On the heels of attending the Through the Levels Symposium, driving north into rain/slush/ice/snow, Frisco and I drove south to the beautiful Cooper Ranch for the Las Vegas Fall Fling. We had a great time, and Frisco was on his p's and q's. Hilda was pleased with the direction of the training, complimenting Frisco's work ethic and connection, and felt the rider was helping her horse out. That is always nice to hear from a respected judge, who has been successul in literally every facet of our sport. Our lowest score was a 71.2%, and we earned a 77.725% on the USEF Young Horse Test, video link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piVeVbg6VB4&feature=plcp
The last time I showed Frisco under Hilda Gurney was at his very first show, in Arizona, as a 3 year old. Our scores were 55% from her at that time. This is quite the improvement. I was happy to show her the old tests, and to let her know that I appreciated the firm remarks, because they had helped me improve my riding and training. As I discussed in my post regarding my experience with Lois Yukins at the the Region 5 Championship show, I believe the judges try hard to give us valuable information, and it is up to us as riders to try to use that information to improve. While you cannot ride to the judge, you absolutely should take it seriously when you hear comments that go to incorrect training or fundamental problems. Every horse has a bad day, a big spook, whatever. How you handle it is more important in the big picture. Rather than choosing to "take my ball and go home", refusing to ever show again under the judges who gave me the harshest criticism, I chose instead to really dig deep and find a way to make improvements in my training methods. You have to stay really humble when training horses. While it is important to be consistent and trust in the training, you also need to know when to recognize information that is crucial to your development and not take it personally. The judges really do want to see good rides, so it is up to us to make sure our horses are confident and correctly developed for the level at which we compete. I'm so glad I chose to take my medicine and learn from my tough rides, rather than being insular, which is so easy to do when you only train with one person. We need to stretch ourselves in order to grow. If we aren't growing, we are dying.