Our class was called and I headed for the gate with Kat. I urged him on, he picked up the trot and we headed down the rail. Since we were the only diving entry I just let him go into a nice long relaxed frame. As long as he was balanced, and moving like he should, I wasn't going to push for too much.
We circled to the left, using about 3/4 or the arena. No use going the full length if we were the only horse in the class. The footing was deep, there were divots galore from the horses in the halter classes and my pony was doing well enough. I think we made one complete lap of the arena before the judge asked for a walk. It didn't take much and Kat made a nice downward transition. We didn't seem to go very far down the rail before the judge asked for a reverse at the walk.
Going to the left has been a bit tricky for Kat lately. He is not as soft, he doesn't tip his nose in the the left as we go around and I have been meaning to work on that with him. (I managed to slip in some long line work this weekend and corrected it. At least for now.) Once we had reversed the judge asked for the trot again.
I urged him on and Kat willingly picked up the pace again. As we came down the length of the arena in front of the stands, I felt my left hnd start to shake. I have had this happen before when riding, but it is usually one of my legs. It's like I get a nervous adrenaline rush and something quivers as a result. When it is a leg, I just push my weight down into my heel. This steadies my leg and the quivering stops. Since it was my hand this time, it was different.
What didn't help matters was for some strange reason I also felt like a little old lady sitting in the cart as we went around the arena. I could have been 80 something years old for all that mattered, the way I felt. That was a strange feeling to say the least. I took a slightly firmer grip on the left rein and my hand stopped shaking. I wondered as we went around, if anyone watching had seen it?
About then the judge called for us to trot in and line up. We turned and headed straight for the judge. Kat was starting to tire, but he was solid as he trotted right up to the ring steward and stopped dead with the slightest mutter of 'whoa'.
The judge liked him. She loved his markings, his movement and everything about him. While we were waiting for the announcer to 'pin the class' I had thought about how it was worded on the entry form. The novice class was for novice drivers or horses. Since he is by all means a novice horse in performance classes, I asked them to let the staff know I wanted to switch the novice class to showing instead of just schooling. I would pay the difference when I picked up the ribbon.
The judge also asked how long we had been driving? When I said only since April, she was a bit surprised and though he had been doing it much longer. She asked if I wanted her to call for an extended trot. Sure, why not? He can do it. She also mentioned she doesn't like asking for too much, since she is never sure how far along in training any horse or rider is. I told her to call for what she wants. It's her arena, she's the judge, she's in charge.
With that we headed back out onto the rail for our second class. It went pretty well, Kat was starting to tire and as we came around the arena he hesitated then scooted a few steps as we went over the shadow on the ground of the light fixtures from above us. The judge asked for the extended trot, but he was slowly fading and didn't have a lot more to give. I pushed for what he had and called it good. The footing was deep, he was wearing down and this was our last class.
Again they asked for the walk, reverse at the walk, trot and extended trot. As we came along in front of the stands, my hand started to shake again. I found myself taking a firmer grip on the reins again to make it stop. As we turned to go into the line up, Kat was pooped. He broke down to a walk and I let him. As long as we made it into the line up, I let him go at his own pace. The judge could see he was tired and our classes were done. He did a nice square halt and stood patiently waiting for the placings. She was impressed with him and mentioned again how much she liked him.
The photographer was busy snapping pictures and asked if we wanted to do a couple of shots with the ribbons. I have yet to find them online, but our paparazzi was able to get some video and a couple of pics of us before we exited the arena. Which I have been unable to transition over to post here. :(
All in all though, he did well and we both survived. The next date on the horizon is November 5th & 6th. There is a clinic in Paulden for beginner drivers. Saturday morning is a pleasure drive, Saturday afternoon is dressage practice, Sunday morning is the clinic and Sunday afternoon is help with the obstacles. Although I doubt we will make the pleasure drive, I hope to be able to join in for the dressage. If we can stay for the obstacle work, I will try to focus on getting Kat in the water. We will see how it goes and what happens.