Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Olde Hope HT: dressage + stadium!

So. Novice at Olde Hope. It happened and it was awesome. Let's break it down. 

In addition to getting the decidedly unwelcome spider off my truck and passing the hay trucks on the road, there were a couple little things that made me feel better about the day ahead of us. Because I gotta be honest - I was getting dangerously close to 'regret' territory when my alarm went off at 5am and I headed to the barn.  

mare has been SO QUIET at the trailer lately
The event was so far away.... and we were all alone.... and there wasn't time to walk my courses.... and maybe novice was a mistake and I was trying to move up too quickly. Ya know. The kind of self doubt that can easily cloud anyone's mind in those lonely pre-dawn hours. 

But. That's not really my kind of head space, so I just focused on finding better things to occupy myself. Like packing (and appreciating that our packing routine is so well-established that it is essentially a mindless task). Or noticing that my horse was still clean when she came in for an extra special breakfast.

the bridge to heaven!!
And then on the drive - realizing that the farm is actually super close to where my family used to spend the summers on the eastern shore (and where my parents live now). Like, the same exact drive right up until the very end. Including going over the C&D Canal Bridge by Chesapeake City - a bridge my sister and I as children referred to as the 'bridge to heaven' bc it goes up so high.

For some reason it felt meaningful to tow my pony over this bridge that is so wrapped up in childhood memories and daydreams. (have I mentioned that I am a bit sentimental? bc... yea lol)

same bridge, photo courtesy of the google. feels much higher when you're 7 haha
The last little bit of reassurance was an easy breezy drive that got us to the venue with enough time to walk my courses before dressage. Plus the course walks didn't leave me quaking in fear. More on that later.

It still ended up being tight-ish timing, and I had just learned the test and seated myself on the horse 15min from go time. Not how I usually roll... but then again I usually end up feeling like I'm on too early. Plus our recent awesome schoolings have been in the 10-20min range anyway... 

So I figured it would be ok. Isabel warmed up the way she always does - like a total professional. I worked on those modified turns on the forehand, and did all my transitions that way. She felt steady and connected and balanced. 

I also tried to ride a little slower than I would in the test at Dan's recommendation. He said judges like to see a forward ride, but that by warming up slower you can help the horse maintain better balance when you open them up in the test. I'm.. uh... not sure I did justice to this theory haha. 

she says i'm disturbing her from her power nap
So on to the test itself. I really wish I had video! It felt good. Not actually phenomenal, but really consistent and good. I felt like I missed some of our geometry (not quiiiite touching the rail in the circles) and that we lost balance a couple times, esp in the trot-walk transitions that we slipped into (ring was hard slippery grass). 

After saluting at X, judge said Isabel was a nice horse and that I was doing a good job with her. I commented on our slipping around a little bit and she said we could have maybe slowed down a little. Oops. That same comment is reflected on the test sheet too. 



This score definitely took me by surprise. I am THRILLED with it. You can see what I meant by not doing Dan's recommendation justice, as we earned the comment 'running' (and loss of balance) a couple times. That seems like an easily fixed problem tho, and entirely of my own creation. Ah well.

I'm FLOORED by that 8 on the left lead canter depart. The right lead is still a 6.5 tho, just like last week. Probably bc it's both Isabel's and my own weaker direction, so I'll just need to be more diligent in our practice. The canter circles were better this week tho, which pleases me. The 5.5 for the walk-trot would sting, except yea we totally slid into it. So that's maybe even generous.

And speaking of 'generous' haha - do you see that judge's comment?!? I would be embarrassed except she totally nailed it. Isabel is a generous horse. So generous. She consistently puts in a nicer test than my riding might merit. What a good mare!

rustic oxer for fence 1
Then we had a nice relaxing hour at the trailer (since I didn't need to rush around walking my courses) and Isabel got to doze a little more and we could tack up at our leisure. I again got on about 15 minutes before my ride time - just as my parents arrived to watch!! Yay for family support!!

Isabel warmed up about the same as always. One really iffy distance, and the rest were fine. The warm up area kinda sucked tho - long and narrow. Not really the space I wanted for testing the 'whoa' and 'go' in our canter - but I guess we need more 'whoa' anyway so it was ok.

It was a cool stadium course too - all bending lines and roll backs. My favorite! Plus the jumps looked mostly pretty small.

i love these little towers!!!! 
Once out there it became apparent that I actually didn't have a ton of horse. She was fairly stuck behind my leg for the first half of the 8-jump course. We made it over 1 ok, but took the rail at 2.

i actually kinda love all these fences
I can't remember exactly what happened at 3, but I ended up a bit popped out of the tack. Rail stayed up tho.

somehow the rustic 'hunt field' look makes them feel really inviting
And we chipped in kinda grossly to fence 4 too... at which point I finally realized I should DO something to get the mare in front of my leg. (Also the point at which I was grateful for my spurs)
skinny stone wall! and those standards!!
Fence 5 came up a bit more nicely...

these standards too - how neat!
And I finally had Izzy up in front of me enough to get a decent jump from a slightly longer spot.

kinda dark, but this was a neat brush box oxer
We kept the momentum going well enough to get to 7 nicely, except we kinda drifted right over the fence and landed on the left lead - exactly the opposite of our typical mode. And pretty inconvenient considering the tight right hand roll back to 8.

final fence!
Didn't matter tho, Isabel more or less maintained a balanced counter canter around the turn (vs. swapping up front to cross canter) and made quick work of 8.


