Last weekend, Remy and I headed up to the beautiful Silverwood Farms for a recognized dressage show. It wasn’t what I had planned for his first show, I didn’t think he was quite ready yet and I had been thinking about taking him to a schooling show first, but I had signed Liam up for the show at Silverwood and then a week of thunderstorms preceding the show left Liam with an achy ankle and a week of taking it easy, so not wanting to waste my entry fee, I emailed the show secretary and asked if she would let me change horses and tests. She very kindly agreed, and just like that Remy was entered in Training Level Test 1 in his first recognized show!
It worked out well because my expectations were pretty low so I didn’t feel like I was under a lot of pressure. It’s been not quite 2 months since I got the saddle situation sorted out for Remy, which means he’s only had those 8 weeks of consistent, working-every-day training. I figured the walk and trot parts of the test would go well, he felt pretty solid there, but the canter may or may not go well. The canter was coming along, he takes both leads pretty reliably and he was just starting to stay on the bit through the transition and in the canter, but it wasn’t completely solid yet. My biggest goal was to make it a positive experience for him, especially since when I had done the entry for Liam, I had figured I could haul in, ride my test, and leave, which meant Remy would have to do the same, with no opportunity to school in the ring the night before and no second chance at the test if something went wrong.
On the big day, I showed up at the barn early and braided Remy’s hair. My brother, Robby, and Liz came along to help. Remy hopped right in the trailer like a pro, travelled quietly, unloaded and took a look around. He quickly saw that there was plenty of green grass at the show grounds, and went right to work grazing away. We walked him around and let him look at everything, and he just kinda took it all in. I was so proud of how sane and sensible he was! After our little walk, we went back to the barn and let him relax with some hay while we killed a little time. My grandparents showed up to watch, and so did my friend Brittany, so I had a pretty fun little crowd to hang out with, which was great!
Then it was time to get dressed, get tacked, and get going! Remy warmed up like a pro. He was just a little more forward than at home, which I think actually helped because he can be on the lazy side! He gave me wonderful transitions, stayed beautifully on the bit into the canter, had a fantastic stretchy trot and free walk. And not one spook. I felt great! We kept the warm up short because I didn’t want to tire him out before the test, and soon enough it was our turn.
We walked by the judge and said “Good morning”, we continued walking nice and relaxed around the ring waiting for the bell to ring, and when it finally did, I picked up a trot and headed for A. He trotted along until we approached the entrance at A, then he stopped short, looking at the little white fence, as if thinking he might not fit through the opening! We circled and tried again, and again he stopped short. We approached again, this time at a walk, and right as we entered I sent him into a trot and this time we were on our way down the center line!
He was SUCH a good boy, and never bucked or spooked or did anything naughty, but the little white fence continued to bother him and he didn’t want to stay on the rail, so we did most of the test in haunches-in. He was a little tense and distracted, so we had plenty of little mistakes (trotted in the canter circle, cantered in the trot circle, missed the right lead the first two tries, trotted a few steps in the free walk), but I feel they were really just because he was nervous and a little overwhelmed than because he was trying to be naughty. Every time he broke gait I was able to bring him back easily, but there was just so much to look at and think about that he wasn’t staying completely focused on me.
I left the ring feeling like we were all over the place, but had made it through the test. I was pretty sure it hadn’t been pretty, but under the circumstances I was not at all disappointed. Actually I was thrilled! Remy had handled the whole thing like a total super star! We ended up with a 50% due to breaking gait in almost every movement, but much to my surprise (and delight!) the pictures actually came out great! Despite being tense, he did remain on the bit and fairly organized looking throughout the test, and even the bobbles were done with grace and without any drama. Woohoo!!
I can’t wait for the next show! I’m pretty sure that once Remy gets the show thing figured out, he’s going to be amazing!