Sunday the TWH had is debut in a Novice level show. I was fairly worried about the dressage test as it is significantly harder though we have worked on it pretty hard for the past two weeks. Friday we had a quick jump school and while the TWH was a little odd to the fences, he jumped nicely and was MUCH better than during our previous jump session. He only knocked a pole down once, success! Saturday was a quick dressage ride and it went pretty well. He was a little sticky in the trot when we started but once he was warmed up he did great. His canter/trot transitions were spot on, his trot was moving along nicely, he was balanced in his 10m circles, we were ready.
Sunday we went to the show, RB4 came with me and was my groom again. I LOVE having a groom! She braided him all up using a draft roll which is working spectacularly well for him. His mane is long and french braiding isn't working as it always falls out. The draft roll is the perfect solution as it is neat, it is super fast to do and it stays in as long as we need it. Fantastic! At warmup, the TWH had some sticky trot transitions again but some lengthening and shortening fixed that issue. Some quick canter/trot transitions were under our belt and then it was our turn.
We started off nicely with a good trot down centerline and a 10m half circle at C. A decent circle at E, he had nice bend and didn't fight me too hard in the bridle. Good. Another decent 10m half circle at A as we went back up centerline, 10m half circle at C to the right and a circle at B. We are doing great, as I rode away from the judge I had a huge smile on my face as I rode towards RB4. Our walk was good, our freewalk could have used more stretch but was decent. A good trot transition back at A, I didn't forget the canter patterns (something I was quite nervous about!) and had a SPOT ON canter/trot transition. Go TWH!!! He went immediately from canter to trot, that rocked! A long trot down the diagonal with a tiny lengthening to our final canter circle, our circle to the right felt amazing. I was SO happy with it! Our last movement was canter to trot between B and F which isn't a lot of room to the prepare for our last 10m half circle. He bobbled it a little in that he took a single step of pace before picking the trot up and I had to really slam his outside shoulder around the circle as he almost overshot the centerline but we finished. I am so happy with how our ride went, it was amazing (for us)! I am so proud of how far he has come in dressage!
We went back to the trailer to relax for a couple of hours before going cross country. One of my students showed up and and we had a good time hanging out and relaxing with RB4 until it was time to ride. There was an off handed comment about how the TWH looked odd when walking down a hill but he looked sound so at 1p it was time to ride again. I hopped on and started warming back up and the TWH was having a harder time with his leads, he was counter cantering when we went down a small hill in the warm up ring. Hmm, odd. I threw him over the warmup fences and he was good over the small crossrail but then knocked down the vertical. Crap! I certainly didn't want to start this again. I jumped a couple more times and he was having a hard time getting over. He was adding extra steps despite being put at the right distances, damn. It was the same issue he was having in our jump schooling 2 jump sessions ago. RB4 said he was acting very stiff legged in the rear but it was loosening up as we went so we pressed on. I threw him over a couple more jumps and RB4 agreed he looked better than he had and wasn't obviously lame so off we went.
When it was our turn, we went to fence 1 and cleared it with no problems. Fence 2 was a vertical and he put the brakes on and jumped from almost a standstill. Uh hello horse??? Fence 3 was a decent oxer and while he came at it funny, he jumped clear. I decided if he gave me a single rail or refusal, I would pull up and excuse ourselves. He was feeling odd but he wasn't refusing and he was jumping clear so we finished the course which including a little bank down (yay!!) and a jump right in front of the water. We walked around a good bit and RB4 said he looked worse but she couldn't pinpoint where he was truly off.
When the results were finally posted, I was actually really disappointed with our placing but am really happy at how our ride went. All in all it was a success in my eyes despite ending up 10th, the dressage judge hated our ride. Lots of comments about needing balance, needing more collection and needing to push more from the hind. We did not, however, despite the harsh judging, get a single comment about being lateral or pacey! Yahoo, that is a win in my book! When I got home I scheduled the vet to come and check the TWH out, let's see why he isn't 100%.