Friday night I slept a grand total of maybe two hours. The good news is, I had ample time to go over my dressage test in my head a few thousand times. I also sat there thinking about how we’ve had 4 dressage lessons and maybe picking a recognized event as his first go was a little ambitious. Then I remembered this is Henry and he’d be ok as long as I was ok, and put a leash on my anxiety. We weren’t set to do dressage until 12:57 Saturday afternoon so I spent the morning braiding, watching barnmates go, and slowly getting him pretty. Around mid-morning the rain and wind started with gusto but by some stroke of pure luck the rain let up just as I was getting on my horse, so while it was still a little chilly and super windy, at least we didn’t get wet (yet).
When I got on he was very tight and over-reactive to my leg. The day before we did a lot of trot-canter transitions which I think fried his brain a bit and he was still holding on to it. After a little work he started to level out and Trainer came out to help us warm-up. With her help we actually got some really nice moments before it was time to head into the scary rectangle of doom.
The test itself was decent. I was kinda leany and stiff, which made him a little leany and stiff, but there weren’t any major mistakes. The free walk is still basically non-existent and he pulled on me a bit in the down transitions, plus the halt was rough. We can do better but all things considered I was satisfied with the effort. Really I just need to have more lessons and learn how to ride him more effectively. I can live with that. Henry got an A for effort and really was a super boy. He didn’t spook at the scary tent or the pumpkins or the truck or it’s horn honking, and he listened to my (sometimes poorly executed) instructions pretty well. Lots of other horses were having a harder time in those conditions. We were good enough for a 36, which put us in second place. I was thrilled with that… my goal was something under 40 and I expected to be closer to the bottom of the leaderboard after dressage. Second dressage test ever and first phase of his first event: DONE.
Not long after my test was done the skies opened up and rain came down pretty steadily all afternoon. They ran the stadium from higher levels to lower levels, so my division didn’t go until around 4pm. The course was twisty and a little bit tricky, and I was a bit concerned at how the grass footing would hold up.
By the time I got on the warm-up area was pretty trashed. I’ve never really ridden Henry in the rain before, especially not POURING rain, but he was steady ol’ Henry as usual. We opted for just enough flatwork to get him loose and a couple of jumps to get him focused, then went right in the ring. I was actually pretty pleased with how I rode the stadium… I felt like my pace was pretty consistent (the problem I always struggle with) and I pretty darn closely executed the plan we made when we walked the course. Stadium claimed A LOT of victims, between rails and time faults, but Henry jumped around like a champ and was double clear. After day 1 we were now in first place!
To say I was happy with day 1 is an understatement. For where we are in our training I couldn’t have asked for more from my very tolerant and game pony. He got a couple zillion cookies and peppermints. Now all we had left to do was survive XC on Sunday!