Tuesday, March 27, 2018

2018 MDHT Opener: Stadium + Dressage

Alright everybody. You said you wanted details and I aim to please, so here's the play by play of our dressage and stadium rounds at Loch Moy this past weekend.

I ended up in the first senior BN split and as such was slated to ride my dressage test around 8:45. At which point it was COLD. And windy. And uh, yea the footing was completely frozen throughout the warm up and courts. Which was pretty unfortunate, if you ask me. Cold hard frozen ground is not typically ideal for producing a soft and supple picture.

a enter periscope up!
It also meant that I opted to ride in my down vest and shell jacket instead of changing into my typical show coat. Bc comfort > style, even if pictures are forever.

We arrived in the warm up area later than I had intended bc really I just need to admit to myself that it's unrealistic to expect to be finishing tacking up and whatnot within 15 minutes of arriving on site. As it was, tho, it ended up not really being a big deal for my warm up.

trotting a circle to the left. note: snowy ground and frozen footing and distinct lack of hoof prints
Charlie was quiet and attentive. Definitely looking around at everything but didn't feel ruffled or unsettled. We walked pretty extensively in the warm up, as is our habit, then I started in with some trot work. Circles and halt transitions. A couple canter transitions later and I figured that the trade off of pushing for more softness and roundness wasn't really worth schooling longer on the hard ground. So we let the steward know we were ready.

This was possibly not the right choice, but I made it knowing it basically guaranteed a mediocre test. Like, yes, it's great that Charlie can be the same horse in the show ring as he is at home. HOWEVER. None of that matters if I'm not the same rider in the show ring too. Meaning: I've got to still be accountable for producing a nice ride in the horse. He's not going to do it himself.

cantering left too! eventually!
Charlie can achieve a consistent and obedient test to score a solid straight 6s mostly on his own. But if I want to earn better scores, I have to ride him for better. Ask him for more.

And not fall into the trap of complacency that comes with thinking "well, he's being so good and being so quiet, this is good enough!"

then we trotted right. it's noteworthy that this circle score is also combined with the trot transition score
As it was, tho, we put in a very mediocre test. I should have tried harder, but I was also pretty aware of that even in real time. Charlie, for his part, was a very good boy.

Tho as I rounded our first trot circle and began thinking about our imminent left lead departure, it occurred to me that we mayyybe ought to have schooled like, one or two more left lead departs in warm up haha. And was thus unsurprised when we immediately picked up the wrong lead. Whoops. He recovered well tho and basically moved on with life.

cantered right too, with nary a comment of "labored" haha
This BN-A test works out pretty well for Charlie bc even tho some of the transitions are located in places I don't love, and even tho there's no trot diagonal (a movement I quite like), everything is spaced relatively well for the horse.

I like that the medium walk is broken out as its own score - and honestly my only real disappointment in the test is that I *did* try for that movement, and we *had* been schooling it in the past week, but it still went a bit poorly for us. That should be a movement that Charlie does well in, and that I would like to see a nice score in, but it didn't happen for us this time.

the best part: when we're finished haha
I also didn't quite realize that the walk-trot transition is combined with the score for the second trot circle - that's actually kinda tricky in my opinion, and can potentially be a disadvantage to us if we can't stay round in a transition. So I'll want to work harder on that in our schooling.


Mostly tho, the test went about how I expected. I should have shortened my reins. Should have sat up more. Should have asked Charlie for more. All the pieces were there - he had a nice soft forward and balanced trot. Was listening well and being obedient. Needed better balance in our turns and corners tho. And basically just more rider support all over.

this face. i'm obsessed <3
Pretty much everything scored a 6 except for the wrong lead canter depart, the medium walk, and the final halt where I never got him straight onto center line. Only 6.5s were our right lead canter depart and the gaits score. Honestly it shouldn't be too hard to improve all of those scores by 0.5-1.5 pts just by getting the horse more round. Next time I'll be more disciplined!

then it's onto our favorite part, the jomping!! the horse and rider immediately before us collapsed into this fence (luckily both were fine!) which naturally didn't leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. charlie didn't care tho!
For this outing tho, I was simply happy to have Done the Thing. And was ready to go forth into the jomping phases!! We had about two hours between dressage and jumping to get the horse situated and walk my xc and stadium courses.

