As many do, I like to set my personal goals for show season. These goals have nothing to do with ribbons and are independent of what anyone else at any given show is doing. While I may not meet every one of them, goals help me gage how our training is progressing. Are we moving forward, backwards, or sideways? Are we plateaued due to one particular problem? Have I driven Ms. C off the deep end with my inability to understand proper half pass alignment?!
Of course, I should have shared these before we got two shows under our belt this year, but that just didn’t happen…life just kept getting in the way. So, without further ado, here are our goals (okay, my goals…Ike would say his goal is to be retired like his brother.)
Increase the points earned by 5-6 points per test.
Progress: Steadily ticking upwards with occasional lapses in progress due to unfortunate tension, i.e. spooking and other silliness. Last year we kept regularly falling short of the points needed to keep our median score in the 60th percentile. That evil word “more” kept showing up in the comments: more engagement, more collection, more bend. Somehow, despite the challenging weather this winter with weeks of little riding, we managed to get stronger and improve our collection and the ability to maintain it for longer periods of time. While we still have a ways to go, we are more often than not seeing our scores in the low 60s this year.
Earn a Third Level Horse Performance Certificate.
Progress: Completed! With our Test 3 score at the May show, we had the final necessary score for Ike to earn his Third Level Horse Performance Certificate. When I shared this great news with him, he didn’t even bother to stop munching on his hay.
Qualify for the USDF Region 1 Third Level Adult Amateur Championship Division.
Progress: Completed! My wallet is quite happy that I managed to get both my qualifying scores already. Sheesh, it is an extra $15 every time you select “qualifying” with the test registration. I also can now stop worrying about it and just focus on the test at hand.
Participate in the USDF All-Breeds Awards Program.
Progress: Enrolled. It was nice to see that Ike’s breed organization is now a participant in the All-Breeds program. The popularity of Dutch Harness Horses in dressage has increased significantly in recent years. I had never even heard of the breed when I met Ike seven years ago, but someone let the secret out and now DHHs are fairly common.
Improve our half pass scores at the trot and canter.
Progress: Well….umm, yeah, there is still work to be done. I think I’m doing it right, but end up still being too straight, or somehow Ike is counter-flexed due to me overthinking the movement, or we end up just falling in the direction we are moving. Luckily we are gaining half points which are boosting our overall scores. Thank you to whomever suggested half points at the judging conference!
Have solid flying changes.
Progress: Depends on the day. In recent weeks, we have had some lovely, drama free changes. I attribute that to the improvement in our collected canter. Ike is using his hind end better – more thoroughness and jump. His rider is also figuring out how to help him improve his work rather than just flailing around and praying that Ike can interpret the chaotic movements correctly.
Perform a Fourth Level test.
Progress: None yet, but Ms. C pulled out the Fourth Level Test 1 test to see what we need to accomplish is an indication that there is a chance it will happen before the end of the year. I was exhausted after mentally riding the test as she read the movements. Phew, it is no surprise that you typically do only one test per day at a show. There are things to learn like the walk pirouettes and the introduction to tempi changes, but I am confident that we will figure it out together.
I set out some ambitious goals for a team that is usually more tortoise than rabbit, but slow forward progress beats stagnation any day.
Enjoy the weekend!