Well, that's not what we wanted. Not at all.
This isn't going to be long because I've got to get up early tomorrow for cross country. So bear with me, guys.
Dante had been moving fabulously all week. We went for a hack and light school this morning. Fabulous. We warmed up. Fabulous. We got into the holding ring. Slightly tense, but still extremely rideable. We got over to the arena. Super tense, but still rideable. We got into the ring, and he held it together for most of the trot work, giving me the best lateral work he's done by far. Usually, lateral work is his cryptonite and everything else is better. Well, not today. Lateral work was great, but the second medium, he just lost all concentration. Tried to canter through the entire thing, couldn't even get him to trot normally. Halt was tense and anticipating the rein back. Walk (which is our other weakness) was the worst it's ever been. Canter is usually awesome on this horse, but today it was the worst. He was so distracted by everyone sitting on the hill. Swapped behind every time I used my seat. I use my seat a lot. I'd blame the double bridle, but he never once reacted to my hand. I think it was the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, that's not a good excuse. If he's going to be an upper level horse, he needs to learn to deal.
To be fair, he had several factors working against him. The weather dropped from 105 for him on Saturday to 70 today. So he's feeling good, regardless. He hasn't shown in four months, which is actually a big factor. He's often a bit of a nut the first show back. And of course, the ring was quite atmospheric, with a steep hill on each side where lots of people were sitting.
Still a major disappointment. And quite frankly an embarrassment. We are NOT that bad, and we DO belong here. We should be getting mid-30s scores every time out, not hoping to get qualifying scores. We should definitely NOT be scoring 53!
Some dressage exposure is needed, and but quick. Honestly, even just getting out of the same setting we always school dressage in would be helpful. It doesn't have to be a dressage show, or even a ring, it just needs to be a setting he hasn't seen, and he needs to behave and relax immediately rather than ten minutes after he's been there. We get maybe 30 seconds to circle a ring...he needs to learn to relax in that amount of time.
I know he can do it.
It's time to rock it tomorrow, and show everyone that we aren't out of our league, and that we just had a bad day.