Sunday, August 2, 2009

Teenage Angst turned Teenage Stardom

First off, GIANT apology for my blog-slacking especially when I have so much news.

B survived at his first overnite dressage show in Lexington, VA. Yahhh, B! I packed everything up on a Thursday morning and my husband, Teddy dawg and I headed up to the big show grounds with Beeburr in tow. When we arrived after our 3-hour trek I was extremely happy to see that not only was B bone dry, he had eaten almost all of his hay along way. Always a relief for an overprotective pony mother.

We found what we would call home for the next four days. When B walked off the trailer he stood and stared at the grounds for a good 5 minutes. Thankfully, at no point did I see the crazy eyes. Whew. After having a rather "enthusiastic" mare in my previous show life it was a big relief to see his reaction was that of curiosity rather than intense, I'm going to kill you in your sleep, fear.

A couple friends from the barn had already arrived, so that was a comforting surprise for both B and I. We placed B in his concrete palace while we unloaded everything. I threw him a flake of hay and after looking around the stall and being somewhat fascinated by the little black horses bouncing up and down across the way, he began happily munching. Praise the baby Jesus.

The previous two weeks I had worked 12 hour days to make up the time for Lexington, which meant being up at 4am and home at 8pm (after riding) so my body decided that waking up 6am on the show travel day was just not happening. Hence, we arrived much later than I had planned. I was finally tacked up and ready to go around 7pm. We were riding in four different rings over the next three days, which meant I had to ride in all of them that night. Good times.

We started in ring 8, which was indoors. We wandered into the ring right as couple of tween riders being directed to fly around the ring as fast as they could. OK, so maybe they weren't being told exactly that by their trainers, but that's what it looked like. Have you ever ridden in a dressage warm-up ring with tween riders? Think Twilight on horse back. I swear they are out for blood. I quickly discovered it is not so easy to make a quick turn on an 18.2 hand, 12 foot long, 4-year-old Oldenburg. Actually, it's down right impossible. All I kept thinking was this little girl on her warp-speed pony was going medium canter right under my horse. In between this there were of course random Dressage Queens of varying ages, shapes and sizes. How was B taking all of this commotion? I think he found it rather amusing. He certainly has gained some serious confidence. At our first "pretend" show in March he would tuck his bum in when horses passed and scoot away. Now, not so much. Another tween came right up behind us on her belgian cross (?) and B kicked. Did I get mad at B for this behavior? No. Frankly, I was getting annoyed with everyone coming to close and trying to pass right on right. Secretly I said good boy. Does that make me a bad person? Probably not, right? Does the fact that I wished he had drawn blood make me a bad person? OK, I'll give you that one. ha ha. I'm kidding I swear....

The next day we were showing in Materiale and Suitability in the coliseum so that was a big one on the list. I'd heard many a horror story of horses freaking out when they go into the coliseum so I was fully prepared for some antics. Nope. Not B. The only thing B didn't like were the giant blue garbage cans he had to pass before entering the ring. I didn't like them either. So there. We walked, trotted and cantered around there like he's been there his whole life. Yahhh B!

Our last stop was the ring on the mountain. Seriously, a mountain. To this day, I barely know how we, and the other 500 horses, made it up and down without rolling over. B was pretty cool with this ring too.

I finished the evening up with some purty braids and tucked my boy into bed.

I'll just give you some of the highlights because if you read my blog regularly you know that even the highlights mean this entry will probably go on for another four pages. ha...sorry

Friday: Show day. Dun dun dahhh!!! I was sooooo psyched because my coach decided to make the long haul up to Lexington to help myself and the other five or so students she had showing that day. Materiale and Suitability were our challenges today. B was super, uper, duper UP in the warm up. For the first time since probably the initial canter I did on B many months ago I was a little nervous to even canter. I sucked it up and asked him to roll and roll he did. We went in the coliseum and rocked the house. Yeee Yahhh! We ended up a really close second—71.7 percent pour moi and 72.2 for the winner—out of eight horses. It was a super long class too. It lasted about 35 minutes. After about the fourth lap in the canter I decided to let B fly. I figured if he's cantered this long it's the least of a reward I can give him while in the ring. He bounded around that ring like he was on a pogo stick. It was really fun. As for suitability, we missed the's a long story. I was just happy he was such a star in Materiale. Check on the video on the right by the way.

