Whose idea was it to go to TWO licensed shows on back-to-back weekends? Oh, right, mine. Remind me to have my head examined!
I’ve not had back-to-back shows before, and I had no idea how to structure my week in between. So Monday Bravo had the day off after the heat of Williamston. Tuesday I did a light hack out in the fields. Wednesday I had a lesson with Verne Batchelder (if you’ve not met/heard/cliniced with him, I highly recommend it when he’s in the area), Thursday I ran through a test after a “mock” warm-up, and then Friday I headed to the Governor James B. Hunt Horse Complex to do it all over again.
After setting up for the weekend, I waited for Karen Young, so that we could ride together once the heat dissipated for the day. In short order she arrived and set up as well, and we eventually tacked up and headed for the warm-up. I wasn’t in the saddle more than 5 minutes before realizing that I had better do a quick lunging if I valued my life. Bravo put on a show on the end of the line–my favorite is when all 4 feet come off the ground at the same time, similar to a rabbit or cat, only to land with a big squeal–and had all his “ya-ya’s” out within less than 10 minutes. Then it was back on and out to the rings. For some reason, he started out really “looky”, which is not his usual, but before long I had him around the warm-up and both competition rings working nicely, and we called it a night. One of the nice things about showing in Raleigh is after tucking in my pony for the night, I can then go sleep in my own bed!
Saturday I had late rides–1:41, and then the last ride of the day at 4:36. I like having later rides the first day–I can braid in the morning, I can relax with my coffee before getting to “work”, and I can just enjoy being there–I mean, this is supposed to be for fun, right? I planned to do a super quick lunge in the morning to be sure there were no more airs above ground, and then bathe, braid, etc. with enough time for a full 30 minute warm-up. All went according to plan, and my warm-up went great. There was some resistance near the out gate nearest the barn, which I am convinced has a magnetic pull, and maybe a half-hearted buck, and I felt ready for my First/4 test with Kathy Rowse (S). When my turn came, I entered the ring and my horse transformed before my eyes: giraffe neck, snorting at the semi-trailers near the ring (curious, nary a look at those last night), bulging eyes at the Comfort Inn behind the rings (ditto); and I had that general feeling of being a passenger not quite in charge of the vehicle. He started off behind my leg, and BECAUSE I LEARNED MY LESSON from last weekend, I quickly tapped with the whip. Nothing. I tapped again. Giraffe neck. Then a kick and ah, pushing beautifully to my hand. And then a suck back with giraffe neck. Really? I have a hard time believing the reaction to his surroundings was real, but all this fake looky/spooky was ticking me off a bit. And then came the right canter, which 99% of the time, is where the real disobedience happens. What was supposed to be a 15 m canter circle became a bronc-rodeo ride–mostly crow hopping with the occasional true buck. As we headed toward M, I realized his intent was to misbehave his way right over/through the dressage arena and leave for the barns. Somehow I regained control at M, deep breath, kick on. The rest of the test (all what, 3 movements) was great.
I had to settle for a 62.something%, our lowest score this year, which by some miracle was still good for 5th place (xx entries). Luckily, our First level median score for the Hungarian WB All Breeds award only took a <0.2% hit for his naughtiness. However, I was a bit flummoxed by his behavior. While Bravo is obviously no stranger to being bad, he usually isn’t that demonstrative in a test. I was pretty dejected, actually. Karen Young and Mo won this class, as well they should have, with a beautiful ride.
Speaking of BAD (didja like that segue?), my next class was my Musical Freestyle. I still needed one more qualifying score. For this test, there was an uncharacteristic four entries, THREE of which were First level (Karen and Mo, and new-to-the-MFS scene Dawn Weniger on Don Derrick)! I was the last to go, which was fortunate because I needed every minute of my warm-up. It had begun to rain, which made the temperature wonderful. It was a light rain, not sprinkling, but certainly not a downpour. Given the past few week’s temperatures, I thought it was delightful. Apparently Bravo did not agree. He was snarky and resistant, and then really let me have it when I tried to canter. There was bucking, there was leaping, there was crow hopping, there was cantering sideways towards the out gate–you name it, he tried it. My dejection was turning into depression as I soldiered on, and then a big drop landed on his head and his ears pinned. What a TURKEY–it was the rain! Seriously? Figuring this out actually made me feel better–I didn’t feel sorry for his lame excuse, but at least there was a reason. One thousand transitions and half-halts later, I trotted into the ring, (funny, this time with no “looky-loos”…) and my music started. I got one head snake in the strike-off, and then the test was pretty reasonable. My canter music is the not-so-subtle Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ by the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Not only does the beat match, it’s so apropos it still makes me laugh. In the right lead canter tour (of course, the dreaded right lead…), there’s a musical break with MJ’s back up singers yelling “Yee Haw”! As though it was scripted, just before this point Bravo launched into a buck tirade–I lost my slick right rein and so we went left, and as I was gathering myself back together I had no choice but to throw that hand in the air and yell “YEE HAW!” right along with them. But, we were supposed to be going right, and had to literally “freestyle” it to get my required movements in before the final trot music to halt. Judge Kathy Rowse did not give me any bonus points for levity (sigh), and in fact her comment on my choreography stated that she wasn’t quite sure what we were doing. LOL, Kathy, that made TWO of us! I deservedly placed last, with a 64.275%–darn, just missing that qualifying score. Ah, but as luck would have it (and since I had so much tragedy today, I was due some “good news”), I forgot to pay the qualifying fee! Sometimes procrastination literally pays!
A quick clean up and then off to the competitor’s party. After wolfing down some cheeses, ham, and a couple tortilla strips (washed down with a glass of white wine), I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I need to figure out a better system for nourishment at these competitions–I’m usually too keyed up to eat, and I don’t want a lot of stuff sloshing around in my gut while sitting the trot (or sitting the bucks), but I realize not eating isn’t the best answer. Then after showering when I got home, I attempted to sit on the couch. My glutes were SCREAMING as though I’d been at the gym doing squats. Maybe bronc busting will be good for my figure!