To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A surprise and a show

After all the times I've had to back out of planned (and often already entered) shows in the last seven years due to lamenesses, I was a little gun-shy about entering Lance in an ODS League show last month. I have wondered if God was telling me to back off from competitive riding, and I didn't want to ignore all those warnings. So I prayed about it, waited awhile to send my entry, then moved gingerly forward, vigilantly watching for any signs of discomfort.

Two days before my show, my dad showed up. Rick cooked up the idea since my dad has never seen me compete these past 25 years of 'horsing around,' and they pulled off a complete surprise. Since I am a Boy Scout at heart ("Be Prepared") and that Friday had been one of THOSE days with my teenaged son, I can't say I was thrilled at first. But with Rick quickly jumping in to vacuum the spare room and make up the guest bed, and my dad's excitement over seeing me compete, I came around pretty quickly.

Bright and early Sunday morning, we headed out – me, Lance, and my dad. He wanted to see it all and help if possible, and gamely brushed out Lance's tail (he's not a horseman). Once I'd picked up my packet from the show office and we had Lance groomed and tacked up, I stepped into the trailer's tack room to get myself ready – and realized that I'd left my show bag at home. I can't remember ever forgetting an essential piece of equipment in 25 years of showing horses, and there I was without tall boots, helmet, or gloves. Rick and Brian had just arrived to watch me show and I sent them tearing home to get my bag, but as soon as they left I realized they couldn't possibly get back in time for my first test. I ran towards the show office, asking everyone I knew along the way if they had stuff I could borrow. While one acquaintance headed to her car to retrieve the field boots and schooling helmet she thought she had brought along, a stranger walked up to me. She had overheard my frantic queries, asked her daughter if she would mind lending her gear, then offered it to me. What an incredible, wonderful, overwhelming offer! Off we hustled to her trailer to get the gear, then off I hustled to get Lance bridled and into the warm-up arena.

Our short warm-up went well, but our first test did not. After a great entrance and halt (8), I had no horse! Perhaps facing that first trot lengthening across a bigger arena than he has seen since the State Fair last summer sent Lance into extreme energy-conservation mode; I don't know. What I do know is that I used all the tools in my toolbox, left the ring breathing harder than my horse, and still couldn't manage to keep Lance from c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g across the diagonal in his free walk and falling out of the canter several times. The judge gave us a score of 59.4% and several tactfully worded comments about Lance's lack of energy and impulsion. Since there were only two of us riding First Level Test 3, we got that pretty red ribbon. ;-)

I gave Lance a long break to relax and eat hay, then got ready for our second test, this time wearing my own boots, helmet and gloves. Our warm up was short and to the point – MOVE! As a result, First Level Test 2 was better. Lance still fell out of the canter once and was no powerhouse, but all our collective marks went up, we got a score of 62.5% . . . and won our class of five. That was icing on a very special cake for my dad; I'm so glad we pulled out a win while he was there.

Rick took a lot of photos; all but the one of us standing in the warm-up arena were under- or over-exposed. Below are a few I was able to salvage.

And yes, my dancing partner stayed sound . . . just for my dad. ;-)

First test; borrowed gear.
Let's try this again, with our own gear!
A nice moment.
Thanks for the better effort, buddy.
You could drive a truck between those front legs!
Carrot stretch; Lance may not be energetic, but he's flexible.


Theresa said...

LOL! Carrot stretches, we need to do some of those soon to stretch out those seniors. Lance looks very handsome and hurrah he stayed sound. I don't think I've seen such a wide front except in my own pasture. Cooper is the same way. The dandy brush can pass sideways right between his legs easily. So nice to bring home those ribbons and have your Dad see you ride well.

Mary said...


emma said...

aww congrats! how special that your dad was able to make it!

A :-) said...

Congratulations!! I am so happy for you that you got to participate in this show (even if Lance was sleepy ;-) ). And how wonderful that your dad was able to be there, and participate, and see you do what you so love to do :-)

Michelle said...

I am pretty faithful about asking for after-ride stretches, and Lance REALLY loves carrots. Yes, it was lovely for Dad to be able to experience a show AND a win!

Michelle said...

Thanks, Mary!

Michelle said...

Thanks, Emma. My dad shed more than a few happy tears. ;-)

Michelle said...

We definitely made lifetime memories, Adrienne. :-)