On Friday I tossed all my stuff in the truck, loaded Henry up and made the 2 hour drive to MeadowCreek Park. I gotta say, it’s much easier to pack for a HT when you don’t have to bring show clothes or saddles. The “Owner” lifestyle… I could get used to it.
The great thing about the schooling shows at MCP is that they use all the same courses as the recognized HT – and they’re not soft courses. But to counterbalance that, they also allow schooling on Friday without requiring you to run HC the next day. This is super rare. Normally Henny doesn’t need to school anything, he’s a super XC horse, but there was a corner on the course and I realized – hmm… he’s never actually seen a corner. And definitely not a true, big, narrow, maxed out corner off of a really tricky approach. So in the interest of setting him up for success instead of failure, we took him out, Trainer pointed him at the corner, and of course over he went on the first try like no big deal. Corners – check. I dunno why I ever doubt him, he never disappoints.
It was blazing hot so she kept her ride really short. After a bath and some cookies I finished setting up his stall, then got to work on setting up my own accommodations for the evening.
This was my first time actually using my own tent and truck bed mattress, or trying to put it all up by myself. Gotta say, it was super easy to put up and the mattress inflated itself in about 2 minutes. By the time I crawled into it shortly after sunset, it was definitely still a bit too hot and humid outside to be comfortable, but after about half an hour it cooled down enough and I actually slept pretty well in that thing.
The next morning I was awake super early, as is usual for me. It was weird not having to braid, so I used that time to polish and clean everything I could get my hands on, from tack to boots to Henny. I was able to take my sweet time getting him ready, and Trainer came down around 8:30 to get on.
He warmed up pretty well, then went and put in an obedient albeit a bit tense test. On the plus side, his trot to canter transitions were both pretty good for him, he was straight on both centerlines, the weird little figure 8 of 15m trot circles at X was no big deal, and the trot lengthening was nice. On the less positive side, he was a bit reluctant to stretch in either the trot or the walk, and wasn’t really a fan of coming back down into the walk in general. Typical tension issues.
The judge was very lenient with everyone and Henry got a 28, which put him in 2nd. Trainer and I both agreed that it was really more like a 35 test, but hey, schooling show scores are fun! She was equally lenient across the board, so it all works out the same in the end anyway, the score just looks more impressive than his test actually was. I kind of failed at videoing… I would keep the phone pointed at the horse for a while, then start watching the horse and forget to keep the phone pointed at him, so the video is about half horse and half empty dressage ring. Whoops.
Still, for his first time doing Training Test B, and for his second dressage ride ever with Trainer aboard (the first one having been on Thursday), he was really good. Plus I think Trainer now has some newfound sympathy for me and the struggle that is Dressage Henry! He’s getting better though; he’s more obedient and more able to at least try to work despite his misgivings about the dragons that live in the dressage ring.
Now that the hard part was over – ON TO STADIUM AND XC!