The day dawn not so good. It was pouring with rain at home and I had to make use of the hay shed to get Shell Fire ready. He was absolutely filthy (as in you couldnt see his white socks), so I decided to just load and go and clean him up when I got there.
I arrived at 8am and unloaded him into the tie-ups. Not long after, other people began arriving. I washed his socks and tacked him up happy that the rain had eased to light rain.
I was third to ride in Ring Two. The judge was Bill Noble, someone who I admire in dressage. The test I was riding was Prelim 1.3 and tied in well to Kaurilands as this is one of the tests I will be riding there.
The ground was horrendously boggy. In some places it was over Shell Fire's fetlocks! It was very hard to get him to maintain forwardness and impulsion! I was worried at one stage that he might pull a tendon. Fears aside, he warmed up well, and 5 min into my warm up, the heavens opened... To say I was wet was an understatement! I was incredibly soggy and my saddle still has water marks on it!
Needless to say, Shell Fire was a trooper, and rode just as he would on a summers day. I was very pleased with his warm up but still was worried about the arena.
For one, he hasnt been in a dressage arena with markers yet, and the markers in this arena were large and very bright white! I had images of us adding in some halfpass into the test!
Second, the arena was only 20 x 40m which feels very small for a green horse. My main concern was the cantering and cantering on a 20m circle. We have only just mastered a better and more 'together' canter on a circle.
Turns out my worries were unfounded. He entered the arena with much gusto (comments under this movement were "Positive entrance" and while we are still mastering the art of a straight line, he maintain a good rhythm down the center line and turned left at C.
The next movements were turning left at E and doing two 20m circles at X. The first one was terrible and it was hard to maintain his rhythm as one corner of it was boggy right over his fetlocks. The second was better rhythm wise but I couldnt get him off my inside leg so it ended being a little square in shape (also commented on).
The next lot of movements were the ones I had been dreading, the canter work. Turns out I neednt have worried at all. He jumped into canter and while not flowing through into my hands well (and me not wanting to push him too hard cause of the ground conditions) managed the circle and transitions well.
This also reflected on the movement giving the reins over X in trot and my free walk on a long rein. Without him going into the contact it was hard to get him to maintain his frame and to stretch down more in the walk.
My halt at X was interesting. I walked him into the halt and he wasnt square so I held with my hands and just asked him to 'level up' all round. It was perceived as "Some resistance at X". Fair enough. I have a lot to work on before this weekend, but I think maybe half my problems were from the very wet and boggy ground conditions.
My overall score was 64.23%. My marks were mostly 7's with some 6's and my lowest was one 5.
I am absolutely thrilled with how he coped with the weather conditions and his first ever dressage test in a smaller arena. I will hopefully get some photos up once I get permission from the photographer.