Tuesday, February 1, 2022

wwyd: dressage test edition

Ok. Happy February, folks. It's winter. It's frozen. There isn't a whole heckuva lot going on right now. Perfect time for some idle hypothetical planning for the future, yes? 

Not like, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" type nonsense, tho. Bc who on earth has that kind of energy as we stare into the gaping maw of a 3rd straight pandemic year, wtf.  

we've already had something like 3 meaningful snow events just in january.... sigh, no dice on another mild winter i guess!
No no, let's talk much more imminent future. Like, the next six weeks. Even more specifically: some very low key, casual schooling dressage shows that may or may not get cancelled bc of weather, and that I may or may not enter anyway. Sound good?

And, in the meantime, pics today are 100% unrelated to this topic at hand -- but are just general snapshots of day to day life with Chuck in Winter. 

charlie managed to decapitate one of the snaps on his smartpak sheet ugh
So. Ok, here's the deal. There are three (3) upcoming local dressage opportunities. Two are just standard shows -- as in, you select a test to enter, ride that test, accept your judgment, and move on with life. 

The third (not chronologically) is one of those Fix-a-Test Clinics, wherein you select your test and ride it -- but then spend something like 15-20min with the judge, who coaches you through aspects of the test in order to improve the presentation and score. 

luckily they can just replace that little buckle-on strap, rather than having to get a whole new blanket
In all instances, but particularly the FaT Clinic, we have every reason to expect kind (or at least, reasonable) judges who aren't likely to rip out the hearts of any wayward rider who dares to present an imperfect or -- gasp! -- messy test in arctic February at a local venue. 

bc lord knows charlie already has enough clothing, thanks. this Harrison Howard anti-rub shoulder bib remains an essential item in his wardrobe! 
Some additional detail on venue facilities, as this may play an important role in selecting tests: 

- The two standard schooling shows will likely be held in a 20x40m indoor arena -- the same size as a small dressage court (ie, the size used for all lower level eventing tests and intro/training level dressage tests). 
- It is *possible* that one or both of these shows could move to the outside ring that accommodates a regulation 20x60m court, but it's a big a gamble. 
- The FaT clinic will be in a 20x60m indoor.
- Depending on weather and ground conditions, warm up areas may be very limited for all events.

other new essential kit?? some surpass for charlie's ugly hock!
The order of the potential events is: 1st Show, FaT Clinic, 2nd Show. So. My question, dear readers, is.... Which tests should I ride? In which events? And, why?

The smartest choice would be to go all in on the new 2022 Novice Eventing tests. It's the test we'll see in competition during the upcoming season, and this would give us a good chance to set some baselines -- and get some pointers in the FaT. 

i might be deluding myself, but i think it's helping. still a big weird looking hock tho
Pros: The test is intended to be ridden in a small court, so would be fine to do in the shows. Plus, obvi, the above point about getting a head start on the upcoming season. 

Cons: Eh, this is definitely among the most boring options, imho.

all these ice/snow events mean charlie's herd (typically housed farthest afield down the long hilly driveway) gets put up in paddocks so nobody dies trying to get the wild beasties up and down the icy road
Also.... Let's be real, there's always going to be a bit of a ceiling to Charlie's dressage scores unless I get serious about riding him more round. But.... I legit don't really want to ride him round for the sake of being round, since when I get too preoccupied with headset, I tend to get the horse behind my leg. No thanks haha! 

gives me prime opportunity to observe his social life! he's definitely preferential toward the brown boys (vs the red boys, or gray boy) -- and some of my barn mates are convinced Moose will be the ultimate new BFF. 
(also omg i know his blanket is twisted, i swear he wears it like that on purpose bleh)
Bc.... Charlie is actually capable of some more advanced stuff -- like all of 1st Level, and, honestly, now that I can kinda sorta sit the trot, 2-1 looks pretty comfortably within his wheelhouse. 

And, when my energy and focus is on the details like balance and impulsion and bend necessary to do those more advanced movements (and necessary to actually sit omg), Charlie just sorta goes round all on his own. Which, you may recall, is my whole approach anyway :: Charlie's frame should reflect the correctness in our way of going, not the other way around. Ymmv. 

but then he's also spent a lot of quality time with Bentley lately too.... idk, time will tell. or maybe he'll just have two best friends instead of one? 
So. You see my conundrum. We could have more fun doing more interesting tests, while still pulling mediocre scores -- bc the whole "mediocre score" thing feels inevitable anyway, tbh.

In the schooling shows, I could maybe take a look at the 2022 Training or Prelim tests, since those are designed for small courts but tend to have more 1st level stuff. Remember I used to do that with Izzy back in the day too. Then maybe do 2-1 in the FaT clinic? Or 1-3?? 

anyway. mikey is everybody's best friend <3
Or I could still do the 2022 Novice tests in the schooling shows, since, bleh, again, that's probably the smartest choice --- at least get a taste of what's coming our way this season, ya know? 

But.... thinking back to the 4 years we spent riding the 2018 test, we really never properly aced that two loop serpentine at trot -- and now there are TWO in the new 2022 test. So... maybe the FaT clinic would actually help us scrounge up a couple more points?? 

