I've already started!
Opie loaded and unloaded like a superstar on day one. I left the trailer stashed down the driveway while I went to check in and see about parking since they had a whole bunch of random shit everywhere with their new building still sort of under work. He managed not to maim himself while he waited, and then hung out quietly eating his breakfast and reassuring himself his new soulmates were in sight until it was time to get tacked up.
|soulmates acquired: check.|
the view up there is really pretty!
We did a couple laps around the barns before I started my warm up. I had more time than I wanted, but I always think it takes longer to get dressed and tacked up than it actually does, and once I start the process Opie doesn't like standing still anymore. From there I joined one other rider in the outdoor, but Opie had his head on a swivel and had zero interest in tuning me in. I left that ring and went into the small indoor instead.
He warmed up w/t/c there beautifully. It was a really small turnout for the whole show this time for some reason, which left the only two other horses/riders in my T1 class an Olympic medalist and a pro on a super nice young mare we've been competing against all year. Obviously with those odds I wasn't expecting to blow anyone out of the water, but Opie was moving so well I felt I had a really good chance of--if not beating at least one of them--scoring right up there with them.
We did what we needed and still had extra time, so we wandered back out to the outdoor where a few more horses had appeared and did a little more trot work there. It wasn't as good as the previous work, but it felt fine and we headed over to the new ring to wait to go in.
Houghton finished their new arena/teaching building just in time for this show. It's gorgeous. It's got brand new GGT footing and is well lit and set up great for spectating. It's also a lot for a young horse who gets distracted every single day of his life by routine things.
|waiting to go in on sunday. he marched right in to the bit check area and hung out|
patiently, charming the volunteers while they told him he must have been an awful racehorse.
There's windows everywhere including an entire wall of them behind the open judge's stand. One long side is metal bleachers that had quite a crowd in them as we rode right before the lunch break. Opie was understandably pretty bug eyed by everything. I let him walk a lap the first time and he gave quite the hairy eyeball to the judge's stand when we passed it. Fortunately the judge gave us enough time to lap the ring once more at the trot before he blew the whistle.
The test was not so hot. Opie was tight and googly eyed and kept trying to stare at every noise the people in the bleachers made. Not being particularly in-tune to me, he'd get quick and then feel my half halt and immediately take it as a cue to stop doing whatever he was doing--as in, just stop altogether. Needless to say the rhythm and tempo weren't quite so flowing as one aims for.
|warming up sunday|
He also felt like he had about ten legs going in every different direction. I don't know if it was just from how distracted he was and the distinct lack of steering that brought that made things feel a little dicey or if he just couldn't figure out what to do with the fluffy cloud footing he was prancing on.
We did our final halt and were walking out when the announcer came over the loud speakers to announce the next rider and Opie scooted forward like someone had jumped out behind him. Again, it was just a lot for him to process.
The judge understandably wasn't too impressed. We got 3rd out of the three of us with a 61%+. Every. Single. Comment was "Nose out." Every. Comment. Now I know Opie was distracted and certainly not steady in the contact, but good grief. Think up a new comment. (I have to whine about something every show clearly.) The judge didn't seem too impressed with anyone the whole morning. Everyone was in the upper fifties and low sixties except for the two horses in my T1 that both scored really well.
I pulled Opie's bridle but left him saddled to let him eat for a bit before we had to go back for our second test.
|getting to be such a pro about hanging out patiently. even if he does still have|
permanent side eye.
Training 3 felt a lot like Training 1 but faster. Like, we couldn't steer faster and he found things to be distracted by faster. I'm sure the show photographer got some really good pictures of me grimacing for ninety percent of the test as I tried to finesse some sense of control into the high speed chase that was going on in the ring.
Our comments were, again, mostly, "Nose out" with a couple additions about the transitions being abrupt and one about tension. Hysterically the stretchy circle which felt like a game of start-stop where I attempted to half halt, Opie attempted to halt halt, I kicked Opie on, Opie jetted off, repeat, got the comment "tempo steady". But still a 5. Because there was a distinct lack of actual stretching going on.
I was happy to have that test behind us as it wasn't the most fun to ride. We managed a 62%+ for another third--beating several people this time and actually only scoring 1% behind the girl that usually beats us in this test by a lot. The Olympian won by quite a bit more obvi.
|i'm really good at taking flattering pictures.|
and i know those ribbons are giant, but yellow.
Even though the tests didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, especially since he warmed up so well, I'm happy enough with how he handled himself. He could have come completely unglued in there, but didn't react any worse than a horse his age and with his experience had a right to. Bonus that he was such a pro for every other aspect.
Stayed tuned for tomorrow's better results but ten thousand times more outside fuckery!