I had hoped to get Kat to the showgrounds early enough on Thursday to get him settled in, get checked in and maybe walk the obstacles on the marathon course. The course opened at 4pm. I was also hoping to have time (and daylight) to braid Kat before coming home. That was not to be.
As it was, my daughter had gone to the mall with her friends and I was home with the girls and no car seats. We blew bubbles to pass the time until hubby came home and I could leave to get going. I still had to hitch the trailer and get gas- (found I had left my card at home in my other jeans and thankfully had cash to cover it) and we pulled in at dark. The barn manager was out getting dinner, the show office was closed and I found our stall, by the light of my cell phone. This was not starting off well.
Friday morning, my brother and sister-in-law picked up the girls and my daughter Robin and I hopped in the truck and headed out. Her to Germany, me to the show. We are close enough that I would be coming home every night to sleep in my own bed, could leave the trailer at home and just drive back and forth. Hubby had to work and so Friday I was on my own.
When I got to the showgrounds, I fed Kat and left him alone to eat. He was pacing the stall and had mixed the shavings into the dirt, rolled in it and was filthy. There wasn't a whole lot of time to be nervous or anything like that and I'm normally not, but once I got there I honestly felt like I could throw up. It was a good thing I hadn't eaten anything, but maybe if I had it could have helped. I left to find the show office and get checked in. I still needed to walk the dressage course and settle my own nerves. Hanging around Kat would only set him off more, which was something neither of us needed.
We were to be in the ring at 10:41 am. It was already rapidly approaching 9 am and I was feeling pinched for time. We also had to go through the Safety Check area, approximately half an hour before our time in the ring. I hadn't gotten to oil my harness as I had wanted to, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The wind blew all weekend. So did the dirt. Had I oiled my harness, I'm pretty sure it would be coated in dirt and needing it again. I had packed a couple of dish towels (Dollar store!), soaked them and wiped down Kat, then everything on the harness as I put it on him. It was as clean as things were going to get.
I took him out to lunge him and he was W.O.U.N.D. He galloped around and around and around... He finally started to settle down and brought it down to a trot, but when we reversed directions- off he went again and seemed to wind himself up in the process. Finally he settled down and started to relax. I was feeling rushed for time and had seen a few people in our division were harnessed, hooked and heading off to warm up. I was swearing profusely on the inside as we headed back to the barn to get ready. I still needed to get dressed too.
I tied Kat to the stall front and went to change. Then I threw my jacket on over everything and went to harness up and get Kat hooked. I had to take a few seconds and breathe to settle my mind before going near Kat. He feeds off of me and if I am not settled, he isn't either. When I got back to the barn and started harnessing up, Kat was goosey as hell when I buckled the girth. That's never happened before and I was trying to be gentle, go slow and he was still goosey. I had to fasten the girth loosely, put everything else on and then adjust the girth later before putting him to the cart.
One of the things that I also hadn't done was to put the strap through the apron to fasten it. It wasn't going through either... I have a wide piece of nylon webbing with Velcro on it that I use as a waistband. The aprons have a big looped piece on top it slides through and it is adjustable for all sizes. I remembered that hubby had left a tool in the truck for grabbing things that drop and are out of reach. We went to the truck and I grabbed it. It worked perfectly and I was able to slip my apron on and we headed out.
We went through the safety check with no problems except that we had forgotten our Safety Check Form. They said to bring it back to them after our dressage test and we headed over to warm up. Kat was being an all out JERK! He was again wound up and rarin' to go. I had nothing on the right rein but a death grip and he was fighting that and being an absolute twit. I was checking him with the left rein and trying to release the right, but he just was not responding like he should. His jaw was set and so was my hand because of it. I had to stop him and make him stand several times and he was not happy about it. I spotted one of my friends and told her he was being a total jerk and she said he looked really good. WTH???
He was incredibly forward and really let his hooves fly. He felt so much better than the test last month. He did not dawdle in his walk, but he also did not reach forward and down when we walked on the loose rein. (We got dinged for that) I honestly don't remember much from the notes on our tests, but we received a score of 71.44 for our efforts. I know there were notes about me not using the proper salute- reins in left hand, whip in the right and the right hand holds the whip in front of your face either vertically or horizontally. I held it straight out to the right side. OOPS! We completed our test and again I failed the proper salute before leaving the arena. As it was we were in 3rd place after dressage. I was thrilled with that!
Heading back to the barn I ran into Gary and one of the first things he said was "The turnout looks great but Hardy will mark you down for this." as he grabbed the pant leg of my jeans. Jeans are not a good thing, so either wear a skirt, slacks or make the apron long enough to cover everything. (Got it!)
He also asked how we did and if I had walked the hazards on the marathon course? "Nope. Today was all about dressage. I would be walking the hazards that afternoon."
Good thing too, because there were a few tricky spots where the advanced divisions went one way and training level went the other. I was told- "You had better get your ass out there and go though it as many times as needed so you have it in your mind where to turn, how to go through the hazards and NOT screw up." I really appreciate Gary's blunt honesty like that. Because of the wind and dust, I ended up driving the entire course in the truck, except for the obstacles of course. Those I had to get out and walk through... I think I ate some dirt in the process.