Tuesday, October 12, 2021

MDHT Dressage

I'm still holding out for photos from the jumping phases, so let's dig into the lead up to our return to actual eventing, yes? For starters, we are having a lovely fall so far. Still occasionally a little warm and humid -- but generally getting crisp and cool in the mornings and evenings. I like it!!

bathed for his first clip of the season
But.... you know who does NOT like it?? Charles lol. He's almost a proper teenager, and each year seems to get fuzzier earlier haha. I'm honestly amazed at how quickly he fluffed up. Knowing how flimsy my will to push on can be, and knowing that Charlie himself can be a little bit of a quitter... Well, eh, I figured we'd go ahead and get in an early first clip. 

The way scheduling worked out, the person available to do this is one who often doesn't really clip as close to the skin as others. Like, in this case, you can't even really tell the horse is clipped from a distance -- there isn't much of a change in hair color etc. 

lol hardcore #training happening here, folks
That's not great if your hope is to get away with a single clip for the whole season. But... It's actually perfect when you want to clip hella early but maybe not fuss with blankets yet either. 

So Charlie got enough hair taken off last week to help him feel a difference and stay cooler, but without needing a blanket. And I'll just plan on clipping again later. Works for me, and is $75 well spent for one less thing to worry about LOL. Tho, jokes on me, since show day was rainy and cool lol. Eh, it worked out tho!

honestly pretty proud of charlie's hooves this year. this one little overreach has been growing out forever, and we touched up the manicure just in case it wanted to start cracking out more
Other than the clip, there wasn't much else to do in the way of serious "preparation." We managed to sneak in a super short impromptu jump lesson with Trainer P, a rare treat these days! It was just a private, and she quickly got us coursing through a fun set of combinations including a double, triple, and various striding configurations. 

Charlie felt great, was on point, and I got to practice working on being more smooth on both the step and the add stride. Sad there isn't video, but eh, we can guess how it went, right? Like Charlie is already trained to this level. We're mostly just making sure everything felt fresh and ready to go. 

gray jacket doesn't exactly "pop" when the entire friggin world is gray. charles looks handsome tho <3
Our "dressage schools," if you can call them that, have been smooth too. And I worked hard at just maintaining that same feeling once we actually got on the grounds at Loch Moy. Charlie wanted to be a little tense and tight in the warm up -- but I tried to just reassure him that we'd be doing the same things we always do.

Lots of steady relaxed trotting on giant sweeping figures across the enormous warm up ring, smooth changes of direction. Hints of counter flexion and leg yield here or there. Reminders to hold up both shoulders evenly since he kinda wanted to drop and lean left. Ya know. The usual. 

ok so i still have work to do with getting my right leg off the horse haha
The dearth of volunteers meant there were no stewards in the warm up area, so riders were expected to find their own way into their rings promptly on time. I worried that this would create instances of opportunists grabbing an open ring or cutting ahead etc. But luckily (at least for this phase) ended up being the first rider into my own ring. 

So I kept an eye on the clock, moved out of the warm up and into the area surrounding the courts themselves to do our final canters, and then was circling the ring ready to go at 7:59.

kinda knew our test wasn't gonna be a great score. but, eh. so what?
And ya know. Our test was fine. I actually did ask for more roundness from Charlie than I normally do, just because.... Obvi that's part of the test lol. Judges wanna see it. And close watchers might be able to notice the change in Charlie's frame in some places of the video (video is much nicer than the stills, I promise). 

But even so, this judge wanted more. Forever and ever, more. "Hollow" was our red thread comment throughout the entire test, showing up in 8 of 17 comments, with other variations like "reach to bit" and "above bit" peppering the rest. 

finally, tho, a good halt!! well done, sir <3
The score was a bit below average for us, at 35.5%. Felt on point tho for what we presented, so I wasn't really surprised by it. Was, actually, a little miffed at the distance between our score and class leaders tho, and wondered whether we suffered from stiffer scores by being first in the ring. Ooh, and also from apparently being in the open class, as most of the pros in the Novice division were in my split, womp.

(Tho, actually, it's an improvement in score from the last time this judge saw us at Thornridge last July so... Yea. Probably on point.) 

It's ok tho. I had actually really tried to prepare myself not to get caught up in the scoring side of things. It legitimately 100% did not matter -- all I wanted to focus on was keeping an ok head space so that I'd actually DO the cross country. I even sorta kinda hoped to maybe prevent myself from even checking scores until it was all over. 

