’t be more pleased with Corona, even if I tried. Our show on Saturday gave us our highest score ever and we took home two third-place ribbons!
First of all, as we were loading to go to the show Corona practically ran into the trailer himself which left me with a huge grin on my face even before we left the Boss’ property. I’m so proud of how far he has come over the last few months, especially when I consider the chaos of the first show trailer loading incident. I’m actually going to do another trailer loading session with Corona at some point in the near future to see if I can get him to load and unload without me having to go into the trailer with him; I’m pretty confident he would do it, it’s just a matter of me feeling confident enough to let him without worrying about all the things that could go wrong.
Oh – I forgot to mention – when the ride times came out for the show, I nearly had a heart attack. Since the show had so many classes and riders, they were running two rings at the same time. I had visions of Corona and I being responsible for ruining others’ show experiences if he carried on the way he did at the last show. I convinced myself that the rings wouldn’t be side-by-side and that everything would be great.
Upon pulling into the venue, all of my self-convincing turned into, “oh shit”; there was only about 10 feet separating the two rings. There was also a very small warm-up ring, tents flapping in the wind, a variety of flowerpots and garden decorations, lawn chairs, strollers, and lots of bushes.
We got our numbers at the registration desk, tacked up and took the horses to the warm-up ring before our first tests. I don’t even think the warm up ring was 20m x 40m but there were already about 8 horses in there. I just did my thing and focussed on staying calm and avoiding crashing into anyone. Corona was definitely looking at things and was hesitant at times, but he was actually quite a bit more relaxed than I had expected – I just went with it. There was a woman in there with a cute grey horse that was having a hard time calming him down, needless to say, I really felt for her as I know all too well what that feels like! Lucky for her, her coach was there so was walking her through a “calming” routine (and yes, I eavesdropped to learn a thing or two)!
Before long, I was up for Training Test 1. We had to walk past the end of the small ring (where someone was doing their test already) to the big ring where I’d be riding. I walked Corona around the outside and he spooked just before the judges booth, but carried on without too much of a fuss. The bell rang for us to start out test so I circled back to A to enter the ring. We went in and Corona felt a bit stiff, but not nearly as giraffe-like as he can be. Our halt wasn’t super, but hey, it was immobile. We continued our test and I was very pleased with how things were going! Corona was hesitating so a bit sluggish off the leg, but to be honest, I much prefer pushing him on than hanging onto his alter-ego, “Bull-in-china-shop.” He did something that is very unusual for him – we were cantering and as we were going down the long side from A to E, he broke to a trot(?!) I picked up the canter again and he picked up the wrong lead (??!!), I corrected it and we continued. We finished the test without any more indiscretions.
We had about an hour before our second test, so we parked ourselves at the end of the warm up ring so that we could watch the others in our class. There were some really excellent riders and really nice horses. There was one girl who I really felt for (a different one from the warm up ring). She was on this GORGEOUS black Hanoverian who had the floatiest movement I’ve ever seen. It was the horse’s first show and he was terrified of the judges box. He wouldn’t go near it. Aside from that, her test was mesmerizing, but due to the judges box issue, she came last in the class. On a complimentary note however – someone from the host barn offered to buy her horse right then and there!
In my opinion, my second test was on par with the first. Corona was still quite hesitant at times, but there were no major meltdowns. At one point, the judge from the other ring rang her bell for that rider, and Corona spooked and leapt forward, but to his credit, he recovered really quickly and we continued on as if nothing had happened. Our halts were much better in this test, especially our final one.
After we had untacked, we walked the horses back up to the rings to see our scores. I was shocked to see that I had come third in both classes! In my first test, I got a 57.5% which I thought was a bit low to be honest…I got a 58% in the first show of the season when Corona was a raging maniac. The girl who placed first got a 67%, the second place got a 66.4% and then there was me, and the lowest of 6 scores was a 52%. In the second test however, we got a 64.8% – the highest score we’ve ever received! The scores were all much higher in the second test, with the 1st place winner getting 67.8% and the last place out of 7 getting a score of 60.71%. I know I’m no dressage judge, but I honestly didn’t think there was THAT much of a difference between my two tests – I’m not complaining at all, it’s just interesting and I suppose, is one of the things that comes with the territory of dressage.
We let the horses graze for a while before loading up and heading home. At some point throughout the day, the Boss decided that Corona had finally figured this show thing out, and subsequently convinced me to do one more show with him. There’s one coming up this weekend, but it’s at the same venue as the last disaster so I’m not keen on going. There one the weekend after at a venue I’ve never been to, but is supposedly very nice and calm so we’ve signed up to go there on Sept 1.
Remember how I mentioned Corona broke from canter to trot in the first test and then picked up the wrong lead? Well, Murphy’s Law struck and when I rode him the other night, he was off! Not overly lame, but definitely had some head-bobbing going on a the trot. I really hope it’s nothing and all will be well. The blacksmith is coming out Monday so will be able to take a look at things if they haven’t improved by then. I didn’t feel any heat or swelling, so maybe he just was a bit sore (fingers crossed!!).
**UPDATE** – so it seems I forgot to post this blog once I wrote it – the good news is that yesterday Corona seemed MUCH better. I lunged him prior to riding to see the status and he looked fine. I tacked him up and got on and he felt 100% to the left, but still slightly off to the right. I soaked both of his front feet in an Epsom salt tub for a good half hour, then packed him hooves with poultice and wrapped them. Blacksmith is out today, I wonder if he’ll find anything?