Wednesday, October 5, 2022

by the numbers

We really haven't ridden many dressage tests this year, just 8 spread across two CTs, two Fix-a-Test clinics, and one schooling dressage show -- with the ridden tests split evenly between Novice Test A and Test B. 

Charlie and I have been riding Novice tests for.... whew, a few years lol... But these are the new 2022 tests, so it's interesting to take a pause and see how it's playing out so far compared to what I expected back in 2021. 

It's especially useful timing right now since we randomly have an even split between Test A and Test B, lol. Which, notably, will not be true after tonight when I do another Fix-a-Test clinic, and this weekend where we'll do another CT. So. Now is the time! Let's compare and contrast!  
Note: Test A has greater range in scores, while Test B has greater density in the 6.5+ zone. Most and least frequently recorded marks for each test are labeled.
Charlie and I have ridden each test 4 times. Both tests have 16 movements, plus the single Collectives score ("Harmony of Athlete and Horse"). So I have 68 total marks from each test, all of which are reflected in the above histogram showing the frequency of each mark by test.

Now.... I want to be clear that this is.... not a perfect comparison. Y'all might remember that Charlie was... hm, a bad dog at our Thornridge Fix-a-Test clinic last March. He was ready for his hocks to get done, and didn't care who knew lol. And in both rides (Test A) we got absolutely stuck in a tantrum around movements 9 and 10. But.... It was a friendly judge so the scores were, ahem, generous, and we still ended up with personal records. Just keep that in mind! 
Note: Y-axis is movement score, while X-axis is movement number. So, the line shows our average score by movement from "Enter at A" (far left) to "Halt, salute" and Collective Score (far right).
There is valid skepticism about whether some scores from Test A would withstand objective scrutiny...
Even so, it's still very interesting to compare how we progress through the test based on average movement score. Most judges say they want to score the entry well unless there is a specific reason not to, so it's no surprise to see scores in both tests dive shortly after entering.

Test A, however, goes into left lead canter very early -- which is a transition that, for us, requires preparation (and, uh, hock injections) or else. Meanwhile, in Test B, we actually get a whole 'nother circuit of the ring, plus a trot-walk-trot transition before cantering left, even tho it's only one 'movement' later on the sheet. 

We already discussed that crater in Test A where Charlie has his little tantrum going into the two-loop serpentine (bc he very strongly believes, and cannot be convinced otherwise, that I will ask again for left lead canter, oof). But perhaps more interesting is how both tests kinda end.... in a low spot (aside from the Test A halts which Phoebe generously scored 9s last March...). 

Notes: Average scores grouped (loosely) by movement type. The red color saturation reflects the high/low scale for reach test. Ex: Test A High = 8.3 / Low = 5.6; Test B High = 6.9 / Low = 6.0.
Test A ends with a stretchy trot, and Test B ends with that terrible little walk, turn on center line, trot, halt, dealio.... But, I also wonder if it isn't just us sorta losing organization and 'togetherness' as the test progresses. Not unlike how we often kinda start losing it a bit toward the end of a jump round?

Just food for thought, really, but something to remember mid-ride: Emma! Shorten your reins, reestablish your position, pilot not passenger! Finish Strong! Or something!

Also. Generally speaking, our walk work kinda sucks lol. Siiiigh. The horse is in fact capable of a good walk where he uses 'every part of the buffalo' but... either we don't have the 'motivation' or we have to be tactful about tension (or risk breaking gait). Basically just #NeedsWork.

Link to the Long Johns Schooling Show
Link to the Thornridge Fix-a-Test
Link to Thornridge CT

Link to the Long Johns Schooling Show
Link to the Twilight Dressage Fix-a-Test
Link to OF CT
Overall, no matter how you slice it, we score better in Test A on average. But, we are more consistent in Test B. Given that I'm skeptical of whether those Test A scores would withstand objective scrutiny... I'm actually inclined to believe Test B suits us better overall. 

Mostly, tho, I need to figure out how to improve Test A for us in two main ways: 

1) We need better preparation for that early left lead canter depart. This means being immediately more forward with more energy -- and also probably doing counter canter in warm up, and then cantering again immediately prior to entering the ring. 

2) I need to stop the cycle of Charlie anticipating a mythical left lead depart in movement 10. We are intended to walk off the diagonal, trot at C, then do a 2 loop serpentine in trot. Charlie really thinks we're going to canter, tho, and ends up fussing enough to blow multiple scores. Not sure what the solution is, but will work on it. 

Bc... Yea, given the choice I think I'd prefer to ride Test B, even tho the little exit tour kinda sucks (wtf, walking the center line???). But realistically, Test A is more commonly used at shows. 

So we shall see. There's another little Twilight Fix-a-Test tonight that I wasn't originally riding in, but one rider had to scratch and offered to scribe so I could take her spot. We'll ride Test A, and see how it goes! 

1 comment:

Thanks for leaving a comment! You may need to enable third party cookies in your browser settings if you have trouble using this form.