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I did two piggy backed shows this weekend. Rafi was a saint and I felt like we really had the goods at Third Three Saturday afternoon.

Too bad the judge didn’t see it the same way. Another crucifixion! And what I felt was neither anger or the wallowings of a pity party. I just felt sad…..disappointed…and the stirrings of discouragement… Should I just stay home and ride? Just skip the showing nonsense all together? My trainer was even surprised by the score. It was a much better ride than the previous show, with Rafi steadier on the bit and developing better impulsion.

Sunday I was not a happy camper. I think I hid it pretty well. I am despite my big mouth, a relatively introverted soul. I like sharing the good stuff but prefer to hide the bad. But the stress certainly zapped my energy and enthusiasm about putting myself out there for another round of criticism. I toyed with scratching. Believe me, I’m no quitter.  But when that little ache of discouragement begins seeping into your heart, the self-consciousness, the poor body image, the time and money you’ve shelled out…all these and more take their toll on your psyche!

But, as I’ve said, I’m no quitter. Sunday afternoon I mounted up, minus my normal excitement and even minus my usual show nerves. I was rather deflated. Rafi, probably sensing my lethargy, seemed stiff and slightly tuned out. I worked on just focusing on her and began the walk work using suppling half halts and silently cheerleading myself into ramping up the energy in and for the pair of us. By the time we’re cantering, my usually balanced riding mindset was beginning to return. We worked individual parts of the test and then balanced the right canter more. Back to the trot to address the stiff left rein, back to the forward work again. By the time I was to enter the ring, I was composed enough, if not thrilled, to ride my class. 

 It was trotting the perimeter when I began experiencing a glimmer of anger. It seemed to me that I was alternating between the miffed adversarial annoyance with the judges on the whole {totally unfair of me…but I was in a bad mood and needed to BLAME someone for it!} and this silly “I no longer give a damn!” attitude that my mind had anchored itself to. Yeah, I was pretty upset and couldn’t believe that I was about to put myself out there again for abuse and this time with Gary Rockwell, an “O” level judge. Was I out of my mind???

The whistle blew and Jen called out, “Enter A…” Yes, I had a reader. I was so stressed that day, I couldn’t keep the test straight even when sitting in a chair with the book open on my lap! I was lingering  at the “A” end of the ring as I had observed Mr. Rockwell admonishing riders in earlier classes that their time to enter was slipping by quickly and I simply did not want that comment as the last words heard before going down the centerline. 

And then it happened.

I turned my heel to lightly tap Rafi forward and up into the collected trot. She was there for me. We halted and saluted and off we went. And fiercely, as I turned left at “C,” I WANTED IT. I wanted to ride this test as well, as forward, as correctly as I could! Rafi and I began to rev up our engines.  The first medium trot went by….she’s a horse whose collected work is her strong point, not the extended….but this was the most trot I had sat on her since I purchased  her.  The shoulder-in was there, the two half circles lost a bit of energy but I had her back for the half pass. The extended trot…felt like I had even more with an honest glimmer of a transition to collected trot. Against my hand a bit in the rein back. Took my time and tried to discretely supple her poll….reinback…..onto the mirror of the previous lateral work…..felt great getting into the medium walk, turn on the haunches….I’d had them better at other shows, but she was there for me…medium walk into the extended. I think I dropped her slightly at the beginning of the diagonal, but the walk quality felt good….canter! For me this is the best series of exercises within the test….again the medium and extended canter were more than I had ever experienced before, the flying changes, dead on the mark. The canter circle with the uberstreichen was definitely not very good to me….she had gotten a bit down on the forehand making it nearly impossible to display the self-carriage requirement. Off to that great extended canter…down the centerline, trot at “X”, halt at “G”…..a square halt on my aids…

I was back to caring about showing again…..

I broke out of the  low fifties  into the low sixties….if I could have found Gary Rockwell  after my class, he would have been the recipient of the biggest kiss, hug and not a few tears….