What a whirlwind day! Thankfully we didn’t have an early start, but we didn’t get finished until late. I’m pooped!
I started with Midgey’s Third Level Championship, and he was a SUPERSTAR. Warmed up great, confident in the neck, happy and supple. He got a little twisty in the canter work, as he’s prone to doing, but he let me ride him forward, came back from the medium and extended canters, and he walked really well. He ended up fifth in a HUGELY competitive class on a 67.4 percent. I’m so proud of him!
Cleo was next for the I2, a test I really don’t like for her, but she was perky and fun about it. I nailed yesterday’s flubbed two-tempis, but bungled the ones, and I wasn’t over the moon about the throughness in my canter half-passes. She ended up getting a 63 percent to take Reserve to Shawna Harding, whose SUPER Come On has been averaging in the 70s at Grand Prix all season. I can take second to that!
Ella unfortunately had another day of meltdowns, maybe even more nervous than yesterday. I’m so frustrated—I work her every day at home and say “OH MY GOD, this horse is SO nice,” and then we get to a show and she panics. The problem isn’t the Dressage, it’s the flatwork—she can half-pass and collect and do changes, but she can’t walk, trot, canter, breathe, stretch. Clearly I need to do some homework this winter about teaching her to Wear The Big Horse Pants and trust me no matter the situation.
Midge came back late for his freestyle—8:20 pm, ugh—which meant warming up in the covered arena under lights. That wasn’t an issue, but not being able to see out of the arena into the darkness, and having people and horses and vehicles come into the arena from out of seemingly nowhere, did not make Midgey a happy camper. I didn’t get him as through or quiet as I would have liked, and it carried over to the test—he wasn’t as relaxed as his third level test. He was still awfully good, and hit all the choreography I wanted, but he ended up missing Champion by only one percentage point. Dang! We’ll settle for Reserve on a 68 percent.
When I think of Midge this weekend, I think back to the 5-year-old training Level horse I brought to these Championships two years ago—tight, tense, a cute baby horse with an unknown future. Could a cart horse find the throughness I’d need to make him an FEI horse? Would he ever amount to anything? Would he ever learn to show and breathe simultaneously? He’s grown up so much in the last two years, not just in the physical—he’s looser, more elastic, more balanced, better educated—but mentally. He’s not dependable yet, but he’s letting me be the boss more and more. It’s a very fulfilling thing.
I was supposed to do three open classes today, but I’m scratching out of them all—the weather sucks, and Cleo and Midge are both pretty schnookered, and I think I’ll have a much more useful time schooling Ella than showing her. So we’re off to a leisurely start, eating lovely hotel bagels. Whoopee.