Dressage in a Downpour
Last month, a group of riders from our barn attended the Summer Sizzler Dressage Schooling Show. The show is held in Redmond, OR at a lovely facility called Stonepony Dressage.
An early heat wave ended just in time for the show, letting temperatures cool from the low 100’s into more tolerable 80’s. In Central Oregon, summer cooling generally means clouds with a potential for afternoon thunderstorms.
We watched the sky all morning, as riders quietly went about their business, warming up in the indoor arena, competing in the outdoor ring. Akela and I took turns hand-grazing Micah, the second level schoolmaster we co-lease, walking him about the property before our rides.
Akela was scheduled to ride first in the First Level Test 1 class. Clouds built ominously as the temperature dropped and wind picked up.
As Akela did her warm-up ride, under the supervision of trainer Mari Valceschini, I ran back to the trailer and shoved our gear inside just as heavy drops of rain began to fall. I grabbed a jacket and headed back just as Akela headed to the outdoor show ring. That, of course, is when the downpour began.
If you’re a weather nerd, who enjoys looking at radar maps, you know that green blobs mean rain. Green blobs with yellow and orange highlights mean torrential rain.
Micah is generally the most calm and confident horse you’ve ever met, but he wasn’t sure about passing by the judge’s stand with trees swaying and rain pounding on his back.
Micah and Akela rolled their eyes at Mari, who’d taken up position on the side of the arena. Their eyes asked, “Do we really have to do this?”
Dressage judge Sabine Ense said, “I offered Akela to interrupt the show and wait until the downpour was over. But she just said: “No thanks, I want to get over with it.” And she did! Talented horse and rider for sure.”
The pair earned a blue ribbon in the Jr/Yr division, although the test was a bit rushed —as you might imagine. I was proud of them both.
Mari shouted out Akela’s test for her from the sidelines, getting thoroughly soaked in the process. As you can see from this photo, Mari took it all with good humor.
In typical Central Oregon fashion, the downpour continued for perhaps another 20 minutes, before lessening into a mild pitter-patter and fizzling out completely. Thunderstorms never did show their ugly faces.
Riding in the real world means dealing with the horse and distractions you have at that moment —and coping the best you can. Hats off to Akela and Micah for getting through it with grace under pressure.