Saturday, April 30, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

4/24 - Schooling Show - First Level!

So let me preface this all with: I'm super happy with Penn. I let him get away from me at times, but he tried his best. I think this is an OK starting point for First Level, but we have some serious work to do before the first recognized show in May. We did not put out the same quality work that we did with Stephen the day before.

Trotting in warm up.

For most of April, Penn has seemed a bit uncomfortable behind. It has made working on the canter difficult, and that difficulty really came out at the show. Some things to consider:

  • Penn grew behind in the last few months. Growing hurts.
  • Penn was barely broke to ride at this time last year. He's doing a ton more work than he was at that time.
  • I've owned him for just over 8 months. I have turned his world upside down and most of his training has happened in that time. He's doing a ton more work than he was 8 months ago.
  • Spring is here! He may not be dealing with the good grass well. He's been having some looser poops lately.
  • His legs blew up a week before this show and he wasn't sound for several days. The hind end was worse than the front.
I'm not making excuses- I'm trying to problem solve why my 7 year old (who had clean x-rays in August- no chips or arthritis) is suddenly uncomfortable with his hind end. I'm posting the trot at home, sitting in public because he was a bit squirrely in this indoor arena. I think a lot of that unevenness in trot comes from me holding him together, and his tension manifested in the canter. I didn't have a lengthening canter or a transition back to working canter. I think if we had been outside it would have been better, so here's to hoping for next time! I will make an effort to post the trot next time, but we will see.

Lengthening in warm up.

He's going to get more patches before the recognized show (they really helped him this time around). He's also going to get a bunch of doses of Adequan before the recognized show. I'm going to ask the farrier to shoe his hind end slightly differently at the recommendation of another farrier (I had asked her for an opinion on how he was shod - she liked my farrier's work very much- and she made a couple recommendations that are more on the nit-picky side. I trust her opinion and I'll run what she said by my own farrier). I'm also going to double up on his OCD supplement- it's for bone and joint health. It seems most of their clients are thoroughbred racehorses who get the supplement while they're still growing early in life. It certainly can't hurt to put Penn on the problem dosage.

Leg yield in warm up. They always look horrible from the side.

Anyway, back to the show! I got there super early because Hawk and I hauled over together, and her ride times were bright and early. Penn was obnoxious in the barn- screaming and stall walking. It has been a while since I've seen him that upset out in public. He's got to learn to deal with it though!

Canter in warm up.

I didn't ride until almost the end of the show- I got on at 1:40 for a 2:00 ride time. Warm up was OK- he seemed to be working fairly well. I was actually really hopeful for his canter work because his canter was nice and relaxed in warm up, and he was paying attention and willing to work with me without the tension he's had in the past.

Canter almost looks like a good gait for him!

I tried to work warm up like I had with Stephen the previous day. I was able to fit everything in except the trot-halt-trot and zig zag from 1-3. I was planning on going back down after my first test to review that, however I didn't think Penn would benefit from more warm up after the first test. The more we rode, the more electric his responses to me got.

It almost looks like he gets stubby up front at this point in the gait.

There were some people trying to load a horse near warm up, but the horse blew up and either slipped out of his halter, or broke it, and went gallivanting around a large grassy area across from warm up. Once they caught him, I decided to go up to the indoor a test early because I didn't want to have to walk past the scene the horse was causing in his desire to not get back on the trailer.

Off to the indoor to ride our tests! I borrowed the vest- I need to go to Goodwill and buy my own!

So here's the first test of the day, 1-2:

57.969% - 3rd place

Ok, so that could have gone a lot better. Stuff was just bad, end of story. There were so many 5's in this test, argh. She certainly nailed us where she should have, but she was willing to praise better efforts too. I was having a discussion with him and was completely late for my walk-trot transition right before the left lead canter.

And the second test of the day, 1-3:

61.765% - 1st palace, AA/JR First Level High Point

"WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK." That's what was rolling through my head in the first halt. Stephen had gotten after me about the left hind resting at the halt, so I was adding more left leg than I should have... and his ass went swinging in the WORST halt of my career. I was mortified. A 5 was generous. All I could do was pretend it never happened and ride on. Average scores through the start of the trotwork... and then as I was finishing my first 10m circle at R, I was like, "I paid zero attention to the outside hind. I bet it wandered out." Yupp. Then we halted, and I stopped myself just in time from saluting. *face palm* Note the rein adjustments that happened which made the halt obnoxiously long. I was pleased with his walk and the start of the right lead canter work.

Basically, most of the issues are bad direction on my part. His canter didn't feel available to me, so I barely asked for lengthenings. I didn't want to risk breaking to trot on the transition back to working canter. I had a hard time keeping him on task. He was especially distracted in canter and I just couldn't figure out how to deal with it.

