Third Level – A Respectable start

I decided at the last minute, that I wanted to go to one more show this year with Bali. She’s been going very well, and I hadn’t been to a dressage show since July, and I got home from a good lesson and there was an email about the NCDCTA Harvest Moon dressage show in Williamston, NC extending the closing date. I had gone to the March Magic dressage show in 2009 and had liked the facility, the people and it was a well run show and competitor friendly – ESS run shows. I wanted to get my “new level” nerves out of the way in 2011.

I quickly did an online entry and signed up for Third Level Test 1 and Second Level Test 1 on Saturday, then Third-Two on Sunday.

I’m a bit driven by deadlines, and shows give me deadlines. I’m also a bit of a cram-style test taker, so I had two weeks to cram!

Of course I had not actually ridden through any of the tests, so when Suzy came out to read the tests for me to practice ride that weekend, I had a bit of “oh shit, what have I done?” I was most apprehensive about the flying changes, and had talked myself into “it’s only one score”. Then I realized that Third 2 has 4 changes. EEEK. Well, nothing to do, but ride and ride well!

Brief tire rant – because what would a horse show be for me if I didn’t have a tire issue? I had my trademark flat tire right before I was about to leave, making me 2 hours late leaving while I went to 3 places to try to get my tire plugged (a screw this time – ostensibly due to the magnetically belted radials I seem to buy). Three cheers for Trailer Care in Hamilton, VA who fixed it for me immediately. The nasty lady at Purcellville Tire & Auto ensured I won’t bother going there again. Glad you’re that busy lady – but your obvious enjoyment at not even wanting to try to work in fixing one tire put me off permanently. Hogan & Sons was busy and helpfully suggested Trailer Care might help me sooner, but said if Trailer Care could not help me, he’d figure something out, but my rig doesn’t even FIT in their lot (I was stopped on a shoulder to run in and ask). The fix took less than 10 minutes at Trailer Care. Thanks to John & crew.

Since I signed up for a show that none of my regular instructors were going to, I had to scramble for show buddies. I had met Pati Pierucci at other shows and she always has a pleasant group with her, so I called her and asked if I could stable with them, and would she coach me? She said yes, so I had a coach lined up. That helped a bit. I still have terrible nerves. Partially due to my rotten tire luck, partially due to my early attempts at dressage where I’d take lessons, get told it was great, then go to shows and get 4s (not so great). Almost 3 years of showing with Lauren Sprieser had helped that a lot, I was learning to relax a bit at shows and have fun.

A gratuitous picture – since I like pony pictures – this is from a few weeks ago.

I hauled down, settled in to a blustery bit of weather. It was misty and the winds were blowing about 25 mph. The barns there really nice. Senator Bob Martin Ag Complex I hopped on Bali and rode her in the covered outdoor, then walked over to ring one in the dark (2 of my classes were in there) and then went into the coliseum just because it is always good practice to go into those venues. Got her socks washed and went off to bed.

Saturday morning, I woke up early, realized I didn’t have a stool for braiding, so I went to the barn, fed Bali, and headed to Walmart at 6:20am. I’m glad I forgot my stool because I found a nifty, folding stool that can live in the trailer. I also splurged on some scrub bottoms to wear over my white breeches. I was back to the barns by 7:10 or so and got Bali braided, changed clothes, went over my Third 1 test in my head, tacked up and was on by around 8:30. My ride time was 9:17, so that was perfect for a long walk, settle my nerves, etc. Pati helped me remember to keep my outside rein and when my ring was running late let me know that it would be a bad idea to do a trot stretchy circle right before my test…and this is why I pay to have a coach! I’m a newbie at 3rd level. I went in, rode my test, no major errors, no mistakes, just not enough extensions and we had a 56.579%, which is ok and earned me a 4th place ribbon. Pati thought it was a little harsh, she thought it was a 59 or 60, but close enough. First place was only 58.??. We got our changes, they were croup high, but clean! It was respectable.

The decision to ride 2 tests when one was a third level test was possibly not the brightest. Bali was a bit tired. She put in a pleasant and accurate test, for a 61.143%, not in the ribbons at all. But, lots of pretty pictures as my friend Eileen was shooting that ring! I’ll get a CD in the mail later and will post pictures. The pictures will be loaded at WNC Photography soon, I’m entry 244, but until I get my CD I won’t link to the pictures.

Sunday, I felt less nervous, the weather was lovely, and I had a nice warm up. Pati came to help me for the last 10-15 minutes of my warm up, again, helped me remember to keep the outside rein in the corners and to keep her shoulders up. I had gone through the entire test, had it memorized and was just on the last movement when the horn blew!!! Oh no! I had an error and I had no idea what I’d missed. Luckily the judge calls out the window “Canter circle at C releasing reins”. Oh, THAT movement. I came back, picked up my canter, did my canter circle and released my reins, THEN continued onto my extended canter and final halt salute. I still had slight improvement. 56.829% It would have been 57.317% without that error. We got all the changes, with a few bucks, which impacted the submission score, but Bali was really good, and Pati said we looked like we belong there. Oh, and a second place ribbon!

I loaded up and came home.

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About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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