Clay and I made our debut at Second Level this weekend at the North Woods Dressage Association "Cooler by the Lake" show...ironically in 93 degree heat and crazy wind gusts on Saturday, and then rain and lightning on Sunday. Not ideal, but, after all this is an outdoor sport! Clay hasn't had to show in rain or high winds before this, but he didn't bat an eye, even when a Dorito Bag of Death was flying all over the warm-up ring and trying to murder horses left and right.
Despite the less than perfect conditions, Clay gave me a huge effort and we managed a 61% on our 2-1 test (2nd place, Open division), and then on Sunday beat last year's score on 1-3 with a 66% (1st place, Open). That is the last score we needed for Mastery at First Level, so I can now move on and confidently focus on Second Level. It feels great to achieve a goal, especially considering we've had all of two or three lessons in the last year.
I rode both tests both days, and in addition to the 61% and 66%, we also received a 58% on 2-1 and a 59% on 1-3. I had an error that cost us, and we broke from the canter to the trot a couple times and not surprisingly received 4s for those movements. One of our rides was in the middle of the afternoon on the 93 F day with the sun beating down and a freaking sand-storm raging around us, so all things considered I am not surprised that our energy was lacking. Clay was remarkably focused through it all. I am so proud of him and thankful for his awesome nature. On our final movement during our last test of the show, we received a 9 and a smiley-face comment from the judge...that was a pretty great way to end the weekend! :)
While I am proud of our higher scores, I completely agree with and appreciate the judges' comments on the lower scores as well. It's very useful to get a clear picture of our weaknesses. That, and the fact that competing puts to the test what you've been learning and practicing, and is a trust-building experience for you and your horse, is the main reason I compete.
A huge THANK YOU is due to all the volunteers and show organizers. I must say, we throw a pretty great couple of shows up here in the boonies, and it's all thanks to the time and sweat of a core group of really passionate people who care deeply that everyone who comes has a positive, safe and fun experience. The morning yoga sessions in the office and the yummy homemade treat bags for 1st and 2nd place were a really nice addition to an already great show!
I'm also so thankful for my mom and husband who helped me so much over the weekend, from packing a cooler full of food, getting my non-cooperative hair to stay under my helmet, cooking dinner and doing dishes at the end of the long days, and baby-wrangling (ok that one is more fun than it is work)...I sure couldn't do this thing I love so much without their help and support. <3