Also, this judge severely disliked my desire to sit the trot. She asked me at the end of the second test why I chose to sit the trot- I told her that Penn was feeling wiggly and I have better control over him in sitting trot. She just stared at me, then said "Well, it negatively effected his gaits." All I could say was "OK, thank you. I'll consider that." I'm at a loss- so we could be inaccurate but his gaits would be better? She nailed him with 6's, which I do get... he wasn't up to his usual float. But I still think I made the right decision to sit. I'll give posting a try next time when we're hopefully not in the spooky dark indoor. The judge had some strong opinions throughout the day. A severe dislike of sitting trot in training and first level. She didn't like how Trainer held her hands in one test as the horse was getting tired, awarded them a slew of 6.5-8's throughout the test, then gave her a 5.5 on rider effectiveness. Umm, you can't award awesome scores like that and then dock the rider effectiveness. The rider was obviously effective if you awarded mostly 7's and 7.5s for a 72%. Anyway.

Well the satin tells the story of a great show day doesn't it?

I don't know these tests well enough. At all. Coming around the arena to enter 1-2, I'm trying to figure out what direction I turn at C. All I know is it's opposite of 1-3, and I have to work backwards from the zig zag to figure out which way I turn in 1-3, and then I had to repeat the process because I'm trotting around and decision time is coming and and and I NEED TO PRACTICE THESE TESTS MORE!

We're up to 4 champion ribbons!

Basically, we did what we set out to do- ride first level. Not a total loss, but we have a lot of work to do before the next schooling show on May 8th, and the recognized show on May 21/22. I'll see Trainer at least once (I'm hoping twice!) before the recognized show. I think I'm going to do some more long lining sessions so Penn can work on his hind end without me on him. I think I might give Karen's sliding side reins a try too. I found a good hill to walk up and down too to help his hind end strength. More on that later though!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

4/23 - Stephen Birchall Clinic

We had a super busy and exciting weekend- I rode with Stephen Birchall on Saturday and then Penn made his First Level debut Sunday!

General thoughts from the weekend: I got to look at the videos from both days and do some reflecting. The judge on Sunday pummeled Penn for poor gait quality. I knew it was not good, but when I compared to the quality from Saturday, she was right to pummel us. There was a quality that Penn had Saturday that he did not have Sunday. Could it be he was fresher Saturday? Could it be he was tense in the show indoor? Could it be because I sat the trot in my tests because he was squirrely on Sunday? I'm sure it was all of the above. Stephen definitely got the better quality Penn, and the work was just better. But having a trainer work you through things on a fresh horse will do that.

Anyway, on to the recap!

Penn agreed to his first ear trim with clippers! There's more to shave, but I got the gross long inside hairs out.

I worked Saturday morning, per the usual. BO's daughter has been around the past few weekends, and between the two of us, we can get the horses fed, turned out, stalls cleaned, refill water and hay in about 3 hours. She also rode in the clinic and we hauled over together.

I pulled Penn in from the field when we were done and proceeded to do our pre-horse show clean up before my lesson that afternoon. If I didn't bathe and braid before lesson, I was going to be doing it at 6pm that evening after hauling the horses home from the clinic.

Not amused by a bath when it was still in the 50's.
Not to worry, I only scrubbed his legs down to make his socks gleam.
His body just got a good brushing.

A bathe, braid, and trailer ride later, we were ready to ride!

Ready to show! I mean... clinic!

Stephen was happy that Penn seems to have bulked up a bit since our last lesson (yay! He was looking a little ribby). I told him that we were moving up to first level the next day, hence the braids, so I'd like to work on some of the first level stuff. He said sure, 1-1? I was like, nope, 1-2 ad 1-3. 1-1 is basically T-3 with lengthening trot, and Penn has a very functional leg yield, so we're skipping that one. Stephen was on board with that idea and designed a very effective warm up routine before we ran through 1-3 (I am a total failure at warming up at shows). Afterwards, we picked at the couple things that went wrong that I can easily make up points.

He also solved my squeaky boot problem! Whenever I clean my tack, my boots squeak incessently. It's horrible. He heard the squeaking and was like, "I can fix that!" A fresh application of Belvior Leather Balsam and we were back in business! And my leg was so slippery. I'll have to figure out how to time that so I'm not squeaky, but I'm not slipping around my horse's sides either!

Keep it to 20-25 minutes, with the first 15 min as trot work and a walk break. Make sure to give Penn a couple short breaks so that his muscles have a chance to relax and re-oxygenate properly. Don't go crazy and work him so hard that his muscles are overused before the test.

