Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MDHT: dressage + stadium!

Ok I finally have everything together to do a full recap of our beginner novice debut at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy! The bottom line? We outstripped our goal of completing the competition and had a fabulous time doing it. This level is definitely challenging for us - but at no point did I feel over-faced or like we were in over our heads. There's work to be done, yes, but I feel prepared.

does this pic kinda make isabel look like she has two heads? lol
I'm pretty sure Isabel knew exactly what was up the moment I brought her in from her field at 5:30am. She tucked right into her special breakfast (easy keeper mare usually only gets fed at dinner time) and hay while I cleaned her up. Then it was onto the trailer with Wick and off we went at 6am. A little over an hour later we unpacked at Loch Moy and the horses settled in with the hay and grass. Wick was a little bit on high alert - but Isabel was her usual professional self. Good mare! 


Loch Moy had four dressage arenas set up - three side by side in this maaasssssive arena with a pretty bonkers sea of riders warming up; and the fourth in a separate arena on the other side of a small lane. 

I was assigned to that fourth ring - which also had its own much quieter warm up - score!! I mean, not that it really matters for Isabel bc she is used to arena traffic and is typically indifferent to horses around her. But I still appreciated the relative quiet (tho perhaps it was lookier with some construction equipment right next door). 



Isabel warmed up really well - straight to work like a very good girl. So I tried to keep it pretty easy with some trotting to get her loose and moving, mixing in 20m circles and leg yielding and serpentines. Then a couple canter transitions (including maybe our best EVER!), and then a few practices of the trotting diagonal followed by the right turn then canter transition and 20m canter circle. 


dear emma: please sit down.
dear isabel: please don't ever change!
Figured we were good with that - which was pretty good timing bc we were on deck! And then we were circling the arena for what felt like an eternity before the judge rang us in... and it was show time! Isabel was SO GOOD. I really can't stress that enough. She was just so consistent and steady - even when I knew my aids were garbled or my position was a little whack.



I paid really close attention to our inside bend (through the shoulders, Emma!) on the circles and it paid off big time. Our geometry was maybe not quite as good while I'm getting the feel for this, but the movement was better. I think it's a worthwhile trade off for now, and the geometry will come in time. I also really tried to start all our transitions (particularly down) with my thighs and seat and it seemed to make a big difference. 



Oddly, leaving the ring I didn't have the same feeling as last week when I just *knew* we'd hit a new personal record score. But I felt really good about it - like we did the test justice. And when I ran into Dan, who was there coaching other students, I told him it was a great test for us - still had our typical bobbles but was an excellent representation of our current level of training. So I was blown away when I saw the score. Seriously. Was not expecting that!

Tho I tell myself not to dig too deep into it, and that each judge has their own typical way of scoring. This test's 26.8 put me in fourth, just like last week's 35.0. So I'm considering them relatively equivalent efforts - tho there were some distinct improvements.

(please forgive the videographer's occasional shakes - she was flying an OTTB kite while simultaneously filming. nothing major was missed from the test tho)


After my dressage we set the horses back up on the trailer (they'd probably be fine tied to the trailer in our absence but I always kind of worry that it's bad form to leave a horse tied at a show unattended...) to do our course walks. 

We were really surprised (and not in a good way) when the ride times showed that we'd be jumping at exactly the same times - meaning B's intro division had it's own courses. This was a real disappointment bc obviously we wanted to watch each other... but sadly it was not to be. But at least I had time to walk her course with her before she needed to get ready for dressage. 

Wick was a little high but they had a really solid event - a first for both of them!
Then after her dressage we had a little less than an hour until our stadium times. It was actually kind of fun getting ready at the same time - and it certainly resolved the whole puzzle of 'what do you do with one horse while the other is jumping that won't make it get crazy nerous?'

of course isabel never gets nervous. she's a pro
I admit to being a little bummed tho - B had family present (including her husband, plus his brother and sister in law and their toddler) and it was kinda sad leaving the party for our own solo jumping adventures. And even more so bc it meant no video of our stadium rounds - sorry guys! Really thinking a helmet cam might be on my wish list this year haha. 


do we look ready?!?
Then it was off to stadium warm up. Isabel knew exactly what was up - and that we had transitioned from fancy prancing to jumping all the things!! She warmed up well - and I tried to repeat last week's warm up exactly: trot the X, canter the X, canter the vertical, canter the oxer, and be done. 

