Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Waredaca: dressage + stadium!

Recap time!! I am having so much fun eventing this little mare and truly wish we could do this all day every day. Something about the methodical preparation, careful warm up strategies, then balls to the wall, no holds barred riding really appeals to me haha. 

And I think Isabel likes it too. Tho she wasn't exactly on her A game this weekend. Poor mare was in season and maybe not feeling her best. Normally I only have to meet her about halfway-ish for her to be amazing - she's queen of rising to any occasion. But this weekend she was just a smidgen dull. Obviously not actually dull bc duh, she's Isabel. But it required better riding from me, and I am decidedly NOT queen of rising to any occasion... 


I don't have nearly as much media as from Loch Moy - and am especially lacking in pictures of us jumping. And the media I have is, um, kinda poor quality even for my own low standards. For some reason these screen grabs are pretty iffy. Luckily you can still get a decent sense of our general picture - except for my torso blending into the background. Rest assured my torso still looks like a hunter rider's torso. Nothing new there haha!

We warmed up in a busy-ish grass field, tho Isabel didn't care about the traffic. She was perhaps a little gate sour tho. Nothing serious, just a decided drift toward exiting stage left. She was good tho - listening and trying and not really sassy. We mostly walked, then trotted for a little while interspersing 20m circles and transitions. 

I kept our canters pretty short too - just an organized transition up, a circle, maybe a few extra strides, then another organized transition down. We maybe cantered twice in each direction. The left lead was a little sticky, something that hasn't been a problem in a while - but I didn't drill it, just loaded on the praise when she got it right. 


We continued the trend from the previous day's lesson at OF (blog post to come) wherein Isabel was mostly just 'posing.' More like this ride in March, rather than our fluid and relaxed test from Loch Moy. And because she wasn't actually connected she was less steady and kept getting above or behind the bit, and generally seemed more tense.

Maybe one day I will know how to ride through this to help Isabel become more put together - but on this day I just sorta did the things I know how to do while purposefully NOT rocking the boat, then volunteered to go into our test early.


The test rode much like our warm up. Isabel was a tad tense and curled under, rather than stretching out to my hand. And I had to work a little more for that 'inside bend' especially going left. But I felt like the test was REALLY consistent (haha this might be the one thing the judge and I agree 100% on). I really liked our free walk too and thought we'd at least recoup some points lost to tension here, given the coefficient.


We also did NOT fall apart after the change of rein, and I tried really hard to sit down like a DQ during the canters (still obvi a work in progress). Our canter transitions show no real change yet and are still completely hollow. And the circles during this test maybe weren't great either. 


I left the ring with a big grin all the same tho - feeling like I had gotten the best ride from Isabel that I know how to get, given my piloting abilities and her current blah-ish state. I knew it wasn't as good as our last two tests, and certainly had no delusions of scoring anywhere close to the (probably overly generous) 26.8 from Loch Moy. But I was pleased. 

I didn't see the test sheet until after cross country and was floored by the score: 45.3. We got 5s and 6s on every.single.movement. It was not at all what I expected - I felt some movements were decidedly better than others, but no real difference was reflected in the scores. 

Per usual all the judge's scores and remarks are included in the video, and I can (begrudgingly) see where she's coming from. We got seriously dinged again and again for being behind the vertical, short in the neck, or above the bit. 


But idk... This score is officially our personal worst score - and it is tough to swallow coming off our personal best a mere 2 weeks ago. The Loch Moy judge was very generous, yes, and perhaps this judge is just a little more conservative. (tho honestly the bitter voice inside of me wants to gripe, 'that judge just doesn't like arabs!'). 

The likeliest explanation I can devise is that the judge was looking for a certain level of flow and acceptance of the bridle / submission that we simply never reached - thus the very consistent scoring across the board. However I remain (as always!) open to any constructive feedback!

And this, folks, is perhaps the best argument for not checking your scores in the middle of the day! I mean, yes I would have looked had they been available, but they weren't. And it probably worked out to my advantage bc I felt VERY sour after seeing this test sheet.

