Monday, December 10, 2007

The Breakup - Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I decided to enter my first dressage show four months after my first dressage lesson. My trainer Paula thought I was nuts. She said she would never even consider showing that soon after starting dressage, let alone recommend it to someone. But I assured her that I had spent many hours in the show ring, and I wasn't scared to give it a try. I thought that Kaswyn and I had made great progress and I was ready to see what a judge thought.

The barn holding the schooling show was 15 minutes away from my barn, making it really convenient. I loaded Kaswyn into my trailer and arrived at the show about an hour ahead of time. Being January in Cleveland it was very cold that day, and had been for weeks, so Kaswyn did not get a bath before this show. My Arabian show background told me that this was a cardinal sin, but I couldn't justify getting my horse wet in 25 degree weather. I was nervous about what people would think, even though his coat was light and I had done my best to clean him up and clip him before the show. I shouldn't have worried, however. Kaswyn was one of the cleanest horses there.

I tied Kaswyn to the trailer, tacked him up, and put his cooler on. I had gotten dressed at home, which simplified matters. Since it was a schooling show I didn't need to wear formal show attire, so I wore light tan breeches and a sweater with my tall boots. As I led Kaswyn into the barn I saw Paula in the aisle. She had already been to the show office and had picked up his bridle number. This was new for me. In Arabian shows the numbers are large and typically worn on the rider's back. In dressage the numbers are very small and hung on the browband of the horse just under the ear. She looked a the test, and then hung the number on the left side of his bridle. She then said "In this test you'll turn left at C after the salute. Just in case you completely blank out and can't remember which way you need to turn, you can look down for the number and turn that direction." Ah, very helpful! Then she held Kaswyn for me while I looked over my test to make sure I could remember it.

This was also something new for me. She told me that I should have my tests memorized, but it was okay if I wanted to have a reader for the test. She cautioned me that the reader could only read the test word for word as it is officially printed, and that I could receive no coaching or help from her during my test. Again, a difference in what I was used to. At Arabian shows the trainers can be seen giving instructions from the rail in every single class, sometimes rather loudly.

I warmed Kaswyn up, and he was pretty excited. Paula coached me, and I thought she seemed more nervous than I was. The gal at the gate called my number as the next rider, and I headed over to the show arena. The show barn was very large and had an indoor warmup attached to the competition arena. It was really convenient to be able to warm up inside and then just ride straight into the ring. Paula told me to wait until the previous rider had done her final salute before entering the ring. I was allowed to ride Kaswyn inside the arena as the other rider exited and the judge finished her comment for the previous test. When the judge rang the bell, I would have 60 seconds to come down the centerline and salute.

The rider in the ring saluted, and I asked Kaswyn to enter the arena. He was fine with going down the rail, but when we came to the far end of the arena he was really tense and afraid of the viewing area behind the glass wall. He could see people moving behind it and was really scared. Luckily he trusted me enough to get him somewhat close to the rail at that end. He was tense and it wasn't pretty, but at least he was attempting to be obedient.

The bell rang, and we went out of the show arena so that we could have a straight shot down the centerline. I saluted, and made my first mistake. I saluted with my whip hand. The judge commented on this, but fortunately it's not an offence that costs any points. We began our first centerline in a wiggly, unbalanced trot as I urged Kaswyn to approach the glassed-in viewing area head on. He was thankful to turn left away from the scary monsters behind the glass.

The rest of the test was a blur of Kaswyn rushing through the movements while I sat and steered him around. I was very ineffective with my aids and just let him run through the test. I have the whole thing on video, and when I watch it I laugh at myself for being such a passenger in the test. At the final salute I was glad it was over, but at the same time very pleased with myself. We had gone into the show ring, alone for the first time, and performed Training Level Test 1.

I opted not to show my two tests back to back, so I went into the warmup again for some more coaching. Training Level Test 2 went pretty much the same as Test 1, with the exception of Kaswyn being more relaxed about the viewing room. Oh, and at one point in Test 2 he decided that he'd try and exit the arena. Luckily I was able to stop him just in time to avoid being eliminated.

And then we were done. I took him back to the trailer, untacked him, and put on his cooler. Then it was back into the barn for both of us to await our scores.

To be continued...

Part 5


Anonymous said...

It has just occurred to me that you have changed the names to protect the guilty! Here I was thinking that you had some lessons out in CA. Silly me!

And that viewing area is definitely a horse eater. Even Simon was a complete retard in that arena. Hen wasn't too thrilled either, but at least then he was jumping so when past it a little faster.

Katie said...

Oh no! I've been reading all your archives and its been so great not having to wait for the ends of the stories and now I have to wait for this one lol. Can't wait!

Rising Rainbow said...

I rode in a dressage schooling show the year I started Dandy under saddle. This arena didn't have a fancy viewing room for Dandy to be worried about so he didn't want to go near the judge's table or whatever they call it. lol

Horses, they are so funny sometimes!

You are right about Arabians and the big sin being no bath before a horse show. Even if they're travelling two days in the horse trailer in 100°to get they still have to be bathed. Makes no sense.

I have shown at schooling shows against horses with caked on mud. Everyone is different in their beliefs.

Looking forward to the next chapter.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the point of a schooling show to school? If you'd been working and training for four months on a horse who'd been to other shows in other disciplines, it doesn't sound like an unreasonable idea to go to a schooling show 15 minutes away.

So your ride wasn't the greatest and the viewing area was monstrous. Isn't that what schooling shows are for? To work out the kinks, to get exposure, to find out what you need to work on?

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