  • Start the trot on a circle.
  • Go large, use quarter line to wall leg yields to establish a give to the outside rein. Doesn't have to be many steps, just enough to get the idea across.

Going large off the first circle to the right before leg yielding.

  • Ever so slightly, lengthen across the diagonal and repeat the circles and leg yields the other direction.

Circling to the left.

  • Coming off the circle to the left, Stephen had me think about riding the idea of a shoulder in to keep the bend, but don't actually ride one. I know the feeling I had, and I thought I was probably 3 tracking, but the video proved we were not. Interesting!
  • Next, use 1-2 leg yields and lengthenings to warm up those two moves. Repeat a couple times.
  • Cover the 1-3 leg yields both directions after warming up the leg yields. If he gets fussy, skip the second part of the leg yield and go straight. (we only made it through 2-3 full zig zags before we had to dump the zag part)

I wish my 1-3 zig zag was this good on Sunday. It was not!

  • Walk break.
  • Use the 1-3 canter pattern to warm up, but don't over do it. Keep the lengthenings a bit quiet.

  • Review the 1-3 trot work before the 1-3 test: turn right, halt at X, turn left. Stephen nailed me for Penn resting his left hind in the halt. He was square, but resting. He had me ride it a couple times, keeping my left leg a little more active. He said to make sure a grounds person checks my halts at the show in warm up.

Test riding:
Since we were working in a small dressage arena instead of a standard, the 1-3 trot zig zag and canter shallow loops only went just past the quarterline so the steepness was similar to the standard arena.
  • Get the leg yields done, even if it means over flexing the neck to get the steepness.
  • Counter bend slightly in the corner to make the 1-3 leg yields a bit easier.
  • QUIET riding. No overzealous, just easy and quiet.
  • Prompt trot transitions within the gait. DO NOT OVERDO IT.
  • Canter lengthen: show a big change at the beginning, then carefully and quietly bring him back a little early so there is a definite change in the gait, and so it has a better quality.
  • Take the extra time to make the simple change in 1-3 work. More steps is better than a wrong lead. Stephen had me ask for it at the first quarterline, which really helped center the trot work over X.
  • Ride the left lead 15m canter circle at A a little smaller so it ends up the right size- Penn and I tend to drift out on the left circle.

After Test Practice:
  • Trot-halt-trot across the school. Just the notes that I mentioned before (we didn't work this in warm up, but I added it to the warm up notes for me for later!)
  • Stretchy trot: This totally sucked when we rode the test, so Stephen made me revisit it. He really got after me to regulate Penn's tempo with my seat (my usual way is with my shoulders, but that doesn't work so well when Penn is stretching down). After we got the tempo kind of squared away, he got after me to keep the bend. Same idea, with the seat. It took a couple circles to get it right.
  • Free walk: for some reason, this didn't work well for us Saturday, so Stephen had me do several diagonals where I made my elbows/hands follow the motion of the walk to get a better stretch. This was totally weird and I had a very hard time finding the right motion.

He told me to let him know how the show went, so now we're Facebook friends. He did mention that I might want to try Perfect Prep to help Penn level out ("You're not doing it, but everyone else is!"). Penn's canter started out OK, but the more time we spent in it, the faster it spiraled downward (too much tension), and it became very difficult to manage. He stopped responding to changes within the gait and started going with: "I canter and I trot. Half halt in canter means trot, always", and I was losing adjustability. It'll help him just ease into it at shows while we train the adjustability and get some more fitness at home.

My own thoughts:
In addition to all of Stephen's points, I need to get these tests memorized. I had trouble keeping an eye on what I was doing in the small arena and I got a little lost and muddled, which reflected poorly in the practice 1-3 test.

Tomorrow: show day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Never Ending Ride Log

This post just continued to get longer and longer because I kept thinking, just one more ride and then I'll drop in pics and we'll be good. But then I got sick, Penn's legs swelled, and it's all just a mess.

An adorable picture to get you started.

Thursday 4/7:
Penn is back to feeling fine after his face incident. I gave him Monday-Wednesday off because he was so good at the show and then I worried his head might be hurting after he bashed it. He was super ready to go back to work last week- he was obnoxious AF.

He had to stand for the farrier that evening. Penn wouldn't lift his feet for him, then he wouldn't hold his hind legs up. He was excessively mouthy and even tried to nip me. I may have hit him pretty hard in the chin for it and the horse has the nerve to look depressed and gave the farrier his best "I'm abused" face. He of course went right back to being nosy and pestering both me and the farrier.

