Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bali impresses at BN!

So I entered Bali in our farm's schooling CT. Mostly just for shits and giggles - but also figuring it would be a good schooling opportunity for him. He's competed in these events with lesson students in the past... sometimes to borderline disastrous effect.

got to the barn SUPER early to get all the horses fed before our go-time at 9am. bali takes SO LONG to eat tho - started eating in pitch black.... and was still eating after the sun came up haha. 
My understanding (heard second hand rather than seen with my own eyes) was that he was hot and unmanageable at his last event while warming up in the field for dressage. Granted the field has goblins in it - this is a known fact that Isabel fully corroborates - but he was still pretty bad. Trying to bolt and buck and generally being such a tool that he ended up falling on his ass with a rider. No good, Bali. No good.

'i'm cute tho. cuteness negates being a tool.' - bali
We were the first riders of the day tho - so I had plenty of time to give him a quiet warm up free from tons of distractions (other riders didn't arrive until we were essentially finished warming up). I also opted to warm up INSIDE the dressage court. This is kinda... probably... against the rules. But eh... I wasn't competing against anybody else - this was really just schooling for baby.

see our tracks through the dew?
The advantage of warming up inside the court was twofold: First, it provided an opportunity to familiarize him with the size constraints and get him used to the fact that, no you can NOT jump out of the arena, while also giving him a clear visual border (tiny tho it was) for our path so that he wasn't overwhelmed by the huge open space of the field.

i am confident that this will eventually be a very pleasant trot. but OH MY GOD THOSE TEEEEEEETH
And second, we were able to break up the morning dew a little bit. The grass was WET - but fortunately not too slippery. We've had so much rain that the ground was soft enough to give his toes a good bit of purchase without actually ever slipping. Reassuring!

so shiny, much tail <3
He warmed up pretty well. Started SUPER tight through his back, with these ugly mincing walk and trot steps. The key to loosening up his back is to canter... but it's a delicate balance bc when he feels tight and uncomfortable, the canter can be a touch, erm, explosive. But we managed to walk that line and he eventually opened up his step and started swinging more. I did a bunch of figures through the arena and practiced transitions as they are in the test, then called it a day and walked around outside the court until the judge arrived.

pictured: left lead canter histrionics
Then it was test time! I am so pleased with him - he was mostly obedient and stayed inside the arena. I'll take it! Upward transitions were prompt, figures were mostly accurate, and he was mostly soft-ish on a light contact - tho he did get to snaking his head around a bit through a couple movements.

not sure what i'm doing position-wise, but the colors are pretty!
There were a couple moments of fussiness - he tripped in one circle and wigged out like he was afraid of falling again. And we misfired into the left lead and he got expressive about it... but recovery was pretty swift in both instances. He also broke into canter on our center line and my downwards transition to halt was not exactly elegant... plus the halt took a while to develop lol.

this looks acceptable to me. 
And actually - I'm quite pleased with how the judge scored us EXCEPT for this halt. We squirmed around for a few seconds before I could get him straight again. Then came to a full halt, I saluted (and counted to 3), then pats for a good boy. So I was a bit surprised to see a score of 3 with the comment 'moving.' We very clearly came to a full halt before I saluted... so idk. Wasn't expecting a great score, but thought it was better than 'fairly bad.' Oh well!

lots to like here. i see potential!
Mostly tho, the judge encouraged me to push for more and be less conservative. She liked our tempo a LOT - but wants to see more engagement, connection, impulsion, etc. Admittedly I really haven't been pushing for much on the flat - given his history of being balky and nappy about the leg. I've just been satisfied that he moves forward off the leg. But then I watch videos of us jumping wherein I *do* push him up into the bridle - and he softens over his top line and responds with a truly lovely canter.

video here, complete with scores/notes per usual

So yea... I need to flat him like I jump him haha. Because the jumping.... ahhhh, man I just LOVE jumping this horse. Loooooove. Omg. I am SO smitten with this horse! 

