Weekend Recap

Ms. C, Ike, and me celebrating our debut

I am not even certain where to start to summarize our show last weekend.

My dressage club pulled off our first three-ring show under less than ideal weather conditions thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon. Pretty sure that every member did something to make the show a success, from planning the show, securing sponsors, set up, volunteering at the show, and the least popular tear down. It is always nice to hear the positive feedback from competitors.

And then there was our Fourth Level debut. So many emotions. Is it okay to say that my ride this past Saturday is probably one of my proudest moments as an equestrian? Cantering down centerline on a horse that used to canter like ScoobyDoo was a thrill. Realizing that my plain brown wrapper boy is no longer a green broke baby, but a seasoned show horse was overwhelming. It was all I could do to not cry when my husband wished me luck just before my test.

Ike demonstrating his big boy canter

The entire test flowed quite well. Our two biggest hiccups were the left lead canter transition following the walk pirouette and the right to left flying change. The pirouette to canter just needs more practice. The flying change issue was due to Ike and I “discussing” when the change should happen. Ike was a bit impatient. I asked him to hold his counter canter. The result was a change that was late behind. We deserved that score of 4.0.

The high points were that we earned 6.0 or 6.5 on our pirouettes, nailed our tempi changes on the diagonal, and scored solidly on our trot work. When it was all said and done, we pulled a 61.6% for our debut. Say what?!!

I made a game day decision to scratch my Sunday ride and avoid soaking myself, my horse and our tack. And, I just didn’t want to chance an injury in sloppy footing. There will be another day in October to try again.

I cannot thank Cindy enough for her guidance, instruction, and friendship all these years. We would not be the team we are without her. My husband also deserves a medal for his support on this crazy dressage journey. He is the voice of reason when needed, my biggest cheerleader, and the best chauffeur.

Thank you to everyone who has followed our journey thus far. I appreciate the support and kind words more than you know.

Onwards and upwards! Next stop – Silver…

alison

Advertisements

Breaking Down The Test

Photo by Tara Jelenic Photography

My mind is going more than a mile a minute right now. So many thoughts about this weekend. More thoughts than riding…but I really can’t ask Ike to give me 100% under saddle when the heat index is over a hundred. So he hides in his stall with his fan, and I mentally ride the test while pedaling the exercise bike.

Most of the movements in Fourth Level Test 1 are familiar. It will be the execution of those plus the new requirements that will determine if we can find the elusive 60th percentile.

Trot half pass, circles and shoulder in are all in our repertoire. The test designers are seriously testing your skills by placing shoulder in on centerline right after half pass and a circle. Clever people. If I can maintain control of Ike’s shoulders, we stand a chance at scoring respectably.

Canter half pass, countercanter and single flying changes are also familiar. Let us just hope that I execute my aids appropriately and someone is listening to those aids and he isn’t thinking about all the pretty mares at the show.

Now let’s chat about the “new” stuff. Those clever test writers have put the double coefficients on most of the new movements. Evil.

You start off the test cantering down centerline to a halt. If I do my part and keep Ike from falling on the forehand, we can make a good first impression. Good thing since the next movement is a beast for us.

Medium trot to sixish strides of collected trot back to medium. Hmm, if we get out of that movement with a 5.5 or a 6.0, I will be the happiest girl in the ring.

After the trot tour, we will appreciate the half circle of extended walk. Pray for us that Ike doesn’t decide to poop at this time. We lose that lovely swing in his back while he argues with me to stop and take care of business.

The double coefficient walk pirouettes are next. Hoping we can build on our recent improvement in our turn on the haunches. I am still grinning at the “correctly stepped the turns” comment from the last show.

The canter tour is next. More prayers that someone doesn’t decide he is a freight train. Half halts have no meaning when we are in train mode.

The final movements of this test will be the biggest test of our skills. Cantering a 20 meter circle? No problem. Showing six strides of very collected canter? That could be challenging. As we slow we get a little stiff and I am pretty sure that stiffness is not what the judges want to see.

Next comes the three changes on the long diagonal followed by cantering onto centerline for the final halt. It is that final turn that will be tricky. Imagine hitting the cloverleaf to exit the interstate cruising about 60 mph…

Too bad there is no score given for moves that make the judge giggle. We seem to have a knack for that.

See you on centerline!

alison

Taking Off The Training Wheels

So many times in life, we skip the questionable, more dangerous road and opt for the safe, albeit lackluster path. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Many times it is the comfort of knowing what you are going to get. Opting for the chicken option means that your digestive system will most likely not object to dinner. Ordering the beef carpaccio or tuna tartare means committing to eating raw meat. Scary it can be, but oh the party in your mouth you will get when you dare take that first bite.