I rode him, and obnoxious is all I can describe him as. Penn was all zoomy and excited to get from point a to point b. He was surprisingly relaxed in the neck and back for the amount of zoom he had. He had awesome leg yields, nice and steep. He was super open to listening to exactly what I wanted, but was getting a bit anticipatory. Things went downhill in canter when he was convinced that he couldn't canter past a horse getting ready to lunge.

At that point I'm getting kind of angry at him for acting like a less trained version of himself, so I decided we're going to do some hard work to fully engage his brain- walk canter walk transitions. All the transitions up to canter were on the money or a step or two of trot. He had the nerve to do a fairly decent canter walk to the left using Stephen's 10m circle technique. Then he had the gall to respond beautifully to my big half halts to the right and walk right from canter when asked on a 15m circle.

What was I to do? He did exactly what I wanted. I patted and praised him and we quit. I needed to work his ass and instead he did things right and so we quit before it was all ruined.

His hair is shedding out well... except on his barrel.

Friday/Saturday 4/8-9:
I know I rode but I don't have a clue what we did. I know BO's daughter took Penn for a spin on Saturday to test ride my saddle after I warmed Penn up. She had a great time on him and loved the saddle. We tried it on one of her horses and it fit the mare very well. I did a little driving and picked up Penn's turnout boots!

Yay, leg protection!

Sunday 4/10:
Hawk and I hauled to Trainer's barn for a trail ride with my old friend Leader (and his mom/owner). It was so cold that day. I've gotten really spoiled having a heated barn. We had a fun ride where Leader proved that 24 is just a number as he out-pranced the young boys (Penn and Fiction).

Stolen from Hawk's blog :-)

Tuesday 4/12:
I decided that Tuesday was a working ride, like really working. We did shoulder in and haunches in, then swapping from shoulder in to haunches in on a long wall (both directions). We did leg yields across the full diagonals in walk. I repeated the trot work from 1-2 (leg yield from centerline to wall, lengthen across the diagonal, repeat), then did the leg yields from 1-3 both directions with a few more lengthenings mixed in. I was so pleased with the leg yields and lengthenings. They were definitely the best they've ever been. Canter fell apart a little- he just seems uncomfortable. I worked on his walk-canter-walk since he's getting better at it and I don't mind if it's not perfect because he's still learning. He got a couple right, so we quit at about 25 min of riding. He got an Adequan injection on Tuesday as well. Mikey had one leftover, so we gave it to Penn. I decided that Penn probably should have quiet rides Wed/Thurs/Sat and then he'l be in proper form for lesson on Sunday.

Wednesday 4/13:
I forgot about my quiet ride idea. I worked on shallow leg yields as I tried to get more carrying power from his right hind leg (read Megan's post for more info). It was great, he was super cooperative. I was all WTF, both shallow leg yields went easily for him, so I was wondering what I was doing wrong. I had to keep Penn from getting too steep though... maybe I didn't get the leg yields shallow enough? I kept having trouble keeping his hind end from leading. Maybe that was the evasion to carrying more with the right hind and I missed it? I donno. (Megan, I read your reply about shallow leg yield to straight after I rode Wednesday night, oops). Penn decided that everything was too much work and reverted back to laying on my hands, as per his usual training cycle. Things are good, we make it harder, he tries and is great, then he decides it's too much work and he lays on me, then I get him back to good. I was trying not to sit the trot because I had done a lot of sitting Tuesday, but he was not making it easy! Canter was abysmal. Heavy, flipping between heavy and too deep, and just non-rhythmical. I ended up doing a couple half passes to make the work harder for him, and he was like, "Oh yea sure, I just go like this?" and it was lovely. As as soon as we were done with lateral and straightened and turned, he went right back to laying on me. I know I was losing some of my leg-wrap-around feeling and had a more sitting-on-top-of-the-horse feeling. I got my act together and had a better canter to the left and called it quits. I focused more on the left lead than the right, because it is the weaker lead.

Thursday 4/14:
I got so super sick Thursday doing something non-horsey: a corporate event at a baseball game. We had a great time, and I was already feeling crappy on the bus ride home. I went to the barn after work, tacked Penn up, didn't bother putting on my tall boots, and just walked him around the outdoor. In and out of the barn in an hour. Sorry buddy. I wanted to lay down and die.

My view Thursday afternoon. My work group won an award and it came with some money to spend however we wished- so we went to a baseball game!
The company paid for these. Awesome. However, I ended up picking up some kind of illness from the germy stadium and these did not help my body fight it. AKA, how Jan ended up sick as a dog for 4-5 days.

