Wednesday, July 19, 2017

7/16/2017 - Schooling Show... at Third Level!

I had an epic weekend planned this past weekend- riding 3-1 at two schooling shows in a row as practice for two days of recognized showing! The Saturday show was with a trainer I know to be fairly generous in her scoring (I believe she is practicing judging to enter to L program, but I think she is also missing 3rd level scores to enter the program), and I decided to go to that show as a confidence boost. The Sunday show usually utilizes L grads or r judges, so I figured I could get my confidence boost, then a more critical eye on me the following day.

Sadly things did not go as planned- due to the recent rain and I'm guessing some lingering footing problems, my easy Saturday show was cancelled and rescheduled for August (I need to email to get my check back from them though- I can't go in August). It worked out for the best though- I was able to do my barn work as scheduled, ride, clean tack/pack trailer, doing evening feed, wash and braid Penn in a more leisurely fashion.

Funnily enough, when I got my ride time for Sunday's show, the judge was the one I was supposed to see the day before! Small world. I'm glad I wasn't riding for her twice in one weekend though, especially at two different locations! I don't mind the confidence boost though!

All scrubbed and braided.
Maybe Penn's rabicano coloring is coming in a bit stronger? He looks like someone missed dying some of his roots!
Mikey had a section of white hair too, almost in this exact spot.

My mom was supposed to come with me, but some family things came up that made it impossible. I messaged one of the girls at the barn (T) who has been a groom before and lives close to the show to ask her if she'd meet me there so I wasn't showing alone, and I'd buy her lunch and then read some tests for her once we got back to the farm. She agreed, so I was back in action to not be showing completely by myself.

I had a 9:07am ride time, so my 4am wake up Sunday morning was rather rude! It was weird to do all my pre-departure things completely by myself. It was actually cold Sunday morning- 60ish degrees with a chill in the air from the humidity.

Who knew mid-July at 6:30am would be cool enough to trailer in the BOT mesh sheet?

For once, I arrived precisely when I wanted to! I usually end up arriving later because I'll leave 10-15 later than I wanted to and I just drive slowly with the trailer. I was good that morning- pulled out at 6:30 on the button, and arrived at 7:30.

I found my stall and took a few things over, and when I got back to the trailer, T had arrived and was ready to help take the rest of the stuff over to the stall. Between the two of us, it took two trips and then we were basically waiting. I hand grazed Penn while we watched the first couple horses go and killed time.

I wanted to be on at 8:47 (20 minutes before ride time). T was incredible- I have never had a helper who has been a paid groom before (I am usually the paid groom, so I manage myself at shows pretty well generally). I helped saddle Penn and picked his feet out, but she did basically everything else. Brushed him, fluffed his tail, used a damp sponge to get the dust off his face and braids. She bridled him, tightened his girth, and still managed to watch me put on my hair net and tell me to tuck in the wispy hairs at my neck! I applied some lederbalsam to my saddle flaps so my boots wouldn't squeak, then she grabbed a rag to wipe my boots down at warm up, and we were off!

Penn was... very sluggish in warm up. Relaxed, but lazy. He did everything I wanted, but I had to continually remind him not to lay on my hands. I did some of the shoulder fore/renvers prep for a single flying change right to left. It was late and leapy, but I was having trouble keeping him up. I opted not to do too much more since he seemed pretty low energy already.

I had a moment before I went in the ring where I thought about Mikey. This show was just a few days shy of two years since Mikey's last trip down centerline at 3-1 and 3-2. I asked Mikey to let Penn channel his inner TB in his medium and extended canters. Basically, Mikey was not forgotten on this day and I almost went into the ring in tears.

However, on to the test! I did a few turn on the haunches in the main ring since I forgot to do them in warm up, but then I just walked around until the judge was ready for me. I always feel like I should do more, but I'm always at such risk of doing my best work in the warm up.

I thought this test felt drunk. I did a bit too much mitigating and not enough riding for points to truly make me happy:
  • The trot lateral work left was sticky, the right was better (and I forgot to start the second SI promptly!). These are the stupidest half passes on the planet... they are so shallow. Of course they're going to get comments of 'needs more bend'... It's so hard to only move sideways 10m while moving forward 36m. That barely requires bend! GP Trainer's tip of keeping the shoulder on the line really helped here- his haunches were close to leading on the half pass left, but focusing on keeping the line instead of pushing the haunches over really really helped on these excessively shallow lines.
  • I was pleased with his medium trot, even if it was a bit quick... because it's still BETTER!
Not great, but better!
  • The halt was awesome... and the rein back is broken. He used to do diagonal pairs nicely, and now we're back to walking backwards.
  • I pushed him out of the extended walk since I thought he didn't have enough overstep. My bad.
  • Turn on the haunches are still sticky for us, I didn't think they earned the scores we were given.
  • I was happy with his medium canter- it's so much bigger than before!
  • 10m circle right was ok, the judge thought it was small, but we got totally lost when I tried to prepare for the change and Penn was ready to give it immediately off the circle, but the text calls for it after crossing centerline... which resulted in a wackadoodle leaping half pass change, haha.
#weeeeee #miscommunication
  • I was happy with the extended canter, but I could feel it going downhill instead of up. Nothing to be done about that at this point though.
He just looks so strong! And bulky. And grown up. Who is this horse?!
  • The 10m left circle was where I thought he'd fizzle out, which he did. I lost what little impulsion I had and he broke... I immediately thought, "Oh shit, how am I going to get a flying change in a few strides?" I put him back together as quickly as possible and began setting him up for the change... which ended up clean! Leapy, but clean.
I am honestly surprised this happened with the break so close. #MakeItWork
  • The extended trot leaves something to be desired, but it's still better than it was a month ago and I liked the feeling he gave me when we got on the line- he was like, "I'M GOING!"
He was already fizzling out by this point on the line, but I think he just looks pretty.
  • Maybe it was the better effort on the diagonal, but I asked him to collect and he almost quit on me, then I asked him to turn up centerline, and he was 'disinclined to acquiesce to my request.' This is now the second or third time this year that he's said f-off at the final centerline. Each time the judge never seems to catch it and mark it down, but I've got red alert going through my head because his centerlines are our score boosters and if we blow those, I won't have an offset for a weak movement (or a break from the canter).

