I think that we have recovered after our second show of the season – all the laundry is finally done and the trailer is cleaned up and organized. Ms. C has studied my scores and the accompanying comments and come up with a game plan to help me understand how to better ride the new movements when we head back out in August. Needless to say, this show was not quite what we had at our first show. If that show was a peak, we have now fallen into the deepest crevasse. There is a lot of homework to be done to claw our way out of scores in the high 50%’s for First Level Test 3 and into scores that are ribbon-worthy. Yes, that is right, the pair that kicked butt at the last show struggled to even ride a straight centerline…
These are my takeaways from this past weekend – perhaps someone will benefit from our misfortune and avoid the same mistakes:
1) Ike does not like sloppy footing. There were multiple storms at the show grounds on Friday and the sand/felt footing was well saturated come Saturday morning. Big Boy did not want to show any real spark in our morning test. No lengthenings to speak of for the trot or canter. He wiggled down centerline. Perhaps he didn’t like the sand splashing on his belly. Now we can’t really control the weather, but at least I will know what I am up against next time.
2) You’d better make sure that you have the correct flexion and body alignment for the canter before you start your shallow canter loop. Even more important, make sure you maintain it. End.Of.Discussion. Do you know what happens if you get grabby with the reins or shift your weight/legs the wrong way? Your horse will demonstrate his flying lead change ability. Do you know what score you get for that even if you quickly fix the lead? You get a 4…F-O-U-R. How about if your horse falls out of the canter because you failed to maintain the correct alignment as you head back to the rail? You get a 4…F-O-U-R.
3) Just because you are trotting faster does not mean you have lengthened the stride. In my less than knowledgeable mind, it sure did feel like it was a lengthening. Come to find out, I let Ike flatten and end up on the forehand. Ah, no push from behind. Ike did lengthen his neck, but that will only get you a 5.5 from the judge. All the power originates from the hind end; I need to find a reliable way to harness that power without goosing Ike into a canter.
4) Learn the proper size of a 15 meter circle and make my horse stay on that circle. How crazy that I managed to give away points because of my poor geometry skills. I watched the video – one would think that I believed an oval is equivalent to a circle. Someone needs to make sure that her horse doesn’t drift on the second half of the circle. That person also needs to make sure that her 15 meter circle doesn’t get flat at the rail. Remember: circles only have a bending line. I need to remember to look where I am going and ride every quarter. Turn the front of the horse first. If you forget to turn the front of your horse, you get comments about your “haunches in on circle.”
5) Sometimes you can surprise yourself and pull off some good scores when you least expect it. The high point of my Test 3 ride was the leg yield, circle, circle, leg yield. Ike and I pulled 7’s for our leg yields and 6-6.5 for the circles. He is not as supple on the right circle, so our score reflected that. But, overall, I am pleased with how we rode this portion of the test. I am capable of maintaining the proper rein length to better steer my horse!
6) Finally, on a non-riding note, I discovered a new item for my show wardrobe – the vest. Coats were waived for the entire show. Even though they were waived, I typically still wear mine since I like the way the coat completes the picture, and the coat hides a multitude of middle-aged woman sins (sagging body parts, a larger than desired abdominal area, above-the-bra bulge). On Saturday I noticed a number of riders wearing black, navy or grey vests over their show shirts in lieu of coats. Oooh, I like that. Cooler than a show coat, but still provides the much desired coverage. To my delight and my wallet’s dismay, the vendors at the show had some for sale. I selected the Arista Modern Dressage Vest (https://aristaequestrian.com/shop/arista-modern-dressage-vest/ ) in black. The bit detail on the back is particularly pretty. Romfh has a pretty one with bling on the lapel that is reasonably priced – if you are a bling person, this is the one for you. Pikeur also makes a lovely one that is well out of my price range.
So there you have it. We only came home with one third place ribbon for our First Level Test 1. Would have had a sixth place ribbon for our Training Level Test 3 test, but the show only gave out ribbons to fifth place. Chalk up our two First Level Test 3 tests to experience. The show was still great fun. We are better for the experience and will be stronger in our next show.