Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dressage Schooling Show

Well the schooling show was pretty fun.  Our scores were indeed lower than last year and we had a couple of little bobbles that hurt us, but overall we did pretty well and ended up training level champions (yay!  we got a gift certificate to St. Croix Saddlery for that!) even despite our less than awesome performance.

The derby went fairly well.  Louie was not probably warmed up enough prior to this class to really do well (though, honestly it's supposed to be a warm-up, so I shouldn't really be too concerned with that).  He was having a hard time relaxing and stretching down, and was overly sensitive to my aids and wouldn't stay between my aids very well, but we got through alright and won the class with a 65.8%. 

I wasn't very happy with Louie's poorly relaxed version of the derby, so we worked on a lot of walking sideways before this next test.  Though I'm not that certain it helped, he was pretty inconsistent with his neck position in all of the classes and he about died in the left lead canter.  Other than getting a 3 on the left lead canter here because we broke twice, it wasn't as awful as it felt.  We actually got a 6 on our stretchy circle and our free walk, and 7's on our halts, for a total of 56.9%.

Well you can imagine I wasn't thrilled with that ride, so we went down to the outdoor arena to blow off some steam after that ride.  We worked on that left lead canter and we made several canter circles then went to practice a canter through the diagonal and Louie actually did a flying lead change on me!  Wow, that was cool!  Totally accidental, but fun!  Well, we worked the edge off a bit, took several trips over the cavaletti that were set up down there, and spent some time getting over the scary big white plastic dressage letters set up in the outdoor ring.  By the time I went up for my next test, I had a  much more manageable horse, and ended up with a 60.7% on test 2.  Of note, we got 8's on our halts in this test.

I got off to rest after the second test, and got on just before my final test.  After just a little bit of warm-up we rode test 3, which happens to be my favorite of the training level tests (I think because I like the difficulty of the loops and the canter-trot transition through the diagonal).  While we had no stretch in this third test, the rest of it was pretty decent, and we ended up with a 61.0%. 

Well, overall, it was a decent show, and I think it shed some light on thing we need to work on over the next few weeks/months.  We need to work on the stretch (constantly) and especially getting the stretchy trot when I ask for it.  We need to work on our canter, especially the left lead.  And we need to work on our straightness and getting him moving off of my aids quickly, but not being overly sensitive. 

I got a little down on myself and my horse over the past couple of days because we didn't do as well in the show as I had hoped, but a couple of friends have reminded me that I'm being a bit too hard on us and that these tests weren't as bad as they felt.  I guess I was just a little bummed because we seemed to have such a nice clinic ride that I had higher expectations for the show. 

Well one thing that I think we've learned I need to do before my next show is to ride a lot, and warm up a ton before my first class.  As training level is all about being relaxed and submissive, I think getting the edge off a bit more before my class would be better.  I didn't even need to use my whip at all in the show, but it might be nice to have a bit of a tired horse who needs to be pushed along somewhat for training level. 

We're trying to decide if we're ready to go to a rated show at the beginning of next month.  At this point I'm not sure I want to shell out a lot of money to go and do poorly and put up sub-60% scores, so on Thursday at my lesson we're going to try to decide whether it would be worth our while to go, or if we'd be better off saving up for a different show later on this summer when we'll have more time to prepare. I guess we'll see!

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