Tuesday, October 20, 2015

MDHT: Dressage & Stadium!

So this is going to be a week of many MANY pictures on this blog... Hope y'all don't mind that I essentially use this space as a photo album lol. In any case, so many thanks to Austen for all of these amazing photographs. She caught so many lovely moments and I am beyond grateful to have them to look back on!

smile for the camera!
But of course you probably want all the corresponding details too, huh. So onto the full story. Our dressage time was around 1:20, but we actually arrived at Loch Moy around 8am for B & Wick's division (she started around 9).

And by the way, B and Wick had a GREAT day - setting another personal record in the dressage court and cruising through the jumping like nbd. In fact, Wick looked for all the world like he wanted to go for a second xc loop after he finished - he wasn't ready to be done yet! Good boy :)

the warm up ring was a touch busy...
All that meant that Isabel was hanging out in and around the trailer for quite a few hours prior to our go time. We had our first frost overnight too, so it was pretty chilly. I tried to get her out and moving and grazing, and had borrowed Kaitlyn's BoT mesh sheet to start warming up Izzy's back well in advance... But still ended up with a VERY cold-backed horse.

i love all the fall colors in these pics too!
As I braided her mane and tacked up, Isabel became more and more wound up - pawing and dancing and generally being a pest. Trying to get on her was even worse - she hasn't been that bad in a long time and was chomping violently on her bit and hinting at rearing. Then had a HUGE hump in her back once I was on. So much so that I actually hopped back off to try and readjust the saddle (thinking it was on her shoulders and thus causing discomfort). But nope, it wasn't the saddle - just the mare...

so much to like about this pic. engaged and connected, but alas, a bit btv. a theme for the day.
She chilled a bit once we reached the warm up area... but was still very uncharacteristically tense. I'm sure a large part of it was feeding off my own stress, and I tried to be very aware of my own self as we attempted to smooth things out.

i love her trot!
I'm also a little suspicious about my 'dot every "i" and cross every "t" preparation tour' - it was perhaps naive to schedule cross country for the final lesson. Next time I front load all three lessons in like that, I will make sure to finish with DRESSAGE, bc after that cross country lesson we had an incredible canter/gallop for jumping... but our smaller more collected canter had flown the coop. Literally. Oops.

'zomg go fast flick alll the tooooesssss' - isabel
I also should have rethought my warm up plan a little, considering how long Isabel had been sitting idle (and the drop in temps). I gave us 20 minutes and that was, erm, NOT sufficient. Plus the show was running ahead of schedule and they called me 10 minutes early. Normally I'm all about going early, as Isabel normally warms up quickly and beautifully, but this time I had to decline that option lol.

is it just me or does she have the best tail ever?
We had pretty much zero bend, the canters were super rushy (mare actually bucked and kicked out a couple times - wth?!?), and the downwards from canter to trot was fugly. Plus that whole breakthrough feeling of 'pushing the mare up into the contact' was nowhere to be found either.

i'm very slowly learning to sit up better
Instead of pushing nicely into the contact, mare was very reactive and hot to the legs and ducking behind the bit. In so many of the pictures my inside hand is jacked wayyyy up trying to lift her up a little... And I also ended up ditching the whip right before entering the ring.

mare maybe resentfully acquiesces to cantering normally instead of kicking out again
It's a shame too, bc she was actually starting to work pretty nicely - really stepping under herself and trying - but at this level the judges really do not want to see the horse curled under like that. This is a constant struggle for us anyway - not really aided by Isabel's conformation. Oh well.

ahhhh, but she does like to turn it on for the judge! 
But good mare that she is, she still dialed up the wattage once we entered the ring. It wasn't anywhere close to our best test, but it felt like a really solid effort all the same.

does this count as inside bend? (also that's the xc start gate behind us)
Since she was so hot to the legs we weaved a bit down the center line (very unusual) but I felt like our geometry was mostly pretty good. Even those E-B turns!

at least she's very focused
Our canter transitions weren't really any better than normal, tho the left lead was actually a little worse. Unfortunate since we've really been seeing improvement there.

i'm kinda almost sorta sitting - progress!
All the same, tho, there was a LOT to like about this test. The mare wasn't exactly her normal professional self, but she really was trying. She was very obedient (for her lol - submission is never exactly our strength!) and never got distracted by the horses jumping cross country right behind us.