I chatted with the judge after the test and got the feeling she didn't have much advice or whatever to give me- she herself is struggling at 3rd level (I've seen her around attempting to finish her bronze and I looked her up on USDF Score Check). She gave me a hand toss up and "Good luck!" at the end of our conversation, so I really had zero clue if she thought it was horrible or alright. She covered the general stuff:
  • "Wow, a lot of things happened quickly in that!" (I couldn't tell if she meant I hurried through it or the test just kept throwing punches or she's not familiar enough with tests of this level and couldn't keep up)
  • Penn needs better elasticity and uphill balance (I was struggling to get forward out of him... he was SUPER chill, to the point of detriment)
  • I could have added more angle to the shoulder in (I am very conscious of NOT putting him on like, 20 tracks lol so I took this as a good thing)
  • Keep working on the flying changes (I expected this of course)

When I got my test back, it looked like the judge and scorer got a bit lost in it, and there were 3 different pen styles in the writing- one for the scribe, one for the judge, and one for the scorer... only the judge's pen also showed up for both of my flying changes scores and comments as well as a few others towards the end of the test... meaning she didn't score them as they were happening, she scored them AFTER she spoke with me. Whatever, it is a schooling show, and she's out there practicing too.

Best comment ever. I may have laughed at Penn for breaking to trot in the extended walk...
Almost a Third Level baby horse! 62.727%!
And of course we won the class, you know, 'big fish small pond' means you're the only one in 3-1.

When I picked up my test from the office, the organizer was like, "OMG, he's looking so good! And I'm not a dressage person, but it seems like he's really flying up through the levels?" I was like "Yes, I just want to finish my bronze and then we're going to spend the next year working at second and third, until he's really comfortable."

That really highlights how far he's come- August 2015 he scored 59 and 62 at Intro A and B, respectively. Here in July 2017 and he's pulled a 62 at 3-1, with somewhat functional changes (even if they're not pretty).

This week is pretty quiet because we're gearing up to do 3-1 this upcoming weekend at a recognized show. I was hoping for a better run through at this show, but I did get a good feel of where we're going to struggle. I was hoping for a score between 62 and 64 so that when I go to the recognized stuff, I would still be ok when the leniency points are removed. I'm happy with the 62.727%, but this judge is usually quite generous (more than an L grad would be), so I'm a bit nervous about how this test would have scored in the eyes of an S judge.

We will just have to do the best we can this weekend! I certainly can't put any more training into it (except maybe working on the TOH, which I did do yesterday). I'll review the rein back, TOH, and trot work today, and do some generic 10m canter circles each direction without mixing in changes.

I think I may have to take some of Penn's omeprazole for my own nerves this weekend!


  1. Yaaay go Penn!!! Totally feel your pain on the changes. Keep doing them! They will get better I promise!!!

    1. I'm quite pleased with the changes actually- I introduced them last September, did them sporadically, broke them, and they've been back for just a couple months and (knock on wood), and thanks to GP Trainer's advice, he gives one every time I ask. I'm sure I've just jinxed it though! I imagine they'll be nice and clean by next year!

  2. YAY! So here's one tip on those half passes. Don't ride them as a half pass. Ride them as a shoulder in. Just think shoulder-in and your bend will be there. They're so shallow you don't want to think sideways or you'll lose the bend and straighten out too much. If it helps, remember that adding more bend makes going sideways harder, so if you're going sideways too much, sometimes adding more bend while keeping the engagement can STOP the sideways movement. (In other words, keep the bend but don't let them fall sideways.)

    Does that make any sense?

    1. I tried this tonight. It was a clusterf**k, lol. He positively DRAGGED me to the wall and got all flustered. I like the idea though! It's something to work on for sure.

  3. new life goal: get a judge to write "lol" on my test sheet! way to get out there and get it done, lots to like there!!!

    1. If you do your bingo sheets again next year, you should put "get a judge to write lol on your test" for like an automatic win or something!

  4. He really is looking like a beefcake! I love the judge's comments and can't wait to hear about your next show :)

    1. I was amazed at how beefy he looked- and I thought he was beefy at the start of June! He's gotten even bigger!