Saturday 4/16:
I only went to the barn because I had to work. Penn's legs had a reaction to his turnout boots and he was swollen and uncomfortable. We walked to see if that would help (it didn't), then cold hosed and vetrolin-ed. Still super sick. Cancelled Sunday's lesson since I was too sick to drive the trailer safely, and now Penn wasn't up to it either. Sorry again Hawk!

Swollen legs. At least we were both out of commission at the same time.
This doesn't do it justice. All his legs were swollen. This was the worst one though.

Monday 4/19:
Still sick, but on the mend. A friend dug out Mikey's bute on Sunday for me because I totally forgot about giving that to Penn. She also wrapped his hind legs Sunday night since they still had a trace of swelling in them. When I saw him Monday evening, his hind legs still had a tiny amount of swelling, but he seemed sound to ride. He was back to being a heavy obnoxious horse that I didn't have the energy to fight. I kept thinking I felt an unsoundness, but he wasn't connecting well to the bridle either and heavy on the forehand. I had a couple people watch him and they all said he looked fine. Disconnected, but fine.

I talked to the barn owner, and we're not booting him anymore, and he's not going to be allowed on 24 hour turnout either. He'll come in every night and chill in his stall. He'll go out at night again when the horses swap over to night turnout.

Penny enjoying the extra-wide windowsills we picked when we had our windows replaced.
Yes, we picked them just so the cats have a place to sit. #weservethecats

I'm hoping we'll both be well enough to ride Wednesday-Friday this week. We'll keep it to simple work because the weekend is going to be jam-packed: Saturday we're riding with Stephen Birchall (YAY! I LOVE HIM) and then on Sunday Penn will make his First Level debut at 1-2 and 1-3 at a local schooling show.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday

I got looking through my YouTube channel last Monday night and found my helmet cam from my first Novice event- almost 4 years ago! I could barely walk on a badly sprained ankle at this show, but I still decided to ride Mikey myself. I did send him to my trainer the week before the event so he'd be on his best behavior for me. Watching the video made me smile- I was happy to see that view of my red head again. We had a 31.7 in dressage and finished on our dressage score for 5th out of 13.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Show Series Stats - Math Alert!

Ok, so here's a stat post about the 6 show series that Penn and I completed!

First, some basic and straightforward information about the entire series. There were:

Here's a nifty excel chart of all of the exact scores from all 6 shows. The number of occurrences of each score is on the y-axis, the scores themselves on the x-axis. I think it's slightly visually misleading/difficult to look at.

Mean - Purple Line
Red - 1 Standard Deviation
Green - 2 Standard Deviations
Blue - 3 Standard Deviations

I think we're looking more for the bell curve itself, if it exists (which I think it does- most horses should be satisfactory, some will be worse, and some will be better). All of the "single count" dots are kind of meaningless without an even bigger data set that gives them a count of more than 1 occurrence, otherwise you're just looking at the dot density.

The normal curve for those of you who are not mathaholics.
A hump in the middle with two tails that taper off on either side.
Each side will have 50% of the data, which will be distributed in the same way on both sides.

Enter the rounded chart, where every score got rounded to the nearest whole percent. Not the best method, but my sample set isn't big enough to go to one decimal place (because that's where we were starting anyway!).

Lines are the same as the above chart.

For those interested in the exact values of the standard deviation lines:

For those not familiar with standard deviation, here's a quote stolen from Wikipedia:
In statistics, the standard deviation (SD, also represented by the Greek letter sigma σ or s) is a measure that is used to quantify the amount of variation or dispersion of a set of data values.[1] A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be close to the mean (also called the expected value) of the set, while a high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a wider range of values.
And for those not familiar with variance, here's a quote also stolen from Wikipedia:
In probability theory and statistics, variance measures how far a set of numbers are spread out. A variance of zero indicates that all the values are identical. Variance is always non-negative: a small variance indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean (expected value) and hence to each other, while a high variance indicates that the data points are very spread out around the mean and from each other.

In a normal distribution (bell curve), 68% of the data should fall within one standard deviation of the mean, 95% within two standard deviations, 99.7% within three. Out of the 479 tests, only 3 fell outside the three standard deviations, which means 99.37% of the data is within three standard deviations of the mean (our data: 71.61% within 1 SD, 95.62% within 2 SD, 99.37% within 3 SD).

In a normal distribution, the mean (average), median (middle data point), and mode (most common data point) should be the same. Using our rounded values, it looks like the mean is 60.3%, median is 61.0%, mode is 63.0%. Perhaps our show data isn't normally distributed (more on that below).

Variance was smallest at the first show- that isn't surprising since that show had 9 ties and one 3-way tie throughout the day.

