May 8th, Ernst August and I cantered down the center line in our second outing at Prix St. George. We earned a modest 61+% with some gross errors on my part in counting.... 6 is NOT 4. Why I went for six strides without a change in the fours is beyond me. I sharpened up my focus for the 3's and got a 2 in there. Well, drat. I wasn't entirely sure we'd meet our 60. It was one of those rides where the things I usually crank out for high scores as easily as breathing came out mediocre, while some of our areas where I need to be more conscientious about the nitty-gritty to get the big score came out big. Ernie has a fabulous walk, but I have to remember to show it off, keep it active for the big marks. We did that. My shoulder-in's which are almost always 8's came off as 6's. Hilda Gurney was the judge and true to Hilda's form, she was honest, fair and critical of the key elements needed. I was very happy to get the comment about being a beautifully seated rider. Equitation pays off. Form equals function. It can't be stressed enough. Moral of the story, even when you make mistakes, if the fundamentals are strong it can carry you through. Next stop on the agenda, clean up the little places where I lose my attention to the tiny stuff that makes the big difference.
Have I mentioned how hard the transition is from Fourth Level to FEI?
Consider it mentioned. The test flows very nicely, but the movements come up quick. Its a long stretch of canter work to keep the horse packaged perfectly for the movements. The judges are far more critical of the correctness of the movements. Corners have to be ridden perfectly to prepare for each new line of changes, each pirouette, or each half-pass. There is no space to coast. But, its worth the trip.
Hopefully, Philipe will get some trips down center line while I don my shadbelly this year. EHV-1 is doing its thing to keep Northern Californian's wary. In the meantime, my summer vacation has started. I'm feeling more rested and enjoying horse time with a relaxed vigor that is hard to find when its crammed in after work hours. If only the weather would dry out and warm-up, we'd be doing perfectly.
But, hey, I'm a USDF Silver Medalist now, or at least the application is in the process through USDF. A lifetime goal to check off my list. Tuesday, I get to see U2. Life is good.