The venue had worked really hard to prepare the ground after recent heavy snowfall, but there were still some pretty dicey spots on cross country. Even with lots of work on adding sand and stone dust and other filler materials to improve the going. In contrast, however, the stadium arena was actually in pretty great shape. It helped that they were dragging it again and again as the morning warmed up before the first rides were slated to go.

casual over the little yellow vertical
I'm honestly a bit rusty at walking courses too, and felt pretty ambivalent about the distances I had walked. A six stride bending line, a six stride diagonal line, and a two stride in and out. I figured the two stride would require commitment, but the others I planned to gauge by watching other riders.

cute expression over the maryland jump. pc Steve Long
It was kinda funny tho - this course was almost identical to what we schooled in our lesson with trainer P the day before: a left hand bending line in five, a diagonal in five, and a 33' two stride. Only difference was that MDHT's two stride was closer to 36', and had another related bending distance going into the two stride that I didn't bother to walk bc it had so much shape to it.

charlie looks like he enjoys this job <3
Charlie warmed up pretty well. Not the greatest in his flat work, but felt focused and ready. We trotted the cross rail, cantered the vertical, cantered the oxer, and then went to wait our turn at the gate.

cruising out of the two stride!
I admit to being a little nervous too. Not like, scared or sick feeling. But anxious. The jumps all looked pretty small and everything looked really doable. But I just feel like stadium is a very unforgiving phase haha, and I'm so so so so so prone to little silly mistakes. Plus it didn't help that I hadn't seen really any very consistent rides before mine (had only gotten to watch a few).

Horses who looked like they had a nice pace through the lines doing them in six would then chop in a third in the two stride. But horses who did five in the lines couldn't make the other turns and a few had run outs in the two stride. The inside turn to jump 2 looked inviting enough, but most weren't taking that option, and those who did got bad jumps. And there were iffy distances and stops all over the place, and even a fall at the first fence with the rider right before me. So. Ya know. I had a few feelings about entering the ring.

charlie's tail is like the wind socks they use on helipads. it's a good indicator of his speed lol. for instance, compare his tail in the above pic to the earlier shot of him cantering in our dressage test..... 
However, the show must go on, right? So we entered once the horse and rider before me were determined to be ok, and trotted on around waiting for the judge's whistle. Then it was go time!

Right from the start, Charlie felt like he was on a good forward stride moving up to the fences. He executed the inside turn to jump 2 seamlessly, and put six evenly spaced strides in the bending line. The diagonal was a bit more snug fitting in the 6th, but not choppy.

wherein i finally start to crack a smile over the last fence
He did a timely and well balanced auto change to the end jump, landed on the correct lead (unusual for him to land left! esp after a bigger effort!) then rode in a very forward bending five strides to the in and out, which he also handled well. Tho you can totally tell that he's starting to get a little fast and flat haha.

gettin things done, charlie style!
Another auto change and then I had a little bit of time to sit him down to rebalance before cantering easily over the final jump. Good boy!! Tho haha as soon as we landed, Charlie basically bolted off into a mini victory gallop lol. That, uh, should have been a harbinger for what was to come on cross country.....

if three pictures of the same jump is overkill, i don't want to be underkilled. we saved that for xc anyway. pc Steve Long
As it was, tho, we were clear and Charlie felt great. And I was immensely relieved to have that phase behind me, bc yea. Stadium has not always been a very kind phase to me lol. Somehow, tho, Charlie makes it feel pretty easy.

keep watching to the end where charlie pretends he's in his own little victory gallop haha

It was especially reaffirming to lay down a respectable round after seeing the course wreak some havoc already with other riders. But I was perhaps a little naive to think we'd put the hardest phase behind us.

