Show season started off with a bang! MP & Verite were both AMAZING!!! Here's the recap:
We got to Rancho Murietta last Thursday, arriving in the big new 6 horse trailer loaded with 4 horses and all of their needs. We have dubbed this trailer "MP's RV." Anyhow, we roll into Rancho Murietta to find big white tents EVERYWHERE. Turns out the US Open is being held at Pebble Beach this year so they moved all the horsey stuff to Rancho Murietta for the year. Lucky us (she says in a Debbie Downer way). It did mean that we would be out of the rain for the weekend, but it also meant we were riding in banging, flapping, humongous tents. The ponies were none-to-excited. I even opted to lunge miss MP for good measure. Miss Verite chose to walk around on her hind legs for the first day prompting people to ask me "would you like some help?" I forget that the visual of "girl-with-one-arm" plus "rearing-mare-posing-as-a-stallion" always equals "someone-go-save-that-girl-before-she-gets-herself-killed." If only they knew the stuff I've seen and experienced from the good-ole-days of Tom & Ellen's three ring circus clinics! Back to the recap...
Most of our barn showed up by 3 pm on Thursday. Our trusty coach Ellen came with Wendy Morgan and Alder from Wyoming, followed by Katey A with Roman and Odie with Fairbare. Amanda & Doni came with us, and Pam Lovelle with Dylan and Rebecca with Tensleep showed up a little after Ellen. Katie D and Will and Eva and Final pulled up the rear. It was fun having 10 horses and two tackrooms in our fleet!
Most of the horses started off on edge, but surprisingly by showtime Friday they had all settled a bit. Luckily we all had Ellen there to help us get them settled and relaxed as well as looking good in show form. I opted to show MP Fri, Sat and Sun and Verite on Sat and Sun so she would have some time to settle.
The Para tests are new this year so I was a bit anxious to show them. MP had a year off and prior to her injury, I wasn't able to break 68% with her. I was able to set a personal best with Final last year at Pebble Beach with a 70, but MP was just getting there when she pulled her suspensory. Plus, we had checked the early scoring for the day and it was obvious the judges were not handing out scores. Most of the scores we saw early on were in the low 60's and there were quite a few in the high 50's. Of course, once Ellen's crew started riding, we saw the scores start to go up!
The last thing I needed after last year was a bad show. Luckily, I had a trusty crew with me to help me stay focused and positive. Devon, MP's now personal assistant was there taking care of all of MP's needs. Amanda didn't show on Fri, so she was acting as backup helping with whatever she could (btw - that girl can set up a tackroom, she's like Indian Jones with bailing twine!) and of course, Horse Show Husband was there doing his thing, with a few less duties thanks to Devon and Amanda. And of course Ellen was there to warm us up. MP was tight in the warm up ring and Ellen was working us over pretty good to get more of a "falling down neck" as well as bigger strides behind. I wasn't getting it so I kind of gave up a little right before I went in the ring. I figured it was the first show and I needed to take it easy on Miss MP. After all, Del Mar is the show that really counts. So I decided to give it my best effort but not push her for pizazz.
The ride started and as I came down centerline on my tight little girl she whinnied. Crap, was the first thought in my mind, followed by, oh well. As I turned left at C after my halt salute, the judge rang the bell. I knew I hadn't made an error, so I continued on. More bell ringing. So I stopped and the judge said, "You went the wrong way, you were supposed to go right." I said, "Which test do you have?" She said, "the Team Test, do you know it?" I said "Yes, I think you have the wrong Team Test, is it from 2010?" She said, "No, 2006." I said, "Oh, there are new tests, lets get the correct version." Then out trotted Devon, correct test in hand for the judge. The judge apologized profusely and I just said, "no worries, gives me another opportunity to come down centerline sans whinnying horse." So I started the test again. And guess what.? MP whinnied in the exact same place. "Oh brother," is what I thought. But the test went quite well. She was tight, and a little tense with all the wind and flapping tents outside the main ring, but she was obedient. We had one small mistake in a simple change, but no major errors and no spooks or bolts or anything naughty. After my final halt salute I had a little mini break down walking out of the arena. I was SO happy to have MP back. And to have her first test go off like that with all that was going on around us. Of course Ellen was there to say, "it was a nice test, but we need to get her let down over her back and taking bigger steps behind for the next test." Onward and upward!
