Region 7 Annual Championship Dressage Show! Sounds like fun, huh? If you remember attending a three ring circus – lions in one ring jumping through rings of fire! Dogs on bicycles in the next ring! Jugglers and acrobats in ring three! Tightrope walkers overhead! Your head spinning from the noise, sights, smells – exciting, but kind of overwhelming.
O.k., call me a country bumpkin, but that’s how I felt at least for the first day or so.
This show ran Five Competition Rings simultaneously for four days, as well as multiple warmup rings, a lunging ring, with over three hundred horses attending the show, people whizzing about in golf carts and on bicycles, multiple fancy tents set up with ribbons galore, champagne, and even a crystal chandelier…you get the picture.
More fun than a barrel of monkeys! Or maybe more fun than a boiling barrel of monkeys, because it all took place in the 100 degree weather of a heat wave. That slowed some of us down more than a little. People with excitable horses benefitted from the heat, while those of us with more relaxed horses had to work even harder…
All Finn was wanted a cool drink with a little umbrella in it, a chaise longue, and someone to fan him while stroking his brow murmering, “poor thing, poor thing.” Or maybe this was MY fantasy? Same difference. Neither of us wanted to perform under the broiling sun. Nevertheless, we soldiered on.
Maybe the heat separates the Men from the Boys, or in this case, the Women from the Girls, or perhaps the Super Serious Intense Athletes from, well, the rest of us. Those who would much rather show when the weather is more pleasant. Count me in with them.
But I digress. How was the show? I saw some beautiful rides and some amazing horses. Wow. Some not so beautiful rides. Finn and I had a couple of good rides but interestingly, the judges were quite spread out in their opinions (six points difference from the judge at C and E pretty much each time we rode, big differences in scores, a bit confusing for me as a rider). Why? Well, of course there is perspective, and there are also preferences, and there is some subjectivity, too. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it works against you.
Our last test of the show we both just ran out of steam and got a deservedly low score. Lesson learned: if you think it is too hot and you and your horse are worn out and have already put in a test that morning, you probably should just scratch the second test at noon. What kind of crazy person would stay to ride in 100 degree heat? Duh.
All in all, it was an interesting learning experience, but I think not something we’ll do again next year.
There are plenty of other more fun goals to shoot for. Prix St Georges, anyone? Fix up our Freestyle? You betcha! More trail rides before El Nino hits California? YES! A little more fun and a little less drivenness? An enthusiastic YES from Finn!