We left off having scratched from our one day show due to being in the hospital with a Kidney Stone. Not recommended. Drink more water. It was going to take some time to recover from that, but I had less than 2 weeks until Mav's first Gold Show. He was already entered and while I have insurance if HE has to scratch for vet reasons, I do not have it for myself. So, I took it easy leading up to the show. I worked from home, I only rode him (once I was feeling up to it), and I did not do any extra work. About 2 days out I finally thought I had a chance of getting there.
Warm up day arrives. It is pouring. Not just raining, like pouring buckets. Having done the West Coast Trail (in the rain), I tend to judge all rain by WCT standards. Normally, it is not as torrential as experienced on that trail. This day it was. It was full on WCT rain and I had to go ride outside in it. Fortunately, I am hauling in and out so at least I can get dry and I am not going to be soaking wet ALL day.
Pictures just do not do the rain justice, so here is a short clip.
To say he was tight is an understatement, plus he had a few leaps and several big spooks. There were horses everywhere, most of them screaming or leaping, it was pouring rain and cold, he’s never been in these rings before, and I am not 100%. I never did get a canter transition without some leaping, but in all I was happy with him. It was his first ever experience in an environment like that and he was definitely not the worst behaved horse. There was zero screaming, and while he was worried, tight and not going anywhere in the ring, he tried hard to do what I asked of him.
Just so you know, my rubber/plastic type raincoat, was not waterproof in this much rain. But so few things are and I did not think wearing a garbage poncho would be good for me being able to stay on, others being able to stay on, or my general popularity. Not that I care if people like me, but being public enemy #1 is also not on my list of things to do either.
I should mention he was perfect when not in the ring. Walking around, hanging out in his stall, trailering - all perfect. He does stress eat however. This is something we have in common. I am working on that since blood work shows high sugar levels and cholesterol. Mav is less concerned about his need to eat when stressed. This show I limited the hay I brought, and even brought it from his AM hay bag at the barn since his last show he ate everything in sight and then was not hungry for 2 days, stressing everyone out worrying about him. His hay is weighed at home, so I tried to make sure he did not get too much extra this time. I was successful in this and while he ate slower at home for several days after the show, he was much closer to normal this time.
Day 1 of show and it is not raining! The weather spirits have smiled on us! I get him ready at home, including his halter number as this is an actual gold show requiring him to wear it at all times outside of his stall. My braiding is getting quicker and more consistent! Mav thinks braiding is his least favourite grooming activity, but by that I mean he moves slightly during the process and occasionally tries to paw. He knows something is up and has commenced internal worrying about what it could possible be.
This picture is him in his stall, at the show, stress eating and staring at all the activity. His stall faced outside where horses are going back and forth, lunging in the ring in front of him and trailers/vehicles come and go. It is relative chaos compared to what he is used to, and what he has seen at shows up to this point. I love these stalls. More room in front for my stuff (it is staggering how much stuff goes with a horse for one test and a couple hours in his stall), a view of what is happening, and they are larger and quieter. The inside stalls are fine, but much louder as the general noises from all the horses add up.
Today we are doing First Level Test 2, and it's go time finally. Which only means I had to wait about half an hour before getting on. I tried not to leave myself too much time this show. Too much time leads to stressing out. I enjoy showing, I really do, but even I get stressed. Mostly this time it was because I was not convinced I could negotiate the test if he was as tight as the day before. I am not here to waste the judges time or embarrass ourselves.
Warm up actually went ok. We cantered normally. I did not die, or fall off, or cause disruption in the warm up ring. There was disruption in the warm up ring as someone did fall off and the horse went for a run around. Fortunately, Mav is less interested in what the other horses are doing and more interested in the sponsor signs posted around the arena and the manure bucket.
You may recall our issue with the green shrubs last year. This year, round, decorative, fake shrubs are old hat. Zero interest in them as aliens coming to get him. Red flowers were the name of the game this time
Almost every centerline and halt I was super happy with. Spoilers, I think the very last test I did was the least good of the bunch halt wise, but still quite good.
This canter transition was part of all 3 tests, in exactly the same spot. Which is kind of a failing on the test writers. Maybe switch it up for the next first level edition, so we can show how we get our canter transitions in different areas of the ring? I tried hard to make it better as the weekend wore on. Which, to be fair, was only 3 tests in total so limited time to improve on it. It is medium walk to trot at k to canter at c. Mav wants to do his tight up and down trot going nowhere and in only a couple of strides, has to canter. At the out gate. It is not so much a trot as a leg flinging up and down carousel horse thing. It is not pleasant to ride. It is less pleasant to get canter out of. Amazing Coach calls me on it. I pledge to see what I can do over the next two days to actually trot before the canter, not just shuffle in a tight frame.
Leg yields are fine. Not spectacular, But when you are a tight, bottled up horse with a Friesian neck, this is about the best you can do. Plus, we were headed sideways towards the red flowers of doom.
Here you can see the Red Flowers of Doom in action. Actively thinking about leaping out and devouring both of us. I guess I should he grateful to him for saving us from the awful fate of being flower food. Which, I guess in a morbid way, we all are in the end so maybe Mav is onto something. It was supposed to be a lengthen canter. It is a slightly larger tiny canter, which was all that was happening on that day. I had a hard enough time staying on the rail in my tiny canter, a big one would have been impossible at this stage of the game.
Our change rein. Supposed to canter at F, we got dinged for "Canter too early". Which, since it was a gold show with FEI level judges, was fair. However, Mav knew he was going to canter. He thought about canter the whole time in the trot. He was going to canter now dammit and I should just go with it. In actuality, I wanted to canter before the turn at F, since I know it looks better to canter on the straight, it is higher difficulty. I failed in that attempt, but make up for it the next day. Since he now does changes quite consistently at home, just getting this was a win. At least he was somewhat listening. You can see me holding his lead by pushing his quarters out, which is not ideal but he did hold his lead so it worked.
The test finishes with a less than spectacular non-stretchy trot which I planned to not include the video of. However, I realize I should likely include it. It was not very stretchy. Tight neck, sucked back horse does not equal nice stretchy trot. The reason for including this is also because I basically need this trot in the whole test <head palm>. I mostly sit because it is easier to keep him focused and on task. I should post and push him forward into a more relaxed going trot, but then I may have more obvious spooks. Catch-22. Part of showing is learning about your horse and how they react in the show environment. I learned a lot over this weekend!
Final centerline. I think. To be honest, the first and last lines are so similar, I actually have no idea which video is which. This makes me strangely happy as both were good and we did get an 8 on our final line.
We were second in the class, I think with a 63. Not our best score ever. But, he had improved so much from the day before and we survived the test. This is a win in my books. Although just getting into the ring was a win for this show with everything else going on.
Back home, he had some yummy grass before retiring for his afternoon nap. He missed his morning nap, so made up for it with a couple of them before dinner was served. Tomorrow is another day!
This is his ribbon. Which is kind of self explanatory.