Let's shoot to the end of the test where I got the judge's comments. Comments generally were that I did a great job riding and that I showed maturity and good decisions and showed myself as a trainer as much as a rider. Sounds great, right?
It was great but not quite the test I was hoping to achieve!
The warm up was good. We got some good energy at the trot, caught 3 out of 4 of our canter leads (that's really good for Golly), and felt prepared to enter the ring. After our first test, we had the goal of showing some more impulsion during this test and riding more forward as well as getting our circles more accurate.
The ring was at the bottom of a slight hill and you needed to enter at the far end from where the horses were waiting their turn. On the way to the entrance, we had to traverse a narrow area between the ring and a pasture. Golly HATES leaving new friends so we had some resistance getting to the ring before our first test. It took both spurs and whips and verbal begging to get him there. He wasn't alone in the issue though -- a lot of the horses were having the same problem.
I was prepared for the same issue on the way to the second test but we made it in fine and started warming up while waiting for the bell. He wasn't thrilled with going more forward but I felt we could work through it and knew I could get him going more fluid by the time we went down centerline.
All was good until we started our first trot circle and a truck at the bottom of the hill out of sight of the judge and spectators but in full sight of Golly, spun in a circle and shot up a big plume of dust. That was all she wrote. The rest of the test was full of spins, great big spooks and some bucks. At one point I wasn't even sure which direction I was supposed to be going but the luckily the judge let me start from a spot a little back in the test and keep going.
Here's the video below....
We were rightfully eliminated but I'm grateful the judge let us continue the test and treat it as a great opportunity to school and work through a tough situation.
After reviewing the video I realize now that I shouldn't have circled so much to try to get back to where it went wrong but instead pushed him through the path with some counter bend (after we recovered from the spook of course) and continued. We will know next time though.
Perhaps I should feel disappointed... and in some ways I am... I very much wanted to be able to come down centerline proud of the cantering we had achieved during our first canter test. But, things happen. You prepare the best you can for a test, ride the best you can and some things you just can't predict or control. I feel we prepared well and we rode the best we could through the situation so while it wasn't the test I imagined or hoped for, I can't be mad at myself or my horse.
As the old saying goes ... just need to get back up on that horse and try again.