Tuesday, June 23, 2015

MCTA @ Tranquility: Dressage + Stadium

Onto the good stuff!! You already know that Isabel and I finished our third BN outing at the MCTA Starter Trials in 5th place (in, um, a pretty small field of competitors - but who's counting, right?). Now for the details and so many pictures/video stills!

(it's a minor miracle that there's much media at all, considering I expected to be alone at the show. It was SO gratifying that a young rider and her mother came for the jumping tho - it really kind of made my day, actually. No video for dressage, alas, but we'll make do, right?)



mare is still adorable despite a wonky braid and not-quite-the-right-shape dressage pad
Also, a quick PSA: The MCTA is really struggling with volunteerism at events and it was very apparent at this show - as evidenced by the absence of dressage ring stewards and repeated calls over the PA asking people to consider jump judging for xc. So if you're local please consider volunteering for this great organization!


the cracks in my phone screen make this selfie look whimsical instead of just weird, right?? lol
Ok, that aside - everything went smoothly in getting to the show and we scored a prime parking spot between two trees. Plenty of shade - and plenty of space too since only one trailer could fit between the trees. We were right next to the stadium ring and it's warm up area, so that's where Isabel and I headed to warm up for dressage (stadium hadn't started yet for novice). 


the dressage ring where we rode our test... and these pics were taken HOURS afterward, when the sun and a nice breeze had helped dry things up
I went into my warm up absolutely determined to get the best ride I possibly can out of this mare. And she was pretty great, actually. The warm up area was a little sloppy (we had 1.5 inches of rain over night, so, uh, everything was a little sloppy...) but Isabel impressed me by powering through the puddles and mushy footing. 

the area around A was seriously torn up too. plus you can kinda see that the center of the ring was littered with puddles as well
Her game attitude would prove to be a huge asset, as the actual court for our test was, um, BEYOND sloppy. It was in really REALLY rough shape. And here's where the lack of dressage ring stewards kinda irked me - my split was supposed to ride in ring 1, which was in much better shape, but somehow the other split had already co-opted that ring, no doubt bc ring 2 was such a shit show... So we got the above mess. 

But whatever, oh well. Our entire split ran in the same ring for the same judge, so it was an equal playing field anyway.


good mare's got sand in her pants after dressage
The puddles were both inside and outside the court, so I got to ease Isabel into them (thank you, spurs!) while we waited for the judge to ring us in. And the judge was very patient - let us sniff each puddle and didn't ring the bell until Isabel was trotting through in a pretty straight and normal fashion. Thank you judge! But also, thank you Isabel bc she accomplished this feat by her second lap outside the court. 


literally. sand EVERYWHERE
Naturally the puddles were in the most heavily used areas of the ring - the corners and A and C were particularly deep, plus the typical 20m circle tracks... so essentially everywhere we had to go for our test (BN-B). 


caked on to my saddle?!? how does that even happen in a BN dressage test?
Isabel was SO GOOD though. I mean, we had some unintentional lateral movements (can I say that she was just offering up a higher level of ride than the test called for? lol), and there was some tension and bracing that we normally don't see - esp through corners and turns. This usually showed up in the scores/comments in the form of 'needs more bend' and our downwards transitions weren't quite as nice as I'd like.


and all over my boots too... 
But really Isabel was trying to be good, as was I. And that 6 for our right lead canter depart (which comes right after the HXF diagonal) is evidence of how hard we were working. Our transitions are typically 5.5s, especially to the right. And given how sloppy A was and coming out of the sharp turn from the diagonal... well, all I can say is Isabel was a good mare. I was also particularly pleased with our free walk and had hoped to see that score a little higher... but all in all I thought the test was scored quite fairly. 


Phew ok... on to the next phase! We had just about 2 hours between dressage and stadium, wherein Isabel got her first taste of being left alone on the trailer while I walked my courses. I was SUPER nervous about her having a meltdown that would then set off the entire stadium warm up area (since it was right behind my trailer...) but imagine my surprise when I came back to find her napping peacefully! Good mare!!


Stadium

The stadium course was, eh... not my favorite. But perhaps for reasons that may surprise you. The fences all looked fine height-wise, only a handful were maxed out. And the course was SUPER easy to remember - in fact I never saw a map and just learned it from one walk.

The course was, essentially: 4 laps of the arena. Single up, single down, single up, single down, single up... etc etc. Sure, there were changes of direction, and one fence (6) was across the center, and another (7) was an end jump... but yea. Not really a very creative or interesting course... just lots and LOTS of cantering between each element...


I don't remember fence 1 being this uneven, so I was probably just holding the camera weird
this was maybe our second worst jumping effort in the course, and it really was fine. just bad enough to kick me into gear haha

fence 2 toward the gate
fence 3 away from gate
fence 4 toward gate
Isabel and I clicked pretty immediately into a nice forward and mostly uphill-ish gear, finding pretty good distances to each fence
our distance to fence 5 was tight-ish, but still came nicely out of stride. it's funny tho - and you'll see it in the video - Isabel actually stepped *on* the flowers lol, AND rubbed a rail... but thankfully it stayed up
fence 6 across the center was ripe for a slice
which naturally we did - tho I cut it pretty close to the standard... would have sucked to take down a jump with my own foot rather than one of isabel's!
fence 7 was on a nice bend off the short end
we like short bendy approaches - easier to adjust!
whereas fence 8 was off a long straight approach - NOT my favorite. plus I lost a stirrup on the way (you'll see in the video - I'm working pretty hard to get the canter from Isabel, and still haven't figured out how to do this *quietly* - and let's just not talk at all about my crazy busy hands, it's a work in progress! - ... so yea, all my moving and shaking led to a lost stirrup)
 and we ended up getting just flat enough for Isabel to jusssst barely touch the rail... which then took its sweet time deciding whether to fall... it fell tho, boo!, but the penalties ended up not making a difference in the final placings
but I was bummed anyway and got Isabel up and ahead of me in no uncertain terms on our way to fence 9
hard to tell from this photo, but 9 was a mini fan jump - one standard on the right, two on the left. smarter riders would choose to jump the narrower right side
but we like to live dangerously and jumped the left. nbd. we finished with just the one rail from fence 8!