We had a break in between rides so we took her back to the barn for a little downtime. Soon thereafter I got a text from our friend in the show office. It read "71." Holy crap! Our first test out, with a small mistake, tough judging, a restart, two whinnies, a tight back, banging tents, and a lack of "pizazz" MP and we just got a 71! I think all the training is paying off! I was beside myself. I actually wanted to quit and go home. But nope, trusty coach Ellen sent me back to the warm up to get that back loosened up and that neck more let down. And of course it paid off because the next test, the Para Individual received a 72% and that was with two judges! Day one down, and I had two all time highs AND I had the highest scores of the day. BUT I wasn't finished...Miss V needed schooling.
So off we went back to the barn, tacked up Verite and went up to the tents to try out the wanna be stallion at her first horse show. She was quite good. A little strong, and definitely not interested in taking her canter departs without a buck. Good thing Ellen was once again there to guide us through. After a good hour, V had her departs and I felt like she would be showable the next day, which was good because I was to ride her first thing, then MP in the afternoon. Four rides in one show....this would be fun!
My morning started off with me begging Ellen to let me scratch one of my rides on MP. I think I was scared to blow a test after having two solid scores. She gently reminded me that today, all of Team MP (except Mr. Peters because he was showing AND WINNING in FL) would be there to see us go. I grumpily went back to my tack room but agreed that I needed to ride both tests. So the day would go as follows: back-to-back first level tests on V, followed by an hour break and back to back tests on MP, including my freestyle.
Verite turns out to be a little competitor. Her warm up went ok, but as soon as she hit the show ring, she turned on like a light bulb. Focused, determined and willing. Oh and compliant too! Which is a first...
Her tests went better than I expected. She was a little tight and broke in the canter (because of me), but she received two 66%'s and two 2nd places. Not bad for her first dressage show ever!! Federica was there to see, which made me feel very good because I really didn't want to disappoint Federica.
After a quick break and a quick switch, it was once again MP's turn. She put in a rock solid test, but once again I didn't want to push her, so I took it easy on the pizazz. And out popped another 72%! I do like consistency. I was really happy with this score because she felt so soft through the test and it was so easy. Plus, Team MP got to see her go for the first time in a year and they too were very pleased. And then came the freestyle....
We went back to the barn and while Devon took care of MP, I rode my freestyle over and over again in my head. And in the barn aisle. I was really nervous. I hadn't really practiced the freestyle, so I was just hoping to get through it with little to no bobbles. And no bobbles were had! It was a great freestyle. And the best part was all of Team MP, my parents, my friends and even some of my Somerset barnmates were there cheering me on. It was definitely something I'll never forget! We all went back to the barn for happy hour and awaited the score, which my dad felt the need to speechify and keep from me as long as possible until I went nuts. 74.6% again from two judges!!!!! Team MP went nuts and then went to dinner!
Sunday came early. We decided to scratch MP because she was so good and there was no sense using her up before Del Mar. We still have a few weeks of training and we are definitely going to bring out the pizazz there. I'm not expecting 70%'s in Del Mar, I'm just hoping to pull of a 60+ so we aren't through for the year.
It was nice being able to concentrate on V. Her first test was a little rocky and I had to throw in an extra circle because she broke in the canter, but she was still pretty solid like the day before. She received at 61% (2nd place), not qualifying, but expected because of the errors. Her second test was much better, but she was definitely showing her FEI horse frame (she doesn't know thats not acceptable at first level) so we received another 66% (1st place). Her scores would definitely go up if she was longer and lower, but she's built like an FEI horse and we don't want to discourage her. Plus mid to high 60's are EXTREMELY respectable scores for a first show! Can't wait to see where Miss V goes, I think she has big things to come in her future....
All in all it was the prefect 1st show...now onto to Del Mar...