At the GMHA June Dressage Show I earned one of two required 60% scores at Third Level Test 3, putting me half way to a trip to our Regional Dressage Championships in September. With Tom's steady improvement this summer, I've been hoping we could make this happen. The weather has been making things a little tricky lately. Very hot and humid days have forced me to ride early in the day. That's fine for Tom and me, but not so great for my studio work. I usually use riding as a reward after a full day of studio work. When I ride first, there's no incentive to slave away at the drawing table!
I changed Tom's diet and added more grain and alfalfa pellets back in mid June and it has been paying off. He's muscled back up and has quite a bit more stamina. He has barely had a blade of grass since last Fall, and that seems to really help him too. Yesterday I loaded him up and headed off to GMHA for Third 3 at 1:30 in the afternoon. It was nearing 90 degrees when we got there. As I warmed Tom up he immediately started breathing very heavily. I wasn't sure what the best plan for warm up would be, but I just did short sessions and gave him lots of walk breaks. We had a lovely test with clean flying changes and only one break into trot at the end of the test, in a corner, where it didn't really count much. The judge wasn't as happy with it as I was, but we did manage a second place but the 59.48% was just a little shy of what I needed. I was very happy with his attitude and willingness, though, and came home happy.
Today it was cooler (high 70s/ low 80s) and I rode a little earlier. In the warm up he was as he was in June, not as interested in the work for the second show day. He seemed negative, but did manage to work through everything. He reared once when I pushed him in canter half pass- the first time he's threatened me with that in a very long time. I'm thinking (hoping) that he was just a little cranky and thought that might be way to get out of work. When I smacked him and sent him forward he seemed to give it up pretty quickly.
We went in the ring and I rode more quietly today; going for a more organized test. It paid off. The judge (a different one from yesterday) liked it and we got a 63.59%! That got us second place, Reserve Champion for Third Level AND a ticket to the Championships!!!
My goal now is to continue to try to strengthen him so that the canter work can get better and better. I've been to the Championships for Third Level once before- in 2006- and the inability to carry a whip (for championships) cost me a lot of points. We'll work on that "GO" button now, and fitness, and connection and general well-being, AND I'm keeping my fingers very tightly crossed!