Hope y’all got your fill of good riding in the week 1 recaps, because it’s about to get reeeal Amateur Hour up in here! After his weekend running Training with Trainer, I got on Henry on Tuesday to ride through our dressage test… and unfortunately he was just totally wired for sound. After lots of saddle time and some tack changes (added a flash, switched to Trainer’s saddle) it was better, but we still never got to ride through the test. Horse is really damn fit and full of himself these days.
It’s impossible to deny how much better Henry and I both feel in Trainer’s saddle. I’ve known this for a while, and getting a saddle like hers has been on my to-do list, but riding in it again was a real wake-up call. Priority has changed, Loreak needs to come off the “someday” list and move right up into ASAP. Henry feels freer through his back in those D3D panels, and I feel so much more stable and balanced that it’s borderline ridiculous. Unfortunately to buy a new one I’d have to sell the current one plus save up another $500-900, not to mention they’re a little bit hard to find, so I just don’t see it happening before winter unless someone wants to loan me $2k.
Originally we thought I’d be able to use Trainer’s saddle for my test, but the night before dressage I realized that her N horse went at exactly the same time I did. Huge bummer. When I got on to warm up for dressage I could really feel the difference, and was definitely struggling a bit in my saddle after riding in her magical unicorn saddle for two days. It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve come all that way and spent all that money and still don’t have the right equipment.
Henry also felt a bit… electric. By that point he’d been cooped up for over a week and had already run XC once. When you have a fit, enthusiastic thoroughbred, you know how fun that is. He was obedient, but jesus he was LIT. It was a very careful warm up, to say the least. Every tiny little move I made got a big response, and it was like his legs were stuck in fast forward. The only time he seemed to take a breath was in the canter.
I thought I’d learned my test pretty well, but by the time I got in the ring I was trying so hard to keep my very tense horse from losing his shit that I completely blew past the first canter and had an error. Seriously. I still can’t believe I did that. Probably would have helped if I’d gotten to ride through the test at some point beforehand. Live and learn.
After the error I got a bit frazzled and Henry got more and more tense. The whole test felt pretty heinous and embarrassing, not gonna lie. Luckily it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt. I was expecting something like a 40-42 (with the error) but we got a 38. Damn that effing error.
I was pretty livid with myself when I came out of the ring. An error is just such a dumb mistake, things like that make me nuts. Trainer said I was way too hard on myself, and I knew she was right, but I needed time to process it. And finally I realized that the fact is: I’m just a very average amateur rider, and as such, I’m gonna make mistakes. Lots of them. All the time. Sometimes I’ll get away with them (ahem Holly Hill stadium), sometimes I won’t. That’s just the way it goes. I’m also really competitive, so it’s hard for me to reconcile my expectations vs my reality. But I figured – I was still happy with my horse’s effort (he always tries) and happy that we were even there and able to do the 3Day in the first place. A kinda crappy dressage ride at a 3Day in Flagstaff, AZ on a beautiful Thursday morning just doesn’t even begin to register on the scale of what constitutes a bad day. Time to own the mistake, learn the lesson, quit being a baby about it, and move on.
What’s done was done, and really it could have been a lot worse. Either way, now we were done with dressage and could finally get on to the fun part!