I did my first ever schooling show in March, in an indoor we had schooled in before. I was ULTRA nervous but pulled out an honorable 66.75, 4th place out of 7. I felt the test went nearly perfect. My horse was nice and forward, obedient and willing (many nice comments about that). He is in his 20's and was a H/J lesson horse before I got him 4 years ago.
This time we tried Intro A and B. The day started off just "off". I like to be VERY prepared. Horsey was fed later, had to pull him from his breakfast, arrived 20 mins. Later to the show than would have liked. We have NEVER been there and never until today, rode in an OPEN dressage arena OUTSIDE. This farm was very out in the open - flat, open fields all around. We had also NEVER ridden in the large arena. I do practice in my own large arena but it's not as long...and just with little cones that I set up (no low white dressage rails) and my arena is 3/4 fenced. I originally only had the small arena cones (AKEHCMBF) and realized I had better practice with the large arena letters RSVP as the circle "markers" I had in my head would be different. I did a few run-through's the week before the test. (My test in March was done in the smaller arena.) I also did my tests today in my friend's dressage saddle. I did March's test in my close contact, and judge commented I tipped forward and would do better in a dressage saddle. I have been practicing in this dressage saddle for over a month, and while the seat is super comfy, my legs move ALOT in it and we had some issues with using longer stirrups and horsey not seeming to "feel" my aids as well.
To boot, I LOCKED MY KEYS IN THE CAR when I went to check in at the show!! Thank GOD I have Onstar, and borrowed another competitor's phone to call them. My phone, clothes, bridle and pad were all in my truck!I was slightly traumatized by that whole fiasco.
Now to the test. I was trotting around before entering the ring, said hello to the judges, and RIGHT as I pass "A" they ring the "enter" bell. My trainer was there and said, "Oh just turn around, exit the ring a bit and enter "A" straight on." IMO, horsey thought we were exiting ring and he can be a crab if he thinks we are done and we're not - ...but I did it, and he felt VERY strong trotting to X. (TEST A). We proceed, but I can tell you his ears were up and stiff, he was NOT relaxed and as soon as we attempted circle at "A", he took off cantering. I could not stop him. He blew off my half halts and my best description is he just wanted to RUN and let out some energy. I could not turn him right - he braced against me, grabbed the bit and kept cantering...I finally turned him left, tried to go back to "A" and judge rings bell. Told me to go to K and start my change of rein across diagonal. Did that and finished test DECENTLY. But here-in lies problem number 2. When I tried to exit the ring and turn right, he bolted left as if to say "F" you - and....are you ready? He JUMPED over the dressage rail to the right of "A" BACK into the ring. (It was a beautiful jump by the way, LOL!). I got him back out of the ring and he was fighting me in the grass - kept lurching left when I tried to simply turn him right - and the steward asked me to move away (how embarassing) as he was now a danger to the person entering the ring. UGH.
Trainer and I were SO mad at his naughtiness. It took everything I had not to scratch B - we warmed up again and did lots of circles and turning right and I finally felt I had enough confidence to try "B"....but I have to tell you I was scared! We did "B" but at the advice of my trainer, I rode VERY, VERY conservatively and definitely held him back. I got a 66 on test "A", and a 58 on "B" for lack of forwardness. It was OBVIOUS I was riding him half halting almost the entire test just so I could get through it without him cantering off. UGH. I also forgot my pattern in "B" and didn't complete the first circle. At that point I really didn't know where my head was at, but just concentrating on riding EVERY step deliberately and cautiously.
On a good note, our centerlines ROCK. This horse is can ride a centerline straight as an arrow, and we got 8's on that.
What the hell happened to my horse??? I have always thought he hates dressage. When he sees the cones at my barn I swear he makes a face. When he sees jumps, he lights up and trainer has commented many times that he loves to jump and canter jumps. We are working on that in the background but due to his age I can't jump him all the time, and we currently jump low (Crossrails, 18" and low verticals). I plan on doing a pleasure class hunter soon to try that.
I know my biggest mistake was letting him get in too many canter steps. I was completely taken off guard when he cantered on that circle.
He was clearly being BAD but I cannot help but think he was picking up on my tension. And there were so many NEW and OFF things today. The way I entered the ring. Never, ever, ever did that. The saddle (I am tipped forward in all the pics I have that hubby took, and my legs are too far back) I so missed my CC saddle today :( Not to mention the keys in the car fiasco, arriving late. UGH.
I will tell you I was SO close to scratching "B", as I was so afraid to go back into the ring. When I finished "B" EVERYONE applauded (how sad is that!) I am so glad my horse didn't decide to do another jumping exhibition.
But now my dilemma is, I am worried that he just HATES this and it's his way of telling me. He looks miserable in most of the pics. He can be naughty but never this naughty. We are going to try a hunter pleasure show in a fenced ring to see how he does. But I hate to just give up dressage as it is good for both of us.
Any advice? Chin up and just move on? I know we all have bad days, but I never expected to feel this awful. My husband and children watched the whole thing and hubby said "Wow, I was worried. I never saw you look that out of control..." gee, thanks! And trainer told him NOT to video Test B...I guess not alot of confidence it would go well. To me, completing the test was a success at that point, which we did....and I am SO glad I didn't scratch and forced myself to do "B". I know I scored poorly on B, and that the judge cannot score me "compared to "A" or based on what happened in "A". I am sure most everyone knew why I was riding the test so slowly. I had a good cry and am trying to put it behind me but I feel a fear now of riding him in an open ring (vs. fenced).
Any advice, thoughts??