Monday, February 12, 2024

schooling dressage show

Guys!! Doozy did her first little schooling show this weekend!! My first show since April of last year, omg! Just a little at-home show in our normal indoor lol... So maybe not really anything significantly different for Dooz. But we did it, and we survived! And it was all ok!! Haha....

good girl post-tests, existing out in the open *without* killing anybody!
For real, tho, I'm gonna skip right over our lesson from the day before bc... While it started out really well and we're definitely figuring some stuff out, Doozy's quarter Ran. Out. somewhat unexpectedly about half way thru the lesson and the rest was an absolute wash... 

Like, true story, the lesson finished so poorly that it didn't seem likely we'd make it through the tests for the show if Doozy was in the same condition the next morning... Fortunately, tho, we got a few lucky breaks for the show. 

devil's in the details, like riding with the doors wide open for the first time!
First of all -- I had the first rides of the day, so got to warm up inside the indoor instead of out in the dressage court. Secondly, my barn mate would be right after us -- and she also prefers warming up on the indoor footing. So Doozy had a friend to warm up with inside, which helped take the edge off coping with the doors being wide open omg.

Said friend also parked her horse right in the middle of the doorway for our tests too -- plus there were a few spectators, so we had a nice healthy wall of bodies to prevent against unceremoniously bolting away lol....

getting lectured by the judge for riding poorly. doozy is super cute tho!
With that said, tho, the tests still weren't great. Realistically, we *can* do all the things required by the test, theoretically, but not necessarily within the parameters and constraints of the test itself. Like, yea... we CAN halt... but... mayyyybe not at X lol, ya know what I mean? 

useful feedback from test 1
And we also may or may not have cantered throughout the entire first test --- which, for the unaware, USDF Intro B does not call for canter. Oops. The judge really took me to task for that too -- told me that I was riding too crookedly and that this was why the horse kept stepping into canter, and that I'm basically going to ruin the horse by training the crookedness into her him if I don't fix my shit. 

Which like. Cool. Thanks judge for the deep diagnostic review of my training that you managed to accomplish in the last 2.5min... But maybe just give me the 5 and let's get on with it, yes? Thx. 

doozy kept a lid on it with the help of her emotional support barbie dream horse lol... 
also, my local consignment shop was selling these gorgeous SSG show gloves brand new for $2/pair. sure, maybe the white draws too much attention to one of my weakest areas, but the gloves are NICE
We rode our tests back to back, and a couple more things worked in our favor. First -- I was a bit more proactive about not letting Doozy slide into canter lol. Second, the mare was sliiiightly more on board with riding the pattern this time, just from having accomplished it once already. 

not gonna lie, we did a lot of cantering considering it's a W-T test LOL
There are definitely moments in the second test (video below) that excite me. Sure, it would be easy to get stuck on frustration for when I couldn't hold my position, or when Doozy would invert and run off on the muscle (basically any time we turned toward the door). And esp with these silly bright white (but oooh-so-luxe) gloves, there's no hiding any sins with my hands....

can cherry pick good moments for horse or rider (rarely both LOL).. you'll have to watch the video to see the truth tho ;)
But idk, I kinda feel like if you imagine stepping back, letting your eyes get a little blurry maybe, and viewing this test more from a materiale perspective, it feels like a really solid effort. Like, in each movement we have little glimmers of development. Small moments of give and softness... We just can't hold it right now. Ain't got no rhythm yet! 

always amazed when she can walk out even when super tense
Doozy is such an interesting horse bc she's tense, yes, but not quite in the tight taut way I might expect. Like, she can basically always walk nicely. Even when going from getting cantered away with in a trot circle, to not quite nailing the transition down to walk... It's still fine to push the reins forward in free walk and she just slinks her way across the diagonal in her lovely Doozy way. 

Tho, for some reason we got a 5 on our medium walk in this test. Idk. Looked fine to me, but eh, the judge disagreed** and gave it our lowest mark for the test. Idk, watch the video and lemme know what I missed??

(**Truthfully, the judge was in my sightline and was noticeably not watching us in this moment, but was instead dictating a comment to the scribe. Weirdly, she was watching the scribe write, too, which seemed unusual to me. Found out when I picked up the test sheet, she had the scribe add a comment to the margins about my "tending to tilt left," and in the process missed the medium walk and then trot transition, two of nine scored movements. Opted to dole out a 5 anyway tho! Thanks judge!)

more or less representative
Doozy is just so sensitive right now to where we are with respect to the door, a lot of how she goes is influenced from that draw. It's really up to me to be a bit more proactive about trying to keep things a bit steadier and more in line whether we're turning away or turning toward the door, ya know?

lolz pretty sure this is what the cool kids call crip walkin
We're figuring it out, tho. Maybe haha. Maybe not totally ready for going out in public for real yet... But for a home show? Felt like positive mileage. 

