I have been working on getting Lucky’s attention in dressage for about a year now. When he doesn’t pay attention, he’s scary. When he does pay attention, he’s scary, too but the other way!
Today, Lucky proved what I sort of thought. He’s good. He is smart. He can move nicely, very nicely. He needs me to ride him carefully, let his neck be longer, more off the leg, create and keep the balance, and be a stronger person physically to be able to control my aids.
I entered just two training level tests, 2 and 3, and spent all week memorizing them. Yeah, right. Well I got most of them right. I missed a transition and got dinged for it but other than that I was pretty much remembering them. I got up and had all sorts of plans to braid and be early. Yeah, right. Got there just on time to get number and get warmed up in time for first test. I worried he’d be bad and crazy and dump me and run off or get loose or break his halter — none of that happened.
He did get through the Aisle of Death with the help of a friend, Kim and her nice chestnut mare. We walked through the aisle several times, actually, and he was very interested in the softball game on the other side of the Devon ring. He was pretty much agog when he got out of the trailer but soon got an idea what it all was. The dogs walking around the park on the leashes, the golf carts and horses going around over the jumps, all pretty interesting. The jogger a field over got a lot of attention. I began my warmup just with walking, feeling tense, and anxious, then the trotting circles and you know the head came down, the back loosened, I could rise a bit less sloppy and felt like he was getting a little more attentive. Then just worked my way through warmup and spoke with friends, and cantered a bit, and the circles were fine and he was relaxing and I began to think maybe he will be good. When we walked around the ring for our first test, here came the dogs, a pile of them, all on leashes attached to owners walking around the park. I figured I had better just let him go to the fence and see them now, because if I ride past, he’ll want to look around at them. It worked. He processed them, put them away and got down to work. I rode a bit tensely in the first part of the first test but then felt him relax in the second part, and then the judge wanted to speak to us after our salute. She was so complimentary and so exciting to listen to, I felt a huge relief and even a few tears of joy in hearing her say, “he is stunning”. Wow. The second test was a bit better, some wiggles, a missed transition, and I could feel him saying, well, I am almost done playing in here, Mom, and lost his strength and connection a little, but overall I was pleased because I rode better and got a better result.
The scores came up — 68.04 Training level Test 2, and 70.03 Training Level Test 3. Enough for first in both and champion of the division and I think he may have won the TIP award for high score dressage horse. All good. He walked back through the Aisle of Death, and we hung out at the end of the hunter rings, even jumping a couple of the small jumps from the trot and canter in the dressage saddle with the long stirrups. It was fun.
I was nervous because a nervous horse at a horse show is a hard time. He was at the beginning, but then he got it and said, ok. I need to do some more so it becomes easier for him and I hope he gets so he likes them.