Thursday, August 30, 2012

Northern Lights Dressage

We had our second rated dressage show this past weekend: Northern Lights Dressage, at the Washington County Fairgrounds. 

We got to the grounds early in the morning after I had about 4 hours of sleep the night before, as my ride time was 7:29 am.  Ouch is that early!  Once we got there I had about 45 minutes to groom, braid, change, tack, and warm-up. I got about a 6 minute warm-up. Not NEAR long enough. But, as Julie said, I managed to pull a lot of stuff out of my butt with what little horse and warm-up we had going into that first test. . . .

So in Training 1 we managed to come out with a 61.25% somehow. I really didn't feel we deserved it as he fell out of the left lead canter for a stride or two and was very tense in his free walk, so when I tried to push him for more activity he broke into the trot. But, the judge seemed to think we had some nice moments too. She gave us a few 7's on our left trot circle, right canter circle, and final halt. She gave us a 4 on our stretchy circle with the comment of "needs to stretch foward and down to contact."  Well of course that is the obvious comment for us at this stage.  We didn't have a fantastic stretch in that first ride, so I think 4 or 4.5 was pretty accurate. We got a 5 on our free walk with the same comment as the stretchy trot circle. I think that's fair because it wasn't fabulous with how tense he was in that first test. We scored pretty nicely on our collective remarks, 6.5 for gaits, 6.5 for impulsion, 6.5 for submission, 7 for rider's position and seat (lol, yeah right! like I deserved that!), 6.5 for rider's correct and effective use of the aids, and 6.5 for harmony. Her overall comments were "Nice moments. Horse is nicely forward. Keep working on getting neck softer at the base and stretching." Okay, no surprise there, that is our continuous battle- stretching down. Overall, the test wasn't bad, but I figured it'd be right around 60, not 61.25. . . but I won't complain.
Second test, training 2, was judged by a different judge. She was harsh, and I scored 58.214%. Ouch. I thought that was probably about my best ride. We didn't score anything higher than a 6.5. She gave us a 5.5 on our strethcy circle, which I felt was only a tad bit better than the first test when I got a 4. . . so I dunno. 5 again on free walk. This judge seemed really focused on Louie's neck being too high. Her overall comments were "nice pair, but he needs more correct acceptance of bit with more supple bending left and right."

Third test, training 3, was under the same judge as the first test, but this was in a different arena. Louie was a firecracker. He was great in warm-up, but he was STRONG as soon as we entered the arena. He kindof went into park horse mode- looking, stiffening, and scooting/shying at things as soon as we entered the competition arena. A lot of other horses from our barn had trouble in that arena too- there was a lot more going on around the outsides of the arena there, but who knows what their issues were. Anyhow, I guess it looked better than it felt. Other than our geometry being a little off because my horse was not between my aids, we had a lot of impulsion and a decent test. We had a really nice stretchy trot, but she still only gave us a 4. . . I'm not really sure what she wanted because as you can see from the photo below, we had a decent stretch, and even had some contact, even though Louie wasn't pushing his nose out into the contact. She gave us 7's on our first halt, left lead canter depart (commented "uphill depart"), left canter circle, and medium walk. We got a 6.5 on our free walk this time, but only 5's on our right lead canter and second canter-trot transition (which was late and bracy). I actually thought our right lead canter circle was really nice, I actually got him to relax his neck down in the canter a bit. She thought his neck looked braced in that movement.  We got 7's on gaits and impulsion in that test, overall comments of "nice forward test. work on getting neck softer and through the base especially in transitions." We got an overall score of 61.2%, which I felt was accurate as an overall, even thought I felt out stretchy trot was a 7.. . . .

So, as you can see, some inconsistencies from one judge to the next. I still think my best ride was probably test 2, which I scored so poorly on. . .. Julie was a little upset with the judging (we had 6 horses there from our stable) as it was overally rather harsh, inconsistent, and not explained (I had several movements where we had a comment of "nicely forward" with a score of a 6- so why didn't we score higher??).

Oh well.  Overall, Louie did a pretty decent job considering the circustances and not getting sufficient warm up time.  I had hoped for some 63-65% scores, which I think we could have received had there been different judges, but I will be satisfied with the fact that my horse did a pretty good job, and did make some notable improvements from the last show.  We also had the prettiest braids at the show.  Mae and Jill helped me to do some really cool rosette braids, which I will look forward to doing again sometime!

For now, we will start preparing for our stable's schooling show coming up this weekend, where Louie and I will be riding first level, test 2! 


  1. I can imagine that a dressage test on a Saddlebred would be a challenge, especially at 7:30 am, with their tendancy to see any public venue as an opportunity to strut their stuff.

  2. yes, for sure! He needs tons of extra "sideways" work before he's ready to focus on me and not everything going on around him. Our whole warm-up was basically in shoulder-in.