It's hard to believe, really, given how impressively flat our scores were over that 4 year period haha, so again, not sure it'll really make a difference....

as is sweet shetland stallion TT, looking all sorts of snugly in the snow! 
But. Entries are coming due soon, so I gotta make some decisions. Thus, my questions to you: Which tests would you choose, and for which events? Why?

Would you stick with the safe choice and work on shoring up as many points as possible on ol' faithful? Or would you say to hell with it, let's take that atrocious sitting trot out in public and see what happens? Or maybe there's some sort of middle ground in there? 

I make absolutely zero promises to follow any advice haha (and lord knows these winter shows have a pretty solid history of cancellations anyway). But I'm curious ;) 


  1. Ooh! I like variety! I probably would do a novice test for the fix a test and then play with the upper level Eventing tests for the other two.

    Mikey <3 upside down cats are the best

    1. mikey really is the best <3 and i had thought about using the FaT to do a more advanced test to take advantage of getting a mini-lesson on more exciting things... but can see the advantage of doing the opposite too lol

  2. Agree with Kat. Get advice on test you will see this year, then go wild on other 2.

    1. that is certainly the more sensible idea, altho history says i'm probably not gonna make much difference in our scores no matter how much money i throw at our training! whoops haha

  3. As someone with a decent sitting trot, I'd vote with taking the atrocious sitting trot out in public. I'm of the opinion this year to just take risks because last year I played it so safe, and while I enjoyed it, I really wish I had taken the chances on the harder tests and just had fun with them. And I think I'd be one to want to play with the new tests, not sure if that was included in this option, but just to start working on strategies for those tests.

    Also if you keep up with the surpass, I'm not sure if you know this but there is an over the counter version for humans called Voltaren that works similarly, and is a lot cheaper. That's what I've seen a lot of my massage clients swap to.

    1. apparently surpass is really hard to get right now bc of supply chain issues... so i'll keep that in mind!

      and yea i def hear ya on feeling like maybe now is a good time to take chances and have fun... even if my sitting trot isn't quiiiiite ready for prime time, maybe this would be a safe space to try it??? lol

    2. Echoing the sentiments from Anna - I have Voltaren for Maizey and it works well!

    3. thanks! i have literally that whole gigantic full tube above, and never actually finished the last tube i had back from the #splintdays (gave the remnants away to a barn mate in need) so it seems unlikely i'll need to re-up any time soon. still good to know tho!

  4. I'd do novice test for fix a test, and maybe even the first test day too so I'm more fine tuning things I need outside perspective on than fixing obvious things I tend to mess up the first time I ride it for 'real' (geometry, etc). For sure I would go wild and have fun on the third test day though!

    1. I would do this too. sometimes you just have to go for it. and I have found that when I'm pretty sure I'm going to be awful I do better because I put zero pressure on myself and Carmen.

    2. I think you should do whatever sounds like the most fun to you. Its cold and miserable and if you are going to hitch up the trailer and spend money, at least have fun doing it!!

    3. @T (the first, haha) --- ugh i can't argue with your practical assessment, even if i kinda wanna to whine about how unlikely it is we'll get any better at the movements in a novice test after 4 years of riding them..... so i did send in the entry for the first show for that test #boringsigh

      @T (the second -- so many Ts!!) definitely feel ya on the whole "zero pressure / go for it" thing too, tho. i kinda wanna lean in that direction for the FaT just since it's such a nice venue and a bigger ring and could be fun to let loose a little. idk tho. hm.

      and @S --- 100% on all counts. would be more fun if we tailgated any (or all?) of them too haha, is it too cold for cider-mosas??? hmu ;)

    4. You are in Maryland, right? I live in Lanham, down near the DC beltway. If it's not too presumptuous to suggest, I will happily come and bring a vat of alcoholic hot mulled cider or wine for the chance to hang out and watch tests...

    5. ha anytime we're talking 'volume' in terms of 'vats,' we're speaking my language! i can't promise the nicest drive in the world from where you are --- basically up 95 other side of baltimore, but shoot me an email at fraidycat.eventing at gmail for details ;)

  5. I have no idea how my comment ended up as a reply to the T comments lol. But the bonus to equestrian sports is lots of winter wear. I am not above drinking cider-mosas in snow pants. LMK what you decide to do :)

    1. heck yes ;) the shows are at charlie's home barn, making life quite easy in that regard. the FaT is at that super lovely dressage barn we love to go to. i'll email ya!

  6. I have zero dressage experience, so any advice I give is probably worth nothing too... But couldn't you do one of the harder tests for the two regular shows, and use the clinic experience to work on the novice test that you'll be riding this year? That way you can try some harder things and get some feedback, but also get some direct help with what you'll be needing for show season.

    1. yea i mean, it makes so much sense when you lay it out like that. and that's kinda exactly what i'm thinking. but.... i'm also wondering, i could enter a 2' jumping clinic right now and get tons of feedback on how to suck less.... but wouldn't i maybe get the same feedback jumping around 3' and possibly have more fun while i'm at it? idk if i'm being practical tho, or if it's just the winter season of inactivity that's making me go nuts about this stuff LOL

  7. I know this comment might be super late for entries but I'd enter whatever would make you the happiest! Right life is too short, especially in third year pandemic. So do the tougher tests, don't care about the scores and just go enjoy your horse.


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