Frisco and I attended the August Millbrook Farms show to finish off our season. It was touch and go whether or not I would even be able to attend, since I'd seriously injured my ankle just four weeks prior to the show when Frisco startled during a sudden hailstorm and dinged me with his hoof by accident. We had a great time, enjoying Brenda and Cookie's company and visiting with the Utah gang. We showed First Level Test 3 both days. The first day our canter work left much to be desired...he'd gotten out of balance again during yet another growth spurt. When this happens, he needs to be very attentive to my seat and half halts in order to not fall on his head in the canter from all the power that big hind end generates, and sometimes the excitement of a show can get in the way of our ability to communicate. So on Saturday, we didn't have a great showing in terms of quality of the work. He was obedient, and we had no mistakes, so, that saved us and it was still a respectable 61+%. The high quality in the connection we've been developing was also evident to the judge, earning us an 8 on our trot stretchdown and an 8 on our walk/trot/canter sequence, which requires a pretty sophisticated acceptance of the connecting aids in order for the horse to make this happen seemlessly in a short distance. So in spite of the problems, there was plenty to like about the ride.
On Sunday, he was much more on my aids. I only planned for a 30 minute warmup, and that included our normal 10-15 minutes of free walk first. I still had more time than horse, so, I played it carefully, remembering how I'd overwarmed him at the July show, and managed to save the last bit of fumes he had for the test. He brought it for me...and under Gary Rockwell, we presented a much higher quality in the gaits, impulsion and submission, as well as the execution of the movements. Mr. Rockwell also recognized the good connection and again scored us an 8 on that walk/trot/canter sequence. So even with one mistaken wrong lead, we still easily pulled down a 68.226%, which gave us the WIN over the entire class, across all divisions. It was nice to know we did that well and yet there is still room for improvement. As you can see from the pictures, Frisco's uphill balance and cadence in the trot work is getting pretty sharp. As I type this, a few short weeks after the show, he has regained his balance and his canter is now once again starting to match that trot. I always had the feeling that once he got done growing, he was going to very easy to ride and have a very easy time with more advanced work. My instincts were right and he has been easily working all of the Second level movements and transitions, and we will continue to develop his strength, power, balance, collection, cadence, scope and connection in the hopes of debuting at Second level in November. He has become a blast to ride, with an excellent work ethic. I'm a very lucky girl indeed.
At the tender age of five, Frisco has earned his Training and First Level Horse Performance Awards, has qualified for USDF Regional Championships as well as the California Dressage Society Championships at both Training and First Level, and is currently the Number Two Westfalen in the country at both Training Level and First Level. Frisco comports himself at shows with a poise and sensibility that belies his young age, and has a real presence in the ring. He is a credit to his parentage and I am honored and humbled to share my career and heart with him.