GPE February Dressage Show

Okay, so Saturday show prep involved a quick trip to the resale tack shop in Metamora where I found a sun faded but totally intact (just needs hind leg straps) brightly colored turn out sheet. My baker sheet is nearing the end of its lifetime and I have been scouring the sales for a deal. This was cheaper by 10$ and didn't require shipping. Score!

 I also found a lovely teal Horze quarter sheet that appears to be rain proof. For cheap. It looks brand new.
 But the real reason I was there was to pick up a black dressage whip. I've misplaced my black one and all I had was neon pink and I figured that might not be fully appropriate. I found this beauty for 15$. It's got a wood handle and silver cording with a medallion with not my initials, lol. I figure I can probably remove that and put one of my own. I feel like I have a wand with it! It also comes with a velvet protective pouch for the handle. It is fancy.
 I totally worked myself up over this schooling show and in hindsight, I was ridiculous. I will say that the barn this was held at is in the richest area of Detroit suburbs, so I was getting intimidated by the potential that the other riders would be way more upscale and Super Serious TM about it all. Let's just say, if I go again, I won't agonize so much.

Saturday night I braided Gwyn's mane, intending to finish when I got to the show on Sunday.
She kept giving me this look, like, "Are you done yet, woman?!"
 I even pulled out my homemade (but not by me) sleazy that I got at a tack sale in Washington to keep the braids protected. 
Then I stuck her cooler on and locked her stall and bedded it with brand new shavings. Our temps have finally gotten (briefly) above freezing and things were muddy rather than frozen and Gwyn has been beautifully clean lately. With my luck, if I hadn't done this, I'd have gotten her Sunday morning and she would have been coated in mud. 

 Then I made sure that my visual presentation of my outfit, with no riding jacket, looked respectful enough. I ended up ditching the vest. I also did some last minute boot stretching so I could actually zip them up solo the next day. And I fashioned a zipper pull out of a wire coat hanger because I can't get enough leverage with just the zipper handle.
 Much to my surprise, Gwyn once again hopped immediately on the trailer. I'm not sure what changed from last year but I am liking this trend of her being excited to go places. Our forecast for today is basically wind warnings all day with gusts up to 50 mph. Great weather for hauling. 😑

The drive down wasn't bad at all and no one was on the road early Sunday morning so it was stress free. The facilities at GPE are nice. They have two giant indoor arenas, one outdoor and an outdoor under construction it seems. I was able to claim a grooming bay and get tacked up. There were a ton of farm staff who kept offering to help, and honestly I almost got the feeling of they were used to people needing that?

Gwyn is my charmer though, and everyone fell in love with her. She, of course, loves the attention and just hams it up. But she was honestly on her (mostly) best behavior all day and I'm super pleased with how she handled the brand new facility.
The "warm up" arena.
 You'll note, I have no braids in her mane. I got 20 minutes from home and realized I left the whole bag of braiding bands on my little table in the barn. When we arrived at GPE I took her for a quick hand walk to the arena where the dressage court was and saw several horses not braided.

That decided it for me. I couldn't get the spray nozzle on my quick braid to work the night before but at least the sleazy had tamed it down from sticking straight out. I pulled out the braids and just ran a comb through it quickly and called it good.
Through those doors is the stable area and the grooming bays.
My big goals for these two dressage tests were:
1. Stay in the dressage court
2. Focus on maintaining contact and minimizing giraffe moments
3. Make transitions in appropriate spots

In my warm up I did lots of circles and serpentines getting that feeling of inside leg to outside rein, because it really does produce results and she doesn't go around so upside down, as she has a tendency to do. I did a quick run through of my tests and then headed to the other arena.
The footing appeared state of the art. It was perfectly manicured sand with a felt? additive and had just enough springiness.

Dressage Court - it was the LONG one! The court ran the length of this indoor and was the long version. There wasn't room to enter at A (horse is standing at A in this picture) so we entered to either side of E. 
 So here's where I have my ONE HUGE REGRET.

I asked someone to set up the go pro and press the button. It only recorded seven seconds. I could freaking cry. I wish I had done it myself or something, I dunno. I know how it felt, and I'm writing this immediately in order to hold on to that and I have the judge's remarks. I just wish I had some of her... moments recorded because there are some that I'm sure are hilarious.

