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Highway to the Danger Zone

You sang that title didn't you? But likely only if you are over 30. Where are we? Mav has gone on some outings and is starting to settle in nicely to the routine of it. Get on and off the trailer, stand to be tacked, go in strange rings, do the things. It is time for a lesson away from home! If we can do that then certainly we can probably go to a show.

We head off for a lesson at the lovely facility. But first we get prettied up. Did I mention that the reason for this lesson is that we have entered our first actual dressage test? The ride-a-test day is the following weekend and we need to actually ride through the test at least once with Amazing Coach (AC) before that day

We go with Uncle Kanje again but this time he stays outdoors and we go indoors for our lesson after a quick warm up in the outdoor to emulate the show day as much as possible.

Being alone in the ring is no problem. Which I expected since he is fine to ride alone at home too. He is such a good boy! I put AC in the judges chair at C so he knows people can be up there (we are leaving nothing to chance!) and off we go straight into our test.

We ride through our test once and AC says something to the effect of "apparently you have not practiced center lines" so we do. We trot and halt so many times on the center line that neither of us remembers where X is. It never really gets better so I promise to practice everyday until the test day (and more after).

He starts to relax in there and slowly is taking the contact forward. He still likes to come behind it a bit but he no longer looks like "an Arab show horse"(AC's words).

We hang out a bit after in the parking area and pose for some pictures. Look Ma, no rope halter today! In fact, he wears his show bridle for the first time. It is his "not hand-me-down" bridle and I much prefer the black noseband on him but all of my other ones have white padding. I will slowly replace them as they get older.

Exceptional Husband attends this outing as the groom/ground person.

He is pleased with the progress. Mav is pleased by the attention. Mutually, it is working well. In this picture we are watching as Uncle Kanje has his lesson. Hanging out is no big deal, check that box off.

Now it dawns on me that I need to braid next weekend. I only ever had to do running braids, so I pull out the waxed braiding thread and giant plastic needles amazon sent to my door and start practicing. They turn out surprisingly well and I pat myself on the back and stress less about the braiding part.

I neglected to say the first go-round was not as nice and they were smaller. Weirdly, when bigger they are easier to get more even. I continue to work on this skill.

The big day arrives. We can not yet hold shows due to Covid-19 restrictions but since team sports have been given the ok to go ahead for practice and games, we can do a Covid-friendly event. Since we haul in, ride, then haul out and all precautions are in place, it is a fairly safe endeavor from a viral standpoint. Officially, this is a -ride-a-test which means there are no ribbons or placings but there is a judge and we get our score sheet with comments. I am tired and it is early. Fortunately, Super Barn has staff that start early. Really early! And by the time I get there at 6 AM, both Mav and Uncle Kanje have eaten a good part of their breakfast so will not go hungry. Did I mention that I ride at 8:21 AM? Most people would hate this considering I have to get him ready and haul him there, but I am fine with it. I will be done before most people get up! I probably get up at 4 worrying about not waking up which is stupid since I have not slept in past 6 AM in years.

A quick run (it is Sunday Run Day and he has permission for a run early today) and into the grooming stall he goes. He Shines up nicely!

He is perfectly cheerful to get in the trailer instead of going in the field (field turn out is at 7:30 which coincides with leaving time). They will get their turn out after they get back home so no grass time was missed.

I tack him up and get on. he starts out a bit looky but not too worried about things. After some bending work he settles and starts moving forward nicely.

I got to wear my new show outfit which I love! Being larger chested and short, I tend to have issues with jacket fit. I had this one custom made by the same man in Indonesia who makes my boots. I will post about him one day- he is amazing! It is not too long for me and it does not pull anywhere, a miracle in itself. I am already planning more show outfits for next year.

A quick warm up and then it is time for us to go in. I think we were second in the ring that morning.

This is Training Test 1. It only has some 20 m circles at trot and canter and a short walk diagonal. I thought I would start him simple. Get him used to the whole show experience and learn being in the ring is fine. He was not terribly worried. although the shrubs of doom are always a concern.

A good start.

Some good in the middle (not going behind the vertical is a work in progress!)

And the final line. I had to sit approaching the shrubs of doom or I would not have made it around the corner, so I sat the last center line.

At the end, I am so happy with him I give him a hug. He is not completely sure about the hug but then seems to understand it means really good.

After the test he goes for a walk around the property accompanied by AC. he is getting so much braver now. I think he might be ready for a trail ride soon!

We score a 69% with 2 8's on the sheet. Not bad at all for his first time in front of a judge! Everyone is pleased! Especially Super Husband who is wearing his Fan club Shirt.

When you come with a name like Maverick, There is no other show name available to you other than Top Gun. It will be fun one day to do a freestyle to the soundtrack, once we get to the more fun stuff.

A great start for him! It felt amazing to be back in the ring after 2 years. It was slightly bitter-sweet as the anniversary of losing Miss H is the following day, but he was so good it helps make the day less sad. There is something quite satisfying to have started him myself and now actually be in the ring not embarrassing ourselves. I am excited for the future.

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