so much blur, very few fucks given haha
Unfortunately my phone told the kid taking video that it was dying (lies, iphone, LIES) so they recorded our stadium round on their phone then emailed it to me... and the quality suffered mightily. This is seriously tragic to me, you have no idea :(

i love this horse!
This stadium round.... how to describe it? Perfection, I think, is the word I would use haha. Call me biased if you want. But this horse just goes exactly the way I like to go. The video stills obviously don't do it justice bc... well... they are pixelated garbage. But the video is clear enough to get a good sense of how Bali goes.

jumping my brush boxes!! (still without brush lol)
I set the fences myself so most of them were 2'6" with one or two at 2'9" (many of our standards have pretty wide gaps between pinholes, so we end up choosing between 2'-2'3" and 2'9" on a lot of them). And I set two fences lower (one at 2' and one at 2'3") for warming up since there's no space outside the arena for that.

not so blurry that you can't (sorta) see his cute knees!
And he was just perfect. This horse steers REALLY well and has such a nice half halt. I set the lines on a fairly open 12' stride, so he occasionally landed in a very strong canter - but could easily be brought back into balance in the corners. Right hand turns are a little harder for him - his weakest link is the left hind and he fishtails a little bit going right... but it's not awful.

wheeee oxer!
He also seems pretty handy and lands on both leads easily - especially over the diagonal he understood that he had to land left. Which is good because despite a solid half halt, the brakes for a downward transition are a little soft so the simple change can take a few strides to happen lol.


But wow I just really love this horse guys. He is so much fun to ride!! The flat work needs work, sure, but I think it'll get there. Plus the barn manager said the farm would reimburse 50% of the costs to get him adjusted next time my chiro is here, so that's definitely happening.

happy boy got to enjoy some grazing while spectating the stadium arena
He just makes everything so easy!! And these rides only reaffirmed my wish to take him to a couple lessons so somebody will kick my butt into riding him better lol. I'm also hopeful that working more correctly will build up his strength and make him more comfortable. He's got some physical issues but a lot of it seems to be related to plain old weakness (and needing an adjustment...). We will see!

still suck at selfies... still trying tho haha. how do you get the horse's whole face in the pic?!?

38 comments:

  1. That stadium round was fabulous!!!

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  2. Yay! I'm so happy he found you and didn't get dropped for being a butt in the lesson program. He is such as cute horse.

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    1. He's definitely super cute. And the lesson program really does want him to work out - the director took him to his first event this summer and loved him, but has just been too busy to leg him back up herself. I was super happy to pick up that slack!

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  3. I agree with the judge about the ending halt- the halt was initiated as soon as his front end stopped (accurately placed or not), and he kept fiddling and then walked off and halted again. I love all his grunting in the jump round, haha. Something about that just makes me laugh. I like him though!! So cute.

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    1. Haha ok I was hoping someone who actually knows the rules would chime in. I guess that makes sense - I just thought it would be better to straighten him vs leave him crooked. Oh well, now I know! And re the grunts - I NEVER noticed until watching that video lol, and yes I giggled (as did the gate steward, who you can hear in the video haha)

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    2. From a schooling point you were correct for fixing him. From a showing point you were in a crappy place. Halting crooked wouldn't have helped your score really depending on the judge you might have gone up to a 4 but I think you made the right choice to fix him even if your score took a hit. I've scribed several times and it is always interesting to get the "inside" scoop. I saw a judge give an 8 year old an error because she halted a meter early. It was harsh but she said the girl would never make that mistake again. From the outside it seemed super harsh but with the extra knowledge it made sense.

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    3. That makes sense - and matches up w what my dressage coach said when I talked to her about it later (tho she agreed that a 3 was pretty harsh). Ultimately we were just schooling tho so I did prefer 'correct' to 'just get it done'. It's a shame tho - he actually had been halting pretty nicely in practice but I guess got a little hotter during the actual test....

