We did our first dressage show in a few years on Saturday and I was so pleased with Jet. He scored 69% in Intro A with a second place and 62% in Intro B for a third place. He was definitely tense and distracted yet kept it together enough to do some very nice work intermittently. The judges comments included things like "tense", "could cover more ground", "allow horse to go more" which were totally accurate at moments, but also things like "much to like", "adorable horse", and a string of 7.0 and 7.5's in test A. Overall, for not being off my farm for at least two years and not doing a dressage show for something like five years he really tried to hold it together well and even seemed to enjoy himself at times, especially when my husband fed him pancakes with syrup between classes.
The funniest and coolest thing of the show was at the start of test B. Something wound him up and he honest to God started to passage as we entered the ring. I just went with it and kept riding and about half the test was done in passage, not working trot. It felt like passage to me and at the time I couldn't believe it, but when I looked at the video his tail was held out and he was doing a pretty good basic passage. He has never done passage under saddle before, and I bet the judge has never seen THAT at Intro before! He stayed obedient and listening though, and relaxed enough eventually that I could lengthen his stride and go back to working gaits. I guess all that lateral work and beginning collection has made him a bit stronger! A good problem to have with your $800 auction pony.
Anyhoo, much to like and much to work on. The TRT Method ground work was amazing. I got him off the trailer a bit fired up, put him through the "horse yoga" in hand and within 1-2 minutes he had his head down licking his lips and sighing. I looked at my husband and said, "Holy S%}# it really works!" Every time he got wound up we went back to the TRT stuff in hand or under saddle and it helped him so much to relax and keep it together at a pretty busy and spooky venue. I was also pleased with how I spent the 2 weeks before the show working on scenarios like a mock judges stand, riding by my kid in a chair in the bed of a pickup truck, and lots of other scary/stressful set ups. I need to do more of the same and also work on having him tense/distracted and not just get him around the test(that's a good start though!) but also get him focused on me a bit more for more consistency in the test. Maybe with the basic alignment exercise or some shoulder-in?
Next show is Saturday at a different venue, so stay tuned!