So then it was a quick pit stop at the trailer to grab my forgotten medical arm band - plus Isabel SLURPED some water - then off to cross country!! Stay tuned for those details tomorrow! 

38 comments:

  1. Nice ride in stadium! That course was.. interesting. Bummer about the rail but you did a nice job! And YAYYY for bringing up your dressage score! So proud of you :)

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    1. thanks! it was not my favorite course design - but at least it gave me an opportunity to work on getting GOING in preparation for xc haha. and i'm pretty pleased with dressage too. it'll get better eventually but for now we just chip away :)

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  2. That stadium course is beyond weird. I think you ran 1000m just in the ring alone LOL. Good forward ride though!

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    1. lol thanks! i've been riding backwards for so long now that i kinda need to swing to the other extreme just to eventually find some middle ground of a balanced forward ride that isn't quite so wild and wooly. isabel really does better in a more forward canter - so long as she doesn't get flat!

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  3. Way to go in that dressage mess! How on earth do you ride for precision when your horse is occupied with powering through slop!?! Can't wait to hear about xc!

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    1. thanks! that dressage court was definitely a mess... but we made it through well enough haha. xc was great tho - esp since things had dried up slightly by then too - pictures are coming!

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  4. Boom! What an interesting concept for a stadium course...you and Iz clearly handled it SO well though!! I don't envy you the sand in the pants haha. You guys look so in the zone in your stadium pics, I can't wait to hear about XC!

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    1. haha thanks! the stadium was... meh. i mean, i guess there were a few options for fun inside turns, but what's the point if it's not timed? tho yes - we were absolutely in the zone lol (and i may or may not have just located an awesome pro pic showing exactly that!! yes!!!!!)

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  5. Today MCTA, Tomorrow the world! Izzy always has the best expressions. I think you'd get bored without her. :)

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    1. haha yessss izzy is all about world domination!! (and i'm really just along for the ride). i would definitely get bored without her - she's just got this zest that makes everything so much fun and so exciting!

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  6. I like your pace in stadium- no one could say you weren't going forward!

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    1. haha thanks - it's sorta a newly discovered gear for us, as usually we just sorta get flat and fast, but it's working so far!

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  7. you guys look super awesome!

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  8. Well done! I agree with Britt on your nice forward pace :) I think me and my clodhopper would have gotten stuck in the mud for dressage :P

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    1. thank you - and quite a few horses got stuck in the mud... including one very unfortunate soul who got eliminated in dressage (which kinda sucked actually - you'd think a judge at a starter event would be a little more lenient given the circumstances!)

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  9. Summer about the rail, but you guys looks great! Really attacking the course with confidence :D

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    1. thanks - i was really happy with how she felt through the course. we'll iron out the little messy bits soon too :)

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  10. You guys are killing it in stadium. Such a forward, flowing ride, what a great job! Super excited to see your XC footage!

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    1. thank you! she feels SO GOOD jumping right now - like it's so easy for her

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  11. Looks great! She looks so much like my chestnut arab mare I got a little sniffly watching her jump.

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    1. thanks! these little arabs really are something unto themselves

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  12. Great round! Your rhythm was so consistent I found myself counting "1-2-3-4" as I watched the video. She is so fun to watch - she looks so confident and fun. Nicely ridden!

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    1. haha thanks - she's super confident right now, i love it! and i'm right there with ya counting out every step - she had great rhythm this round!

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  13. Good job in the dressage! Also, your stadium round looked really nice, you ride it very well!

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    1. thank you - one day my hands and upper body will quiet down, but for now she doesn't seem to mind my noise too much so we do ok

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  14. Hahaha! Oh girl, you have no idea on the mud for dressage. The last show I went to, I found sand-mud on Pig's butt. Like. In the middle. On top. Impressive. Honestly, I'm always amazed where I find dried spit from it being flung around by Captain Sassface. Boots. My shirt. My HELMET. Wtf.

    Great job overall. Is that a 7 on gaits?! FANCY!

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    1. haha how does one even get mud up there? and thanks - the collective marks definitely made me happy, as usually we get dinged pretty hard there for inconsistencies. but like i said, the mare was really trying for this test!

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  15. Great job!! Their jumps are really cute :)

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    1. thanks - i thought so too and love all the colors

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  16. I showed on Sunday too and the dressage ring was also a totally torn up mess by the time I rode. It is TOUGH riding in the slop! Well done though!!

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    1. thanks! and yea dressage is hard enough even without the horse being distracted by deep nasty footing... ah well, that's eventing i guess!

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  17. nice ride!! good thing isabel is a mudder!

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    1. thanks!! tho i'm not sure i can consistently rely on her happiness in the mud, seeing as she dumped me at an event last year in significantly better conditions... i guess maybe she's an 'all or nothing' kinda gal? lol

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  18. I'm pretty sure I would not have ridden in that dressage arena!

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    1. yea i was definitely quite disinclined to do so... but it was either ride or forfeit our entry so... we rode!

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  19. Very nice rhythm and forward momentum in yours stadium!! Glad swimming/dressage went well too!

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    1. thanks!! and lol @ swimming..... times like these make me so grateful for a game mare :)

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