Friday, August 22, 2014

Another Failed 3rd Level Attempt

We had three weeks between horse shows to get our acts together. It almost worked out. But that's ok, I actually feel really good about where we left off and how much we accomplished this year. Maybe I should have done more third level tests this time out, maybe not. I think it was all good.

I decided to ride both days at the "local" (3 hour away) recognized dressage show. My mom traveled with me on Friday to settle in (best idea ever!) and my husband met up with us the next day. We got some crappy ride times (the last hour of the show both days), which worked out well for settling in, but not so much with the little bit of summer heat (ok, it could have been much much worse).

The last lesson I had pre-show was just a half hour open ended lesson for whatever I thought we should work on... I asked to do shoulder-in to haunches out in trot because we were going to ride 2nd 3 again, and hadn't worked on it since June. That wasn't going to cover enough material in a half hour though, and is too simple an exercise, so I opted to make it half-pass right, shoulder-in right, haunches out left, half-pass left (switch for the other direction).

For anyone who has trouble with throughness, bend, flexibility- give this a whirl in a snaffle or a double, doesn't matter. Had my horse like putty in a few rounds. We also agreed that for the stuff with left bend (our hole), open the left rein to guide him, and he became much more agreeable in steps. Little bit of curb rein as you open the left hand as a reminder.

So when I warmed up for my tests that weekend, and in our practice on Friday, I rode that exercise and left canter mostly alone and left the flying changes alone (except for Sunday, I did two in warm up to get him thinking).

Our 3rd level test 1 on Saturday was super through, super connected, super quiet, and super obedient. So good that when we botched the flying changes (zero effort to make the change except for a few sticky hops that didn't quite have the right canter), we almost made it to 60%. She nailed us for the changes (hey, I had to get them somehow by the end of the the diagonal, and it sure wasn't happening in canter!), and she should have. But she rewarded my horse when we were right, and the rest of the test almost made up for the lack of changes. I only needed 3 points to get my 60. Basically if we had them (or even one side!), we would have gotten our score. Her overall comments were along the lines of needs better bend in canter and needs more engagement and uphill carriage. I could feel he needed to be more uphill, but I wasn't about to trade throughness for uphill. I can work with through!

3rd Test 1

3rd Test 1

My Mikey!!!
For those who ride multiple levels at shows, don't take a horse who is learning his flying changes in third back to second level until you have it down pat.

2nd Test 3
Poor Mikey, our 2nd level test 3 was not his fault. I liked the set up for the counter canter (circle 10m canter, simple change on the long wall), nothing confusing for him like going across the diagonal to make the change to counter canter. But the poor horse, he said, "But Mom, we don't canter on the wrong lead. That's bad!" and he turned my half halts for the 20m half circle in counter canter into cues to simple change through trot in the first counter canter. The second counter canter I was more tactful and he got upset that I was not asking for the change. Not his fault. We ended up with a 60.119, a poor score considering what we're capable of. No 7's for our counter canters this time!

So the next day we hung around all day to ride 3rd Test 1 again. Mikey was better rested that day and I did work two changes in warm up because he was so sticky to the ground the day before. I tried to ride him more collected and uphill than the day before and wasn't really rewarded for it- I lost my throughness and some connection. But I did some math (because I'm sadistic) and if I had clean changes that would get a 6, I would have gotten my score. Instead, a failed change (the pictures showed leap, hop, front end change, stuck sideways hop, change back, forward again) earned a 1, and a no change earned a zero. Now I'm all for nailing us for missing it, ok? But by the end of the movement, I was on the other lead ready for the next movement. And we did try a couple hops for the change. But to each his own. Now I just need to hunt down the elusive 10. I've gotten all the scores from zero to 9.5 in our tests through the years.

3rd Test 1

3rd Test 1

A "Flying Fail"

3rd Test 1. At least we can do square!

I figure we did just fine for learning our changes in May and making the move up to third this year. I'm not a professional, I try to ride like one though and work like one, but I'm not. My horse isn't easy when things are hard for him. I figure if our failures in our third level test were actually satisfactory, I would have my bronze medal. The fact that correcting the changes would have given me the scores? I can live for the winter with that. That's what this winter is for anyway, correcting his changes. Making them so easy that they don't take much thought and I can ask for them anywhere. Cause let's face it, I sure can't move up to 4th next year without them functioning perfectly. A winter with an indoor will be good for us.

Oh and because I'm a glutton for punishment, we're going to a schooling show this weekend. After I spent the last week in my house after a bronchial asthma attack.

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