Tuesday, April 12, 2016

MDHT Spring Starter #2: Dressage & Stadium!

Ok. Starting things off with a nugget of honest self awareness. In the past, I have been quick to suppose that a judge "just doesn't like us" upon receiving a mediocre or poor score. So today I will be quick to say: This judge definitely liked us.

our test in a single picture
Either that, or she was just exhausted after judging five full splits of BN (we were very close to the last ride in the division) and was eager to see whatever harmony we might present. Regardless, she scored us very highly - and in some cases, a bit generously. I'm gonna take it tho bc Isabel was foot perfect.

but when was one picture ever enough?!?
There were a couple spots where a better ride could have improved the picture - especially a few areas where I felt we lost a bit of balance. Generally tho, Isabel was so so so soft and steady into my hand. A touch quiet, but none of that abrupt reactiveness we saw in last week's schooling dressage show.

airborne
I had given us about 30 minutes to warm up, and it proved unnecessary. We mostly walked, interspersing some leg yields and shoulder in at walk to ask for connection and balance but without expending undue energy. We also did a touch of stretchy trot, and very few walk-trot-walk-trot transitions just to keep her thinking forward in the downwards. Really, tho, it was apparent she was GAME ON from the first moment.

probably not worth the 8 we got, but ima take it!
In the test, I tried to think ever so slightly of leg yielding out around our circles (bend in to move out) and jussssst hinting at lengthenings down the diagonals, just to keep it interesting for mare face. And she delivered. Presented what I felt was a very pretty picture. Canter is still the weak spot. The judge gave us our personal best scores for the trot-canter transitions, but they're still hollow. It's ok, we're working on it.

boom. achievement unlocked
All the same, tho. I'm thrilled with the test. And obvi what's not to love about the score?!? It didn't feel like our best ever when I left the ring. I felt like as a rider I had maybe left some points on the table, but that Isabel had performed exactly as well as I could possibly hope. Turns out the judge agreed!


This is officially our personal best ever score - beating out our first event at BN, same test and same venue. Apparently BN-B at Loch Moy is our sweet spot? Must be allllll that trotting haha.

heading down to the ring!
Anyway, dressage had been running a bit behind so we had just the briefest of breaks before saddling up for jumping. At least I knew the mare needed minimal warm up. Can't really stress enough that she was QUIET - actually I worried that she was TOO quiet. It was reminiscent of our first novice at Olde Hope last summer, when she was asleep on her feet after dressage and never quite got back up in front of my leg to jump.

READY
I shouldn't have worried tho. She came alive to jump. Obvi. Isabel knew what was up all along and was just saving it up for the fun stuff :) We stuck with our tried and true stadium warm up (trot the X, canter the X, canter the vertical, canter the oxer) and called it good. She was ready and forward and adjustable.

not lovin my leg lately but the mare is cute!
Probably a longer warm up would have improved our actual round, but probably so would have a more decisive rider haha. The course went pretty well. Started with a 5-6 stride line, oxer to vertical. Seemed like an ambitious first line haha. Brita and Wick did the 5, but they were GOING, and Brita thought it was in my best interest to shoot for the 6. Which Isabel did pretty well. Jumps three and four were another line - this one riding fairly consistently in an easy 7.

defensive into a tight two stride
We kinda ate jump 5 on the short side, my bad, but hit jump 6 across the center on a forward slice and got to the two stride at the other end at a nice pace. It was a TIGHT two but we fit it in haha. Then up to catch another jump just bending off the rail, bending farther to the final fence.

Most riders got 8 strides in that final bending approach... but when we almost got there in 7 I kinda just didn't make a decision but leaned up the horse's neck anyway. No no, Emma! That is a recipe for disaster!! And it very nearly spelled the end of our day since I was pretty damn sure I was coming off. Isabel is a saint tho and still jumped it.

pictured: how NOT to jump 
And not only did she jump, she jumped RAMROD STRAIGHT haha and stayed directly underneath my wayward self. Took a rail, sure, but it was undoubtedly a gift. So. Um. Thanks, mare, for saving my ass AGAIN. 

the face of someone who realizes exactly how lucky she just got
And. Just like that, we were through stadium. The phase that has been causing me the most mental anguish lately. 

I'm not entirely sure why - it's certainly the area where we get the most practice. But I think it boils down to just how influential I am in a stadium course. Out on xc, Isabel will read the jumps and make choices for herself. But in stadium, she really relies on me and will do exactly what I ask for better or worse. 


