Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Second Level Test 3 Shenanigans

Ok, show of hands. Who knew the Dover Medal program was ending this year?

I sure didn't.


That doesn't align perfectly into my plans! I had planned on riding the 2-3 Medal classes and 3-3 all next year until Penn was ready for 4th... finishing my 1*/2* centerline ratings, Penn's second and third level performance certificates, and hopefully winning a Dover Medal along the way.

Obviously if I want a Dover Medal, that can no longer be the plan. I have one more recognized show weekend before championships (champs is not the place for me to attempt to get a Dover Medal!). Since this upcoming show weekend is conveniently two separately numbered shows, there's two Dover Medal classes.

Of course, I snail mailed my entry before I found out about the Dover Medal Program... But the bright side of snail mail is that I don't have to pay an entry change fee since the secretaries don't even have my entries yet! (I sent emails and extra checks)

So we're signed up for 2-3 and 3-1 both days. If 2-3 is after 3-1 on Saturday, I'll ride both tests. If 2-3 is first, I'll scratch it. My bronze is more important to me, so the 3rd Level tests get the fresh horse. If I get my bronze Saturday, I'll scratch 3-1 Sunday and give 2-3 my full attention. So much is up in the air, it's all pending scheduling and results!

Anyway, that meant I needed to do a run through of 2-3 to see what I was working with. I haven't actively worked on counter canter since June's recognized show, only flying changes (swapping them out for simple changes or changes through trot when I need to mix it up).

I set up a dressage court in the outdoor this past Sunday, which ended up too narrow for the length so some stuff was awkward, and went to it to get a baseline: (the video was taken up and down and had a lot of shake, so this is cropped and stabilized, which is why it looks funny)

I made plenty of mistakes: the trot needs more power/forward/step/impulsion, and it needs to be not BTV. The TOH needs to be better, the halts need to be better, but the canter work was surprisingly good and uphill (until Penn got tired). I used my leg off technique for impulsion as I went into the first serpentine and Penn misinterpreted that as a cue for a flying change, hence the bobble starting that movement. In the first simple change, he went to hop immediately back into canter... I stopped him, then positively nailed him with my left spur for the right lead. I had to spend the time before the next medium apologizing to him for my rudeness.

BTV much?

Overall, I would have been happy to have that go down centerline! Would it have won a medal? I donno.

I scheduled a lesson with the local dressage trainer at her farm for Tuesday this week. She has a standard size outdoor court and an eye for test riding. I emailed asking to work on 2-3 because I decided to enter it on a whim. #3weeksisplentyoftime

She was immediately thrilled with Penn's topline. She last saw him about 2 months ago and thought he looked good then but a lot better now ("Whatever you've been doing is working!"). She also loved my new "fun button" that I found in walk: Penn sometimes comes out laying on my hands, which pissed me off to no end the other day. I gave him the kind of half halt I'd give him in the canter to sit the fuck down now (it's a motherfucking big one), leg slightly back and on lifting his barrel, then a few sharp taps on his hip with my whip. He makes an angry face, but lifts the front end and sits a bit more. DT thought it was great, and said I should start playing with half steps using that in trot (I can already feel a piaffe wanting to come out, but I am not pushing the button that hard for a few months yet!). She warned me to be careful with his walk- it gets a bit unorganized when I overshorten it.

The aforementioned outdoor. A little spooky even though it's neatly tucked into a hillside. 

We went right into what I would do to warm up at a show, but then stopped to mix in some turn on the haunches work:

  • Work on a square at first, doing quarter turns.
  • Keep them slow since he wants to rush through them and get unbalanced.
  • When working 180s, stop at the 90 mark, then proceed.
  • Until he gets stronger in them, make the beginning of the 180 tight behind, then let him get a bit bigger in the second half so he doesn't plant a hoof and get an automatic 4.
  • Work him on a 10m circle in haunches in, bringing him around into a TOH and back out again. Make the center of the TOH vary in size like you would as you school pirouettes.
  • If he's reluctant to make the TOH in a particular direction, begin it with a shallow haunches in, then bring it around.
  • When bending right, keep my balance to the right. He wants to drop me off the left side of him and fall out. Release the left rein a hair.
For the trot:
  • Let his nose out by pushing him forward then bringing him back with the "fun button".
  • When tracking right Tuesday night, he did not want to bend right. Flex him with the inside hand and scratch his shoulder every now and then with the outside. His whole picture changes.
  • Along the lines of bend, in 10m circles right, keep the outside leg on to force the left hind to keep up and stay in. It's almost a haunches in feeling for him. If I don't do this, I lose the hind end to the outside and it'll be a 5 or less.
In the canter:
  • Same right bend/flex right/scratch left problem.
  • More prep for the simple changes.
  • Keep the outside leg on in the right lead - he is suddenly weaker this direction and wants to leave the outside hind behind and 4 beat.

Someone had to "tie" to the trailer upon arrival because we cut it too close to lesson start time for me to schlep his stuff into the barn. He was extremely unsure and definitely still needed his helmet on.

Off we went to the test!
  • Keep the entry centerline straighter. Maybe I need to track left to enter. He's been especially fussy to the right which makes for a squiggly centerline.
  • Let his nose out just a hair in the medium trot.
  • Shoulder-in is good.
  • 10m circles are good as long as I keep my outside leg on.
  • More angle in the haunches in right- from C, it doesn't read as enough. Push him forward and resteady myself to the right and add some extra outside leg halfway through. A lot of the same theory as the TOH right.
  • I need to keep my right hand extra down in the shoulder in left so he doesn't tilt his head.
  • Same 10m circle rules.
  • Same more angle in the haunches in left. Keep my hands down and quiet because I end up wagging him.
  • Get better halts.
  • Know your count for the rein back and stop asking one step early.
  • Same rules as above for the TOH.
  • Free walk is good, play the fingers to keep the topline round.
  • Walk/Canter was excellent.
  • Medium canter A++
  • Serpentine good.
  • He dropped out early at the first simple change- she had me represent the change and add more new inside leg in a leg yield thought (without actually moving sideways) to keep him straight and get him hopping, and to start riding the change after the centerline so he won't break early in my test.
  • Medium canter A++
  • Serpentine good. Keep applying leg to keep him hopping.
  • Same rules in the second simple change.
  • Trot and final centerline, A++, easy 8.

Nothing much huh? Lol

We reviewed the haunches in after the test and added more angle, but by then Penn was pretty beat. She was thrilled with how his canter was looking- like night and day from when she saw him last. It's so much more uphill.

So that's the story of how we entered two more classes at the next show and took a lesson I never planned on taking (which was very beneficial). I might take another one before we go to Loch Moy, but we'll see. The next few weeks get tough for me to do anything extra as we gear up to finish my bronze and then hopefully smoke them at First Level AA Championships by riding a third level horse


  1. Oooh good tips for TOH... we're getting stuck a lot these days. Whoops, I broke that.

    Penn looks awesome!

    1. Yea, I'm really pleased with the tips I got yesterday! And thanks, I had an "omg is that horse mine?!" moment when I watched the video.

  2. WHAT?! The Dover Medal program is ending? I had no idea! That's such a shame!

    1. I can't find anything online, but I've heard from two different shows now that it's ending. I think they're replacing it with the adult amateur dressage seat program. I'd rather have the medal program :(

  3. You guys look fantastic! I also got a kick out of hearing the horse pulling up grass on the video (At least I think that's what it was :)

    1. Thanks! And yes, he's the main reason the video was so shaky, he kept pulling his human around!