Day 2 – Moving On
Adult WT Equitation Championship – 3rd
In a saddleseat walk-trot class, one enters at a trot, walks briefly, reverses, trots in the other direction and then trots into the line-up. There might be a short walk after the reverse and/or between the second direction and the line-up, or there might not be. Essentially, the exercise is trot this way, trot that way, boom, done. Achieving the correct diagonal looms large when all you’ve got is two trots. The ABS are so smooth, I find it easy to sit the first few steps, get the feel, and then pick up the correct diagonal. I can usually sneak a swift glance down my nose to confirm this. When I’m thinking.
After the reverse, I went charging off into the trot and began posting immediately. Unsure of my diagonal, I switched, then switched back. Feeling the correct diagonal on the fly requires rhythm. I got the rhythm of a spider in oversized flip-flops. So I need to look and count. This leaves me staring down at the horse’s shoulder as if the secret of the universe is written on the withers. In the background, my instructor is screaming for me to change, but I’m flinging out so many different diagonals, I’m not sure if she wants me to change from were I was or from where I am now. Plus, Trump may have been racking. Sometimes he does that if the rider doesn’t get the trot started properly.
I was pleased to take third.
Although I still had no idea what I was doing right or wrong, I was much happier to be ignorant in yellow. A few of the kids were commenting on the ribbon colors, saying they liked the hue if not the import of the lower-placing ribbons. Nope. Give me the primary colors any day. I’m not sure if I prefer blue, red, and yellow qua colors or that I have been showing for so long I have internalized the norms.
WT Pleasure Championship – 6th
Since I was qualified for Sunday, barring disaster, we switched horses to see if a new horse/rider combination might excite the judges. The judges where not particularly excited, but the horse was. Willie [Show Photos] has been known to be picky about the canter. Unless you ask just right, he may decline. Not so much today. Every time the crowd whooped and hollered, Willie would canter off. Saddleseat crowds whoop and holler. A lot. We cantered. A lot. In a walk-trot class, need I remind you. Afterward, someone said, in tones of great portent, “You cantered in front of one of the judges.” My response: “Honey, I cantered 5 or 6 times. I cantered in front of everyone.”
The class was the most flat-out fun I had all weekend. Since my placing didn’t effect moving up, there was no pressure going in. After the first or second canter, there was even less pressure. I just gave up and went with it. Throughout the weekend, other horses were excused from the ring for bad behavior. I guess we didn’t look out of control, at least not overly so. I didn’t feel a danger to myself and others. I just had trouble keeping my horse in the correct gear.
Willie wasn’t spooking or running off, per se. He was simply ON. He was actually throwing down an athletic, active, forward canter. At the time, I was too busy trying to arrange my knitting. In retrospect, if I could have driven him like the fine sports car he is instead of stomping on the accelerator and jamming the brakes, we would have looked sweet. Probably not equation style, but sweet none the less.
We came in sixth. The mystery is not that we came in sixth, but that we did not come in last. Someone asked what the other person did that was worse than my round. Dunno, I was too busy cantering to see.
Trump would be my ride for Sunday.
Day 3 – Reserve National Grand Champion
In the morning, my system finally revolted from four days of restaurant food, stress, and lack of sleep. Turns out it wasn’t the bigness of the show as much as the longness. I didn’t have any OMG-the-Eventing-gods-are-in-my-division moments. I wasn’t blow away by this horse or that rider. It was simply a string of long days aggravated by restless nights. I felt like crap. However, I nibbled a few raisins and told myself that I want to do this more than I want to not to do it.
Adult WT Equitation National Finals – 3rd
Since the best I had done was in the first class, tried to ride the same way. I diamonded the everliving stew out of the ring. I don’t think I went along the rail or followed the curve even once. I was on full-tilt boogie. When the call to walk came, I was at the top of the arena. I could have easily walked right then. Nope. I decided I was gonna act as if I had started the straightaway and therefore needed to ‘finish my pass’. The entire class is walking and I’m trotting? Bring it on. I think I am getting the hang of this, ‘Hey judge, look at me.’ paradigm.
When we lined up, each entry was allowed to have one handler to help with the Top Ten neck ribbons. Since my class only had seven entries, we all got one. I got surprisingly choked up as I watched the ribbon go around Trump’s neck. Granted all I had to do was pay my entry, show up, and not fall off. I was still thrilled. I’m a little verklempt just writing about it.
Then they announced the ribbons, starting with third. I wasn’t sure why they were starting in the middle, but was happy to pick up a big fluffy pile of yellow acetate. Afterwards, it was pointed out to me that they only awarded three places. Seriously? Hot damn.
There was some mild joy in Mudville over a Top Three. I was told that if I tighten up, I could do even better.
Tomorrow: Final Class & Photo Links.