Friday, April 29, 2011

Wimbley's First Dressage Show

January 24th was Wimbley’s first dressage show.  It was also the first time in many, many years that I have taken a green horse to their first show.  He was well prepared for the tests (2010 Introductory Test B  and 2010 Training Level Test 1), but not so much prepared for the throng of people with baby strollers, kids screaming and running so close underfoot, dogs on leashes, and a busy warmup arena. 
I am more impressed with this horse’s kindness, courage, and faith in his human than I can put into words!  I could tell that he was frightened by it all, but he still tried his level best to listen to my aids, and not overreact to all the stimuli.  I know it took every fiber of his being to “be good”, especially in the beginning of the day. 
I tried to ride him in the warmup arena, but it really was crowded, and even though he didn’t do anything wrong, he refused to canter, and trot was a challenge especially when horses were coming at him head-on.  So I picked an alley between two paddocks that were relatively quiet and did a couple walks and trots in a straight line, and then figured that was all we could do before the test, so we walked over to the show ring amidst horses, trailers, baby strollers, dogs, etc., etc. and entered at A. 
He relaxed in the arena when he realized everyone had to stay outside, and he did an admirable job for his very first test in a real arena.  The first test was Introductory Level Test B, and he did an admirable job considering the peripheral challenges.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a video of that ride.  He wound up with a 60.625% for second place. 
In the Training Level Test 1 test, part of which is embedded above, I knew his canter departs were not exactly stellar yet, but I figured that a schooling show was the best place to see exactly where our weaknesses are, and so his 59.583% in that test for 3rd place made me very happy.  That even included an error, when I made a second circle in the canter to steady it for a good experience for Wimbley, instead of crashing through a transition to save a couple points (that part of the test was not captured--above is the second half of the test).  If I had not had the error, it might have meant a higher placing, but the whole point of this show was to train Wimbley and give to him a good first show experience, not to just gather ribbons at all costs.  He was such a good boy, too, and I think the experience was positive, even though he was a bit on overload with all the excitement around him.

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