A very horsey weekend indeed. Saturday morning I got up early to be at the big dressage show and ready to scribe at 8 AM sharp. I scribed for two judges that I'd never worked for before, though their names were familiar from previous shows here. The show served as a reminder that there are many different kinds of judges out there, and their attitudes toward riders, precision, scribes, time, comments, and the entire sport of dressage can vary pretty widely.
I was also reminded that just because one competes at a particular level that doesn't mean that one is ready to do so. I saw some really nice rides at each level I scribed, but the majority of the rides were ... painful to watch. I was surprised as ... well, as something that's really surprised. 0.o Three things in particular stuck out to me, especially at lower levels:
* Riders not letting their horses stretch forward and down in the free walk. I mean, that's the point of the movement. And it wasn't that the rider offered rein, applied seat and leg rhythm, and then got zero response from the horse, either. There was almost no effort toward it. Very, very odd.
* Lack of energy. Maybe I'm extra sensitive to this after working to establish and maintain forward with Apollo, but I wanted to say SMACK THAT HORSE! MAKE HIM GO ON! more than a few times. Watching some of the walk work at lower levels was like watching paint dry. (more so than usual.)
* Lack of accuracy. I mean ... that's a really easy way to pick up points. And to lose them! I'm determined to work on this with Apollo this week. :)
All that said, we saw some really excellent rides, too. Most notable among them were TD's and our resident European's! I didn't scribe for their young horses' tests, but I did get to see most of them from where our booth was. I did scribe for TD's first Third Level ride, and she kicked serious butt. They both did, actually! They took first and second in every class they entered -- first ORE in first, TD in second, then TD in first and ORE in second, then swapping back and forth like that through the day. :D Who says eventers can't do dressage??
And in Apollo News, we had two jumping lessons this weekend, and he jumped cross-country with ORE on Friday, too. *huge grin* What a good time we had! We worked on coming through trot poles to a vertical both days, looking to work on the horse's bascule and power and rider's position and balance. Apollo was SUCH a good boy. He was patient with me and calm, and he doesn't hold it against me when I make a mistake. And I did make mistakes -- losing balance here, losing balance there, too far forward, leg not on enough, heels not far enough down, not emphasizing rhythm strongly enough, sitting too late, sitting too soon ... the list goes on, of course. Even with that list, we had some really good runs. :D I'm working to find the right balance of patience/relaxation and involved riding with Apollo.
But honestly? I adore this horse even more today than I did yesterday or the day before. He's so fun to jump -- he's trustworthy. I don't wonder if he's going to go, if he's going to suck back, if he's going to refuse, if he's going to buck me off ... whatever. He might be somewhat green, but he's honest. And gracious, and generous. This is a horse I can really learn to ride on, learn to jump bravely on. I definitely need to learn some Greek hymns to Apollo, I tell you. He deserves them.
(heh -- when MT told me before our last jump run that our couple of problematic runs before that were caused by me not being there for Apollo, kind of abandoning him to the exercise and just feeling stuff instead of actively riding, I felt so guilty! *laugh* I apologized to Apollo as we started again and told him that I won't let him down, that we're in this together ... and our next run was super. This must be what teamwork and partnership feels like!)