Variance was biggest at the 3/6 show (by a lot). The range of scores that day almost matches the ranges for every score in the series, except in a smaller data set. This show was also the one where there were a ton of scores in the 40s, many more than there should have been. While I think that judge was generous at times, I also think she was quite harsh too. Throughout the series, there were 18 scores below 50. 12 of them happened at this show and all were at the intro/training level. Only one horse in the series was consistently in the upper 40s and low 50s, and I watched him go on numerous occasions- he would fling himself across the arena, spin, not halt, not hold his gait, and being inverted was the least of his problems. I don't think Intro and Training levels should be scored that low unless they're doing what this horse was doing... especially at schooling shows.

Our data isn't perfect since it is a small data set, but I thought it would be neat to check out the standard deviation and variance. Since I went to the trouble of checking all of that, I decided to use a Normal Probability Plot to see how close to the normal curve (bell curve) our data is (the exact data, not rounded):

All of the tests scores were "normalized" (y-axis values) and they were converted to a ranked probability value between 0 and 1 based on a nifty help sheet I found online for the x-axis. The red line shows a perfectly linear progression, aka the normal curve (bell curve) when changed to the same probability values.

Our data has quite the strong s-shape, but the x-intercept is at 0.4991. I was concerned I didn't have a big enough data set, well oops! There are plenty of dots that show the normal distribution is NOT a good fit for our data! This leads me to believe that dressage score data, with thousands of scores to look at, is probably not normally distributed.

Why? Well, if you're scoring 70%+, you either had a) a fantastic day or b) are probably going to move on to the next level. If you're scoring less than 50%, something terrible happened and you either a) had a rough day or b) are not ready for the level. We just don't see many scores at the mathematical extremes, so according to math, our data is very heavy in the middle. Our curve would be very tall around 60%, with short tails on both sides (meaning, there would be very few scores at any extreme which causes our "bell curve" to taper off to the x-axis very quickly).

Maybe if we cut off the tails, the normal distribution would be a good fit for the very middle of our data- maybe from 0.25 to 0.75 on the graph above since that section of the graph follows a fairly straight line.

Anyway, this firms up my to belief that the judge at the 3/6 show was a little too happy to award low scores. Terrible happened to too many people without the other extreme happening (an 80 for every 40).

One last mathy concept for the series- I wanted to compare Penn's performance to all of the other scores at each show:

Quartile charts! At 4 of the 6 shows, all of his scores were in the top 25% of the awarded scores, with two scores being the high score of the day (11/29/2015 and 4/3/2016). The 11/1/2015 show was with only 3 months of consistent riding and training and very little show experience. And we all know that I majorly screwed us up at the 3/6/2016 show.

Anyway, that's enough math about the series! Let's look at Penn's math!

I made up a Centerline Scores equivalent in Excel that has Lifetime, Schooling Show, and Recognized Show score breakdowns. Schooling Shows tend to be more generous, so I wanted to be able to see all three breakdowns (I can later evaluate how different they really are :-p). Right now, we only have schooling data for Penn, so here we go, 7 schooling shows worth of data:

Some good numbers there. He'll never ride Intro or Training Level again (with me anyway), so those stats will always look like that.

Average scores for each movement across all of Penn's training level tests.

Alright, discussion time.

  • The walk work is one of Penn's strong points. Hello 17-test free walk average of 6.91, I'm looking at you right now.
  • Trot is good for Penn, with the stretchy trot getting an average of 6.68 in 11 tests.
  • The canter to the right has been Penn's better side, as evidence by the canter averages.
  • The left lead canter work was severely brought down by the Training 1 left lead canter work. That was always a horrible part of the test, and the canter down the long wall after the circle was always wavy and awful. Training 1's left lead canter circle (with transition) averaged a 5.5 and the working canter down the long wall after averaged a 5.83 in the 6 tests we did. Austen, I believe you asked why Training 1 seemed to be our worst test- I think this is part of the answer! Nervous Penn doesn't canter well, and this is the first canter of the day!
  • The trot one loops were my fault, not Penn's. The weird arena size made them very difficult to ride accurately, and then the judges seemed to want a change of bend in them as well. I couldn't deliver both at the same time!

Overall, Penn is a consistent training level horse at this time. Hoping to make that first level soon, I just sent in an entry for 1-2 and 1-3!

I hope you all enjoyed my mathing. I sure did, and I've had enough for a while :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Part 3: 4/4 - What did Penn do to his face?

Part 3: The Damage

We got home uneventfully Sunday night and tucked Penn and Fiction in for the night. I went to Dover on Monday to shop for my list of things from my previous post, then out to the barn to drop off/try on the stuff I got and say hi to Penn.