Phew! It was a disappointing rail... and I was a little frustrated with how lazy/sleepy Isabel felt (in her defense it was a bit hotter out than it has been recently). But in a way I was kinda glad to get it figured out before heading out on cross country. At least I knew what I was working with!

sleepy pony!
Stay tuned for cross country tomorrow!!!

38 comments:

  1. looks at that score! and those fences look huge but she makes them look easy

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    1. haha thanks. something about the construction of those fences made them look REALLY small to me - like, when i walked the course i assumed it wasn't set for novice yet. looking back at the pictures, some of them ARE full size... but i guess the weather-worn rustic look somehow really appeals to my eye? eh, who knows lol

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  2. THAT DRESSAGE TEST. Phenomenal!! I'm so so so proud of you and Isabel!! And what a fun stadium course, too. you can really see on the helmet cam the point at which you decide to boot her forward, and what a difference it makes in your distances. YAY FOR YOU!

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    1. i'm so pumped for that test. it's really exciting to me seeing how consistent she's been pretty much this whole season (with the exception of waredaca lol)

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  3. That dressage score!! Ah-mazing! Great job :)

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    1. thank you! isabel was on point for that test :D

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  4. Wow - nicely done!! :D I agree with the judge, you two seem to have a great partnership.

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    1. it's certainly been a work in progress for a looooong time lol

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  5. Yay! Good work. I agree with you. Those jumps look very inviting.

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    1. thanks! and aren't they cute jumps?

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  6. I love all of those jumps and I want to build them!! (Most of them look pretty doable? I need to clean out my garage...)

    Nice job on your dressage- that's an awesome score!

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    1. thanks, and yes you should totally build them!!! and take a million pictures haha. seems like you could pull together a similar look from 'found' objects (tho too bad older wood is such a PITA to work with)

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  7. Looking at jump courses like this makes me really want to bust out the saw and start building myself a few new jumps. Excellent riding!

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    1. yesss!! these jumps are so simple looking too - i REALLY like the standards for the stone wall (so simple!) and the standards for fence 6 seem like they could be approximated by getting creative with pallets...

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  8. Sounds awesome, love all the jumps, and I also have regrets when my alarm goes off early.

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    1. yea... i guess i shouldn't complain too hard bc given how far the show was, it was actually a pretty reasonable time (we didn't have to leave the barn until 7am...). but yea wow it's hard when it's that dark out!

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  9. I like virtually riding Izzy through your video! It is fun! And damn, nice test score.

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    1. haha it certainly looks very pleasant right? and i can assure you the actual ride feels much the same.

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  10. That course looks like a lot of fun!

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    1. i really liked it!! wish i would have figured out how to ride a little bit more proactively earlier on in the course... but eh it was still good times

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  11. Way to move up! Awesome dressage score!!

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    1. thanks! the score still kinda boggles my mind, but i'll take it!

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  12. Nice job!!! Great dressage score and those fences look WAY too big for me so I'm very impressed. Can't wait to hear about x-country!

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    1. haha idk somehow i suspect you'd hand those fences quite easily ;) and thanks, i'm really happy with the dressage

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  13. Awesome dressage score. I love all the rustic jumps.

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    1. thanks!! those jumps kinda make me want to go hunting lol

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  14. OMG I love watching Izzy's ears when she finds the next jump! So adorable!

    I see that SmartPak sunshirt ;)

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    1. haha she's pretty easy to read. and yep that shirt comes with me to most shows. i'm still not crazy about it in very warm temperatures... but it looks nice (and cleans up easy) so... i keep it on hand :)

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  15. Nice test! Isabel really loves jumping the left side of the fence huh? LOL

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    1. hello my name is emma and i have a left drift problem.... lol seriously tho, i've become so accustomed to jumping left that it actually took me by surprise when we jumped to the right a couple times at the event

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  16. Pace is my Achilles heel. I've had plenty of rails from a slow start. Great recovery!

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    1. it's definitely an annoying problem!! and i mistakenly think isabel's speed is enough, forgetting that she can be fast but still simultaneously miles behind my leg. one day we will figure it out *before* the rails go flying haha

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  17. That is an exceptional score on your Dressage test! Way to go! You should be very proud of you and your mare for all the hard work you've poured into this season!

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    1. thank you! i'm SO PROUD of this little mare! she just continues to blow my mind and exceed all expectations. what a cool horse :D

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  18. Um hello fabulous dressage score! Congrats!! You guys are rocking it!

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    1. thank you!!! that score really was something else!

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  19. WOWZA -- that dressage score is AWESOME! You should be really, really proud. You and Izzy have worked tirelessly on your dressage and it's paying dividends now!!

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    1. thanks - i am super proud. i think she's had it in her all along but i've had to really learn a lot about how she needs to be ridden to really show her off

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