Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sorry Penn, We're Going to Another Horse Show!

E (from the hunter pace) sent me a text Sunday night and asked if I wanted to go to a dressage show about 2.5 hours away. I was meh about it (that raise I mentioned before? Penn is sucking that up), but I looked at the show bill anyway.

Holy crap- $20 per class, no grounds fee/other fees. Just a $15 day stall. We'll split gas and tolls to get there... so I'm looking at a $55 to show and probably $40-50 for hauling.

So baby horse is going to another show! I took a quick look at the training level tests, and we're going to do Training 1 and Training 2.

I wanted to do Training 3, but there's a couple issues:
  1. The canter. Penn's canter isn't organized enough yet to canter for that long. Aka, I'm not organized enough in his canter to keep him cantering properly that long. Cantering from A, circle at B, then all the way around to the HXF diagonal, to trot at X? We can canter on a circle OR in a straight line. He's not strong enough and I'm not organized/with him enough to canter straight to circle to straight. Which sounds ridiculous, I know. I feel ridiculous typing it. But it's where we're at. Mikey had a big rolling rocking horse canter that seemed to propel itself around and it was super big and comfy to ride (thoroughbred for the win). I'm still expecting that big rolling canter, and while Penn's canter is big, it's different. It's how I always imagined a Spanish-type horse's canter would feel (I know it doesn't look that way). Plus he's just not very strong in it yet.
  2. The free walk and stretchy trot. Free walking for that long? The other two tests only ask for it on a shorter diagonal. Stretchy trot circle is in T2, but there's no reason to mess it up twice in one day. We're just starting to get our stretch work together.
So for the next two weeks I'm going to work on:
  • Insisting on everything. Make sure I keep telling Penn, "No, leaning the extra hair on my hand is unacceptable" (within the gait, trot/halt, and trot/walk are the worst offenders, in order of most offensive to least). I will try not to pull on you and be unfair with my left hand, but you absolutely cannot lean on me.
  • Keep working on the stretch. He's getting the idea, but he's not offering enough stretch for the movement (and it gets super rushy and downhill in trot).
  • Do something about that canter! Be able to come off the circle without flinging in.
Two weeks is plenty of time!

No more intro level for us!

I rode last night and tried to work on the above. He hadn't worked in the arena since Thursday, and only went for a walk Saturday, so he was a bit off-topic with me. Nothing bad, but he wanted to look around and not bend and in general not dressage.

I tried to address the leaning first. He immediately put too much weight in my hand. I did a ton of trot-HALT NOW transitions. I asked for a little rein back and he wasn't keen on giving it. He got locked up and hollow instead... so scratch that since it wasn't helping. I ended up using the jump exercise Trainer had up to help me get Penn working.

She had 5 jumps set on centerline (jumping across the school, not down centerline) so you could serpentine through them. I used the spacing between to keep me honest about my own 3 loop serpentine placement. Penn actually seemed nervous about the "tight" turns. I focused on asking him to bend properly, giving him several straight strides across centerline to relax before I asked for new bend, and I focused on keeping the tempo.

A couple serpentines in he suddenly relaxed and really lifted his back, Like, you know how when they poop while you're working and you're like, "His back is up!" then you find out he was just pooping? Well I had his back up like that, but without the poop. I checked. And he held it willingly for a the rest of the serpentine and for another one!

I fed him a little rein and asked for stretch just to see where we were at, and he reached out and a little down, but not to the point where I want him to go. I encouraged him down some more, and he stretched a tiny bit more. I collected him back up since he wasn't looking to lay on my hand and he wasn't going to the forehand.

I opted to try a little canter on smaller circles since he'd been working straight through for about 20 minutes by that point. We did a couple left, and a couple right, another trotting stretchy circle or two, then called it a day. He'd been very good and his stretches got better as we went.

Tonight: repeat the above ride and spend a few minutes looking at the free walk!

One day Penn will be my 3rd Level horse. Until then, enjoy Mikey!


  1. Aww I love that last picture of Mikey!

    I totally understand what you mean with the T3 canter work. Going from a straight line to a circle and then back onto a straight line is HARD. It's stupid to think that something so simple could be so exceedingly difficult, but those transitions are really rough at this stage. Luckily they learn so fast at this stage that two weeks is plenty of time!

    Good luck at the show!! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

    1. Mikey was so awesome that day. I cried after that test- he was so good and I was so proud of him.

      Ok, I'm glad you can back me up on the T3 canter work! I know it's a prep for 1st and the amount of canter in that (I remember moving Mikey up to 1st and I was like, holy cow, there's a lot of canter here), but Penn isn't looking at 1st right now. They do learn so quickly at this stage, I love it. I'm starting to make a plan for the next week and a half, so he peaks on Sunday without being sore. And thanks! I'm so excited to go!

  2. last night my mare pooped while we were trotting around and i literally sighed a little despondently to myself, feeling sorry that she doesn't always go with her back lifted like that lol. seriously tho - that show sounds like the perfect opportunity. good luck!

    1. Haha! I've thought that thought MANY times! I was like "good boy!" every couple steps after he found it, haha. I'm actually considering doing most of their show series. They have them at least once a month from November through the beginning of April. It'll be good for Penn to go see things and I'm sure E will want to go. She wants to give first level a try next year at recognized shows.

  3. Training 3, how I hate thee. There's supposedly been quite a bit of debate among judges (says trainer, who is a judge) about WHY they put the canter depart where they do, because it's basically a recipe for disaster. At least the first level tests give you a little more time to balance before you blast off down the long side.

    1. Yes, I'd be sending Penn down the longside unbalanced, to get him on a circle which will take a lot of his oomph out of him, then back straight and all I can see is by this point, it's just a mess and he breaks and it's all kinds of sloppy. No thanks! I'll try it again after he's a bit better trained!