Between my cold and the left over fear from the jumping the day before, I did not sleep much the night before the show, which was unfortunate.
So I dragged myself out of bed, collated everything I needed for the day and headed to the yard to start grooming and plaiting. Thankfully he was relatively clean. On Thursday he was clipped, this time taking off the hair everywhere except his legs and face (i.e. cheeks and bottom jaw clipped, upper jaw, eyes, ears etc. still woolly). This did make for much easier grooming. Plaiting has got quicker and easier with practice and familiarity with my horse, and did not take nearly as much time and effort as I feared. I was quite aware that my fancy dress costume was not 100% finished and once he was groomed I got onto this. With hindsight I should have tacked up and used that time in warmup, but time managed to escape me and I hadn’t realised how short of time I was. I wanted a 20 minute warmup. I got about 5 minutes if that. We entered the dressage arena feeling rather underprepared. All of our recent workouts have been on the fast and furious side, topped off with the jumping the day before. There was no way I could convert that to a submissive dressage test with only a 5 min warmup.
Overall I felt the test went about as well as normal. That was disappointing as I know I’ve come on so far as a rider and he’s come on as well since we last did this test in August, but considering the preparation and my cold it was understandable. I thought the circles and the turns onto the centre line were better than previously and at one point I actually enjoyed myself, but the serpentine was inaccurate. Submission was lacking, but I hoped we made up for it in impulsion. He did not like the judge’s table at C, but was manageable about it. I wanted the improvements we’ve made to show in our test and in our mark, but they didn’t. For the first time I did the test with no fear that we’d fail to make a transition or do a recognisable movement, and yet it wasn’t really any better executed than the times I’d wondered if we’d even manage to stay in the arena.
No one seemed to know when we’d get the dressage marks, so we went back to the stable to make the transformation from wannabe dressage divas to fancy dress idiots.
I hadn’t been going to do the fancy dress until last week when I saw the following hats for sale.
Some kind of insane genius made me think of turning my black and white horse into a Christmas Humbug. It would be in keeping with Christmas, but not the same-old reindeer/elf/Father Christmas festive fancy dress. Originality is rewarded, although I’d already decided I wasn’t going all out on this one the way I had on the dragon costume. If we came last, so be it.
My first idea was to tie white bandages around Drifter to make the white stripes, but Poundland didn’t have any old-fashioned bandages and I needed to keep the expenditure down. What they did have were rolls of wide white masking tape, that would be easily removed from fabric. As our black rug is not as black as it might be (it has red trim as well as not being that clean at present) I borrowed a rug from one of our new friends on the yard and humbugged it (with the owner’s permission).
I had a stripy black jumper for myself and could masking tape some black trousers much as I’d done the rug, but what else?
I was hopeful that I’d be able to cut off the pink bits and stretch them over his hooves to wear on his legs.
But how to get him to wear his hat? I’d thought that I’d be able to split the side seams so that the white band would go across the base of his ears, with an ear coming out of each side seam, but this was too restrictive on the base of his ears. After playing with a few ideas I ended up making the band smaller and having one ear coming out of one side seam. Then, as he was still plaited up after the dressage, I sewed it both to his forelock and the first plait at the top of his neck.
I did manage to get the socks onto his legs. I would really have struggled to do this alone (I’d managed it in a test run but really you need one person to hold up the leg and the other to ease the sock over the hoof) but thankfully Mr S offered his help and did a sterling job. As a finishing touch for D I had some white “curling ribbon” (uncurled) to sew to the plait in his tail and for myself as well (as one of the Bah-Humbug hats) I had a basket containing humbugs, to assist anyone who didn’t get what we were dressed as.
While there were only 3 entries, there were a lot of people dressed up. Entry no. 1 consisted of 2 of the teens and their horses, with reindeer antlers on the horses, elf outfits on the girls, festive saddle pads and tinsel on the tack. Entry no. 2 was a whole family dressed up, down to the dog. The horse was very dressed up, with long red and green stockings on (matching those worn by the rider and the rider’s mother, and a lot of other things I can’t remember. The rider, who was the girl who fell in yesterday’s jump lesson, was wearing a very cute commercially produced elf outfit, the mother was another elf, as was their little dog, and the father was … Father Christmas!
As their effort far outstripped ours I was very happy for them when they took first place and very pleased to be awarded the pretty blue rosette of second place. Everyone did a victory lap. I felt a little odd being the only one unmounted (it didn’t actually say being mounted was optional this time, but I assumed it was based on the summer show) but we had an in-hand trot round and then got out of the way of the cantering!
My dressage mark, when I received it, was disappointingly low at 56.5. I think this judge marked lower than those I have met before, but as detailed above, I was already of the opinion that we hadn’t made as good a showing as I would have hoped we could, so it wasn’t really a surprise to read the comments, some of which I could have predicted to the letter, others of which surprised me (I thought the circles were pretty round…). There were 3 adult walk-trot competitors, so I was already expecting to come 3rd, and in this I was correct. This is the first time I’ve come 3rd, which filled in the gap in my rosette collection nicely.
The dressage part of the day felt like a bit of a waste of energy. I’ve had so much else going on with my riding of late that I wouldn’t have bothered, save that I paid my entry fee months ago. But I am pleased with Drifter-as-Humbug. Unfortunately the pictures do not do justice to the cuteness of him. Peering over the stable door when we were waiting for fancy-dress time and seeing him eating his hay in hat, humbug rug and stripy socks was the highlight of my day.