A few months ago I was supposed to judge a schooling show at the Quantico Marine Base, which was sadly monsooned out. But organizer Anna rescheduled for this Saturday, and she couldn't have picked a better weather day even if she'd called California Psychics. 60 degrees and GORGEOUS, not a cloud in the sky. Karmic redistribution, anyone?
I love judging at Quantico. This is my second time, and the folks who run the barn are too fun. The barn itself, while rustic, is always neat and tidy, and run with (har har) military precision. And the riders are always fun, too; I didn't see a single soul over-mounted, or under-educated. That's a BIG win in my book.
It was the usual assortment of intro and training level tests. Lots of "needs more giddyup," lots of "free walk needs to stretch forward and downward." No one cried (at least not in the arena; hopefully not out of the ring either!), and everyone stayed on. I had a new experience in judging a gaited dressage test—a test mirroring our traditional tests but calling instead for flat walk, as opposed to trot. The rider rode a Tennessee Walking Horse, and dressed the part—bowler, jodphurs and long coat. Fun!
I also had the real pleasure of judging two young women, both appropriately horsed/ponied, and both with really exquisite positions. The latter of the two got an 8 from me on rider (which is not a score I apply liberally!), and when I asked her who taught her to sit so beautifully, she proudly answered, "My mom." Hoorah for moms! I tried to find said mom later to thank her for doing such a beautiful job with both girls, but couldn't, so if you're out there, Mrs. Mom, send me an email. You're someone I want to know!
It was a short show, so I got to go home and put in an afternoon of riding and teaching (after stopping at Trader Joe's, of course; the nearest TJ's is an hour away, so anytime I pass it in my travels, I have to stop!). Fender and Midge got days off, so Ella was all I had to ride myself, and she enjoyed the weather too—made some of the best piaffe/passage she's made. It's still lacking something, and I can get it if I carry a whip, but obviously that's not going to work in the long run. So I still have some homework to do. This morning we ran through the whole I2, and while it's perfectly adequate, I think she's too special to bother with perfectly adequate. So the jury's still out on whether we'll compete next week. I've no doubt that we'll be spectacular in four weeks. That just doesn't help us much NEXT week!
Midge and Fender were both appreciative of yesterday's free day, and they responded by being real superstars this morning. Fender continues to improve in his coordination and balance, which we may not get to demonstrate on the long, fluffy lines of a training level test next week. He's at that place in his training where he'd probably score better at first or second level than at training, because there's more "busy work" as you move up the levels. But I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be a contender regardless. And he got a haircut and looks QUITE dashing!
Midge was unreal—he made GORGEOUS, adjustable, beautiful piaffe and passage. And then I felt guilty for not spending more time working on the fourth level and PSG work for the show ("but moooooooom, I'm so booooooored!" says Midge), so I decided we would practice our centerlines...and the first one was for a 10. If it ain't broke, the cowboys say, don't fix it. So we went for a hack.
And with a light lesson day, I'm off to go pick pumpkins with one of my best friends. Fall in Virginia—there's nothing like it!