After not competing for 2 years, I dusted off my little old man and got him ready to show. Back in May, in two weeks....
Surprisingly enough? He did really well. As in-> Well enough that I showed him in a simple ring snaffle, which hasn't happened in a really, really long time. That hasn't happened since I bought the mullen mouth butterfly bit for him at our very first CDE. I also had a rather loose connection with him thru the reins for a change. I don't remember Any remarks about letting him go, relaxing my grip on the reins or things like that, that plagued us in the comments all the times before.
The Houston driving club offers a different option for the CDE or HDT. They offer two ways to enter, Combined Training which is Dressage and Cones, or you can enter the whole thing, Dressage, Cones and the Marathon. They also narrowed it down to two days rather than three. Instead of doing Dressage- Friday, Marathon- Saturday and Cones on Sunday, you do your dressage test and then head directly over to cones on Saturday, then the marathon was on Sunday.
Since my little guy hasn't been doing a whole lot and I would mostly just be lunging and ground driving him for the two weeks leading up to the HDT, I opted to just go with competing in Combined Training. There was one other guy that did the same. For Pelim Single Pony, there were four other entries that did the HDT, competing both days. My competitive streak being long and wide, besides my curiosity getting the better of me too, I like to see how we compared to all of the entries in our respective class level.
In Dressage, our score was a straight up 73. Not great, but not abismal either. We have done better and we also could've done worse, so considering we had 2 weeks to really prepare, I'm not upset with those numbers. We didn't get eliminated so we were good. The other guy in our class scored a 59.43 so clearly he was more on his game that day. The other 4 drivers each turned in scores of 65.50, 67.67, 76.33 and 76.50. If it were all 6 of us competing together, Kat and I would have been in 4th place.
Then came the cones course. Kat and I made our way over to the course, I ditched my apron before heading in to circle around and get a heads up of the course since I never got a chance to walk it. I had gone over it on the map and had everything up to 11 or 12 down fine so I just needed to look around at it before we started our time. Cone 4 you had an option of taking one set closer or one set normally (we did the normal one) and cone 17 was also just set narrow. Although we weren't really lined up for 17 all that well, I brought Kat down to a trot, we curved this way and that and we managed to leave the balls up as we went thru, much to the surprise of everyone watching. Instead we had already knocked down a ball at cone 10. We haven't had any issues with time penalties once we moved up to Prelim and Kat made it abundantly clear how fast he can run.
With one ball down, we had 3 penalty points bringing our score up to 76. Everyone else had at least 3-4 balls down and or time penalties added to their scores. Going back for a look to see where we would have placed? After Saturdays two events, the other scores were- 70.43, 78.01, 78.67, 86.32, and 88.50. The 70.43 was the other guy who also entered as Combined Training. So if I had entered both days, we would have been in first place going into the marathon on Sunday. Knowing my little man and how well he likes doing hazards too, I can only imagine our scores might have been well enough in line to have locked in our placing.
A friend of mine from the driving club had asked me how the competition here in Houston compared to competition there in Arizona. Since we were sitting pretty much middle of the road after dressage, I had considered it much the same as what we were up against there. Going back now for another look and seeing how there were more balls down and time penalties in cones, it seems our strong areas, might be able to pull us up in the standings as long as we get respectable scores in dressage.
This was also the first and only time my new man had gotten to see us in action. He was quite impressed at how quick we were and at ease we handled things, zipping around the course like it was nothing. Impressed enough with watching us in cones, that he totally forgot to take any pictures! lol He was more focused on just watching us go and with the judges and people there to reset the cones all taking notice, he was pretty proud of us too.
I'm not sure what the club event schedule will look like for 2018, but I will be getting Kat back in shape and keeping him fit and ready to go, if there is a chance we may be able to enter one here or there and give it a whirl again. At 18 years old the little man can still Rock It! on a cones course. I think he enjoys the big circle we do afterwards to bring him back down before leaving the arena. Of course I praise him and tell him just how Badass he is while we go around slowing down. It's his very own Victory Lap.