Monday, April 15, 2013


The goal was just to ride away from home. Bonus goal: stay in the arena during the tests (the steering has been known to randomly fail).

The wind was howling A L L D A Y! While I scribed, I watched horse after horse after horse spook at the flatbed trailer parked near the tree line, off to the side of the dressage arena.  One unfortunate soul bolted away from the trailer and took out "H" along the way! I was concerned that the Psycho Mare was going to need a good long warm-up to settle and relax just to make it into the ring… It turns out that once I got the flapping sheet off her, she didn’t even seem to think she had left the barn. She stood quietly and drank water. She didn’t even blink when another horse’s saddle pads went blowing across the parking area…

When I climbed in the saddle, she felt the same as ever. She was no more (or less) tense than usual. We headed over to the grassy field that serves as a warm-up ring… And she fussed exactly the same amount as she would have at home. We were able to use a slight incline to induce the push I wanted from behind. She felt great! Canter came easily, and she only missed her lead once! She wasn’t stretchy, but she was moving forward into my hands. This horse was between my legs!! She was working with me! Oh, what a grand feeling!

Finally, our turn arrived to ride our first test. I focused on riding her actively forward. She saw the flatbed, and jumped. I said, “Go on!” She took a tentative step, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, mare. You’ll be fine. Just go.”

“Well, if you say so…” Another tentative step. We made it by the trailer and she determined that maybe it would be OK after all. Then, she just ignored it! The whistle blew, and we headed for the in-gate. Entering at A, I suddenly found myself on quite a different horse!

All that forward activity I had? It disappeared. I had been concerned she might exit the arena, but this horse didn’t think she should get too close to that plastic chain! I pushed her forward… and got “not much.” At least I got something…

Ultimately, we claimed 1st and 2nd in Introductory B! All goals were met and surpassed. I now have an idea what sort of horse to expect away from home! She is developing quite a good work ethic and her bravery and confidence are developing together nicely. No surprises from the judge (except for an 8 on a trot circle! Wahoo!), so I already knew where our weaknesses are. Oh, man, am I looking forward to working this girl up the levels!!

Judges comments from Intro B:
“A well matched pair – work for a steadier elastic connection coming from energy in the hind quarters” 63.125%

“A steady test – needs a bit more active strides in trot and walk”

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