Saleem was at his third show today, at a local farm. It was close enough for us to ride there, so we didn’t have to worry about the trailer, which is a good thing, it makes me worry much less… I hate trailers… Anyway…
The last time we were there, a month ago, he was tense, but he had a good time. We rode two programs, LD1 and scored about 54%, and LD2 and scored 49% with a comment from the judge, saying that he was much better at the LD2 program, which had me laughing quite a bit, because yes, he was much better, but clearly she couldn’t figure out how to judge it, scoring him 5% lower… Well, you meet a lot of funny judges at dressage shows, and you learn to shrug it off and be happy about your horse…
So, today we rode the same two programs and he was awesome! If he was tense the last time, today he listened, worked, and relaxed… I even got to try our canter at the warm up, which I had elected not to last time, because he was too high strung.
(For the same reason did we compete in the LD programs, because they are without canter, and I had to admit when I brought him to the European Championship for Arabians this summer, that canter anywhere but home, we simply weren’t ready for. Too much pressure on his fragile head.)
Today though, the canter worked like a charm all of a sudden and we could have ridden a higher level. There was just no way I could have foreseen it. It’s not exactly like me to even ride these low levels, I have never done so before, I just figured that Saleem and I needed it, to get us started on the whole competition- thing.
So, we rode the LD1 at 61,6%, which was a huge improvement from last time, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that the judge today was a bit more objective than the one a month ago… and we rode the LD2 at 68% which is my very own personal high score.
I am not a dressage rider, I’ve got lots of ribbons, all of them from show jumping, except a handful of Apollon’s dressage ribbons and I never got past 64% with Apollon. (Granted, I never competed Apollon below LA1, which is three levels higher than LD, but still…)
Saleem was fantastic. He just worked with me. He was calm, easy, attentive, and focused. No headshaking, no stress, he was just there.
There are so many things Apollon taught me to fear, like the judges car, which he would randomly kick at, (that does not earn you a good score,) the audience, which he would spook over if they moved or looked wrong, the other horses, if they got too close, or even worse, if they left, the flower decorations, the shade of dust on the walls… you name it, he would blow up over it. (We did have quite a rodeo reputation at local shows…)
Saleem is just cool. We warmed up in the hall, and everyone who works with horses know that even if a horse can be alone, it is very different to be left alone, meaning that if you enter an empty hall, it’s okay, but if the other horses leave, you are left, and that is horrifying.
Saleem passed that test with flying colors today, as the pony that was warming up with us left, and we were all alone. He didn’t miss a beat. For me, that is worth more than any ribbon. My little horse trusts me, and he finds that my company is enough!
Before we went today, I had seen on the list that there were only me and one other in my class, which meant that any ribbon won today would be kind of not-so-cool, because it was either her, or me that would take it home. Not too much competition. Still, we went, for the experience and I honestly expected to get beaten, simply because Apollon taught me to lose well.
Saleem won his very first ribbon today, with his 68% program and I got to say, even if we only beat one other rider, I couldn’t be happier. He so deserved it. He was just perfect, and it’s really hard to get past 60% (for me at least) so the score alone, and how awesome he is, was win enough for me.
I think this will be our last competition for this year, we will spend the rest of the fall training our canter, and naturally we are going to take time off when winter and snow comes since I don’t have any indoor facilities where we can train. Hopefully we will start up again next spring, and get him ready for the Danish Championship for Arabians.
Saleem is only six years old. We are not in a hurry. But it would be nice to ride amongst the other Arabians at the championship, and make our way through an LC program, without our canter falling apart. Yep, that is our plans for the future.
Time will tell if we get that far, you never know with horses.
I just know that I never expected what I got today. I am not talking about the ribbon or the high score.
No, today, I had a focused, well trained dressage horse, that was totally up for the task.
For me, that’s a first.