More on that later.
The run-up to Carriage House was, as always, full of drama and headaches. The late thaw and frequent rain meant most of our usual riding areas were pretty soggy, so on Tuesday we trailered out to a local indoor for some practice. It was cold and rainy, but we still got some nice practice in. A bit of dressage and a jump we hopped over at various angles, and I felt pretty good. We then headed over to the vet's office for vaccines. On my way back to the truck from paying the bill, I noticed there was something hanging down from the bottom of the truck that I hadn't noticed before. On closer inspection, it appeared to be one of the metal straps holding up the fuel tank. Yeah... not good. Then the truck was back in the shop and a limbo of fixed, not fixed, then fixed again, and somehow everything came together. Except that I'd been being working like a dog at my day jobs and was pretty much exhausted by Saturday night.
Still, I dragged myself/crawled out of bed at 5am on Sunday morning to get Royal in time to make it to the show. While I am not a morning person (AT ALL), it was sort of nice to not have many other cars on the road. And it was quite pretty.
I hooked up the trailer with few problems and Royal loaded well. It didn't take us very long to get to Carriage House as we got the second to last parking spot in the big field. I got my number from the tent, got Royal all cleaned up (although I ran out of green spot remover. Must remember to get more soon), and was in the saddle by 8:00 for my 8:40 ride time. I decided to enter us in Intro B twice to give Royal some consistency. He warmed up rather well, and we ended up walking around in the warm-up just to keep warm. It was fairly cold and windy and everyone was all bundled up, and I saw a jacket with The Logo on it. That's right, Psycho McCrazypants had brought Third Reich Stables again this year. Great. And a glance over at the jumping ring showed her terrorizing all and sundry with her psychosis and craziness. Double great.
Still, we had a pretty good ride. Our ring was in the back half of the warm-up and right next to a turn-out pasture, so it was a little chaotic and Royal started the test like he normally does. "What's going on? Where am I? Why am I away from the other horses? What are we doing?" But he relaxed during the free walk and settled into the test afterwards. He felt great.
So, we had to wait a bit before the next test, which we ended up doing 15 minutes early. Apparently people just weren't showing up, which was odd. You had to pre-enter the dressage classes a week before the show, and it wasn't that cold. Oh well. This test started out better than the first, although he was a bit tense in the walk, but just at the end of the free walk, someone turned out a horse in the pasture behind the arena and everyone went galloping off. This bothered Royal greatly and I couldn't quite get his focus back. Still, it was nice to be able to give him a bit of consistency to hopefully help him relax in the future.
You can see where the horses ran off behind us in the video. I'll have to work a bit more with Royal on picking up the contact. He's a lot better, but he still can get quite tense and somewhat claustrophobic if there's a lot going on.
Next was jumping, and was getting cold, so I had to put on my fleece jacket. We had a bit of a wait before the cross-rail class finished up, so I met up with Anna and Piper who were also going to do some dressage and jumping class, although at a higher level than us. Anna and I were able to walk the course together, which ended up being really helpful. Then she headed off to her dressage test and Royal warmed up over jumps. We only had to pop over a few things, but as always, the warm-up was filled with rude/oblivious/both people, one of whom decided to adjust his students stirrups right in front of the cross-rail. People, DON'T DO THAT! There are few things ruder than rendering a jump unusable, and it's a good way to make everyone else hate you. After we trotted twice around the perimeter, the blockers was still there, so on the other side of the arena, I yelled out "CROSSRAIL!" as loud as I could, and finally they moved and I could jump the fence. Sheesh. Royal jumped over everything without too much fuss and we headed back to the jumping arena.
Royal was excited. He started doing his little adrenaline dance that he often does when we have to wait in a crowded area and he can see other horses RUNNING and JUMPING and he wants to RUN and JUMP too. So he was pretty jazzed up when we went into the arena, and wanted to zip around pretty fast. He didn't really look too hard at anything, although he sucked back a bit at a few jumps, but over all was pretty game and responsive. We had a clean first round, and so went on to the jump off, where I lost my brain. See, we were supposed to go over fences 1, 2, 5, 7, and the the tan combination, but I forgot that and aimed Royal at the yellow combination. D'oh! I realized my mistake about two strides out from the combo and figured "Oh, well" Royal was locked on and popped over both happily. So we went off course and were eliminated, but it was all my fault. Royal was super fantastic.
So apart from my brainfact, it was awesome! I couldn't have asked for more from him.
And, as a bonus, I got to see Psycho McCrazypants get all paranoid when one of her students started their round before the starting signal, which is, of course, Not Allowed. This caused Psycho McCrazypants to start muttering about how the judge was out to get her by taking a long to give the starting signal. [snark filter off] Yes, off course. Even though other people were eliminated for starting before the starting signal or (ahem) going off course or various other things, it was all a conspiracy to eliminate Psycho McCrazypant's students. So, what Psycho McCrazypants can do it the future is a) stop going to shows altogether so no judges are able to plot against her (yes, please!) or b) TEACH YOUR STUDENTS THE RULES OF THE SHOW. And realize that EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES AND THIS WAS THE BEST PLACE TO MAKE THEM. Seriously. It's not a big deal at Carriage House. The whole goal is (or should be) to give horses and riders experience at showing so that when they show at recognized shows, they at least know the name of the game. I hope she didn't chew out her students, although she probably did because their mistake *gasp* may have cost the stable a ribbon. Horrors! [snark filter on] Ribbons are bonuses. It's great to get them, but not the end of the world when you don't.
Speaking of which...
Remember how I said Royal and I tied ourselves for 6th place? That was in dressage, where we got the exact same score (61.25%) both times. I know! I feel like we could have gotten it a bit higher in the second test, but thems the breaks. Personally, I was just glad we broke the 60% barrier; it felt like we'd been stuck in the 50s for a while. So I was pretty happy with our green ribbon. Royal didn't really care much.
I feel encouraged. We did very well despite not having a lot of preparation and some odd circumstances. It was awesome.