Luckily tho - that didn't happen until after I had jumped. So going into stadium my mood was positive and all business. The stadium course was exactly to my tastes for Isabel: mostly right turns and only one super long straight approach (to fence 7). Plus our four-fence warm up (trot x, canter x, canter vertical, canter oxer) went smoothly so we felt ready.

To be 100% honest my memory of our ride is fuzzy. We mostly got our distances, and Isabel felt powerful and game. She saved my ass at least once, maybe twice - tho I can't remember which fences. Could be 7 bc I rode really strongly (including a tippy-tap with the stick) after seeing a number of spooks/refusals there.. We also added unexpectedly in the 3-4 line. 

But Isabel was a star and didn't come close to rubbing a rail even on our iffier fences. Good girl! Even better - B & Wick could watch our round on their way back from dressage. Our times were right on top of each other, but a delay in the stadium ring worked out perfectly. Too bad we didn't know about it ahead of time or else she could have taped the ride... oh well!

I really really REALLY hope I can procure some photos from this ride. GRC Photo apparently had photographers on the premises, tho their trailer was elsewhere. So I will be stalking their website for the next few days to see what crops up. 

I'm particularly interested to see if all my focused work on *releasing* the mare over fences paid off. It felt better during this ride - I felt looser in my arms / shoulders, while still very secure in my seat and legs, so hopefully there will be some actual supporting evidence haha. 

Anyways, the clear stadium round bolstered my confidence going into a long and challenging cross country course. Stay tuned for details tomorrow!

44 comments:

  1. Don't beat yourself up over that dressage test! It was really not The Worst Dressage Test Ever. You had some nice moments and I think it's just going to take mileage and time to make "on the bit and stretching into the bridle" your new normal. And I agree with you on the danger of checking scores in the middle of the day! A rotten one can really put you in a bad mood for the rest of your phases! Can't wait to see the XC recap. :)

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    1. haha thanks! tho i'm maybe more likely to beat the judge up than myself - can't she see that princess pony is perfect?!?! lol... but seriously tho my trainer wants to try out a nathe bit just to give isabel something she can really grab and take forward - with the hopes that it will help her steady a bit. we'll see!

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  2. The downside of subjective sports - you got it. I don't always agree with my scores either, for better or for worse. Sometimes the judge just REALLY doesn't like you, sometimes the judge likes you way too much. I know it's a crappy feeling, but don't worry about it... it happens to everyone. You know that what you've been doing has produced great results, even if this particular judge on this particular day didn't see that. Toss it and just keep on keeping on.

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    1. thanks - that's great advice too. the subjective element bothers me (esp at the lower levels when it really can boil down to dressage scores) but it is what it is and Isabel has demonstrated her dressage prowess previously and will do so again :D

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  3. Tough break in dressage! Win some, lose some I guess :/ I have the exact same problem with consistency in the bridle (now I'm above the bit, now I'm below the bit -at least make up your mind horse!) We're always a little better at home, but then it becomes really evident at shows. My instructor says it's because we need more impulsion to get her into the bridle and I think I'm afraid to use too much leg at shows because I'm afraid she'll get tense/fall apart. I though you guys looked like you had good impulsion though and a great rhythm the whole way through. Iz is seriously adorable! And congrats on another clear BN stadium round!!

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    1. seriously tough break! at least the judge was consistent haha. but that 'consistency in the bridle' thing really gets us. Isabel is actually normally better at shows - she really turns it on. but at this event she was just not quite her normal bright self. and re: the stadium round, the photo website is updated and there are PICTURES now!!!!! yessss haha

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    2. Yaaaay pictures!!!!! I am a total stalker on the photogs websites after shows too lol

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    3. lol stalkerism is a way of life... but seriously tho i just ordered so many pictures and can't wait for them to arrive!!!!!

