On the way to Inavale my friend Haley and I decided to make a bit of a wager. For each phase we would make a bet. The bets would encourage us to ride our best and since she was in Prelim and I was in Training, they had to be universal. We got very official and wrote a contract which we signed. Hearing about the fun, our trainer Sarah got into the action as well.
For dressage we decided that entering the arena at centerline, the first movement for both of us, would be where we’d start. Whomever received a higher score for this movement got $1 or 1 beer.
For cross-country, whomever was closest to optimum time without going over optimum time would have their water buckets filled by the loser. (I was pretty sure Haley would win this one handily, so I filled her water buckets the day before. Nothing like having confidence in yourself…)
And show jumping was where it got fun. Haley and I both struggle with SJ a bit. So, whomever dropped fewer rails would get a bag of Starburst candy from the loser. When Sarah heard about it she wanted in. So, we decided that not only would we bet the dropped rails with each other, we would also owe Sarah $1 for each dropped rail. However, should we both go double clean, Sarah owed us 50 cents for each rail we jumped. Hello, motivation!!!
So, wager in place we were ready to get going!
Georgie warmed up for dressage really well and I felt really good going into our test. The afternoon before I had schooled her a bit after a rough lesson and she was great. I think we both had relaxed and were ready for business. I had opted to sit the trot for a couple of reasons. One, I would be sitting the trot at the 3Day in a month and might as well use this as an opportunity to practice! And secondly, I ride better when I sit the trot. I have way more feel and control and have come to enjoy it more than the rising trot.
Georgie and I nailed our trot down centerline. In fact, the entire test rode really well. It was consistent, pleasant and pretty accurate. Georgie gave me more of a lengthen in both the trot and canter than ever before and she felt adjustable and really responsive to my aids. Our walk was a little tense in the beginning but she was fairly good otherwise.
I came out of the test thrilled with how it had gone. Trainer Sarah was elated and said “Now THAT was a competitive test.” “That’s the best test you have ever had.” We spoke a bit about some things that needed improvement but overall we were both thrilled.
I was so excited to see my score. I’m typically middle of the pack with a 33-35. I was hoping we might get a 30-32. I wanted to see what the judge thought about our ride and was excited for her comments. I’ve been working so hard on dressage and feel like Georgie and I have improved so much. My hope was that the test would be a reflection of all our hard work.
About an hour later I went up to Sarah and told her my score. A 39.3
She laughed and said “You’re funny, what did you really get.”
She wouldn’t believe that I was not kidding until I showed her the score. We were in the middle of the pack, again, but with my worst score to date. Sarah was great and we discussed my test and how good it was and we were both anxious to see what the judge had commented.
And this was when I became really disappointed. That amazing trot down centerline had the most comments of the entire test. “Straight and Steady.” Score: 7. Which is what Haley got as well, but her comments were something like “fairly straight but crooked through neck.”
I gasped when I saw all the 5s and 5.5s. I got the one 7 and the rest were 5-6.5. With comments in each movement like “obedient” “tense” “round” “circle a bit large.” And then zero rider comments at the bottom.
Look if you thought we kinda sucked, can you let me know why? Or can you let me know what was wrong with “straight and steady” that it only got a 7?
And I don’t mean to be catty, because I have had horrible tests, but the test before mine was a struggle. The rider was having a tough time. The horse was not having fun. They forgot their test. And while the horse had a trot lengthen Georgie and I were envious of, at the end of the movement he slammed on the brakes and threw his head in the air. It clearly was a tough day for both of them.
And lets just say they only scored slightly higher than me.
I was bummed on so many levels. But I was proud of Georgie and our test and knew the judge couldn’t influence the rest of the event. This wasn’t a dressage show, after all. (I had to keep telling myself that.)
I walked my xc course and it looked AWESOME. Some really good questions and really good use of terrain. There was a roll top to a chevron and it had a half stride. The water jump was super looky and came up quickly and then, after a long gallop in the woods you came out and there was a corner just sitting in a field waiting for you. I was really excited and knew it was going to require a thoughtful ride.
Having tied in our first wager, Haley and I both enjoyed a beer and kept our money. And we both agreed that tomorrow would be a way more fun day.