It's not the worst problem in the world - it just gets hairy when I don't make a decision or commit to a distance. Fortunately tho, BN height (esp since it seemed set a little soft at this event?) is well enough in our comfort zone that we can recover from our oopsies moments without any major upsets (mostly haha).

I definitely need to fix a few elements in my ride tho, and got a pretty good idea of what, why and how in this event. Especially after cross country - details of which are coming up tomorrow!

62 comments:

  1. im jealous of your dressage prowess. also i think you underestimate how sketchy dressage can be at BN. you did a PRELIM test a few weeks ago so, thats definitely been paying off.

    the red mare i used to ride hated dressage. my perennial sandbox goal was not to be in dead last

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    1. aw thanks! i'm really proud of how far this mare has come in the dressage ring - she really takes to the work super well (esp given i'm so new to it)!!

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  2. The fact that you're even aware enough to fix your leads while in the ring at a show is miles ahead of me at a show. I'm just like, "Not dead yet? Maybe by the next fence we will be." Minus the last fence, that round really didn't look bad at all! And holla at that dressage score!

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    1. ha that last fence was pretty bogus, i know we can do better than that... but that's horse showing for ya. i feel like any common minor error is automatically amplified x100 at a show lol. thanks tho - i'm pretty happy with it all the same!

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  3. You guys killed it! Sure that last fence left something to be desired but the rest of it was amazing!!! Good job!

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    1. thanks! one day we'll be able to make it through a stadium round without splatting over any of the fences!

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  4. Nicely done! That dressage score is fabulous and the stadium course had some very lovely moments - loved how you rode the 2-stride and the organized simple changes! What a great way to knock the rust off. :)

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    1. thanks! izzy is pretty much an old pro at simple changes... i had hoped actually to land our left lead after that short end jump but obvi the botched distance kinda crushed that plan haha. but yea, great intro to the season. mistakes aplenty, but easy enough to hack through it.

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  5. Excellent dressage test. And good pony Isabel for the save at the last fence... happens to all of us!

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  6. Congrats on the dressage score! And I started to hate SJ too when I evented. I understood the gallop on XC and I toning it down a little for SJ just resulted in me making a mess of my horse and him saving my butt!

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    1. yea it's definitely two very distinct jumping styles between stadium and xc. i honestly believe xc is easier in many respects bc the horses understand solid jumps at a much more basic level. what i really need is more jumping in my life haha - i'm not sure if it's the new saddle or just my lack of fitness but i'm clearly not helping the mare out! hopefully i can get back into my twice-weekly routine soon!

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  7. Dang, that score!! And nice save!

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    1. ha thanks! that score is definitely smile-worthy!!!

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  8. woohoo!!! Looking good! And maybe it was your new magical saddle on your magical horse that helped keep you in the tack? ;) heheheh- good save!!! Everyone has just maps like that- it keeps life more interesting! Hahaha 😁

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    1. Jumps not just maps! Not sure what autocorrect was thinking- or apparently my typing skills… ;)

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    2. ha it definitely keeps it interesting, that's for sure!! and idk, i'm still getting used to this saddle so i'm not sure if it gets the credit for keeping me in place or not lol. regardless tho i'm just happy to have stayed on!!! :D

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  9. The first and last jumping photos are so frame worthy! :) Also, I could easily watch that mare trit-trot around a dressage ring all damn day. Such a pleasure. One note for when you get to first level: watch your 20m circle geometry in the larger ring. They're smaller than you think. ;)

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    1. i'm pretty sure isabel is ALWAYS trying to create a frame worthy picture haha ;)

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  10. Wow that was an excellent dressage score. Mad props girl, that is awesome! All that hard work is paying off in a huge way!

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    1. thanks! it's kinda crazy to think that we started off not being very competitive - or, at best, middle of the pack - in dressage. she's really taken to it so well!

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  11. You deserve cookies as much as she does, you guys really looked great and yay Isabel for her sweet saving jump moves.

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    1. ha cookies (and beer) were had by all!! and i'm so happy about her saving moves too lol, esp since they're not always present in our lessons....

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  12. You both are looking great! And as ammies, we're allowed to miss distances now and then. What a good girl Izzy is -- is really speaks to your awesome relationship that she's totally cool with saving you now and then <3

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    1. thanks! and i agree - if the expectation was that we could never ever miss... well... i'd be in trouble!