The cross country course walked great and everything looked pretty hunky dory, so I figured it would all go pretty easily for us. And.... I guess it *was* easy for Charlie. But, not quite so much for me lol. All the details on that will come tomorrow, complete with more pics and video.

such a good boy tho <3. pc Steve Long
In the meantime, I was quite pleased with how things were going after this stadium round. And am really hopeful that these smooth consistent and drama-free stadium rounds will continue to be the rule with Charlie, vs the exception. Now if only I could be more consistent as a rider in the dressage phase, maybe we'd get somewhere! Anyway, tune in tomorrow to see how the story ends ;)

42 comments:

  1. I think it all looks pretty damn good. Considering the footing, the weather, the time off he had, etc etc, this was great! And I can't wait for the CC recap :) I have seen Charlie in action and know how fast he can get :) Glad you all had a good day though (Albeit a cold and chilly frozen start of a day).

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    1. Thanks I'm super pleased with how Charlie did! And yea you've seen Charlie go haha - think of how he looked at the end of fair hill, and imagine him going that way basically immediately right out the start gate and all the way to the finish. Bc yea. That's about how it went lol.

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  2. He looks awesome Emma! Love the jumping pics. He looks interested, engaged, relaxed and confident!

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    1. Thanks! He definitely felt like all of those things in the stadium round - it's a really good feeling!! :D

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  3. Looks like a great place to start the year! Nice work!! :-)

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  4. its so great to see him out and sound - I love his expression in the stadium pictures. Also super impressed with his dad bod.

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    1. aw i love his expression too <3 and his dad bod lolol. also yes, having him just sound and out and about is enough to make me forgive any other little bumps in the road ;)

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  5. Stadium looks great! I need to channel some of that for myself this weekend. Also how do you get so many pictures so FAST???

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    1. in fairness i give charlie all the credit for our stadium round, he was just in the zone. you and Henny will be great tho!

      and the pictures... we are so lucky. the local pro company typically brings a trailer to loch moy and you can buy all photos they took throughout the day untouched and on a flash drive for $99 that very day. and finally i remembered to bring an old flash drive with me so i got a 20% discount - ALL THE PICTURES for $79. can.not.beat.that. plus i had a buddy there with a camera (the pics credited to steven long) who got them uploaded pretty quickly too. and there are even more coming down the pike from austen. so.... uh. yea we are reeeeal spoiled here haha

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    2. I'm so jealous. I just paid my pre-show "viewing fee" so that I can get access to view proofs within a couple weeks after the show. Luckily you do get a coupon to apply to photos after you pay to view the proofs, but they're like $35 PER. And then another week or two to get them. I'd buy that shit all day long if it was $79 for everything and you could get them right then! Instead I have shitty screenshots from whatever video I can beg someone to take. #horsepeopleproblems

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    3. ugh yea that whole "viewing fee" thing would drive me nuts. i definitely feel your pain tho - this is basically the only venue where we get this option (and i have no shame in saying it's one of the reasons we love this venue so much). tho this photographer is pretty quick to upload proofs (for free viewing) after a show anyway, but yea the instant gratification is where it's at. but shitty screenshots from video are definitely better than nothing (at least imho, as evidenced by all the pixelated garbage i post here haha), and i hope you are able to get some good ones this weekend!!!

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  6. Go Charlie! I think he looks pretty great especially considering how little prep he's had with all the time off! Nice job!

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    1. i'm thrilled with how he looks, and honestly if anything *i'm* the rusty one for not asking for more in dressage. charlie acted like he never missed a day and just did exactly as i asked. such a good boy!

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  7. Charlie really does look like he loves his job! Congrats on a fantastic start to the year!

