IEA HT 2021: Dressage & Stadium

Saturday we finally showed – at almost 4pm. I spent the morning helping in the dressage rings (there were three running simultaneously which was… chaotic) before heading back to the barn to start getting ready. Much of my barn had already ridden dressage and a fair number had already show jumped or were getting ready for it. Fun stuff being the solo Starter pair in the group. It was hot and I didn’t want to take too much out of already-inclined-to-be-lazy Archie (especially knowing we had to SJ after), but I also needed to remind him (as I do daily) that he is not made up of 2x4s and is, in fact, capable of bending. Of course I rode dressage at nearly the exact time we had three BN riders show jumping so I was flying solo here. We’d known this was more than likely to happen and had talked through my warm up game plan already, so it wasn’t particularly panic-inducing.

Dressage ring in gate-ing with my friend Carl Cicada

In fact, warming up Archie felt fantastic. I had enough horse, he was mostly bending and his canter felt great. Years and years ago showing breed show stuff my trainer was all about “Don’t try to fix or change anything in the warm up. You’ve done the work at home, you can’t change it now,” which I think is still great advice and one I take to heart. It pains me a little to see people trying to get the work done in the warm up – that’s not the place.

As we headed to our ring (ring 2 aka the ring in the middle of two others), I couldn’t wipe the stupid smile off my face. After five recognized scratches, three horses and five years of work, I was finally, FINALLY riding down centerline. On my very own horse.

ALL THE FEELS

Our test was… our test? I don’t know what all to say about it honestly. We did the right things in the right places at more or less the right speed with some type of connection more or less, which was all I could ask for. I’m not Michael Jung, my horse isn’t Valegro and it’s BN A which is an extremely boring test. Not saying I’m great at it, but I can suck and still objectively say it’s boring.

WE MADE IT MA

We had two or three moments that stand out, mainly one in our free walk where we were coming across the diagonal and a horse happened to be warming up right outside our ring (there was a very small amount of space between rings). Archie, who had been stretching nicely, went HELLO WHO ARE YOU WHY ARE YOU IN MY SPACE GTFO. Lovely. The other moment was pure rider error. With three rings going, rings 1 and 3 had bells and I had a whistle. In the middle of my test, I hear a bell. And proceed to completely fucking panic for about 3 seconds trying to figure out what I’d done wrong until my sane brain kicked in and remembered that wasn’t my ring. Needless to say, Archie felt me go WTFWTFWTFWTF OMG OMG WTF up there and lost his own focus and connection. Sorry dude.

In the end, we finished with a 37.5. Not great, but for my admittedly non-dressaging halter bred QH at his very first HT in the middle of an absolutely chaotic space? It might as well have been a 27.

No dressage pics so you get stadium (xpressfoto)

I went back to the barn to chill and take my time to change tack and headed to stadium warmup. This time (thank God), my trainer was around. About six horses out, we jumped a little and feeling great, went on in.

xpressfoto

Plenty of people were having issues with this course (I’d later find out 30% of my division was eliminated in stadium…), but Archie’s strongest phase right now is stadium so I was determined to have a good ride. The first fence was straight across the short side of the ring and enough people had stops at it I rode the hell out of it which was probably slightly ridiculous looking at 2’3″ish. Two rode well and was a bending line to three, set right on the rail where everyone was sitting/standing. A combination of not having Archie’s shoulders straight (hi rider error) and him not seeing everyone until the last stride or two and going WHO DOSE PEOPLE meant we had a runout right.

Fence of distraction (xpressfoto)

I circled around, swapped my crop to the right (you know… where it should have been the whole time) and rode him growling, “JUMP THE FUCKING JUMP OR DIE.” And pretty much the rest of the course like that too.

Xpressfoto

We finished the rest clear and I was so proud of this little horse. It was not an easy course for starter and it was late enough in the day that there were plenty of people watching and horses hand grazing.

Crying with happiness for real (xpressfoto)

That was a wrap for the night, showing wise. I was absolutely beaming. Party pony had handled day 1 like a champ and now it was party-Holly time. By which I mean, stuff my face with all the food at our DIY competitor’s party, drink a single drink, laugh until way too late and pass the f out until 6am. That’s a good day to me.

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