I took Audi to Dressage at Lexington in Lexington, VA to compete on July 14 & 15th. This was the first time that I've attended this competition and I can say that I definitely want to go back next year. It was a massive performance competition combined with a big breed show but you never felt like you were surrounded by the 400+ horses that were on the grounds. The facility is so well designed that there's room for everyone to spread out and find their own space. The volunteers are spectacular and the management is the best, bar none! They posted scores online at light speed and riders can even receive their scores sent to them immediately via text message. It's pretty cool. I was lucky to have Scott Hassler work with me on Friday and then coach me before my classes on Saturday and Sunday. Audi was tired on Friday but still worked nicely. We had a good first test on Saturday riding First Level Test #2. It was the best test that I've ridden on him. We scored a 75.8%, our highest score ever, and won the very big and really competitive class. Our second test on Saturday was Second Level Test #1. Audi felt pretty good in the warm up but was definitely tired. The test had mistakes in the canter work and I totally ruined the free walk (dumb me) but there were some nice moments. We scored a 67.2% for 4th place. Scott was correct when he said that at this level Audi needs all the energy he can get and therefor I really should only ride one test a day when showing Second Level. I felt super psyched for Sundays Second Level #2 but Audi came out of the barn with an edge. He got squirrly in the warm up, nearly popping me off, and I had to excuse myself to another warm up. Scott had to finish coaching another student so Ashley Madison, Assistant Trainer at Hassler Dressage, was kind enough to be my eyes on the ground until Scott could come over. She did a super job of coaching me through the tension and just reminding me about balance and continuing to ask questions of Audi. I got him to a super point and felt good going into the ring but the test once again had mistakes in the canter. Our timing in the simple changes was totally off. We definitely need more practice in the show ring at this level. Even though I wish that I had ridden better in the Second Level classes it was a really valuable learning experience. I'm going to consider getting into a schooling show or two to school the tests so that I'm more comfortable with the canter tour. A very exciting ending to the weekend was getting some invaluable advice from Susanne Hassler about Audi's diet. I've struggled to put weight and muscle on Audi since I've owned him. He just doesn't look the way he should given his fitness and training. Susanne spoke to me about why it needed to change and what to do. I'm so excited about this project and very appreciative to have Susanne as my mentor through this process.
Video from our First Level Test #2 ride (1st place with a 75.8%)