Fortunately, Sunday brought absolutely beautiful weather. I did a light ride early in the morning to let Hans settle, and then set about getting him cleaned up and braided.
He felt much more settled right from the start, which made me hopeful. Jeremy had me focus on getting him loose, so we used a lot of canter and canter-trot transitions, as well as leg yielding in the trot, sweeping back and forth across the arena. From there I was able to put him more together and touch on elements of the test. He was still a bit overreactive in the tempi changes, and I made the mistake of riding too many lines when I should have just let it be.
I still felt the tension build a bit when I moved over to the small warmup in the other arena, but it was more manageable, and I knew this time I would be able to actually get through the test. Overall, there was a lot to like about our test, but unfortunately we had too many mistakes due to tension and distraction. We had mistakes in both lines of changes, a spook in the right canter pirouette which caused him to walk when he startled, and he broke in the last extended trot. Despite all this, we still finished on over 65%, so the good was quite good! And my friend Richard Malmgren, even managed to take these fabulous photos of Hans.
Overall, this trip was such a positive experience for both me and Hans. JJ and Jeremy gave me a lot of good input on how to manage a sensitive, easily overwhelmed horse in an electric environment. And I got to spend so much one on one time with Hans over the nearly two weeks I was there–it was such great bonding that I don’t always get with him at home due to all the demands on my time.
Huge thank you to The Dressage Foundation for the grant that made this trip possible–it it so hard as a professional to have the time and money to focus on yourself and your own horse for a concentrated period of time, and this grant made that possible for me. Thank you as well to both JJ Tate and Jeremy Steinberg for all of their help both during this trip and over the many years we’ve been working together. It was a treat. Lastly, I have to thank my wonderful horse, Hans. He makes me smile every time I see him, ride or no ride.