The rest of Friday we relaxed and cheered on our friends.

Saturday we had Training 3 and Training 4 to tackle. Training 3 was early in the morning on the mountain. B and I warmed up beside the ring with about 50 other riders and horses of all ages and levels. To be honest, B just wasn't with all. He felt like a firecracker ready to explode. All that sense and sensibility had been drained out of his body and he was ready to be a 4-year-old. I dug in as best I could and practiced our w/t/c and figures but as I walked over to the ring I knew he wasn't really paying attention to me. The buck just outside the ring after the judge ring bell said it all. Hang on to your hats kids it's going to be a wild ride. We made it through the first trot and canter tour without too many fireworks, but then came the left canter tour that starts right in front of the judge. Well, we made an impression. 18 hands of fury leapt into the air landing on the wrong lead. OK, OK we can recover, right? I brought him back and asked again. B jumped even higher into the air this time but at least we got the correct lead. We continued on our merry way with the pattern ending at our halt salute. The judge was at least smiling. Nothing is worse than when your horse asks like a total brat and the judge gives you that stern look like teachers used to give you in class when you misbehaved. She seemed pretty psyched that I stayed on...ya, me too. Needless to say I was holy disappointed and my score reflected this feeling. I didn't actual check my score until after my next test, which turned out to be a really good thing.

So, the second test. That was it. It was on. I figured if B had enough energy to leap all over the ring like an F'in gymnyst then he had enough energy to work. My motto, you wanna dane? Oh, we'll dance. I channeled all of this disappointment and frustration into productive serious riding. Our warm up for our Training 4 test was a battle of wills. B was throughly convinced that his role in this new venue was to play and show off to all his new friends. B was not stressed—at all. He thought this was fun to do whatever he wanted when he wanted. I felt like I was dealing with a 16-year-old girl who was convinced she knew everything about life and was going to go out and party with her 20-year-old boyfriend because he's cool. Time to lock the door and throw away the key. B and I had a non-verbal discussion for about 15 minutes. Every muscle in my core burned by the end of it. He finally figured out after a whole lot of firm, non-allowing aids that play time was over. We finished our warm up in the covered arena as it was getting rather steamy. I finally felt he was actually with me. We went in the show ring and did what we came there to do-rocked. B was the star I knew he could be if he was properly motivated (ha). Once again, a frustrated parent seeing a child with a wealth of potential wasting it on some useless distraction. The result? 71.2%. Aaaahhhh yaaaaaa. That's the pony I know and love.

Sunday we rode the 4-year-old test and it was a non-event. B was rock solid, but he was tired and it showed. Our score wasn't great, but it could have been awful and I wouldn't have cared. B and I had already far surpassed our initial goal of our first licensed show—be sane, happy and smile along the way. Layer an over 70% score and I'm down right bubbly.

Since the show, B and I have been living on the trails. His walk has already started getting more free in the shoulders and he's mighty perky when I arrive. We even had a little crow-hopping episode in the field while I we were cantering, as I wasn't able to get him to slow down before we started going downhill, but guess what?I didn't bite it!! I was able to get his head up and he stopped. That's probably the biggest accomplishment of them all.

We started work on our flying changes last lesson, so that was a blast. Just testing the waters and it seems they are just about the perfect.

Every day I watch B grow a few more brain cells and I'm amazed as I see my little guy growing up. Then a bunny runs by on the trail and B leaps out of his skin and I'm reminded maybe he's not so grown up after all. ;0)