Test A - Score bolded, judges comments in italics
  1. I totally biffed the first movement of Test A. I couldn't remember if I needed to trot or walk, all I knew was that I didn't have to salute to start. LOL. So I faked it. I asked for a half hearted trot and let her break to walk. I knew this wasn't going to score well. 5.5 Early
  2. The first turn I hadn't gotten her on the bit yet and she was giraffey and wanted to drop her shoulder in. I recovered by the circle. 6 counter bent
  3. Circle right. I felt she was rushing and managed a half halt halfway through. She felt ROUND and the judge noticed. :D  7 Nice forward, slight tension, round
  4. Changing rein I tried to hold onto the feeling of shoulder fore as we changed diagonal. It felt good. 7 no comment
  5. Circle again, I was breathing and just really focused on maintaining that contact and not leaving the arena near the gap LOL  7 good rhythm
  6. Nailed it. 7.5  well done
  7. Free walk time. I've heard time and time again that the walk is super important and also that Gwyn has a great walk. I wanted to her maintain impulsion from the medium walk. 6 Nice stretch and march
  8. Medium walk then down center line. I wanted to nail my geometry with the turn. 7 no comment
  9. Biffed this. We had a great halt. I wasn't sure if I saw the judge acknowledge my salute. Gwyn stepped and I kinda repeated it. She said if I hadn't done that it would have been a 7. ARGH.  4 Square halt, then moved
Collective remarks were 
7 - gaits - lovely mover
7 - impulsion
6.5 (x2) - submission - acceptance is circled, some tension at times
7 - rider's position
6.5 - rider effectiveness
7 - geometry - nicely ridden

104.5/160 for a 65.3%  on Intro A 
I calculated this score as I had to leave before they could be officially scored. The judge was kind enough to let me take my sheets and just took pictures of the papers so she could score and place me. I have no idea what placings I got.

Test B

  1. I heard the judge gently scold another rider for halting from the trot, rather than through the walk like the test says, so I made sure to nail my entrance/halt/salute for the second test. Much improved but wasn't quite on the center line. 6 Nicely done, right of x, accuracy counts
  2. This time I nailed the contact and bend for the left turn, and again, I was focused on making sure we weren't going to exit the arena as we were going by a gap. 7.5 nice forward and bend
  3. Here's where I wish my video had worked. Our 20m circle in the trot was garnished by a couple canter steps and a dolphin leap. I was ready to start laughing at this point. 5 Disobedient
  4. Again, I wanted to make sure that my transitions were accurate to the test. 7 no comment
  5. Free walk on the short diagonal. Same thought as in test A. Show off her walk. 7 nice stretch and march
  6. We went upside down a bit in the medium walk and I wasn't able to recover quickly 6.5  slight tension into medium walk
  7. With the upside down we were rushing into the trot and it took really breathing and half halting to get her back. 5 rushing, out of balance
  8. I think we had more spunkiness here too? 5 losing rhythm
  9. Finished up and again, I wanted to show that I had listened to her comments from the previous test. 6 straight but close in front
Collective remarks
7.5 - gaits
7 - impulsion - can use impulsion against you!  HAHAHAHAHA yeah....
5.5 (x2) - submission - naughty  You got that right...
7 - rider's position
6.5 - rider effectiveness
6.5 - geometry etc

93.5/160 for a 58.4% on Intro B.

Her comments to me after that test were "Your mare is very talented and naughty at times! It's that appaloosa haha. I think you're ready for a move up the levels!"

So, I felt great that she thought so. Both tests felt so much better in terms of her not feeling so upside down under me. We had a good 'staying in the dressage court' show, which were my goals. I still feel like I need to work more on the foundations that the Intro levels test and get some more consistent 'obedience' in a show environment.

Since Kaylee had slept over at Grandma's the night before, I stuck around and waited for her to be dropped off with me, and then we waited some more so I could grab my tests.

I think part of my anxiousness about this show was imposter syndrome. I really need to remember my confidence in my ability and Gwyn's ability. There were several riders at training level who weren't even posting on the correct lead and had terrible geometry. It absolutely knocked down my imposter syndrome, just after the fact. I was on par at a minimum with these folks. 
Source: quantumchrome

GPE February Dressage Show