RDLA Combined Test - Dressage

On Sunday we took Nilla to a schooling show at RDLA. I didn't feel like I should do Intro again as I've won at that level and we should be moving up in the world. However, BN scared the crap out of me. The dressage test wasn't my concern, but the jumping for Intro was "2ft max - mostly xs" while BN is 2'3"-2'6". That's a big increase. At least it is to me since I so rarely jump and Nilla's ability to canter a jump is questionable at best. The two shows that got cancelled on me had Elem divisions in-between Intro and BN, which I really wanted to do as practice before doing BN, but they got cancelled and RDLA only had Intro and BN.

Conversations with my husband the week leading up to the show:

Me: We're going to lose so badly
Husband: No you're not
Me: I'm terrified of that jump (points to small 2 foot practice jump in our arena)
Husband: Ok, well, you don't need to win everything
Me: It's like you don't even know me

Anyway, we finally get there and it turns out I'm the only one in BN. Seriously. There were only like 12 people entered in the show, a bunch were doing only dressage, 3 doing Intro, 2 Novice, 1 Training, and just me in BN.

Walking around before the test
Well, I still wanted to do my best for the dressage test since it was judged so we went off to have what I thought would be a long warm-up. Nilla had other plans. I think the 9 mile trail ride we did the day before had worn her out. She was actually being lazy and poking along instead of her usual leaping into canter all over the place. There were no histrionics, no bucking, just nice quiet work. So we ran through the test once and walked over to watch other people do their test. No sense in wearing her out if she was behaving.

The BN A test is the easiest dressage test I've ever seen. I think it might be simpler than Intro. At least Intro has 2 halts and two changes of direction. BN is basically trot, circle, canter, circle, walk, change direction, trot, circle, canter, circle, trot, halt, done. So I was really confused watching the person before me who was doing BN (dressage only, not the CT) and was all over the place. The horse was well-behaved and the test looking smooth, it was just taking place at weird points. For example, she did E-F for the change rein instead of H-X-F. I actually had to pull out the test and make sure I was remembering it right because I started to think maybe I had memorized the wrong test.

We finally got rung in and this was Nilla's opinion on doing dressage:

Enter at A - Stick tongue out
I thought the test went really well for Nilla. She was calm and relaxed for the whole test. I think it was probably some of her best canter work. I told my husband afterwards that I thought it was really good for Nilla, not good for a normal horse, but great in the world of Nilla. And the judge must have agreed because we got a 32%.

Now, I don't think we deserved a 32%, but I'll take it.

I have some questions about this comments though. The judge had already left when I got the test or I would have asked her because I'm really confused. Her comment for #9 (trot circle at E) are "tongue" and "position diagonal." The tongue part is obvious; I think I'm going to make a scrapbook of tongue comments on dressage tests. But the diagonal part is confusing. Diagonals aren't judged in regular dressage. Maybe someone who does eventing can chime in here, are diagonals judged in eventing? I honestly just don't pay any attention to my diagonal (because I think they're bs and studies have shown they're bs and I could rant for an entire post on this so I'll stop). I know how to fix my diagonal if I know that I need to, so I ask you readers, do I need to start fixing it?

Also, is this not the correct diagonal anyway?
Moving on, the judge's main comments were that we needed to "work to develop a more level balance in canter work." I also got croup high for each canter circle and in the collective marks. Obviously that's something we need to work on. But here's the thing. Nilla is conformationally croup high. This is why I use a crupper even on flat. Obviously we'll continue to try to refine her canter, but I doubt it's ever going to be "uphill."

Gratuitous tongue shot:

In closing, I want to say that Nilla is a awesome. I know I complain about her quite a bit on here, and honestly she deserves a lot of it (our trainer's comment last week was, "she's actually a bit of a bitch isn't she?") but she's really a good mule. She freakin' hates dressage, but she does it for me. She's reliable at shows and other strange new environments. She doesn't panic even when other horses are freaking out (this happens a lot of they are often freaking out about her). She's basically the same PITA at home and away. We cantered for the first time at a show and didn't totally embarrass ourselves. And most importantly, she didn't kill me. I'm lucky to have her.

Good Mule!
Some more shots that I didn't work in above:

What are my hands doing and why?
Nilla's expression re: the above

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