Our performance at the show was less than spectacular. I started warming up too early, about 40 minutes before the test was to start. Then my test started about ten minutes late. I really had no horse by the time I entered the ring. At home I rarely ride longer than 45 minutes, and I never ride that long in the heat (it was nearly 90 degrees F yesterday). So, that was mistake number one.
Even though he was tired, we were still putting in a pretty mediocre test. Which is OK by me, mediocrity is my greatest strength. The lengthenings were terrible, because he was tired he was just quickening his stride, rather than actually lengthening. We got 5's on all of them (that's "sufficient" in dressage speak). The rest of the movements were 6's ("Satisfactory"). Pretty good for the first time out in four years, at a rated show and not having ever actually done the test before.
And then we got to the second shallow canter serpentine. This is the movement where you come off the rail to X, then back to the rail without changing lead. Spider and I have been working on counter-canter a lot lately, and he's getting pretty good at it. He can do full circles in counter canter, I figured that shallow serpentine was in the bag. The first serpentine, in left lead, was fine. Spider is less balanced tracking left, so I wasn't all that worried about the second serpentine in right lead canter. Except that he was getting tired, and tired Thoroughbreds like to rush. He rushed to X and I failed to correct it before the counter canter.
And then he did a beautiful flying lead change at X. Crap! I tried to get him to change back, but he was already rushing towards the corner. Then I made another miscalculation. I decided it would be better to just counter-canter around the corner and do the transition to trot at C, rather than try to break him to trot early and pick up the correct lead. I wasn't sure I would be able to get him cantering again in the corner. So, we did a lovely little counter-canter through the corner, transitioned to trot at C and finished up our test. Unfortunately, the movement calls for a transition from right lead canter to trot, not left lead, so we got a bad mark for that movement as well as the counter-canter. The judge was quite generous, though, and we received 4's for the counter-canter and canter-trot transition (they really should have been 2's, "bad").
In the end, we scored 57%. Not very good, but a hell of a lot better than it could have been. The 5's on the lengthenings hurt our score, as one of the lengthenings has a coefficient of 2 (meaning that score is actually worth double the points). And that lovely flying lead change really sunk us (the counter-canter also has a coefficient of 2). But, now we know what we need to work on. First order of business, getting the arena back in order so I can actually practice the tests properly!
Oh, and the battery in the camera died, so there are no pictures. Which is kind of a good thing, I suppose. No need to preserve that train wreck for posterity! Next time I'll be sure to charge the batteries before I go out, though.