Tuesday, August 25, 2015

OF Starter Trials - dressage + stadium!

This weekend's event went super well - pretty much exactly as I had hoped. Isabel had a fairly light work week leading up to it, with the exception of the epic cross country lesson (detailed yesterday).

The last few days before the show included a chiro/acupuncture session, stretching on the long lines, and then one quick dressage school in which, after riding for about 13 minutes, I declared us ready to go. Mare was soft, loose and relaxed. Check and check.

i may or may not be propping her ear forward in this pic lol
Our dressage ride time of 11:30 gave us plenty of time to finish prepping that morning, as OF is only a 20min drive from Isabel's farm. Even so, we were still early and enjoyed the luxury of feeling unrushed while tacking and warming up. The warm up itself was pretty good too. Slightly less relaxed than our quick school the day prior, but still nice.

Given how our schooling has been going, I opted to carry a whip but not wear spurs - pretty much the opposite of my typical getup. It worked out well enough - Izzy was sharp to my leg cues and I had the whip on hand to help keep her hind end where I wanted it. I focused on not arguing with where Isabel held her nose, and instead worked on shoulders in, leg yields, and achieving more inside bend.

mare loves to trot
Once we were actually in the ring, things kinda went by in a blur. We rode test BN-A, not really my favorite. If I'm not careful I can get really rushy in this test, especially after the change of rein. Isabel felt pretty good - but maybe a touch braced against me.

if you squint a little it *almost* looks like i'm sitting down in the saddle lol
All the same tho, she stayed with me and we mostly got through the movements without issue. Our circles all typically had at least one area where we lost balance - which I think happens when we're 'posing' instead of actually connected to and pushing from the hind end. Tho for every iffy moment, we seemed to have an equally nice moment. I'll take it!

The most pleasing aspects of this test are the few areas I've zeroed in on this summer. Getting better inside bend in the circles became a priority after Jenny Camp - and I've worked on it with both C and Dan. As far as our trot work is concerned, I think we're on the right path. I haven't addressed halting straight in lessons, but I've been practicing on my own. Isabel almost always swings her haunches left through the halt and we managed to avoid that this time around. Yay!

not square, but also not crooked. baby steps!
Our canter transitions are MUCH improved. Still not fully 'there' yet, and I think the judge was a touch generous in the scoring (esp for the left lead depart), but getting a 7.5 on that movement with the comment 'calm & obedient' is a huge deal to me. There's still a lot of room for improvement in the transition, sure, but the transition isn't as disruptive to the whole picture any more - it doesn't stick out so much as an issue.

We usually score better on the canter circles than the canter departs, so this test tells me that my focus on the departs has paid off and now I need to start working on the canter itself too. Isabel has a lovely canter that should score as well as her trot work if I can get us more balanced.

very pleased with this score
I left the ring feeling like we were a bit rushy and braced, but that the ride was generally an accurate representation of where we are in training. So the score actually surprised me a little bit - I was maybe expecting something more in the 33-36% range. I'll take it tho!! This put us in 4th place, with a difference of less than 4 penalty points (ie, a rail in stadium) between us and 1st place. Not too shabby!

per usual i added the scores and comments directly to the video

B rode her test shortly after mine (which was also awesome - her goal was to score <38 and she did exactly that with a 37.6, leaving her tied for 2nd after dressage), and then we had a nice long while to just chill out with the horses. Walking the courses the day prior definitely simplified show day logistics. Never had to put the horses back on the trailer (they seem happier off anyway) or worry about overlapping ride times or anything. 

mare was quite literally dozing for the entire day - except when it counted haha
Soon enough it was time to switch over to jump tack and apparel. Things were running ahead of schedule and we were actually able to get into the ring for our show jumping course quite a bit earlier than expected. I took just enough time to watch a couple rounds to see how the lines were riding and warm up over a couple fences.

Trotted the X once, cantered the vertical, then cantered the oxer - knocking a rail in the process. Fine by me - I certainly don't mind the horse getting that quick reminder right before going in for our course!

sugar cubes help wake her up
(and wow looking at this picture makes our trailer setup look quite chaotic. i assure you - there is very definitely a method to this madness!!)
The course was pretty interesting - 9 jumps but it rode like a very very short course given all the related distances. Jump 1 started us right out with a somewhat extreme bending line to jump 2 - maybe even more like a 'broken' line than 'bending.' Then a long sweeping roll back to fence 3 (that we got a bit deep to), and another long turn around the end of the arena to the triple combination of jumps 4-5-6.

I walked this in a somewhat long-ish 3 strides to 3 strides and it seemed to be riding well for other competitors. We jumped into the line fairly conservatively tho so I opted to balance for the 4 strides, then move forward for the 3 in the second half.

note that jumps 4-5-6 constitute a triple combination, and 8-9 is also a shortish line to finish on
(also, i took these pictures the day prior when the jumps were set for elem, not BN)
Then another long sweeping turn to 7, that we also got a bit deep to (apparently I don't like long approaches), then a quick sprint down the final line in an easy forward 4. Fun course! And we left all the rails up!! Yay!!


