Brita's and my times were basically right on top of each other, and as soon as Brita finished dressage, I hustled off to walk my course and then get ready for my own dressage.
It didn't leave a lot of time, and I ended up with too little warm up - about 20 minutes. On a good day, that's plenty sufficient time for Charlie. But on this day? Homeboy was tense. We were in the upper ring (the GIANT one with the most horses and right next to a stadium arena and the xc start box) and the difference in the horse's focus and attention was palpable.
|i especially appreciate this picture bc of the Brita & Bella cameo. they've got our back!|
And despite the horse being quite schooled to arena traffic, the combination of seeing so many horses running and jumping in the distance, and being constantly nearly bumped into by ppl who had staked out their own private 20m circles in the middle of the giant arena took a toll on him. Understandably so, big guy. I feel ya.
After realizing we were kinda in a bad place, I tried to do a few trot-walk-halt transitions but.... eh. There's not a lot of "training" you can do in the last 5 minutes before your test, ya know? So in we went.
|Emma: "Hello Judge. This is my horse. He is a very impressive horse."|
Charlie: *face plants*
Judge: Looks like a 7 to me!
|please to note we are two full strides past X|
Anyway. Charlie was sticky and tense, and danced a little in the halt. I tried to be very tactful in asking him to trot out, and he kinda jigged a bit in the corner (got a 4 for that....), but then found his legs and trotted on for our little circle.
|trot right. "6 - lacking bend." fair 'nuff|
|first time cantering in a dressage test!! good boy!!|
|trot left. "4 - tight neck & poll, lacking bend, circle not round." |
ummmm... i feel like that 4 ("Insufficient") is a little harsh, judge. #justsayin
Tho we got a 4 on that next trot circle which like... I don't understand. In pure dressage, a "4" means "insufficient." The directives for this movement were: E: Circle 20m. And directive ideas are: Roundness and size of circle, clear trot rhythm and bend. The judge dinged us on size of circle and bend, which like, sure are critical pieces of this puzzle. But were we insufficient? Esp after nearly falling down and missing the mark on X big time netted us a 7???? Idk.
|cantering left in a dressage test!! good boy got both leads and 6s on all of his canter transitions!|
|free walk also got a 4 (the third of four 4s on this test, if you're counting), which was fair. he was tense, choppy and rooting.|
|wand a 6 to finish off the test. good boy charlie.|
I'm a little sour about the fact that everything in this test was either a 4 or a 6 except for that damn earthbound-as-fuck-literally-bc-we-actually-almost-fell-down first halt, which got a 7.
Oh, tho Charlie scored a 7 on his gaits too, which was nice. But like, my best guess is that the judge was looking for a very specific picture for this test, specifically with regard to acceptance of the bit and bend. And we just simply didn't fit the picture. Oh well. Final score of 44.5%.
Tension is tough. And this test was a good reminder for me that, altho Charlie is a very good horse, and has been very "easy" to work with - he's still very green. And "easy" is a relative term. Because.. well.. it's one thing to be easy to ride when the horse is at his best. When he's not at his best tho? He's actually not easy to ride.
|he jumps tho <3|
We then got over to warm up with about 30min until go time. With being so fresh out of dressage, Charlie didn't necessarily need that much time to physically warm up. Rather, he needed that time for exposure and calm in the face of chaos. So we headed up to the arena to watch a couple rounds go first, and for me to get an idea of how the jumps rode. Only one related distance, which everyone was getting in 5.
|i love his face|
Warm up was honestly kinda stressful bc it was in a small-ish corner of an otherwise-large arena, and we warmed up at the same time as the junior divisions. Which meant there were loud coaches swarming everywhere. LOTS of yelling going on. Lots of ponies everywhere.
|a little blah over the first two, but blah is not a dirty word|
Charlie was a little sticky but was listening. Good 'nuff. Not much more to do there, so we headed back up to wait our turn - along with Brita, who had just finished her rides and made it over in time to watch ours.
|looking for our turn to jump 3|
Somehow, tho, he didn't touch the jump at all. I applied excessive verbal praise for his agility there lol, and then we organized a bit better for the end jump at 4. Then off to the only line on course - the one that had been going in 5.
|jumping into the line. my expression says, "yup we're gonna leave a stride out, aren't we."|
|pictured: leaving a stride out as if we could have left out two....|
|charlie's face says: 'OH IT IS ON NOW'|
Might as well just roll with it. I'll train him later. For now? We gotta jump these jumps the only way we know how haha.
|pictured: how a 17h horse gets air time over a 2'3 jump lol|
video here. moments of note include: totally biffing fence 3, FLYING down the line, laughing about it, then basically just surviving over the final two....
The reality is tho.... I shouldn't consider this an "embarrassing" round for him. Like, yea he's green and I basically stay in the back seat for everything. And parts of the course were a little wild and woolly. But damn if that wasn't an honest, forward horse who basically understands what he's about out there.
Charlie's nowhere near "schooled" yet. And he goes absolutely NOTHING like the horse I jumped for the past four years. But we're figuring it out. And I feel pretty good riding him, and feel even better at our prospects for further gelling as a team.
That feeling was only reinforced after cross country, where Charlie was surprisingly much more reliant on me than he had been in stadium. Stay tuned for details next!