Sunday, May. 26, 2024

VADA/Nova June, Day 4

As my first ride on Sunday wasn't until 1:30 in the afternoon, working student Nicole and I had a leisurely morning. We watched freestyles (saw the most fun junior level kür I've ever seen). We watched young horses. We wandered around. We had lunch. And when we came back to get crackin' on getting Midge ready for his class, the clouds started to roll in.

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As my first ride on Sunday wasn’t until 1:30 in the afternoon, working student Nicole and I had a leisurely morning. We watched freestyles (saw the most fun junior level kür I’ve ever seen). We watched young horses. We wandered around. We had lunch. And when we came back to get crackin’ on getting Midge ready for his class, the clouds started to roll in.

Now, my ride is in the indoor, so I’m not worried about the rain. It’ll make the metal roof at Morven Park loud as can be, which is annoying, but not a disaster. It’ll probably make more people spectate inside, but that’s OK, too. So I’m in my nice focused happy place as I make my way to the schooling ring through the beginning of the dribble.

And I trot and canter around a bit. And then KABOOM. There is lightening, thunder and monsoon rains. The three poor FEI junior riders come flying into the arena. People are scattering like flies. Midge is non-plussed, but they put the rings on hold—all the rings, including the indoor. They even make us get off our horses while we wait it out.

Fortunately, Midge is pretty good, so we just camp out for half an hour while the worst of it blows by. And I’m about to get on to start Warm-up 2.0 when someone reports in from the outdoor rings: they’re a disaster. And this show is a qualifier for the junior riders, too. After some hemming and hawing, a decision is made: The junior riders will go in the indoor, before the developing horses. And so I’m sent back to the barn.

I think it was the right decision to let those guys go first, and to let them go in the indoor. It was the right call. But my happy focused place is slipping away from me; I’m not stressed, I’m just not In The Zone like I was an hour ago. Still, Midge feels really good when we get to our warm-up again. He’s supple and swingy, and when we start trotting around the ring, I’m feeling pretty good. I take him past the spectator side of Morven’s indoor first, because that’s where he was so naughty, and I’m barely to C when the judge rings the bell. Crap, I think, I was hoping to make it all the way around the ring at least once each way, but since I’ve only got a short time, I’d better hedge my bets and go past the spectator side again.

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Down centerline, a nice halt, track left, away from the spectators. And what do we do? Of course we spook at the other *@#$&! side of the arena.

UGH.

It’s not bad, it’s just tight and stupid, but it’s one movement gone, and with it goes my composure. I’m in defensive mode now, trying to keep him organized and in good rhythm with one whole long side against me. The extended trot is quite good, as is his walk, but the dang canter is full of tension whenever we’re on the E side of the ring. He threw in some auxilliary one-tempi changes into his first canter pirouette; the second was facing the scary side of the ring and looked more like a reining trick.

And for my Grand Finale, I went off course. What a mook!

There were some good things—I thought both extended trots were really his best effort, and my transitions felt quite crisp and rideable. I wanted to hit the road so we’d get home before dark, and therefore didn’t stick around for the class to finish and to pick up my test, but a 63.5 percent with that many boo-boos meant they wanted to like him. But dangit, Midge! Cut me some slack here!

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I scratched Fender—he was so good on Saturday, and the outdoor rings looked like a war zone, and we just don’t need a training level score that badly—and home we went. No Young Horse Championships for me. But I’m cool with it, really and truly. Of course I would have liked to go, and I’m a little disappointed, but these are very nice horses still very early in their careers. Everything does happen for a reason, and I’m very happy to roll with the fates.

So, the plan: First, no more freaking indoor horse shows for Midgey, if I can avoid them. Not worth it. Instead, I’m going to think about Dressage at Lexington, a show at the Virginia Horse Center in July (with lots of indoor classes, actually, but since it’s where the BLM Championships are this fall, he’d better go get over it), and I’m certainly going to start playing with more work from the I1. I’ve toyed with the twos and the canter half-pass zigzag, but just playfully; now it’s time to make more of an effort. And I’m going to get cracking on his I1 kür for next season as well, since this is usually a quiet time of year for professional freestyle designers.

Fender’s going to spend most of his time out of the arena for the next few weeks, until it gets REALLY hot and unpleasant. He’s been in horse show crunch mode for a while, and I think some hill work will provide a nice mental change of pace.

Ella’s in fitness boot camp, which will include some passage sets (lucky girl), as well as choreographing our freestyle for the Ride for Life benefit competition at the end of the month.

And me? I’m going to take a little mental break myself, so that when Gladstone rolls around, a little rain delay won’t break my stride.

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