Palm Beach Dressage Derby, Day 2

Mar 3, 2012 - 4:27 PM
Photo by Denise Perrotta.

12:20 a.m. I’m wide awake, in spite of my usual pre-show ritual of two Tylenol PM. I’m not a nervous competitor, but I do get a little excited before shows, and since I’m not a good sleeper on my best day, I believe in better living through modern chemistry. But it’s not working tonight. That’s probably because I’m not only riding Midge in what is basically the biggest show he’s ever done in about 12 hours, but also because I then have to bolt from the show to be on Fender for his USEF Young Horse Training Session, and I have no idea how I’ll have the time. DQ problems, guys. DQ problems.

6 a.m. I’ve slept fitfully, but I have at least slept a little, so it’s chores: stalls, buckets, breakfast. When the sun comes up both Midge and Fender get baths – Midge just to polish all that chrome, Fender because I can smell him from a mile away. I do Midge’s tail, I clean up his bridle path, I even polish his bits. And I call my buddy Jaime to see if she can help me with my quick turnaround between Midge at the show and Fender’s Scott lesson. She can. Thank goodness!

8 a.m. So… now what? Ella’s getting the day off. I don’t want to start getting Midge ready until 10:30. And Fender will ride this afternoon. I decide to head over to the show, watch some of the Grand Prix Special, maybe window shop a little. Instead, I run into a bunch of people I know and end up talking for two hours, and I don’t see a single ride. More DQ problems!

10:30 a.m. Midge really does braid up nicely!

11 a.m. Lunch for the kids, a snack for me. Nothing says fun like sitting trot in a long, dark coat on a 90 degree day with a full belly.

11:30 a.m. Doo, doo doo dooo….

12 p.m. Tacking up. Which takes about two minutes.

12:15 p.m. Doo dooooooo…..

12:30 p.m. Showtime! Midge marches right on the trailer next to Whizard, my buddy Jenn’s horse, who we’re bumming a ride from, and we’re off!

I show first, so I pop Midge’s bridle on and hit the road. He warms up great, Mr. Professional. He goes around the ring. Everything is groovy. And we ride the best damn test I’ve ever done.

The wind has picked up, which is blowing the judge’s tent around a bit, which makes Midge booger a bit at that end of the ring, but because he’s a good boy he still gets it done. The first centerline is pretty good. The extended trot, pretty good. The trot half-pass is as nice as I know how to do, and the transition to the first passage is only hindered by Midge going OMGTHETENT right before the transition itself. The first piaffe is just lovely, and the transition out is terrific.

He walks the best he’s walked at this level, picks up the canter as perfect as you please (tent and all!), has one wonky moment coming back from the extended canter, and makes the best canter half-pass zigzag I’ve done in any ring on any horse, which culminates in a tragically costly OMG!!! moment for poor Midge as he has to change right in front of the judge. Bummer. But then we bang out beautiful twos, REALLY beautiful ones, one good canter pirouette out of two (the first one? One perfect step, and then OMGTHETENT for two steps, and then a lovely finish), and a stellar transition to trot followed by a super trot extension.

And I’m like, yeah, baby. And Midge says oh, we’re done? Terrific. And totally drops behind me for the last piaffe-passage tour. STUPID GIRL.

It’s the one big DUH of what was otherwise a delightful test, and when the judge says “Thank you, good job!” at the end, I know I’m home.

1:25 p.m. Plenty of time! I’m just getting ready to hand Midge off to Jaime so I can bolt home to Fender when I see them. Without fail, whenever I’m at a show where the USEF drug techs are on the ground to “randomly” collect horse samples, they find me. Truly. I’ve been showing dressage horses since I was 11 years old, and I don’t think I’ve ever once made it through a drug-testing show without making it on the list. This is no big deal – it’s easy-peasy, if you’ve never been through it, and I have nothing to hide. But I’ve got to run, and I hate leaving poor Jaime to stand around for the requisite hour to watch Midge not pee.

But Jaime is a trouper, and I’m on the move. I’m home to tack Fender up and I’ve just gotten on when Scott pulls in the drive.

2:45 p.m. Fender is a rockstar. After Justin rode him last week, I’ve kicked my own butt into gear with him, and he’s already better connected, stronger, a better ride. And Scott has noticed. He tells me the same things that Michael tells me, which are the same things I’d figured out on my own – we’re still going to need time, lots of time, to get him really connected; the canter is my access point to a better trot; I shouldn’t panic when he loses rhythm, it’s a phase. No surprises. Great!

I hose Fender off, pop him in his stall, and zip on my bike over to the show. My class isn’t over – it’s a GIANT FEI Test of Choice class, one of TWO, there were so many entries – but I can’t wait another minute.

3:05 p.m. Midge, in his recognized Grand Prix debut, in front of an FEI judge, has scored 68.5 percent, and with half the class to go, is in second, only half a percent behind a PSG ride. Will you look at that!

3:15 p.m. But there’s no time for celebrations. It’s home to do my afternoon chores, turnout, clean tack, feed, hop in the shower, and back over before the show office closes to pick up the test. We end up holding on to second, out of 14. What a guy.

5:45 p.m. A competitor’s party, free food and good company? Could this day get any better?!

7:30 p.m. An early night check. Midge, who is not shy, has unhooked his stall guard and is banging it around, thinking it makes a pretty slick toy. Apparently he thinks he’s a pretty big cheese. I went to hook it back up – without it, he pulls all the blankets, fly masks, and halters off his and his neighbor’s stalls – but he looked so smug I left it down. I’ll clean up the mess in the morning.

9:30 p.m. I’m posting this blog and heading to bed early. But I think I’ll pop a Tylenol PM. Just in case.


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