Riding at a different arena without dying - Check
Riding an actual dressage test - Check
Taking pictures - Not even one!
We started on Friday with hooking up the trailer and working on Licorice's loading skills. After water-skiing out of the trailer, down the ramp and thirty feet on the mud, it was decided he needed the chain. This meant that when he changed his mind, I only water-skied out the trailer and down the ramp.
Licorice was reluctant and it was POURING rain. But I have a very patient trainer and I stood in the trailer coaxing Licorice in, while she stood outside asking him to move forward and keeping him somewhat straight.
We enticed him with his favorite thing in the world, hay. Even carrots are no match for a flake of hay. It took about twenty minutes, but we let Licorice take his time. As long as he was facing the trailer and not pulling me out, we sat quietly. He was a bit worked up when he got in, but he got in.
Then he shoved me into the wall and spun around, trying to get out. I was able to (with a whole lot of yelling and cussing that was totally not effective but made me feel better) get him turned back around and backed him out quietly.
Then we asked him to go in again. This time, his hesitation was only about a minute. We let him stand and eat some hay. Then we backed out. Rinse and repeat. The fourth time, he marched right in and grabbed his hay so we called it a day.
Saturday I got to the barn bright and early. Though it probably didn't change much, I lunged Licorice at home for a few minutes to make sure he didn't have any crazies built up in him. Since he got so hot last time, we left his blanket off for the trip. This time, he got to go in the trailer with two other horses. He quickly made friends with Keiron, who was first in the trailer.
The trip was uneventful and Licorice unloaded easily. I walked him around and he was very high headed and stiff, but otherwise okay. I did have to remind him to not walk in to me please. Seriously, we still have much work to do on ground manners when it comes to pushing people around with his shoulder!! I've got a rope halter and though I'm not super awesome at it, I'm going to try to do some work with him next weekend.
Licorice and I were the first to ride, so we tacked up and went into the small arena/round pen to lunge. Again, he was totally fine. Then we went to the big arena.
The whole barn was gorgeous and the arena was huge. We had to put out ground poles to mark out a dressage size arena because this arena is longer and wider than a dressage arena.
I hand walked Licorice for a few laps and was trying to take some deep breaths. I heard my trainer tell one of the girls to go get her helmet so she could get on Licorice first. Something snapped and I thought "Oh hell no. My horse is not even doing anything. I'm getting on first!" So, I did. And he was tense and looky and had a few moments where his back dropped out, his head went up and I thought he was going to go for it...but he didn't.
For most of the beginning, what he did do was call for his friend. He whinnied and whinnied and whinnied and Keiron whinnied back. They were pathetic. Later, when Licorice had to wait in a stall while Keiron was in the arena, Licorice screamed without stopping. Until I gave him some hay and then he was perfectly quiet. I knew the minute the hay ran out because Licorice went right back to screaming. I'm going to have to bring more hay next time.......
We had a lesson and though it wasn't our best work, we held it together. Then we rode Training Test 2 and you know what? We wouldn't have scored great because our circles were sometimes half triangle, half oval and Licorice was above the bit, behind the bit, looking to the left. BUT, we got EVERY transition in time. When it was time to trot, we trotted. When we were supposed to canter, we cantered. When we had our halt, he may have drifted five steps to the right and flipped his head up, but he halted.
Someone asked me afterwards if I had a good time. The answer is no. Which seemed to surprise my friend, but for me 'a good time' was not my goal here. That's asking too much. I feel satisfied with our progress and proud of myself for doing it. I know that the more we do it, the more I will move from satisfied to having a good time. I also know that's not likely to happen right away and I'm okay with that. In the meantime, I'll ride the high of knowing I successfully rode my horse in a dressage test in a strange arena.
Side note: I must have been gripping the living daylights out of Licorice with my calves because I have hardly been able to walk the last two days. My calves are just aching, which is a part that has NEVER been sore before.