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    1. thanks! it really did feel like he remembered what was up too. like as we waited by the gate for stadium i could feel him starting to get more and more amped - but it wasn't like a wild or frantic energy. he definitely knew we would be going in the ring and Jumping Things, and was just ready to GO. i like it!

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  8. LOVE these pictures! Charlie looks so good, and so happy to be out and doing things again. So fun!! Excited to hear about your XC as well!

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    1. i fully admit to being obsessed with the pictures haha <3 and obsessed with being able to get out again!!! such a relief to have other things to think about beyond "is he / isn't he sound?" and xc details are coming soon!

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  9. Congrats! I'm the exact way in the dressage arena- P is so rideable when we head down CL, and I'm so busy focusing on what's next, I hardly ask him to do anything at all. We're quite familiar with the all 6's test.

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    1. lol yea that 6s across the board is always real special haha.... but it's ok, next time will be better!

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  10. Given the cold and frozen ground that was a very respectable dressage test and a good way tomstart the season. You guys looked great in the stadium. I laughed at Charlie :”yay we won,right? I was so awesome- let me show them my race horse speed!”

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    1. haha that's exactly what was going through his mind for sure, like, "woooo i is so FAST!!!" but that's cool. i'm fine with him feeling like a champion lol, even if it's sliiiiightly wild to ride ;)

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  11. You two look fantastic out there. It’s easy to pick yourself apart (for anyone) but I see a wonderful start to the season with a great confidence boosting trip in each phase. You should be very proud.

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    1. definitely proud and very happy with him! and no worries about picking myself apart - personally i believe that self evaluations and objective assessments of what went well and what didn't go well are important parts of getting better. and i can simultaneously have in my mind a feeling of happiness in how things went, and a feeling of what i want to improve next time.

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  12. Yas!!! So happy for you! Charlie is definitely looking like a boss man through all of this. And yes, we want the nitty gritty details haha. Can't WAIT for recap and pics tomorrow!

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    1. he's such a good egg <3 xc details coming soon!

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  13. Can we talk about just how HAPPY Charlie looks in stadium though? And I guess being too forward is a better problem then the dinosaur stuck in tar scenario? Yes? Hahaha

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    1. ha yes agreed 1000% - i much prefer him being forward and happy and gung ho to being sour and stuck and nappy. ideally we'll find some happy medium tho!

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  14. Zoom Zoom Charlie!!!!! You still have so much to be happy with considering all the environmental factors that added to your dressage test! It can only get better from here right? :) Also Love happy happy Charlie looks in stadium! So nice to have a horse that thinks the jumping is fun bc I’m the grand scheme of things a fancy horse that doesn’t jump isn’t going to be fun to ride for 2/3rds of an event!!! Can’t eait to hear about XC tomorrow

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  15. That's about how Cupid carries himself too. I figure more outings will eventually help him relax more (hopefully).
    Those poles leaning against the rail in SJ - not cool!!

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  16. He's so spicy!! I love it. Huge congrats on such a successful first two phases.

    Also, it's exciting to have such achievable and workable take-aways on what you can do to improve for next time.

    Can't wait for the XC recap!

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  17. GO CHARLIE GO!! I bet it felt AWESOME to get back out there!! :D

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  18. It looks like a GREAT start to the season! I cant even imagine riding on frozen ground. I love Charlies face too, he is so cute and looks so happy to be out there doing his job

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  19. He looks AWESOME over those jumps! What a cute jumper!! So glad you went and did the things! Ok, now on to read xc!!

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  20. He looks like he's having so much fun!! Weeeeeee

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  21. Still a fab outing to knock the rust off and better prepare you for the events ahead with better ground conditions!

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  22. I'm glad to hear the new dressage test rode well! I'm so happy they don't have those 10m half circle turns onto the centerline anymore .... that killed me everytime. And, oh! It looks like your first fence on the stadium course was an oxer - that's literally my biggest fear LOL

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  23. Looking super good in the stadium - way to guy guys!

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