The Archives 3/8/10 – 4/15/10

After a nice weekend away, where I did not even SEE a horse, I got home and it is warm…relatively speaking. The trees are about to pop, the fields are about to green up and grow, and there is only a small amount of that vile snow left, which I’m idly considering moving with the FEL to the ring, then dragging it in to “water” the ring…

But, back to Bali…she was doing her full “stretch routine” while I was grooming her. She likes to cross her front legs and do a downward dog yoga stretch, accompanied by much leg lifting and pawing. She has not done this all winter, which I’m thinking is caused by the blanket being not comfortable, and she is naked now.

Once I was on, and we did some warm up, it was to work. I’m working on asking for more, always. Better engagement, crisper responses, etc. The good thing is that it felt like my canter-trot transitions were fabulous, but I’m sure that a lesson will set me straight that they are only good. Then, the puppy had escaped to the neighbor’s (he needs new batteries) and was over there being a heathen, behind the trees, which was apparently spook-worthy today. The spook, I need to learn to use it, and not shut it down. I’m good at shutting down the spook, keeping it quiet, and going back to ho-hum, but I need to learn to use the spook and that forward and ask for something like…big trot! Bali is not the most forward of horses preferring this to , she is WAY better than last year, but she is still not super forward, and when there are moments of big movement/spook, it is big and she is pretty powerful, and I need to get comfortable with that power and harness it. She is definitely one to say “make me” since Suzy rode her this weekend while I was gone and the note was “too much work”. She is also one to try to convince you that using the whip is bad, and it often takes a lot of smack/buck/smack/buck/smack/bucks before you get smack=forward. Pushy warmblood? Bali? Oh yes.

She did not buck with me today, or even kick out, but she had a few head twirls over leg yielding one direction. I think she may have tweaked something playing this past week, slipped in the mud or something. Nothing huge, just a resistance that could be “I don’t wanna” or it could be “that is kinda ouchy, I’d rather go the easy way”.

Now to memorize my tests. Schooling show coming up.

First show of the year has been completed. Whew. The show nerves were definitely worse for the first test, and for the second test, they were under control. I sure hope that the 3 day show will help me get over these irrational nerves.

The weather was awesome last week, back to a full riding schedule with all the ponies (except stall-rest Pico). They all got Rhino/Flu on Monday and I think that combined with the sudden increase in work meant a bit of muscle soreness in all of them earlier in the week. Bali spent one day swapping behind when on the right lead as she objected to the level of effort. She warmed up out of that though.

The weather conditions were not ideal for the show, and due to the weather, the horses had been in since Friday night, and they were only out for a few hours on Friday. That possibly contributed to some extra energy.

I rode 1-2 and 1-4. Still haven’t hit 60. I’m really trying to make 60 my new “Low goal” score. I thought the 1-2 ride should have been there (and it was only off by .3) and Lauren also thought so, but a lot of small errors that we can work on before the next show. From behind, I don’t know that Lauren could see a couple of the items the judge saw, and overall, it was good. I’m starting to understand what I’m looking for, what I’m trying to create, and slowly, my scores are creeping up. Still managed to get the low score that time. Bah humbug. At least Lauren said that she thought this judge was being pretty accurate and the scoring was consistent with what we’d see at a recognized show.

I am getting better at trying to use Bali’s away energy, not shut it down, like I used to. But, I need to work on more discipline in directing that energy in ways I approve of. Bali had never been inside the indoor at Morven, and she found the flags an excellent excuse to head twirl and “spook”. That also impacted our scores. I was laughing at her though, because really, she was being ridiculous. I don’t think you are supposed to grin during your tests when the horse is being naughty though.

Our second test was worse (to me), but the score was about the same. I’ll take it. I truly thought I’d be lucky to break 50 on that test with the number of flat out disobediences Bali had at the judge’s end. But, we only got dinged for one (and by dinged, I do mean a generous 4 when she failed to maintain her counter canter). And, she ended up giving me a 59.2. And, that got a 2nd place ribbon. Her collective remarks were “Expressive Personality!!!” and that pretty much summed it up. Bali was done with work, still plenty of energy, but she said “I’m not 6 yet, I will act 5 until my birthday”.

Long day, since we took Tanq to his early class, then came home to warm up, swap out horses, and I rode Sparkle in the rain to make sure I knew both my tests.

The next two weeks I need to improve the halt…there is no fitness or strength excuse for a crooked or above the bit halt. Those are points wasted, so I should work on those. And then, tomorrow in my lesson I’ll let Lauren help me pick which items to focus on before our show in a couple of weeks.

I went to a 3 day dressage show over the past weekend, and had a lot of fun! My goal (from Lauren) was to qualify for the BLMs at first level. That meant scoring 62% at First 3. My goal for me was to hopefully conquer my terrible dressage nerves, and those nerves keep my scores low…since tense rider = tense horse ::) :-/.

Thursday, I drove down, had a blow out enroute, I now officially hate the I-295 bypass around Richmond (in addition to a blow out, that damned road bounced off 2 trailer hubcaps! And I drive on some rough country roads normally and they stay attached), and then short lesson upon arriving in the colliseum to get Bali in there before we showed. She felt good, and we made it short & sweet because I didn’t want to wear her out. I was conveniently stabled next to Squillion, and she was also my roommate for Thu/Fri. On the other side I had a friend of Lauren’s who was my Sat roomie, then it was Lauren and then the Hassler’s large contingent.