Which is when I found this:

It was like a reverse Arabian dished face.

I texted a picture to my trainer and asked if I should call the vet for drugs or call for her to come out. It wasn't too tender, but there was so much swelling.

She thought it looked like he got kicked, so she said to have the vet out to x-ray his face to make sure nothing in his sinus cavity was fractured. He was breathing and acting fine, but just as a precaution.

I called the vet and sounded like an idiot, "My horse has a scrape on his face and there's a lot of swelling", but she said she'd come out after her next two stops. While I was waiting for her, I found another mark on him:

I had called BO earlier to let her know what was going on. Her husband came out and we had a look at Penn, then went and looked around his field. The original thought of a kick didn't fit anymore, not when it looks like he scalped himself too. We checked the run in, fence lines, gates and corners and couldn't find anything that was broken or had hair on it or sharp enough to scalp Penn or cause whatever happened to his face.

The best we can figure is he stuck his head through the fence, got spooked, and caught the vinyl fencing in his hurry to get his head back in the field. He must have done it right after BO left (she was there all morning and some of the afternoon) and right before I got there (about a half hour after she left).

When the vet got there, some of the swelling was already gone. She took one look at his face and agreed an x-ray would be best because of where the swelling and scratch mark were located.

I got to participate in the x-ray process- I made a baling twine halter and lead and got a lead glove to hold him. The vet took the x-ray while her assistant held the plate on the right side of Penn's face. He's such a good boy- he held very still for his x-ray and saved me some sedation cost.

Luckily, the x-ray showed all his bony structures in his nasal cavity were fine and he just had a ridiculous amount of swelling. It also showed his teeth and roots, so she checked those over (they're all perfectly healthy). I'll have to email the office to see if they can email me the x-ray of his head- it's kind of neat!

She pulled out this zinc oxide clay-like ointment that is good at pulling swelling out (it'll be great for his legs when he interferes!) and helps in the healing process. She said to use gloves to put it on (I think it has DMSO in it), and then covered it with a huge horsey square bandage because the ointment tends to get everywhere.

He looks ridiculous.

Everything looked better Tuesday night after work. I put more of the ointment on and covered it again. The vet was back out Wednesday for the second round of spring shots, and I didn't hear anything, so I'm assuming all is well.


Stop scaring your mom Penn!

More ointment!

So cute, even with his huge band aid!

Ok Penn, you had your damage incident for the year (I've found I end up calling the vet for some kind of injury once a year). No more please!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Part 2: 4/3/2016 Schooling Show - Series Finale

Part 2: Schooling Show - Series Finale!

Sunday dawned very cold and very frozen. The snow stopped by midnight or so, but it was bad enough that the plows came out on a Saturday night. Luckily, that meant that by 6:45 am, everything was fairly clear.

The boys had a good night, so it was just feed them and get rolling to warm up! I did take Penn for a little hand walk around the show ring before they dragged the arena and started the show. Just a reminder of, "Here's the judge's table, it's not scary!"

Naptime after the tests! So tired after 3 separate rides in the last 24 hours. Vacation = earned!

Remember how the judge at the first show in this series didn't use half points? Guess what we had again? A judge that didn't use half points. I'd really like to know what these tests would have been with half points... I got all 6s and 7s (yay!), but from what I felt and watched, I'm sure there were a few 8s in there, or at least 6.5s and 7.5s. Either way, still super happy with the scores and the tests and with Penn!

Without further ado, on to the tests, score sheets, and a running commentary after:

And the score sheets:

65.652% - 4th out of 12

How did this entry get a 7? He was no where near square! I think this was one of his least square halts of the day... I realized part way through the medium walk that it was too slow. Oops. I think I agree with most of the judge's comments, but I might disagree on some of the 'on the forehand' comments. I will give it that he wasn't in an uphill balance, but I don't think he was downhill either. The poll got a little low at times though.

Test 2:

Score sheet:

68.077% - 1st out of 12
Sidenote: This test was the high score of the day! (Not an actual award though)

Right off the bat, at the end of the first trot circle, I forgot about making the shoulders meet the rail first. I never really got them back because the next comment was loss of haunches. The left lead canter was a bit sloppy- it's the weaker one. Coming down from the left canter was a mess- I can't quite tell what happened, but when I was riding it, I thought he pulled off a shoe. I took over a lot of the responsibility for holding Penn up for several strides into that trot. My stretch circle wasn't as good as it could have been because I was slightly distracted. I was looking at the ground for a shoe! All I can assume is he interfered and it hurt a lot. (I did have husband check his legs after the test.)