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  4. There will be some lows after the highs but then you appreciate the highs even more! You and Izzy looked pretty fancy to me in the screenshots; I wish I could make Quest look that good!

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    1. thanks - that's actually exactly what i said to my friend on the drive home. it makes me appreciate our previous better scores even more knowing that we are capable of really blowing it too haha. i bet Quest would love some dressage too haha - these arabs love feeling fancy :D

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  5. I don't think you should worry too much about the score. Everyone has those tests, it's just part of the sport. It certainly wasn't a horrible test, you could see that Isabel wasn't quite her normal self (compared to other videos), but she's allowed to have her girl days. It looks like she was trying really hard to behave even though she probably wasn't in the best mood. I thought you did a good job of ignoring any resistances/evasions and riding through it with tact.
    Congrats on the clear stadium round!

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    1. thanks - that's good feedback. isabel definitely wasn't feeling her best but was so so so good anyway, and never got actually snarky or anything. all the same i was so pleased with her effort :)

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  6. It is so frustrating when dealing with judge's opinions when they don't match up to what we are expecting. You both look even-paced and forward, and you definitely made the most of Izzy's slightly offish day. I can't wait to hear about X-country!

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    1. yea frustrating is the perfect word for it. i just have to remind myself that my own knowledge base and expectations stem from very limited experience, whereas this judge has seen and done WAY more... and i still think isabel is the best pony ever - esp on cross country woo hoo!!

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  7. Uhhh can someone say fancy pony please!? Look at her showing off that 'thang! Glad you had fun!

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    1. haha she is the fanciest!!! and that's not even her maximum wattage!!!

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  8. I had the same feeling after seeing my dressage test score, and then I watched the video back and I was like...."Well, okay. That did kind of suck." Even if you can see where you made some mistakes/there was some tension and you get where the judge might be coming from, I still vote it's okay to blame the judge for a bad score. ;)

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    1. haha i'm very much in the camp of 'it's everyone's fault but miiiiiine!!' lol... seriously tho i can actually see what the judge is saying, and why some movements that felt better still weren't actually the right picture... oh well, we'll get 'em next time!

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  9. Too bad about the scoring, but congrats on the great stadium round!

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    1. thanks - the stadium felt great (even with an oopsie here or there) and i am SO EXCITED to get pictures !!!!!

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  10. The thing about dressage is judges... They have pet peeves because they are people. My first dressage at an event I got a 62. Yes, 62. My horse was rhythmic, she did everything I wanted, she bent well, our figures were dead.accurate., she picked up the correct lead effortlessly at every transition, and I didn't forget my test. But she was a bit tense and spooky so I had my reins short and my hands a bit heavy so she came behind the vertical and the judge KILLED us for it. Maybe our test was truly terrible, or maybe the judge had seen a bit too much rollkur and was going to murder anyone who dared to break the third vertebra. No sweat. Dressage is dressage, we made a mistake, we got slammed for it, that's how it works. Next time it'll be better.

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    1. yikes, that judge was seriously on a mission - 62?!?! but i think you're on to something. i think this judge really REALLY didn't like how deep and btv isabel got, and wanted to give us a score such that we understand that it needs work.

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  11. you two still looked great! hooray!

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    1. thank you! it felt great despite it all :)

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  12. It is very interesting the way different judges score people. Some judges would have just dinged you on collective marks for Izzy's fussiness and being behind the bridle, and clearly this wasn't one of them. You really did have some lovely moments, and you did the best you could: you rode the horse you had that day. Did you get the sense she was equally tough on everyone? That is always helpful for my ego.

    Anyway, great job with the jumping! Regardless of the score, you should be proud.

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    1. thanks - and i am SUPER proud, this little mare never ceases to amaze me. re: the judging, i think you're right: i probably expected to get dinged in the collectives and was thus very surprised to see every single score so low. i'm not totally sure she was generally 'tough' or if we just really didn't meet her requirements for a nice ride. our 45.3 put us tied for 8th of 14 after dressage. min dressage score was 26.8, median was 43.7, and max was 49.5.