Friday, my ride times were 12:02 and 4:23. This was perfect, it allowed me to go into town to find a tire place to buy a new trailer tire. 3 failed tires in 4 weeks made me very nervous to be without, and that was done by 9:30. I had to do my own braiding! 😮 I don’t think I’ve braided in 10+ years. But, I figured it out, and got Bali braided, changed, and was able to warm up with Lauren. Since Lauren was showing her own horses, any warmup help to me took a backseat to her own ride times, which I knew & expected. I rode 1-3 first. I went off course… ::), and then the judge told me to start back on the wrong movement and I went off course again, but she only counted my error, not when she told me to go to the wrong movement. Even with the error I qualified!!! My final percentage was 63.429% with a nice collective comment of “Horse very straight and happy in his work”.

After a break, I was back in the ring for 1-4. Lauren did not see any of this ride, she was riding, so I only had my own perception, which I have no faith in, due to years of riding with people that told me how great I was doing, then going to shows and getting a steady diet of 4/5 with a handful of 6 tossed in. When asked “how did it go?”. My answer was “It was very accurate and I don’t think there were any mistakes, but accurate seems to earn 50 in my experience”. So, imagine my surprise to get a 65.789! My personal highest score ever in dressage. The entire test was 6/7, so very consistent. That earned me 3rd place in that class.

Friday night, we went out to dinner with the Hassler group, and that was very fun. Scott Hassler is a superb storyteller and he has a ton of funny horse stories from his years of managing farms and showing. I had ridden with Scott before, but never met him in a more social setting. He is pretty fun and everyone with him was fun.

Saturday in next post…this is getting long!

Saturday I rode 1-3 again, this time outside and despite no errors, I only got a 60.286. I got my first ever 3, on a canter (Bali swapped behind according to comments & SuperOtto said she saw that, but it was short, but right in front of the judge, so heavily penalized!) but Bali got an 8 on free walk, so that coefficient made up for the 3. But, only a 5 on submission for Bali. Again, mostly 6s for my scores. Good thing I got my qualifying score on Friday…

Then, I rode in a “stakes” class that paid $250 to the first 3 places. I really did not expect to place that highly, but there was no cost difference to enter, so what the heck. It was 1-2 and I’ve only ridden that test one other time on Bali. I don’t love it, but it is ok. Bali had a HUGE spook as something was dragged or something outside one of the colliseum tunnels, and that spook was during a canter lengthening, and we were on the wrong side of the arena and almost facing the wrong way when her 3 or 4 leaps were done. I was not sure what to do, but chose to pick the canter back up and circle back to the canter lengthening again. The rest of the test was fine, except for a lead change in a corner, but this judge did not penalize that as heavily. So, I was not terribly optimistic on that one, but I still got 61.389%! I was starting to feel a bit less muddled about this dressage business.

At the end of that test, the judge told me that she had to give me a technical error of -2 for the circle and had I just returned back to the corner (no matter how crooked my path so long as I did not circle) I would have just had the blown score. Upon discussing it with Lauren & her working student, they agreed that by circling, I got Bali & myself composed again and were able to finish with better marks. I’m not so sure that the last bit of the test would have been as good without that circle, so the -2 error was possibly worth it.

Sunday, I only rode 1-4. Again, a stakes class, and it had been divided out. another solid test with only 2 5s, and when they finally posted the scores, I was excited to see I got 2nd place!!!! I had a brief moment of thinking I would have won money, but alas…the combined the split back for the prize money. That meant that the Open division placings got all the money. It was a brief moment of “how cool!” but I still got 2nd in the AAs at 1-4.

A really great show for me, I got 2 6’s and 3 7’s for my rider score!!!

The comments were all consistent that I need to work on more connection and consistency.

It was fun to hang out for an entire weekend doing nothing but horses and Mr. Snaffs took care of the horses for me at home.

I had 4 of the 5 rides videoed, and will see if I can figure out how to get them onto youtube. The video people were super nice and affordable. 3 rides at $25 and the 4th was free, and it was a nice job. He was as close to center line behind the judge as they would allow, and it was fun to see the rides and go over my scores.

The weather was pretty agreeable overall. It was really nice on Friday, rained Friday afternoon/night and some high winds which made for a tiny bit of excitement in the warmup, and was cold, but clear on Saturday. Sunday was lovely and in the low 70s when I headed out around noon. Although it was WINDY on Sunday. Superotto takes awesome pictures and I ordered the CD (mostly because she was there and shot my outside class for me!).

Oh, the one thing I did not include. The Hassler’s travel with quite a contingent and one of the people there was a chiro…we saw him working on horses and I’m not sure if I was with Lauren or Jeannette, but we were watching him and she said “I don’t know what he is doing there, but I think I want to be next”. They said “people are tomorrow”. Sure enough…Saturday, I wander down to grab some wine (I had a crock pot of taco meat and burrito stuff I was sharing with all as trade) and indeed, he had a chiro table set up, outside in the sun and everyone was having turns. He did a combination of ART (Active Release Techniques) and adjusting, and it looked fabulous…although perhaps painful…in a good way!

I signed up, agreed to pay my fee and it was incredible. My right shoulder has been locked up for a few weeks now, and he really got into the deep areas and had me moving into various positions while he worked on the knots, and then did an adjustment, and I felt SO much better. He does a fair amount of work with the Hasslers and they sometimes do some sessions where he works on rider and horse and then they do a mounted evaluation somewhere in there. I am going to see if I can get into one of those, probably pricey, but the body-work aspect of it appeals to me. Other than my right shoulder and weakness in the back, he felt I was in pretty good shape. Although, after all that release work, the adjustment was really good.

Video from the show! And I don’t expect anyone to want to watch all 4. Although, there is a rather large spook in 1-2 towards the end. ;D

Friday 1-3, went off course, and the judge told me to start at the wrong movement, so got rung twice (but only counted one error):

Friday 1-4 – my best ride of the show:

Saturday 1-2

Sunday 1-4:


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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