With only a 45 min break in between my cross country ride on the TWH and dressage ride on the App, I knew I just may have my work cut out for me. I changed outfits again and saddled the App up and walked over to the dressage warm up area. It is slightly out of sight of the trailer parking as it is on the far side of a large hill, you can see the trailers when in the actual arenas as they sit on top of the hill. The App was a little quick at walking but not too bad. SO had said he wasn't too bad standing at the trailer, had only called for TWH a couple of times and didn't try to pull back or anything so I had high hopes of a nice, relaxed App.
After about 5 mins of walking I tried trotting and the App flipped his lid and took off. As in I couldn't actually stop him for about 5-6 strides kind of take off. I steered him out of traffic and tried to "settle" him by letting him canter for a couple of laps (idea from instructor from the beginning of the year) and quickly saw it was doing nothing but revving him up more. By this time I was pretty ticked and so I cranked his head down where I could control it and did walk-trot transitions where he would walk for 3 strides and then trot for 3 strides, walk for 3 strides and trot for 3 strides, repeat until he stopped fighting. After about 10 mins he settled down and agreed that he would listen to me and we had some really nice trot and canter transitions. Things were looking up!
About that time I was becoming pretty exhausted from having to ride so hard but before I could take a break I was called on deck, time to head into the sand area reserved for those who were next. It is on top of the hill where you could see the trailers and the App flipped his lid again. He SCREAMED for TWH, jetting sideways, bolting forward, throwing his head in my face and I couldn't get him to quit. Every 15-30 seconds he would let out a scream that went unanswered and threw off any momentum and poise we had established. With no time to fix it and no way to beat the pony for his misdeeds, we went into the ring. I walk/trotted around the outside of the ring (which is, by the way, even closer to the trailer parking) and said hi to the judge. The App ignored her and screamed and jumped to the side to possibly see the TWH. Ugh. I tried going around the parameter a couple more times and the bell rang. Time to go in.
We rode in straight and we hadn't been in the ring long enough to make it to C and he had screamed 3 times. I got so flustered and angry with him I actually forgot my pattern and went off course. The judge ran the bell and said "You were supposed go to straight". I apologized and said the App had me so flustered, I was so sorry. She said she felt sorry for me b/c she saw how he was being even in warmup. FanTAStic horse. Way to draw attention to yourself! The rest of the ride? It went. Moments of greatness destroyed by screams and tension/threats of bolting. Really nice free walk until the last quarter when he jerked his head up, half trotted a few steps and screamed. And the last canter circle he screamed and tucked his butt and attempted to take off again, it just so happened I was able to get him back within 2 strides and finish the circle. Ugh horse, sometimes I hate you. I walked back to the trailer and am really not sure when the last time was that I wanted to beat my horse so badly. There was no reason for him to act that way and I regularly ride him without TWH and he doesn't act like this, lately anyway.
The cross country had its own set of issues but overall went really well. I made the decision that since my arms and body was so tired that I would try riding in the new waterford bit so I wouldn't be yanked on so badly by the App. Warmup went well but very fast, as in the App was very quick. I had a hard time bringing him back to a manageable speed but I had no time to run back to the trailer, I was "in the hole", 2 to go before us. Off we went cross country, the first 3 fences were easy stadium fences and I didn't know if he actually jumped the first one. It felt more like a big canter/gallop stride as he was scooting. Fence 4 was a log which was no problem, fence 5 required 2 90 degree turns and still wasn't an issue after some yanking. To get to fence 6 required going down the big hill and it took everything I had to get him to stop and walk. At this point in the course we should be at 1:45 and we were at 0:55 seconds. Yeah, a bit too fast. I walked him down the entire hill and kicked him into a canter which became a gallop. Fence 6 and 7 were the only ones I was even slightly nervous about so I gave him a good thwack with the crop and he flew over them without a second glance. At least I had the cross country horse I love which doesn't even look at jumps and just goes for it. I wrangled him back to a walk down the second hill and took fence 8 at a trot. Back up the hill we went and jumped a up little bank and through the water. He surprised me by actually slowing to a trot into the water on his own. Of course then I saw a photographer so I made him canter for a picture. We finished the course without a single issue though extremely fast, we were the fastest on course.
They say miracles do happen. Somehow the dressage judge did not deduct massive points for the App's screaming sessions. She really should have but didn't If I had been in a dressage show we would have been slaughtered, it's happened before. We did get several 5's and the App's take off moment was noted as "A little quick". Ha!! She seemed to really like him and called it a polished ride, what did she see that I didn't feel?!? The third and forth placers had cross country penalties so in the end we made it to 5th place. And if I had been able to slow him down we could have gotten 4th believe it or not (as I sure don't!). It appears I was tied for 6th coming out of dressage and when there is a tie without cross country penalties whomever was closer to the optimum time gets placed higher. That certainly was not us. I can't believe that out of 13 competitors we placed so well.
Overall the App left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. I am still peeved with him for screaming his head off during dressage but not making a peep during cross country. I discovered a waterford bit is fantastic to keep the App from pulling my arms off but does absolutely nothing to slow him down. He showed absolutely no respect for the bit during cross country when I know he respects his french link at least a little. Not sure what is is store next year but I will either A) not show them at the same show or B) try putting them on opposite sides of the trailer. Time will tell, lots of riding alone will be in the App's future!