Well, the day was a successful day!
We started with a formal inspection. As you can see, McKinna was about as clean as physically possible for a grey mare with a white tail. They asked a few questions - name 20 parts of the horse, what are some signs of a hoof needing a trim, describe the proper fit of a caveson bridle, and the like. All of that was fine.
I did not have the correct neckwear for my shirt - apparently I needed a choker collar - but no big deal.
The flatwork section went very well. I had practiced my perfect, thoughtfully-constructed and -explained warm up, so when they sent us out to perform said warm up, mine went very well. Though I did have a bit of a giraffe to ride at first, because McKinna was fairly spooky at basically everything. Thankfully, she settled down and we got some very nice work towards the end of the individual warm up time.
I then demonstrated fun skills like adjusting girth and stirrups from the saddle with feet still in stirrups and at least one hand on the reins, showing a few simple steps back, explaining light contact vs long rein vs loose rein, and the like.
The only corrections I received from the flatwork portion had to do with my upper body, which I really believe is a problem either created or magnified by McKinna's short, upright neck. I did my best to correct what they asked me to, which was to not hold lots of tension in the upper body and to relax the elbows.
Next we moved on to grids and stadium jumping, where McKinna was quite wonderful. As long as I remembered to add leg through the grid, she went through it perfectly. Our coursework seemed quite speedy - compared to the three mellow, plodding chestnut geldings who were my fellow candidates - but to me, McKinna felt very relaxed, soft, and balanced.
I was extremely pleased with this section of the rating. A few odd distances, but I rode three of the fences again and got better spots. In all, I felt that my position was very solid and my pacing was smooth. Later, after I got my test sheet, the comments would confirm this. Hooray!
By the way, I think it was during this section somewhere that one of the examiners commented on my very solid leg position. YES! HOORAY! Those of you who have read this blog for awhile will know that I constantly worry about my leg, lest it creep forward into that bane of my existence, the chair seat. To receive confirmation that not only have I corrected this flaw but my base of support is excellent really gave me a confidence boost.
A brief break in the shade while the single C-1 candidate completed her coursework, then off to cross-country!
McKinna was fairly good on XC. The fences were all relatively little, and she wanted to be much quicker than I wanted her to be. I also shortened my stirrups one hole, as I usually do when moving from stadium to XC. However, the fences were little enough that I didn't need the extra height, and it kind of threw me off a little. After I dropped them back to stadium height, which they are in the picture above, I was able to wrap around her body much better.
As you can see, I had a bit of a broken line going on from hands to reins. Again, her short neck makes it really difficult to look good when releasing, whether you're going automatic or another kind! Still, I stayed out of her mouth, which is the important part.
Our first round wasn't the greatest. She was fast, I was tense, and I misjudged some turns - the course was very windy and went through quite a bit of trees. I asked to re-ride the first three fences, focused on relaxing my upper body, and did much better.
One of the keys to ratings, I think, is to listen to what the examiners tell you after your ride. If they give you a correction - in my case, my upper body was too tight and my leg wasn't wrapped around her - they expect you to fix it on your next trip around, and tend to be very pleased with you if you do.
After a quick demonstration of an emergency dismount at the trot, we headed in for lunch and then the verbal testing. Piece of cake, of course, I've been reading the Pony Club manuals since I was probably around 10 years old. With that, I passed, except I forgot my copies of thank-you letters I wrote to local landowners at home - darn it! I scanned and emailed them to the examiner the moment I got home, and as I type this, my test sheet is in the mail to her so she can change the not-pass to a pass. As soon as all the paperwork has made its way to the right places, I am officially a D-3!
Next up, C-1 in September. Between getting McKinna ready for the rating and the heat wave this week (over 100 all week, not super common in this neck of the woods!), I haven't had a chance to start working Pandora. She saw the chiropractor today with fantastic results. Minor stuff - she held her last adjustment extremely well, so the month or so off probably didn't do her too much harm. I doubt she's lost much condition either, since she has been out in a paddock and was very fit to begin with.
So, this weekend the conditioning starts. Longeing and light riding the first week, more moderate riding the second week, start jumping the third week, and go from there. So far so sound, but I will be going very carefully at first! I really hope I will be able to go for my C-1 on her at the end of September, as so far all three of my ratings have been on McKinna and I would like to ride my own horse for a change ;-)
I need to post to accept my Honest Scrap award, so I will do that soon. In the meantime, I hope everyone else is surviving the heat!