This last weekend Sebastian went to his first Dressage show at Yarra Yarra Ranch in Pleasanton. After less than two months of Dressage training, I had what I thought were realistic expectations for a horse whose breeding selected for the ability to stay sleek and fit on five mouthfuls of grass a day and the domination all the other scrappy stallions on the range. My goals are for Sebastian to learn to move to the best of his ability and to gain experience going places and not being a silly beast. A horse that carries himself well will stay sound in the long run, and a horse that goes places without fuss is just a delight to have. So the feedback from a judge and the competition are interesting elements, but not the things I really expected to define the day as a success.
The training has been a major indulgence. It is only justified by the fact that Sebastian needs to stay in work to stay healthy and I am too pregnant to tie my own shoes, much less ride a horse. I have him out in Brentwood with Sue Corrie and she has been doing an amazing job with him. What a difference a handful of weeks can make! In preparation for being worked and shown through the cold months he even got a real show hair do- a full body clip. Not a single heart or star shaved in! We were super serious.
My camera battery conveniently died halfway through the show, but here are Sue and Sebastian in the warm up arena:
Sebastian took the change in scenery quite well, only occasionally worrying. Someone *crazy* had installed some terrifying brick pavers in the aisle the horses cross to enter the show arena, which required a lot of loud nose breathing and very wide eyeballs to cross. Fortunately they were not as deadly as they first appeared.
His first test (Training Level, Test 1) he got a little distracted and initially bungled picking up his left lead canter, but I felt it was a great first ever go in a Dressage class. Apparently the judge agreed- he scored a 68.958 and won his class! I was stunned. This was not at all what I was expecting from a real live Dressage show. Little range ponies can win?? Very disorienting. Also awesome.
Now it is true that I am awash in all sorts of prenatal hormones and therefore a bit prone to waves of emotional intensity, so I am not embarrassed to say that the second class (Training Level, Test 2) actually made me tear up. Sue rode him very well and it was just lovely. He didn’t have big extravagant warmblood movement or rhinestones glinting in his browband, but in my eyes he looked like he pretty much did belong there in that fancy arena. I felt so satisfied as we waited the hour it took for the class to finish (it was a big class). Then I was blown away again- he scored a 71.429 and won the second class! It was surreal.
Here’s to hoping this pending baby will wait until after February 10th to arrive so I can watch the next show. Until then, we will bask in the glory!