How about signing up for the class with the professor who gives open book, multiple choice tests? Been there, done that, but did you really learn anything? Why didn’t you risk taking the class with a professor who asks thought provoking essay questions? Fear of failure holding you back?

Trying something new always means risking failure. “But what if I fail,” you ask, “Won’t people laugh at me?” Possibly. You might even find that you laugh at your mistakes or hiccups (like when your horse decides to poop in the middle of every single test and ruin two or three movements…) Or perhaps they will respect that you tried. Perhaps you might inspire them to take that next step towards their dream.

So, my friends, Ike and I are taking off our training wheels and removing the safety net. We are fully committed to riding our first ever Fourth Level test. It will be our only class each day at next month’s show. (I dropped our backup-in-case-I-chicken-out Third Level class tonight.) Good, bad, or ugly, we will give it a go. The butterflies are already starting to flutter.

Here’s to taking that scary first step towards our silver medal.

alison

Happy Gotcha Day Ike!

At approximately 8:00 a.m. seven years ago today, big man arrived in Virginia. Traditionally, the seventh anniversary gift is something made of copper. Hmm, I can think of nothing that Ike would appreciate that would be made of copper. I suppose that I could pay his board in pennies, but something tells me that neither Ms. C nor the bank would appreciate that gesture.

Ike almost celebrated his arrival with stall rest. He decided to run laps in his field when a couple of the ponies got fired up as a thunderstorm rumbled closer. He got a little off balance rounding the corner and lost his hind end. Whomp! Ms. C said he then showed off his sliding technique and ended up with his legs under the fence. Thankfully he did not panic. She said he used his ability to sit like a dog to extricate himself. He is missing some hair on his lower legs and had some minor swelling, but mercifully no lameness. He did not seem to appreciate my admonition of his antics.

Instead, we will be celebrating his anniversary with a lesson to finish preparations for our next trip down centerline. We are sticking with Third Level next weekend, but our sights are set on Fourth Level in September. I still marvel that the horse who had difficulty cantering a straight line as a three-year-old is prepping for Fourth. Somehow, despite my lack of coordination, Ike’s lack of fancy pedigree and a huge dollop of self doubt, we have slowly worked our way out of the lower levels.

The year to come promises to be a fun one. Poor Ms. C has to somehow teach the girl who almost twisted her ankle while standing still (there were witnesses in case you are wondering) how to do tempi changes. I wonder if there is a dressage trainer support group where they commiserate about their frustrations? “Hi, my name is Ms. C, and it has been 382 days that I have had to repeat the same comment to one client. When will she learn?!”

Here’s to slow progress forward,

alison

Coach McGinty Was Right – You Need Heart

20180426_144641.jpg

In the 2000 movie The Replacements, one of the final scenes is a sports reporter asking Coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) what the team needs to win the pivotal game. “We need heart.” The reporter asked again, and he repeated as he tapped his chest, “Heart, we need heart.”

I realized today as Ike and I got back to work after my vacation and some weather delays, that while he may not have the most brilliant gaits, what he does have a heart of gold. He tries to understand all my requests as feeble as they may be. After almost two weeks off, he gave me three clean changes on the long diagonal. We tried the trot tours for Third 3 and Fourth 1 with relative success. I smiled with glee at the straight lines and round circles in the freshly dragged ring. We moved through our paces as if we’d had no time off.

It is a shame that there is no score for heart because I would give Ike a 10 every time.

alison

The Face

So we just returned from a week of relaxation at the Outer Banks digging our toes into the sand with a cold drink in hand. On the day we arrived home, I headed out to check in on the big boys after just an hour spent unpacking and loving on the dogs who were overjoyed to see us.

In contrast to the exuberant greetings from the dogs, this is the face Ike gave me:

I surmise based on the faces Ike was making that he was either displeased at my absence or bothered by the fact that he received no souvenir from my travels. The week old carrot obviously was not enough to appease his majesty.

Thankfully his mood improved today, especially after I scratched his neck and withers for 15 minutes.

In other news, we are entered in a one day dressage show in mid-August. Time to focus on the white-fenced sandbox to earn our final scores for the USDF All-Breed Awards. If only someone would decide to host a dressage show at the oceanfront, we could combine the best of both worlds…

alison

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to guess what Ike’s weight is. Ike says he is glad that we did this now instead of when he comes out of winter with a little something extra around the middle. Guesses ranged from a svelte 1,211 pounds up to a full ton. My joints are extremely grateful that Ike does not top the scales anywhere close to 2,000 pounds. In total, we had 32 guesses.

And…without further ado…

The…

Winner…

Is…

Karen Siebert!

Her guess of 1,330 pounds was only 5 pounds away from his weight of 1,335 pounds.

Congratulations! I will be in touch so you can pick your prize.

alison