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  13. Nice work on dressage! I thought your stadium round looked quite confident and I love your pace! I really struggle with stadium the most too so I feel your pain!

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    1. thank you! i was honestly pretty happy with how the stadium round went. the two biggest bloopers were totally rider error, i just need to be more decisive and push her up and forward when in doubt...

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  14. Great job all around! Go mare and go you!

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    1. thanks!!! isabel is more than happy to go go GO!

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  15. NICE score!!!! I love the huge smiles :)

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    1. i love all the smiles too - we were definitely enjoying ourselves! that score tho... definitely icing on the cake!

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  16. Your dressage test...swoon. You guys looked great! Stadium is my worst as well, can't wait to see XC!

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  17. That dressage test- look at all those 8's! *Internet high five* And lots of pats for the pony for the showjumping! Love the pics!

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    1. Thanks! Those 8s are a little intense haha but I will take it! ;)

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  18. Aww yay for personal bests on some movements! Great score, and you guys are an awesome team.

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  19. Glad it went well, and mad dressage skillz there! Congrats on an awesome start to the season!

    In my world, we've done the first gymnastic exercise of the season (had to wait for the hayfield to firm up so that it wouldn't get torn to shreds): trot poles, 9', small vertical, 18', small oxer. Go us! (The jumps are like 2'4". I am pretty wimpy.)

    How often do you school jumps? Do you have a buddy? Who puts the jumps up and builds the courses and stuff? In my fantasy life, I have a ring crew, but in reality I drag the horse around by his reins while I'm moving poles, measuring stuff, and getting things set up. *sigh* I am jealous of my fantasy life.

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    1. Honestly I don't school much over fences on my own these days. My happy place is two jump lessons a week were trainer does all that. When I'm on my own, it's usually targeted work with a couple pieces set up at warm up and then bigger heights. It's hard to do big huge schools all on our own. So when I want to do real course work etc I will usually try to do it with a buddy.

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    2. Makes sense! I'd like to be able to fit that into the budget, but... not this year. So, I'm schooling 2x a week (Wed. and Sun.) at home and have a couple of clinics lined up.

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  20. That is a suuuper nice dressage test there! Tell me again why you're not doing straight dressage? ;)

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    1. Lolz stay tuned for tomorrow's helmet cam video, as the answer to your question can be found there ;P

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  21. Loved your dressage test! She really didn't seem to evade behind the verticle-much more balanced than what i remember from last year's tests. Jealous of your canter transitions.

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    1. Nope she's def learned how to get a truer connection now!!

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  22. Congrats on a great dressage test! I think stadium really is the harder of the two jumping phases. I always feel like Moe respects the XC jumps and happily makes his own decisions out there, while in the stadium phase he's less likely to put in a big effort because the jumps will come down.

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    1. Yea I hear ya. Izzy will just let me put her in a bad spot then will refuse, whereas on xc she gets herself where she needs to be.

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  23. Great job on your dressage test! You're jumping looked nice, too! Every once in a while, it's good to lean to a distance and just test how well you can stay on, haha. I do it too, for no good reason :0). Good pony for staying underneath you.

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  24. Looking good! Good girl Izzy. Congrats on the personal best.

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  25. I thought the jumping round looked really good (not counting the last)! And congrats on the dressage score! Way to go!

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  26. That dang stadium stuff is tricky! But what a good mare. She came out to play that day!

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  27. Awesome test! You guys look amazing. Glad the jumping went well! When I was eventing, stadium was my worst phase by far. I felt like I could really get into a good rhythm out on cross country (like it was too long to really get anxious about because I would just exhaust myself lol) but in stadium I wanted to micromanage way way too much. Plus it didn't help that the horses I evented all were much better on xc than in stadium.

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  28. As always I love all of your pictures and videos!

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  29. Congrats on the amazing dressage test, and a successful stadium round!

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  30. Other than a couple of bobbles, that stadium trip looked so great!!! You guys really seemed to find a perfect pace so you could just roll right along. I love it!

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  31. That looks like a pretty solid trip for your first outing!

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  32. Congrats on the awesome score. Your pony is a saint.

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  33. Game mare is game, and you two look great even with a bobble! So excited for you :)

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  34. BOOM - that is how you start a season ☺☺☺

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  35. DAYUM. That score! And that jump photo...meep! Congrats on all.

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