Despite Isabel looking a bit tired and lethargic at the trailer, she really woke up to put in some nice jumping efforts through the course - even when I buried her at a couple fences. A lesson mate from OF observed that Isabel was looking quite 'scopey' haha, and you can kinda get a sense of that in the helmet cam footage considering the air time she got over some of these fences.

We maybe got a bit fast and flat to some of the jumps, but really that's a pretty typical mistake for me... #workingonit... But generally I felt great about how the ride went tho, and was eager to get out onto the cross country course!!

39 comments:

  1. Whoa, whoa whoa......a horse show running EARLY??? Say it isn't so! :P

    Congrats on the dressage score, and a clean stadium round!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ahaha my thoughts as well! Great job!

      Delete
    2. haha right? there's nothing i love more than a show where you can go out there and jump at will, waiting is the worst

      Delete
  2. Great effort in the dressage and LOVED that stadium round! You're getting more and more consistent in every phase and I love itttt!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! i'm really happy with how it all went, and the consistency is definitely a confidence booster!

      Delete
  3. That's so awesome that dressage and stadium went so well! That second dressage pic is quite lovely :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! i always wish we had better pictures of us working on dressage, but for now the video stills will have to suffice

      Delete
  4. Loved your dressage test! Isabel was really using her hind end in trot and your transitions to canter were killer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yay i'm glad to hear that! i'm starting to get a better feel for when we're actually working vs. when she's faking it.... but it's still hit or miss

      Delete
  5. love that canter during your test! and loveeeee the way her ears zero in on the jumps as she comes to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man, her ears while jumping - they tell so many stories haha

      Delete
  6. Helmet caaaaammmmmm!!! Somehow show helmet cam is always better than schooling helmet cam. I can't wait to see the cross country!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. this helmet cam is the most amazing thing ever. EVER. i'm so happy i got it!!! (and thanks for all the recommendations!). xc post is coming tomorrow (tho technically it's already up on youtube if you really can't wait haha)

      Delete
  7. You guys have come a really long way this season, it's fun to see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! it's been a pretty amazing experience - things just started clicking!

      Delete
  8. Your dressage test looks fabulous!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks - the tests are starting to feel a bit more consistent now, which i love

      Delete
  9. Great scores! Y'all deserve that. You have been working hard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you - we have most certainly been working at it :D

      Delete
  10. She sure does have a nice trot. What a great start to the show! She looks like she really enjoys jumping too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think she likes it! she was a tad lethargic at the trailer but really woke up to jump around :)

      Delete
  11. I'm shocked by this whole running early thing. You guys look awesome. Especially that trot picture. Nice action there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha thanks - and running early is amazing (most of the time, at least)

      Delete
  12. Okay, first of all, a helmet cam is so much different when you've been behind the ears in the video! Seriously could totally feel the ride along with you (only it was a LOT smoother with you doing the riding! HA!!!)

    Second: HOLY SHIT that dressage test. You guys look great! She has SUCH a lovely trot. I know I've said that before, but damn. Once she understands more thoroughly the compression of a half halt on her hinds (though she really had it when you came down the centerline!), you are going to do great. I'd say you just sort of lost her around the corners (need better bend, lol) and that's probably where the "rushed" feeling came from. Overall she seemed just big and bouncy and lovely. We'll work on uniting that outside rein and seat and hind leg thing. You guys will get it fast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you!! it's actually taken me awhile to appreciate isabel's trot, and i'm only sorta now figuring out how to actually show it off a little. still needs work, but it's better now. and i think you're right on the money with the 'rushed' feeling coming from losing it around the corners. i'm starting to get a feel for how to fix it but can be a little slow with the corrections (especially in the actual show ring).

      Delete
  13. Beautiful test! I'm happy it went well.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Replies
    1. haha it's a fun one. it was on course when we came to this event last year (our first ever!) and we came very close to having a refusal lol. but now she obviously couldn't care less :D

      Delete
  15. Beautiful test! oh my gosh! That last centerline -- deserved WAY more than a 7 based on how the rest of your test was scoring. That looked awesome! Also, can I please mention that Iz's working trot is like Murrays BEST attempt at a lengthened trot and that makes me kinda sad cuz her body is LITTLE? Woah Murray, get your game together!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! isabel really loves showing off that trot lol. and actually yea i was a little bit surprised at the centerline score relative to all the rest. that's usually one of our best scores on the test (we've pulled 9s there before) but i think we just lacked balance through the turn. ah well, next time!

      Delete
  16. Things are REALLY starting to come together for you too. I'm so happy and proud!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you!!! it really DOES feel like things are coming together - i like it!

      Delete