Can we talk about the right lead canter and why it didn't get better than a 7, even if it needed more bend? This is training level. This is an educated canter for the level. What do we have to do around here to get an 8?

The judge was on point with the final halt- he wasn't straight. I felt Penn getting tired in this test, so I did a little more to help him (and I remembered to pull my elbows down a bit too- when I get it right we get beautiful moments like that right lead). Again, I don't agree with on the forehand. He was light in my hand. Yes, he's not built uphill at this time (still praying for his front legs to get longer! haha), but I don't think he was on the forehand. Maybe once he's stronger and can engage better, those comments will go away. But again, training level isn't about engagement.

Test 3:

Score sheet:

67.273% - 1st out of 10

By this test, I was trying to conserve Penn's energy- he was getting pretty tired. Excellent entrance for this test. No idea what I was thinking when it comes to the first trot one loop- I realized mid loop that I was going to go waaay past centerline. Oops? For the left lead canter, I didn't get myself up and get my elbows pulled down, so Penn never got any lift and his poll dropped too low. I was working hard past the judge to get Penn lifted and collected so this diagonal wasn't a complete disaster- I don't think it worked out as well as it could have. He did transition to trot better than he had been in lesson the day before, but it's not ideal (Trainer's words of wisdom that I'll have to really help him out at that point were streaming through my head). Second trot loop was better, and I can agree that his canter was sluggish to start... which is an old bad habit of mine! Ok stretchy circle... it felt incredible, and very similar to the ones I did with DT that she thought should clean up. And he got a 6. He did go to the forehand a little, but he wasn't stumbling all over himself. I was very happy with the end halt- perfectly square!

Penn and all his ribbons! On the stall because I couldn't get them all on his face!

I know I'm getting extra obnoxious here, but the lack of half points irks me. Like last time when there were a whole slew of ties when no half points were awarded, I believe there were 8 or 9 ties at this show. I'm still super happy with the tests- Penn was great. And he was relaxed enough that I didn't feel the need to sit the trot for the entire test!

Anyway, I think the series had tougher than usual schooling show judges- these were not the most generous judges I've seen (the judge's average score at each show: 60.5, 60.8, 61.1, 60.2, 59.3, 60.4), and I think at schooling shows they should be a bit more generous than that. Barely anyone broke into the 60s at Intro Level at any show, which isn't very encouraging! I think some recognized judges have better averages in a year of recognized shows than these schooling shows. Though that brings about the question: is the quality of horse and rider competing better at recognized shows? I know a couple months ago several blogs had a lively debate about that. Or do judges at schooling shows just not know enough since they're usually L graduates or below? Interestingly, the judge at the 3rd show, who had the highest average, is an R judge and regularly judges Recognized Horse Trials. I'm sure we could have a whole post about that!

Since this was the finale show, they also awarded the series champion ribbons- all of a horse's rides for a particular test were summed and whoever had the highest sum at the end of the series won (as long as they had the minimum 3 scores). There was only one division- Open. No splits for Open/AA/Jr. Since everyone was lumped together, that made for big classes. The training tests had the biggest classes at each show, which meant there were many more horses competing and more that qualified for Championships than any other test (any combo of riders could ride, the scores were summed by horse only):

  • Training 1: 48 different horses competed, 7 qualified for Championships.
  • Training 2: 40 different horses competed, 5 qualified for Championships.
  • Training 3: 40 different horses competed, 3 qualified for Championships.

I'm sure you've realized by now that Penn won all of the Training Level Championships, yay!

Made an effort to get these ones on his face though!
I had to get in a picture with the champion ribbons.

As a final note, I've been keeping a detailed record of Penn's show history in Excel. I wish I had done that with Mikey. I want to see what Penn's average score is for each movement within tests and across all of the training level tests. It's kind of like Centerline Scores, but I'm able to include lifetime results (schooling and recognized). As it grows, I'll probably edit the file so it does a recognized breakout, schooling breakout, in addition to the lifetime results.

The general data I've collected from this show series alone is astounding (it helps that they post all the results online, and at a 90 ride max for each show, there isn't too much data to organize). I have enough to dedicate an entire post to schooling show statistics! We'll see if I go all Math Geek on you! By the last show, I had a lot of data on each horse in the series (I'd been tracking the training level results to gauge where Penn and I were at for the championship), and I was watching regression towards the mean at work for each horse (as long as I had 8-9 scores for the horse). But below is a brief view of Penn's stats from this series:

The shows with the 2 highest averages? We hauled in the night before.
The two shows with low averages really hurt our series average.

Perhaps I'll bore you all with a statistics post later this week. Maybe not. But stay tuned for Part 3 of our weekend, when Penn tried to break his face!