freeeeeeeeeee walk ftw!!!
Tho she did see something in the warm up ring that was apparently fascinating - right in the middle of what was otherwise a very nice free walk. Figures lol. This is why we like the short diagonals!

oops, wait, spoke too soon lolz
But I was pleased with myself in putting her back together *before* K for our transition up to trot and then center line. It didn't end up being a stand out score anyway bc we weaved a bit down the center line, but I felt like the pieces fit together much smoother than in the past.

pretty sure this does *not* count as inside bend lol
So yea. It was a dressage test that happened. Lots of nice moments to be proud of, and then, ya know, a few other moments too haha. But generally I was pretty pleased with it, tho it was pretty clear it wouldn't be super competitive.

halt, salute, and briefly consider swinging that haunch out
That's ok tho - I know Isabel has the talent to be very competitive in the dressage ring. And when she's her usual self, it's pretty easy to show that off to the judge. The flip side is that when she's running a little hotter, I don't have the skills / ability yet to bring her around. When she's good, she's great and SUPER easy to ride. But on a day like this, it falls on me to pull it together and... well I'm a little unreliable haha.


I didn't get my test until the end of the day (we only had an hour between dressage and jumping) and was a bit surprised by the score - a 33.8 seems generous. And it's a sea of 6s and 7s, not really what I was expecting! Of course the true story here is that this fairly respectable score put us in 11th so... yea the judge was a little charitable haha. The first place score was around a 20, I believe.


So.... I could end now and break this show into individual posts for each phase.... but eh whatever. Marathon post it is. Hope you're not tired of looking at pictures of Isabel yet!!

how could you not love that face?!?
Like I said, there was just an hour between phases, and while Isabel was finally back to her normal self after dressage (ie, QUIET) I still didn't want to take any chances with the warm up. So we didn't exactly switch immediately to jump tack, but we didn't laze around for ages either.

wheeeeeeeee warm up!!!
Plus we parked way out in Timbuktu below the dressage warm up area and had to hike over to stadium warm up. So I was up and away in what felt like record time. It seemed like a good thing tho - a leisurely stroll across the show grounds was definitely a good way to start the warm up.

flying over the warm up oxer. what a horse!
Then some quick trotting and cantering, then up and over the fences. Trot the cross rail, canter the cross rail. Canter the vertical. Canter the oxer. Check, check and check. Isabel was ON POINT. We normally have at least one ugly warm up fence, but not this time.

mare looks ready, no?
Perhaps it would have been better if we had. Ya know, a gentle reminder for mare to pick her feet up, and for me to ride correctly.

how pretty is this ivy oxer?
As it was, the stadium round was a little sloppy. Actually not terrible, just littered with all those little familiar mistakes that I am so likely to make. Pulling to the base, backwards riding to the chip stride, unbalanced canter... ya know. The usual.

balancing for the long straight approach to a diagonal. one of the ones we *didn't* demolish lol
So we had a couple rails lol. Starting with fence 1, actually, which I'm still a little unsure about that one. We hit it pretty nicely, but I guess a little flat. And Isabel just rolled it ever so slightly with a hind toe. Cheap. Oh well.

made it ok over the in oxer. did not make it out quite so well tho, womp womp
The other two rails were DEFINITELY my fault tho haha. Without a doubt. I've got excuses tho, obviously lol. Namely, I didn't get to walk the course and there were two related lines that showed three stride deviations in what riders were getting in them.

The outside (yellow) line seemed to be riding in a 7-8, tho one soul fit in 9. I expected to get 8, especially after a particularly tardy simple lead change, but didn't really balance soon enough and Izzy took the rail with her front legs. The 8 really should have been fine - it was a good plan, just poor execution.

buried mare finally decides she's done knocking shit down (after 3 rails) despite my shenanigans
The other line... I was definitely less sure about. I saw riders get 5, 6 and 7 in there and just... didn't have a clue lol. No plan. No plan is bad plan, Emma! And that line went to hell pretty quickly when we took the rail at the in jump, then just barely squeezed in a 7th stride (above pic) on the way out.

we NAILED the in and out tho
The next line up was the two stride in-and-out that seemed to be riding a little long, but also was NOT going to be three strides. I knew I had to commit to making it happen in two, and finally actually engaged my riding brain. So that went well for us.

boom. two strides and out. easy peasy! (also note the knocked rails in the foreground)
Then a quick cruise around to the final fence and we were all finished! And only 3 rails down, womp womp.


