With the Dressage Schooling Show just around the corner, and subsequently the end of Sierra's training, CA and I finalized Sierra's entry today and I managed to convince CA to reconsider the tests she chose to ride. The maximum number of tests people were allowed to ride was 4, but we felt even 3 was excessive especially considering we were hoping for a very long, boring warm up.
Initially, CA wanted to enter 1-1, 1-2 and 1-3 and mentioned that she felt this was already a big step down of where she "should" be showing, as while schooling 'at home' and at a schooling show, Sierra could easily hold her own in the Second Level ring. I personally HATE the 1-2 test and on a horse like Sierra especially, it would be really overwhelming for her in her current show-anxiety state. It's a very busy test wherein with the laterals especially, things come up very fast.
|A snippet of 1-2. Barf.|
I was surprised when CA said she intended to enter First Level, but perhaps it's because I have far more experience with showing Sierra, and I know how all her training goes out the window. It made me a bit anxious, but I left it alone until this morning, when CA and I went to submit the entries. I loosely suggested perhaps we re-evaluate the levels, and we went back and forth for some time on it. CA felt that First Level was already a step down from where Sierra should be showing, and we joked about how she was starting to understand my struggle. It's incredibly frustrating schooling changes and half passes, having a bangin' warm up or schooling ride the night before and having people judge you for competing at such a low level.... until the class actually begins - then suddenly it makes sense to people. Sierra is plenty capable, but until we can get passed this show-induced anxiety, she's a Second Level horse who can hardly make it through the Walk/Trots. Or rather, she has all the movements down for Second Level, but doesn't have the
brains mental stability for it yet.
I'll also be totally honest - given that I have a 5.5 hour drive home after the show and having no idea what entries will look like, I was worried we would be getting home way later than I had originally hoped. When we discussed entering the show, we didn't even talk about levels - I just assumed she would do Walk/Trot; Training 1/2 at absolute best.. so when she said she was doing First I would have made it work, but it meant a later day than I had originally hoped.
After our discussion, we settled on TL 2, TL 3 and 1-1, which I feel better with. 1-1 is fairly simple, with the biggest change being the leg yields and lengthens. CA feels Sierra will really like the lengthens since she's much happier going forward. At the end of the day, we aren't going with any thoughts of ribbons, but I felt dropping down to some TL tests will get Sierra in the ring and be a little easier on her mind as the TL tests are at a much slower pace. I'm confident the scores will be disastrous in the way of placings and the judge will become very tired of writing 'too tense', but ultimately we are just going for the experience once again.
One day, maybe 15 years from now, Sierra and I will be able to go to a show with the hope of actually winning something, but we aren't at that stage. It's incredibly frustrating and a tough pill to swallow - it's sort of like schooling confidently at 3ft and hardly being able to get through a cross rail course at a show; but one day if I remain consistent, we will get there. All this leg work is tiring and I kind of threw a wrench in plans by getting pregnant, but we will survive and the lessons I'm learning along the way are pretty immeasurable.