Checking the Wrong Boxes

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In vet school one of my professors said that on his tomb stone he wants it to say,

“He never spayed a male cat or vaccinated a bull for brucellosis.”

This professor is a remarkable story teller and I did a blog version of his most retold story.

In case you missed it go check out Starfish Extract. (It’ll be worth it. Go ahead & read it, I’ll wait.)

His comments about dying having not spayed a male cat made a mark on me. Ever since I’ve had a list of things I would like to die without doing. And yes, not spaying a male cat definitely made the top of the list.

#1 Never spay a male cat.

So far so good. I’m 19 years into veterinary medicine and I’ve yet to spay a male cat. I obsessively do repeated crotch checks on any cats on my surgery table.

#2 Don’t get a technical elimination.

Almost everyone I know (except me) has gotten eliminated for something stupid.

  • Jumping the wrong jump.
  • Jumping out of the dressage ring.

This one actually surprises me that I’ve managed to stay in the ring with so many knuckleheads.

  • Entering the ring with boots on their horse (of course as of 2017 it’s not an automatic elimination anymore, it’s an error)
  • Starting to show jump before the bell.

Technical eliminations are mostly about knowing the rules. Because I obsessively read the rule books, rule changes, and rule proposals I would have a hard time living with myself for breaking a rule & getting eliminated.

#3 Learning the wrong dressage test.

I have a paranoia about this happening that is completely insane.

I check the omnibus for which test they are running no less than 127 times before each show.

I’m so ridiculous about it that in spite of having checked, double checked and triple checked that I’m doing test A and not test B I go on to check the omnibus the morning of dressage and verify that I really do have the right test.

I have a friend who learns the wrong test almost every time she competes.

The first time it happened I thought, “well that was a tough lesson learned and I bet it doesn’t happen again!”

And then it did.

This made me that much more determined to check repeatedly that I’ve learned the right test.

This weekend I went to my first schooling show in AGES. That little problem of having a broken leg has been holding me back a bit.

I had seen all the chatter about the new dressage tests so I did my usual.

I verified which test I was doing.

Then I went to the USEA website and saved the tests to my phone.

The tests looked different enough to me not to set off any alarms because they were Novice & Training & the last set of tests I learned were CIC1* & CIC2*.

I did my Novice test, which went well and I left the ring not knowing anything might be amiss.

But it was.

Next I entered the ring for my training test. It seemed like there were a lot of bells and whistles going on as I was circling the ring so I was a little unsure that I had entered after the correct signal but I decided to go for it.

You cannot imagine my reaction when the judge blew the whistle almost as soon as I entered the ring.

I think I was so suprised I kept going for a minute and she called out that I had missed a movement.

Next came the, “you’re supposed to do 2 half circles” and I said, “No I’m training test A.”

Judge, “Yes the new test.”

Me, “I’m doing the eventing test not the pure dressage test.”

I was still in total disbelief.

Judge, “Yes, the new eventing test has two 1/2 circles.”

She started telling me the test, and the horror was dawning on me that the test I learned didn’t resemble this test even a little bit.

BadEventer, being very in touch with my short comings, I knew there was NO WAY possible I could do a test from memory after one verbal recitation.

Meanwhile the fearless leader comes over and says, “I have the test!” And the judge graciously allowed him to read it because it was a schooling show.

It happened.

Bad Eventer learned the wrong dressage tests.

It turns out the new Novice test only had one movement different and the judge just wrote “check serpentine shape” on my test and didn’t ring me out for that one.

So much for the list.

At least I still haven’t spayed a male cat!

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