The last show of the year! Our Regional Championships are held in Lexington, Va., about a three-hour drive. The Virginia Horse Center is a fine venue, plenty of arenas, tons of stabling and two indoor competition arenas, as well as a covered warm-up area, to accomodate the reliably poor weather.
But not this year! The fates have smiled upon us, and the forecast only calls for a few chances of rain. At least, that’s what the forecast says TODAY.
Cleo schooled really well on Wednesday, made nice ones (which have been the issue of late), good piaffe-passage, nice in the contact. Midge was surprisingly brave, and while I worked him for a while, he took it very well.
Ella had a complete and utter meltdown. Like a Devon-esque meltdown.
Unlike Devon, I could school her through it until she relaxed, but she never totally unwound, and after an hour I called it a day. I got her responding to my aids and relatively through, just tight, tight, tight, and I think that was a victory given how the ride started—hollow, alternating between bolting and slamming the breaks on, bad in the mouth—a big mess. I hate those situations, where there’s just no win-win solution.
Fortunately, it paid off today. She still wasn’t relaxed and made a few costly booboos, but she was WAY more composed in her warm-up Prix St. Georges class. Tight in the back but at least rideable, with a few small highlights. I know how incredible this horse is, and it frustrates me a little to not be able to show that off in the ring with consistency, but both judges gave me 7s for rider, noting that I’d ridden tactfully and well in a tough situation, and if there was that much improvement from day 1 to 2, I’m hoping we’ll have a much better Championship ride.
(Fun trivia: the judge at E asked me after our ride, “How old is your horse?” “Eight,” I said. “Oh, thank goodness,” she said, because the program lists her as 3. Whoops!)
Cleo had some uncharacteristic moments of legs-tangled-into-pretzels, where we trotted out of a canter pirouette, and then forgot how to count to two. After a week of sweating the ones, I blow the twos. Brilliant. This was also my first time through the I2—I qualified for the Championships with the Brentina Cup test—and it’s got a lot of weird turning. (Hey, FEI? If you want to make a test inviting to green Grand Prix horses, let us go straight in the piaffe-passage every now and then, ‘kay? Thanks.) But she got a 61 and change, which I thought was fair, and the piaffe-passage was actually pretty good for us—still not what we’re getting outside the arena, but better.
The star of the day was Midge. I figured he’d be a complete nutter in Lexington’s big indoor coliseum with the music and the crowd, but he was All Business. Still 7 and orange and Dutch, so moments of tension, but it was the best the kur has ever gone in competition, and it was a real crowd pleaser. One judge gave me a 71+. The other gave me a 64. Why? She didn’t like the vocals in my music. It’s the first time I’ve gotten that comment, and I’m going to pass it off as flukey. Hey—it’s third level, not the WEG. Let’s have some fun!
Tomorrow is when the real chaos begins—four Championship rides from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.—so working student Nicole and partner-in-crime Eliza Sydnor and I are going to crawl into some big margaritas and have some FUN!