Another big horse show weekend has come and gone and Nautica not only showed up with his A-game but also surpassed all of my expectations at the Scenic Flight V in Cleveland, TN!
Last weekend was another one full of firsts starting with Nautica’s first-ever entry into a USEF-recognized dressage level, Training Level. The pressure was on as this show would be the starting point for both Nautica’s and my USEF permanent record. Dun-dun-DUN!
This show weekend began much more smoothly than the last, from the first trailer hookup to unpacking at the show grounds. The weather was a perfect, sunny 60ºF and Nautica settled right into his stall at the Tri-State Exhibition Center in Cleveland, TN. He warmed up relatively well with only a few minor “saddlebred moments”. We had four tests ahead of us, Training Test 1 and Test of Choice (TOC) T-3 on Saturday and T-1 and T-3 on Sunday.
Our first test on Saturday was Training-1. It went by uneventfully, which was the best-case scenario for my sweet-but-sometimes-dramatic Nautica. We earned a 64.4% and 2nd place under “r” judge Marilyn Kulifay. Saturday night was our big TOC class. There were ten adult amateurs entered and I chose T-3 as my test to ride under “S” judge Jennifer Roth. It was a nerve-wracking five minutes as this was my only chance at this show to ride under this judge and receive my required 60% toward Nautica’s all-breed year-end awards as well my rider certificate for Training Level. Nautica put down a clean test and pulled a 62.2%! While the score was, in itself, exciting since I had accomplished my goals, the true thrill came in finding out that Nautica had won his adult amateur division out of ten riders! This was definitely one of our more special blue ribbons to date.
Sunday came and the pressure was, for the most part, off. I had achieved two of the scores I needed toward my rider certificate in Training Level as well as my 60%+ in T-3 toward Nautica’s 2021 all-breed award eligibility. Now, my focus was on the show’s offered saddlebred highpoint award.
Our first test of the day was T-3, again with judge Marilyn Kulifay. Somehow, between my rides on Saturday, hanging hay nets, and lugging buckets, I had irritated my shoulder and was a bit sore coming into Sunday. My T-3 test was mistake-free but Nautica was significantly more tense than he was on Saturday, likely due to my rigid riding and shoulder guarding. Most noticeably, Nautica’s typically-faultless centerlines went a bit rogue and took a 1.5 point hit from their usual 7.5s of Saturday. My rider position collectives also took a point hit. We earned a 61.7% and 3rd place.
Our last test of the show was T-1. Thinking the hardest part was over, I relaxed in my warmup and went through my test in my head. Apparently, I didn’t go over the test enough. I got lost in my first canter transition and confused my 20-meter circle placement with test T-2. Thankfully, my first ever “error of course” did not immediately result in me bursting into flames though it may have felt like it. The judge rang the bell, called me up, and gave me a bit of a pep talk as well as a second to breathe before sending me back to my canter transition to continue my test. The rest of the test went beautifully. Nautica, having rolled his eyes at my “dumb-hooman” mistake stepped up his game to cover for me and offered excellent transitions and nearly-autopilot geometry. Even with our two error points deduction, we still scored a 62.5% and second place.
Throughout the weekend, Nautica ended up holding onto his title of highpoint saddlebred for the Scenic Flight V, winning a neck sash from the American Saddlebred Registry as well as an embroidered saddle pad sponsored by Southeastern Equine Events. Our fellow saddlebred competition was tough and we were very honored to have won this award.
I couldn’t be happier with Nautica. There’s still, obviously, much more work to do in Training level as we have our sights set on that 65%+ mark, but it’s safe to say we’re definitely on the right track.