Tho I ended up adding a third pass over the X when we really whiffed a distance. Oops. And our oxer jump wasn't great - Izzy rubbed the rails a bit, but I felt like maybe that'd be a good last feeling for her going into the ring, like she'd remember to pick her feet UP more haha.

Then it was go time! The ring stewards were letting us go in the order we arrived to warm up, which was perfect and we only had to wait around for two trips before our turn. 


side note: i am kinda digging this braiding arrangement. since it's looser than a typical running she didn't shake it aroud as much and it stayed neater through the day. i might stick with it - any thoughts?
And Isabel was phenomenal. Didn't look at anything, was really rideable - just so so so good. It wasn't as smooth as last week's stadium but that can be attributed to me fussing too much. 




We found mostly good distances to everything except for the jump on the short end of the ring that Isabel would have been blameless for refusing after I totally buried her - but she jumped it cleanly anyway. Good mare!




The lines rode about how I expected - the diagonal in a super forward 6 strides that I failed to organize after (thus almost eating the aforementioned short side end jump), and I *think* we added a chip stride for seven down the other long side tho I honestly can't remember.




All I know is that I was riding somewhat aggressively - which makes for kinda hilarious pictures bc the face I make while clucking looks like some terrible stretched-face grimace. Oops lol!




But when I remembered to squeeze my legs from hip to heel (and jam that heel down somewhat defensively) everything went fine and dandy. 




I was perhaps a bit behind Isabel's motion - as evidenced by some of the pictures - and not really giving much of a release.... That really REALLY needs work. But for now all I can say is that Isabel's a very good horse for tolerating it and jumping well all the same.




But in any case - all the jumps were still standing when we crossed the finish line - and the spectators all looked somewhat amused (Izzy is always a fan favorite!). So I'm calling it a success! 



And Interestingly - all horse and rider pairs in my split went clear through stadium. It turned out that cross country was much more influential - and we were not spared haha. Details tomorrow!


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Also - all jumping photos from today and tomorrow are by GRC Photo. They caught so many awesome moments and I'm thrilled with the package I purchased. Definitely check out their trailer if you ever see them at a show! You can view the whole Loch Moy gallery here (requires entering email address to view).

48 comments:

  1. LOVE THESE PHOTOS!! You and Isabel look great :D
    Congrats on a great debut in BN!

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    1. thanks! i was stoked that they took so many pics haha

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  2. Love the pics! I also love the dressage arenas at Loch Moy, though I'm not a huge fan of the giant warmup arena. It was so big that I actually missed the person calling for me (though I swear she never did!). I'm going to wear a watch next time.

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    1. yea that warm up area was pretty intense and i was definitely grateful that i didn't have to deal with it. i can definitely see how a rider might miss their time!

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  3. These pics are AMAZING!!!! You and Iz look so good!!!

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  4. HOLY DRESSAGE SCORE BATMAN!!!! That is freakin' phenomenal!!! YOU LOOK GREAT!!!! Ahhhhh!! SO EXCITED!!!

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    1. thank you!!! i can't believe that score - but i'm certainly not gonna argue with it !!

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  5. SITUPANDSTRETCHDOWNDAMNIT! Our motto :P I need that written on a saddle charm or something lol.

    And your stadium looks awesome!!! She makes it feel easy doesn't she?

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    1. haha seriously. or imprinted on my eyelids or something. and yes - isabel makes everything feel so easy all the time - she is the bestest :D

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  6. I'm completely in lust with your brown boots! You guys look awesome!

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    1. thanks! the boots are mondoni kingstons (from divosa) - i first saw them on the $900FB Pony's blog

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  7. You guys are doing great! Great progress onward and upward!

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    1. thank you! isabel was certainly ready for a move up :)

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  8. You guys look so amaaaazingggg!!! That dressage tho. So forward and relaxed and bendy. In. Love.

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    1. thanks! she is really such a great horse - she knows exactly what we're supposed to be doing and so long as i stay mostly out of her way we're all good. i LOVE that about her!