And honestly -- maybe the biggest win of the day was being pretty darn mature about hanging out after we finished, while Pride took her turns. 

There wasn't necessarily a TON of activity, but there were a few horses warming up in the dressage ring (including Candee Kisses omg!), plus a few more wandering around here and there... And lots of spectators, natch. 

mare was grown up enough to exist out in the open amongst the spectators and in view of warm up with horses coming and going, while we waited for Pride to finish her tests - good girl!
But it was all nbd. Doozy had exactly zero little episodes!! Progress!! Slowly but surely, we'll desensitize this little lady lol.

So. Doozy's first show is in the books. It maybe wasn't "real" in the sense that, ya know, it was at home in our safe normal indoor. But, then again, it was a real judge who neither knew nor cared about our history and simply judged us as we were. AND it was a heightened and unusual level of activity "at home," which sometimes is more challenging than just going somewhere new. 

Apparently there are ribbons too, 4th and 6th place!! (Out of 6 I think LOL womp...), so maybe Doozy will get her first satin glamor shot soon ;) 


  1. I saw a nice solid effort, with you and Doozy really communicating. I know a judge has to judge and so sometimes as riders we know that the perfect test is not the goal. Which is fine. But her comments about being rounder make no sense to me given the level of test you’re riding. Like if you could be soft,round and bendy you’d be riding a higher level. I didn’t see many contact issues and her head carriage seemed right to me for her level.
    Re : the walk, I think your score reflects thst she stretched down but then came right back up and her head stayed higher and she wasn’t stretching her top line. But that’s just my observations. Honestly, I think you should be pleased with your performance regardless of paid opinions.

    1. Thanks - I’m so pleased with this little mare!! Really wasn’t sure we would even be able to do it, and to be honest I don’t think we would have been able to without Pride there. But we did it and it was good!! And re: the walk scores, we actually got a 6.5 on that free walk over the diagonal, it was the portion from E to the corner in medium walk where we got a 5.0, and then a 6.0 for the trot transition in the corner. That 5.0 just doesn’t make sense to me, esp since the judge wasn’t watching LOL

    2. I agree with you- that walk was pretty good.

  2. Zero episodes is a win to me! Big pets to Doozy

    1. All the pets for Doozy, and a whole bunch of cookies too <3

  3. What a big step for her!!! The milestone of no explosions is amazing, good girl!!! And I love that you have the option for the baby step of a show at home with friend supervising. I'm a bit jealous, I've actually been somewhat sub consciously putting off goggles first appearance in a dressage arena.

    1. Thank you!! This was definitely a really great opportunity to keep taking tiny little steps. Hopefully it’ll help translate to an actual eventual dressage court lol but who really knows!

  4. Agree with Teresa, some of the comments seemed unfair for the level. That was a solid effort and I would have been super proud of Ms Doozy too! Home arena with extra action is more distracting than a new place.

    1. Thanks I’m super proud of this little mare <3

  5. I think it is so awesome what you are doing with Doozy!

    1. Thanks it feels good to get to do things again!!

  6. An at-home show is the perfect first show. Lots of the same pressures of showing without the added stress of travel. Very cool that you got to do that with her!

    1. Thanks - and definitely! We have a lot more resources at home too, so when we weren’t sure how it would go, it was still easy enough to give it a shot

  7. Such a clever Doozy!! Honestly for a baby's first show that seemed like a really solid test to me <3 I'd question that 5.0 for the medium walk as well, although the rest of the scores seemed pretty fair.

    1. Thanks yea overall the scores were about what I’d expect (except for that 5 lol), tho I’m still scratching my head a bit about how the judge talked to us. Oh well. Apparently by the end of the day she had loosened up ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  8. I can't read that judge's handwriting AT ALL, lol. Agree your walk was great especially given the horse you were riding! Glad the day was overall a success.

  9. Admittedly, I know almost nothing about what they're looking for in a dressage test. But I saw a baby horse trying REALLY hard to be the best girl! And I thought you did a lovely job keeping the lid on too.
    For what it's worth, showing at home can often be even harder than someplace new for the horses. So I'm giving Doozy bonus points. So great you were able to have a buddy nearby too. What a great first show for you guys, even if the judge was a little harsh.


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