RDLA Combined Test - Dressage

We got up early and grabbed breakfast before going to the barn to load up Nilla. Within 5 minutes of driving, Nilla had managed to break the pin on the divider, swing it over to the side and turn herself around to face backwards. I saw this when we stopped and I got out to look for something and just sort threw my hands up and said whatever. If she wants to travel backwards, fine. The trip was relatively uneventful and we got there quicker than I thought we would. We arrived a little after 10:00 so we would have plenty of time for Nilla to chill out at the trailer, calm down, and then we could go warm up.

We left her at the trailer for a little while and watched the dressage tests. Nilla kept screaming for Shasta because she's not used to going places alone. Mules make a very distinct noise and at one point I told my husband I was disavowing any connection with her. The show offered the opportunity to do just dressage, just jumping, or combined. There were a lot of dressage entries. The original flyer had said dressage from 9-12, lunch break and jumping at 1pm. They had so many entries they pushed jumping back to 1:45.

Around 10:30, we started tacking Nilla up, I got changed, and then went over to the indoor arena to warm up. The arena was awesome, huge and with a nice breeze. And the far end was lined with mirrors. Nilla had never seen mirrors and she was really fascinated. She walked up, sniffing and looking all over trying to figure out where this other mule was. The mirror were only on the top half so she was trying to lower her head below the mirrors to find the other mule. It was really cute and I wish I had a picture, but my husband didn't think to take one.

We warmed up really focusing on not cantering and trying to get her to listen about downward transitions. She was quite high on energy, but I got her to chill out after a while and I asked my husband to see if the tests were on time. I don't know why I didn't ask this before warming up, but I guess I had delusions about this whole timed event thing. I've always read with envy about dressage riders getting actual times to ride instead of just having to stand around all day like hunter/jumper shows. Alas, this was not to be: they were running 15 minutes behind. So I got off and sat with her in the shade for a while.

At noon, we went back to the warm up arena for a few minutes and then we walked over to walk around the dressage area so she could see anything that might be scary before the test. She didn't really care about anything. Well, that's not true. She did care about stuffing anything that might be or once have been food into her mouth. She kept ripping dead roots of weeds out of the ground to eat them.

When it was nearly my turn, I had my husband help me switch from my vest into my show coat.

Then the girl in front of my started doing the wrong test. She was doing Intro B and the combined test was Intro A. Now my text on Friday specifically told me Intro A. I don't know why this girl didn't know what test to do. Since it was a schooling show, the judge wasn't eliminating people who went of course. She would just ring the bell, tell them what they had done wrong and let them fix it. This is why the tests were running so late. The rider had a trainer who came running over to talk to the judge and the trainer tried to argue that the girl should get to do B because that's what she practiced. Thankfully, even at a schooling show, the judge didn't allow this. The judge said the trainer could call the test for the girl. But this produced a bunch of discussion because the trainer didn't have Intro A memorized and the spare test had been taken by an earlier coach to read aloud and not returned. So the show manager had to go find the spare test. And if you're bored reading this, imagine how I felt sitting in a show coat in 100+ degree baking sun waiting around for all this crap to get settled. It seriously took 10+ minutes to get it all sorted and for the girl to finally do her test.

Then we finally got to go. I didn't push her very much into the contact because I knew that Intro doesn't require it and I didn't want her breaking into canter. So it wasn't the prettiest riding we've ever done. But Nilla was nice and calm and worked really hard.

She even had one brief moment of actually stretching her neck down a little bit at free walk - before she pulled it back up. However, it wasn't back to what I call giraffe walk. She was better than it could have been.

And then we got to the final movement and totally flunked it. The final movement is halt at X and Nilla halted sideways and fidgeted. Ugh. I know what we'll be drilling practicing.

I left the test thinking we had done okay, but not great. My husband said he could overhear some of the judges comments and though we had made an error at one point. I had to pull up the test on my phone and say that we hadn't. And then I was all worried that maybe I had messed something else up. We untacked Nilla and let her hang out at the trailer and bought some snacks from the show to have for lunch while we waited. They gave out dressage scores while we were eating and my husband grabbed mine for me.

We got a freaking 29. I'm 100% sure the judge was being too easy. The worst score in the Intro division was 38. So now I want to do a real show and get a real score. I will probably then be mad at getting a bad score because I really am an eternal pessimist. The comments were very nice and helpful. This was actually the biggest thing I wanted out of this show was a score sheet with comments to help me know how I was doing and what to work on.

Well, now I know and it's mostly what I already knew we needed work on: things like halting. The judge literally said we need to practice this in the comments. Sigh. The worst part is, had we not gotten a pathetic 4 on the halt, we would have been in first in the division going into jumping. As it was, we were second.

Labels: ,