Winning the Reinsmanship class at the show was a big thing for me. I thought I was a bit crazy for entering, a bit out of my leage for being there and once we were in the ring, I figured I was working for third or fourth place. Yes when they called out the judges placings, I was a bit shocked.
One of the few things this class did for me was to reinforce the idea of going over the basics and building from there. When the foundation of basics is solid, you can always go back to the beginning to fix things as needed and rebuild. Going over the basics is a good refresher for not only you, but also the horse.
What the judge seemed to be looking for, was a strong grasp on the basics. Not just in the pony class, but the mini's, horse and open divisions as well. The drivers and horses who made large circles that were reasonably round, had good quality in the halt, and let their horse travel a bit straight in the center before changing directions- they were the ones rewarded with the win.
A few years ago, there was a show on one of the cable networks called Horse Power: Road to Maclay. In one of the episodes they feature the riders completing their compulsory rounds of equitation, doing a pattern of basic circles, changing diagonals at the posting trot, stop, rein back, etc. The one trainer comments how basic the pattern is and for those who have a solid foundation in basics- it should be easy for them. Driving is really no different.
In both ridden and driven dressage, you start out at training level and work your way up as the horse is ready and able to. When you are competing and doing well at this level, you begin schooling the next and eventually showing there too. If the horse becomes confused in what you are asking, you can always stop, drop back a few steps, go over something they know as a refresher and try again. The movements have a way of each leading into another as you progress.
Overall it was a good show, in that we may have started out rough, but we moved on and worked our way up in the placings as the day went on. Those are much nicer than making a grand showing the first few classes and falling flat from there on out. Of course the shows where you consistantly place at the top are nice... but they don't always happen for everyone. If you have taken your time and done your work correctly, they happen more often than not and you become one of those people that everyone else tries to beat. We may all want to be at that level but even still, once you are there- things happen and we have to suck it up, take our licks and move on. Getting to the top is one thing. Staying there takes just as much hard work if not more.