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    4. Absolutely, it's a schooling show. It's crappy when anything like that happens in the ring. Probably harsh on a 3 (esp since it IS a schooling show), but I think if you had let him halt early it probably would have been a 4 with a note of crooked instead of moving.

      I can't agree with giving an 8 yr old (or anyone really) an error for halting a meter early. She's 8. If she's that close to the figures at that age, power to her! A lot of people would be getting errors if they were a meter off the mark. Unless you're Charlotte Dujardin. I bet she hits every mark, every time, haha. But it's subjective.

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    5. yea an error for poor accuracy definitely seems... unnecessary. some judges will do it their way regardless tho, i guess. this particular judge is actually known to be very stingy with points - a mid-40s score with her is pretty common (and actually i expected to be mid-50s with bali, so i'm considering it a win lol).

      so the trick to understanding next steps on what to fix is to look for the outlier scores - the 3s and 4s in this case. fortunately they all stem from very fixable green mistakes, rather than any serious holes.

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  4. Yay! Maybe Bali and you have a future together. ..

    he loves to jump!

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  5. Yay! Maybe Bali and you have a future together. ..

    he loves to jump!

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    1. I admit a few different thoughts about Bali's future have crossed my mind ;)

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    2. I'd never tell someone to buy a parrot-mouthed horse with bad ankles, but listen to how you talk about him...

      PS my horse has fat ankles and he's fine.

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    3. haha yea i do kinda gush about him, huh. but he's really THAT good. so i keep telling myself that all his physical issues are just cosmetic ;)

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    1. Me toooo!! I wish I had better pictures.... But yea he just feels so effortless

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  7. What a great stadium round! As for his stiffness/tenseness in warm up, I find spending a good solid five minutes of walking the rail on a loose rein and asking for extreme inside bend for a few steps, straight, extreme outside bend few steps, mixed with straight long and low, as low as you can possibly get their head works wonders. You stretch out the neck muscles and their top line this way and usually works like a charm. :)

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    1. Thanks! And yes we definitely walk a LOT to warm up - but I will start thinking more about that "extreme bend". It's something I've done with a biomechanics coach and have played with a little bit with Bali... But he clearly needs all the help he can get!

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  8. You two are such a nice team! I am also wondering how this partnership will go...
    I can't think of a clever way to phrase this, but I lol'd at the goblins in the pasture...and with Isabel agreeing.

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    1. haha that field is seriously the worst place ever to ride. i've maybe only ever had like, THREE nice rides in it with isabel - mayyyybe.

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  9. Bali looks like such a blast to ride! I'm glad you had a good show with him.

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  10. So fun! Glad you've got your hands on this fellow, I can't imagine a more thoughtful person to love on him and bring him up to snuff

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    1. haha thanks - i'm really so grateful for the opportunity to ride him and hope to keep on keeping on for the foreseeable future!

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  11. Look at that tail! I think both rides were nice, especially the jump round. And I agree with some of the other girls, you and this pony look mighty fine and happy together...

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    1. thanks lol - riding him is something like coming home, weird tho that may sound. and yea his tail is killlllller. homeboy has some serious hair!

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  12. Awww good boy Bali! Methinks Isabel better watch out...she might have a little brother soon ;-)

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    1. lolz she might appreciate having the burden spread out a little bit ;)

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  13. So I am the worst horse selfie picture taker too. I think you need really long arms. Bali is totally adorable and I am biased because I love a bay horse. So cool you get to work with him and have a ball. :)

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    1. Would it be weird if I bought a selfie stick specifically for horse pictures? Like what if it just lived in my tack trunk....

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    2. haha i might be right there with ya --- or OR !! what if we could somehow convert a crop or dressage whip to also do duty as a selfie stick?!? lol...

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  14. Replies
    1. lolz the thought has quite possibly crossed my mind.... but shhhh don't tell my bank account. ugh. money, why is u a thing?!?

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