So just as I entered the ring the owner’s of Hill Farm (where Gen lives) came running over to watch me go! I was so excited that I lost focus for a second before the Young Rider reminded me to keep my tempo. She reminded me that at Intro you do not need to be round, you do need to be rhythmical though so my goal for this test was to focus on his body and nothing else.
Phoenix and I are fine in the water, but since he is young and has not been to a lot of other places I wanted to make sure we had no issues with puddles. As we went splashing through one of the big puddles in the ring I got the biggest smile on my face. I swear I am like a 5 year old and it really makes me very happy to splish splash around in puddles. Good thing Phoenix really is a 5 year old because thought it was all in good fun as well. Because of the crappy weather the judge was sitting in a car instead of a judges stand, which caused my baby horse to look a little, but we were able to ride around several times before the judge rang the bell so he was total over it by the time we started our test.
Because of the way this show is set up you have to warm up in the ring instead of going around the outside. Add to that a horse with super weak stifles and the ring being total slop needless to say our first centerline was a total disaster. His haunches would swing one way, so I would correct and then his body would fly the other, so I would correct which would make his shoulders go the other…and well…you get the idea. It was not straight by anyone’s standards. I took a deep breath when we halted because I knew I needed to just let go of the crappy centerline and get on with the test.
Intro A has a lot of walk. You walk after you salute even. I didn’t want it to be the 10 minute long intro test so tried to ride as actively as I could without letting him break. I did end up giving him a tap with the whip at one point, but even with that he was still a bit pokey, and not as forward as I think he should be. With Phoenix it is tough to tell when he has enough forward because even when he is lazy he is tracking up. Phoenix can easily over track so even though tracking up is enough I always like to push for that little bit more. What I did not realize at the time was just how bad the ring was. Phoenix couldn’t give me more forward because he was sinking through to the base with each stride!
When I picked up the trot I counted in my head 1,2,1,2 to set up a steady rhythm. I also tried very hard to be accurate with my circle because that is a good way to keep points instead of loosing them. Phoenix tried to counterbend, but I caught him and corrected. By the time we got to freewalk I realized what a nice test we were having. I decided to go ahead and give Phoenix the long rein right off the bat in the hope that he would take it all the way down from the start. As you can see from the picture he did go down, but he did not really go out taking the maximum amount of contact. All well, I thought it was a risk worth taking, even if it didn’t pay off.
By the time we picked up the trot again I had such a huge smile on my face. I mean, my horse was being a superstar. I don’t know many other horses period that could be as focused as he was, let alone horses that were 5! We were happily splashing through puddles and I was almost bummed out when it became time to turn up the centerline for the second time. I was having fun, and I know Phoenix was to. We didn’t want it to end. We could have stayed in that ring splashing in puddles all day long. I knew as I halted that we had done well. We had rhythm for most of the test, and that was all I really wanted. The connection he gave me on top of that was just a bonus.
I would have been perfectly content to end the day right there. We still had another test to do though. The Young Rider reminded me to stay focused. We gave point away on our crappy centerlines and with only 20 minutes left before test 2 she cracked the whip. Back into the indoor we went to practice centerlines…
To Be Continued…