Which....  half worked and half didn't. It didn't work bc the test was emailed directly to me almost immediately after the ride, so I saw the comments and scores right away. But -- it did work bc I only saw *my* score, not the whole class. 

test scoring and comments are all done through an app now, and emailed to the rider within minutes. kinda a nice system!! tho the scribbles are hard to read unless really zoomed in, sorry. they're in the video tho! i'll give you a hint: basically every comment is "Hollow."
Loch Moy is using the Compete Easy app now for most of their live scoring, and my app was down. I didn't realize at the time that there's also a Compete Easy website too. So basically, I knew my score was below average, but couldn't check to see where it landed me in the class. But ya know, probably low, right? 

Which was kinda perfect, right? Like, not a great score in a split full of pros. Probably didn't really have anything on the line. In other words, basically zero pressure. Just had to go out there, and start jumping some jumps. 

I'd already walked the course the day prior after jump judging so.... the break in between rides was spent kinda quietly chillin, and trying to stay warm haha. Trying to convince myself that this was a good idea, and that this was fun, and that I'd be happy when it was over -- and to just put one foot in front of the other until we got there.  


  1. Oooh innovation and technology in horse shows?? Is this the tethered to tradition sport I know and love??

    1. the pandemic definitely shifted paradigms, including scoring as it relates to required interactions between humans. loch moy uses Nominate Jumping (find it in the app store!), an australian based app, for all their jump judging and score keeping now (at least, at starter trials. i'm not sure if paperless is allowed yet at recognized events?), and Compete Easy for checking riders in and posting results. meanwhile, riders are expected to print their own pinny numbers and find reusable bridle tags. no more actual physical packets at check in.

      it's not perfect, obvi. the apps require either robust wifi or good cellular coverage at the venue. plus for now, all volunteers are expected to download the apps themselves (preferably in advance) and the xc briefing now has an added "how-to-tech" component for a sometimes older and tech-averse volunteer population. and DIY pinny numbers are often hard to read vs the consistent printed versions traditionally provided by venues... but loch moy seems pretty determined to refine the process and make it work!

      if you're curious about the apps, i wrote about them back in march and included a couple screen shots here:

  2. Just getting caught up. I thought that that was one of the more consistent tests you guys have done. Yes he got above the bit some times (looked like he was saying- can we go over where the jumps are now mom) but he was lovely and quiet. Your rhythm was really good too at the trot and canter.

    That looked like a training level test to me and he was pretty much in a training level frame. Your work is definitely showing.

    1. thanks i'm pleased with the test too. charlie was a bit tighter than normal, but in terms of execution, as far as he knows, that's exactly how a test ought to be ridden. so he would have left the ring feeling like he did exactly what he was supposed to. good enough for me!

  3. Is it weird that I miss having physical score sheets when they get sent like that? I feel like the weirdest person when I admit that, lol.

    Test looked great! Definitely could have been slightly more ideal weather, though!

    1. ugh i would have taken worse weather if it came with a later ride time... the darkness that morning was unreal, omg. pretty sure if i hadn't had my trailer mate out with me trying to find our horses in the pitch black pastures, i would have just given up and gone home to go back to sleep LOL

  4. Glad you had a decent test. Dressaging is hard! I love the grey jacket with your brown boots - fancy!

    I think the broader inclusion of apps/digital stuff is great at shows. It should save some paper and waste. Although, from my xp, the western show people still love their paper. A few years ago, I tried to push a digital pattern package (just a pdf!) and it was met with great resistance. *sigh* lol

    1. there are definitely some serious barriers to adoption, not least of which are the folks who just don't wanna change from 'how it's always been done.' truly, tho, there are some practical limitations to the digital stuff right now, tho. like internet / wifi coverage. or expecting volunteers to have enough juice on their devices to last all day. or expecting volunteers to have enough space / and recent enough updates to download and run the apps.

      i actually wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see venues end up deploying their own in-house set of devices that run the scoring apps, that get handed out to volunteers sorta like walkie talkies, rather than having volunteers use their own phones. we shall see tho!

  5. How awesome! The fact you got out there and rode a dressage test in less than ideal weather gets you points from me. Riding in the rain is very low on my "fun things to do". In an alternate universe, I was supposed to show there too if my show over labor day had worked out. I am super excited for you guys finally getting back out, maybe you can go to another one!

  6. I do think going in first generally does not help with scoring in dressage, hunters, eq or jumpers. Though being last in hunters also doesn't go over well. I always want to be in the middle of the pack. Really cool about the modernization with the tests tho!


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