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  13. Its amazing how sometimes rides feel so different from how they look on video. Happens to me all the time. But I do think the judge was harsh and too narrow in scoring.

    However, I will say that you should always check your scores as soon as they are available because you only have 30 minutes to bring up problems and mistakes. For example, one time they added up my dressage scores wrong (missed an entire movement) but I caught it too late and therefore I was placed several placings lower than we truly deserved.

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    1. that's a good point about checking the scores for correctness... tho i guess i thought you could do that during the 30min provisional period at the end of the division when results are posted? my test wasn't even available for checking before i went into the jumping rounds anyway tho so i guess it's moot

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    2. Its 30 minutes from when the dressage test sheets are available for pick up and review, which is in conjunction with publishing the dressage score results for the entire division. =)

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    3. that is excellent to know! thanks!

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  14. Subjective sports with "off" breeds is hard. I don't think it gets easier and I dont think that it ever totally goes away. Don't let it get you down! Just enjoy that clear stadium round :)

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    1. haha thanks! and i think you're right. i try not to use it as a crutch (even tho that's exactly what i wanted to do after seeing this test - and just blame the judge for not liking arabs), but it's maybe not a bad thing to keep in mind haha

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  15. Such a fancy pony! I see the btv and deep but I just want to squeeze her, she looked so cute. She reminds me of my horse - when they're feeling squirrely but trying to keep it together so hard!

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    1. lol she is highly squeezable :D part of the problem with how curled under she gets is my lack of feel - like i don't always recognize that she's over bent. we'll figure it out eventually - at least she's full of try!

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  16. We all have our bad days and I didn't think it looked horrible. You'll figure out how to work through these mare days.

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    1. thanks! it certainly didn't feel horrible and i'm actually still pretty pleased with it. the score.... ehhh haha. but that's life right?

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  17. Yah there are some judges who ding curling whenever they see it. I had a client with a horse who was super super hollow, so we spent the winter getting that horse to be round. I knew we were close to curling territory but I wanted that damn horse round and not running around with his head in the air.

    Unfortunately the first event of the year is under a judge who I personally know and have ridden with. I KNEW this judge really disliked any horse that got low in the poll (not even curling! just low! at BN!) but it was the day of the event and it's not like we're going to change tactics. So client comes out all happy and then gets a 48 and is nearly in last place. No fun.

    If you struggle with feeling the lowness, just look down at the neck and try to keep the crown piece of your bridle in your sight. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between connection and curling!

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    1. thanks - that's actually a really good point about looking for the crown piece bc a big part of it is definitely just not having the right feel. visual indicators are my friend!!

      but yea, i totally get where this judge was coming from and don't think she was wrong... it's just a tough score i guess haha

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  18. Some judges care more about certain things that others. Maybe connection and responsiveness to the bit was this judge's pet peeve? I dunno, in hunters it's all so subjective that I've learned to write off a bad score/ribbon. Some judges just aren't going to like us and that's okay.

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    1. i think you're right - and absolutely agree that i won't please every judge. tho maybe i was surprised to feel suspicious about all that subjectivity again after leaving the hunter ring... but c'est la vie!

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  19. I think you did awesome! You rode the horse you had that day. Also, I think you guys have come SO FAR. When you compare these videos to the ones you posted back in Jan/Feb, the difference is astounding. You two are a lovely team. No judge is going to be able to see where you came from. :)

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    1. thanks! it really is a huge difference - even riding it is just so obvious. one day something clicked for isabel and we really never looked back (except for maybe right now we've regressed a little but i'm not worried, now we know what's in there!)

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  20. They are only numbers! I'm nervous because the judge's at my show this weekend are notorious for being sticklers.

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    1. very true - they ARE only numbers, and i guess i appreciate a judge who calls it like it is rather than one who doles out pity points... i hope you have great tests and even better feedback at your upcoming show!!

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