Seriously tho I don't think it was a terrible round. It's the same mistakes I always make (ie, burying the mare by trying to squeeze in one last step) but I was actually really impressed by Isabel's sense of humor and handiness. I was riding really tight and put her in quite a few awkward spots and she figured out how to get over anyway. Good mare!

And in a twisted way, I actually felt way more relaxed leaving the ring and heading out to cross country. At that point I hadn't yet seen the dressage score, but felt pretty sure it wouldn't be competitive. Add on another 12 penalty points, and... yea haha we were NOT hunting for ribbons. So it actually alleviated some of my tension and stress - we could just get out on cross country and take it as it came. One jump at a time. Stay tuned for the recap tomorrow!

57 comments:

  1. You know, there's a study somewhere that heading into cross country people placed 1-3 are waayyy more likely to injure themselves than people outside of the top three. Anyways I can't wait to read about the final phase! Looks like a good (enough) test and what a bombing stadium round! Yeah there were some mistakes but honestly I'm still amazed at the progress you and that mare make every month!

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    1. that actually makes a lot of sense. i actually honestly prefer to not know my standings going into the jumping rounds bc it does seem to affect my mindset and riding. usually not for the better haha. but thanks - it really was good enough :)

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  2. You know, there's a study somewhere that heading into cross country people placed 1-3 are waayyy more likely to injure themselves than people outside of the top three. Anyways I can't wait to read about the final phase! Looks like a good (enough) test and what a bombing stadium round! Yeah there were some mistakes but honestly I'm still amazed at the progress you and that mare make every month!

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  3. You and Izzy look awesome. I can't wait to read about XC. I'm so impressed with your progress and you make me want to show.

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    1. thanks! xc is coming tomorrow ;) and yes you should totally show - it's such a rush!

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    2. I plan to as soon as we figure out this walking thing. I really want it to be a positive experience for him.

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  4. 1) dressage outfit is on point 2) those stadium fences are pretty! 3) She looks good.

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    1. thanks! she was actually really in fine form - i just didn't quite know how to handle her extra energy in dressage. and don't they have the nicest stadium fences?!? xc was gorgeous too :)

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  5. Loooove that teal jacket on a chestnut - you guys look super classy! And despite the rails in stadium, you did a great job piloting her around. Woot!

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    1. thank you! stadium will get better when i loosen up and relax a little bit haha. and glad you like the jacket - it's a newer acquisition!

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  6. the photos are gorgeous!!! is the jacket new?! I dont remember seeing that before...

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    1. yep it's new! well... kinda. i bought it on sale (no returns) and it's a smidge small on me, so i've been wanting to sell it. might still do that (and then will get the size up), but i love it so much that i wanted to wear it anyway lol

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  7. Love all the pictures! You two look great. Can't wait to hear about the rest.

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    1. thanks! i'm so happy to have all these pics - and it really was a beautiful day for picture taking haha

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  8. Cold fall weather sure can bring out the shenanigans in a pony. Mine are all coo coo for cocoa puffs right now too. Great job turning that into a decent dressage round! Can't wait to read about xc!

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    1. lol yea isabel is usually more indifferent to the weather... but not on this particular day i guess. thanks tho - we had a lot of fun anyway :)

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  9. That picture of you both over the warmup oxer is everything!! Sometimes it all comes together and sometimes it doesn't (ask me how I know), but really you guys are looking so great! Can't wait to hear about XC!

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    1. she warmed up SO WELL at this show - and just jumped that oxer like it was the easiest thing in the world! sadly the stadium round didn't really show that off, but we'll get it next time!

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  10. Love the big smile in the first picture! Can't wait to read about XC, my favorite haha

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    1. haha xc is my favorite too!!! post coming tomorrow :)

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  11. Those photos of you two are SO good. Love them all, but I especially love the trotting one in the Dressage ring (the one that shows the "Ring 4" sign and it looks like you are coming across the diagonal).