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  9. Looking great! What a nice picture you two make :)

    If I can share a personal story regarding leaving horses tied to the trailer.. when I was younger we made the mistake of doing this, only to return 10 minutes later and discover the mare had sliced open her leg to the bone on the tire fender (she must have attempted to roll, or pawing, or something). She ended up becoming a brood mare, but long story short- never ever leave a horse unattended tied to the trailer. :)

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    1. thank you! and yikes - that's a scary story about the mare's leg! i was mostly worried about them breaking loose, but didn't even consider the potential for mangling themselves on the actual trailer... no good!

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  10. CONGRATS on some awesome dressaging! How fantastic for you that it's all paying off! You and Izy both look awesome! And fantastic jumping too - I love the pic of you guys over the MD jump because it just looks like you both are loving it :)

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    1. thanks!! all the dressage work is definitely starting to click haha. i kinda like that MD jump too. i wish i was a little more forward with the pony - but we were definitely having fun all the same :)

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  11. WAY TO GO!!! You look totally awesome!!!

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  12. You two look fantastic!! Love LOVE the photo of you guys over the green/yellow oxer.

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    1. thank you!! i really like that one too - tho it's a smidgen dark... perhaps a photo editor can fix that tho...?

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  13. Um, them boots on you are amazing. And you looked amazing in your dressage. And in your stadium. High fives. High fives all around.

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  14. Awesome jumping pics! I think you actually just look like you're riding a bit like you're driving her forward while sitting back, which is pretty appropriate for eventing. I wouldn't beat yourself up about equitation! Great job.

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    1. thank you! these days i care more about balance than equitation - unless i'm interfering with the mare. in this situation i think isabel needs a little more freedom with the reins to have an easier time. but then again it's natural to get a little tighter in competition haha

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  15. Those pics are amazing! You both look like you're having so much fun. It's clear Izzy loves her job! Congrats on the super successful dressage and stadium!

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    1. thank you! and i think isabel really does actually love this stuff - even the "boring" fancy prancing part too!

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  16. Great photos!! Congratulations. Very well done both in the dressage and the stadium! I'm not sure there is any way I could have jumped around a course after my dressage test last weekend - you eventers are seriously warriors! (Also thank you for the very sweet comment you left on my blog!)

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    1. thank you! the dressage phase definitely takes a bit out of me - esp bc my warm up for that is much longer than for jumping. actually - i'm probably on the horse longer in preparation for the test than for both jumping phases combined. at least we usually get a pretty good sized break between the phases!

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  17. Ohmy gooooooodness you both look amazing! So happy for you guys! I am hella jealous because I just want this to be me and Kat...

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    1. thanks!!! and Kat will definitely get there - she's such a cool little mare! :)

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  18. You guys are so badass - love it! Way to go.

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    1. haha thanks - i give all the credit to isabel, she's just so game :)

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  19. The new guy has done a bunch of stuff at Loch Moy including a few BN events last year with his old owner - cool!!! Sounds like a good day, can't wait to hear about XC!

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    1. oh interesting! i didn't realize he was an eventer. and thanks - it was a great day :D

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    2. He only did a couple events :) Mostly hunters but I guess his owner liked to mix it up, as she did a couple jumper shows too.

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    3. ah that makes sense - we also like to mix it up and occasionally play in the hunter ring too :)

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  20. Love the pictures! Sounds like a fun time, and the grounds look amazing! Also I am slightly jealous of your brown boot!

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    1. thanks - it was so fun! and actually the venue was pretty great too. the rings were nice, the cross country course had a TON of nice stuff on it, and (best of all) it was all really close together and the trailers were right smack in the middle. made it really convenient to get around in tight times!

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  21. catching up on everything- you guys look amazing! congrats on your new personal best dressage score!

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    1. thanks!! i am so happy with it - but also kinda intimidated bc i'm not sure we'll be able to duplicate that kind of score on the regular haha

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  22. That looks so fun! I think she likes showing off

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    1. without a doubt - she definitely likes an audience!

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  23. 1. Those boots are SPECTACULAR
    2. They really highlight how SOLID your lower leg has gotten and I'm super jelly.

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    1. thanks! i love the boots too and think everybody should get a pair (even if just for schooling haha). and thanks again - my lower leg has been a huge work in progress but it's coming along :)

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