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    1. i like that one a lot too :) so grateful to have all these awesome pictures!

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  12. LOL at Isabel looking at every grain of sand in the arena. Ramone likes to inspect the footing as well.

    Love your coat!

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    1. thanks haha. it's even better when we're in a grass ring and she stares longingly at all that potential food haha

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  13. Jumps look big to me, haha. Glad you guys had a solid, learning round.

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    1. lol i'm not allowed to even think about jump size when i'm at a show. but luckily isabel doesn't seem to care about height at all!

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  14. There are so many things to like about your dressage- you've made amazing progress!!

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    1. thanks! she really did manage to pull it together (sorta) for the test. we'll be able to smooth it out eventually :)

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  15. Why does the little judge building say "duck call" in one picture and then a hand-written "desk bell" in another? I'm so confused. I don't know why my mind focuses on weird shit like that. You guys looked good in dressage. I love the exuberant jumping warm-up pictures.

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    1. lolz good eye! i actually didn't notice those signs at all while i was riding and had to ask the judge what they were using to ring us in. as for your question tho - those are two different judge booths, as there were four dressage courts all in a row.

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    2. So some people got rung in by a duck call instead of a bell? This may now be a goal for me to be rung in by a duck call.

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    3. haha yup, it was actually pretty funny sounding too. but i guess when you have four courts all running simultaneously they need to have distinct 'bells' for each ring so riders dont get confused. i thought it was very clever!

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  16. You both look awesome - and what a trot that mare has! But mostly I can't get past HOW MUCH I LOVE YOUR JACKET.

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    1. thanks! she's got a great trot, even if we were a little too rushy and unbalanced to show it off. and that's the horseware competition jacket, i'm pretty smitten with it too!

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    2. it's on sale at riding warehouse right now :)

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  17. *ears perk up* thinking of selling the jacket? Email me deets - who knows, it might be my size/price! And I luuuurve it!

    You guys look awesome! :)

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    1. i will email you asap! just ordered the same coat in a different size so yea, this one probably needs a new home :)

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  18. I am loving the jacket too! You guys look absolutely fabulous. :D

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  19. Yay for all of the pictures!!! :)

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    1. i LOVE all the pictures! esp of dressage since i have pretty much zero nice pictures of that

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  20. Yay! I always ride better when the pressure is off.

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    1. yea me too.... tho i would like to get to a point where my riding doesn't change drastically depending on my mood/nerves/whatever - i would love to be more consistent. but alas, that's just not the case at present!

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  21. Love all the pics! And yeah, I find dressage scores meaningless in the big picture. My best score to date was one of my not so great rides, and landed me way below where I would have liked to have been.

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    1. yep i agree. my personal best dressage test put us in something like 4th or 5th - so it was pretty competitive, but still super low for that kind of placing. whereas i've had a higher score put us into 1st. so i guess it's just all relative.

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  22. You guys looked great! LOVE LOVE LOVE Isabel's dressage-y trot! Stadium looked a bit intimidating, nice round!

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    1. thanks haha i love her trot too! and yea stadium was a little ... icky haha. actually i don't think the course was too bad, and i probably would have ridden it better if i had walked it. but oh well, c'est la vie!

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  23. Wow, the trot in the 'turning it on for the judge photo' - heart eye emoji x 10!
    I'd take a rail over a stop in the jumping any day, and it's great that you know what you're working on. Gives you some goals to get at, and all that :)

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    1. i love that photo too!! and also totally agree about rail vs. refusal. lately as the jumps go up we've been more likely to get that stop... but at this event she just kept jumping no matter what. i'll take it!!

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  24. Your mare is jumping the heck out of those stadium jumps in the pictures! You guys look like a rock solid pair. :)

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    1. thank you! she really was jumping out of her skin - the knocked rails were so unfortunate and so blatantly my own fault bc she was really jumping beautifully.... oh well!

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  25. I know I'm beyond late in commenting, but better late than never?

    Love all the media you always have of your events. You two continue to look fabulous!

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    1. thanks!! i'm such a media junkie haha, there's never really enough pictures/vids imo. but seriously, i'm SO GRATEFUL to Austen for these pictures. they turned out so beautifully and are definitely head and shoulders above the normal quality i can get

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