Here’s a bit of a different twist…. We spent this beautiful saturday afternoon at a USEF dressage show, Meadow Lake, honing our skills. For those of you who haven’t made time to do so, this is such an amazing opportunity to learn. I learned SOOOO much about my horses today! The concept of going to do one dressage test, and then going in for another (a different test) for a bit of a mental do-over or instant replay can be an INCREDIBLE learning experience!!!
Nemo (Widespread Panic) (who is pictured, but at Richland last year, not this weekend…. I’m still uploading pics from the weekend) did the 2nd Lvl T1 and 2nd Lvl T2 today, both in the open divisions. The 2nd Lvl T1 was the first to go for us…. Nemo warmed up really, really well, and I was thrilled…. We trotted down the centerline and I was really relaxed and thrilled with how he was going…. Until about 4 strides before our halt at X, when he stepped on himself and felt off… I went ahead and halted and saluted, and stood there for a minute to see if he’d just stung himself, or if I needed to retire…. But when I took a trot step off from the halt, he was sound again and we went on. He had just interfered momentarily and didn’t leave a mark…. But that moment of concern for him left me riding the whole test with a “oh gosh, how is he? Is he still okay?” mentality, when he was totally fine. As a result, it was really sub-par for him. He scored a 61.6% so still plenty respectable, but a long way from where he could be if we’d both been more focused.
For his 2nd Level T2 test, I was determined to give him a better ride… I focused on better preparation and voila, just like they tell you in school, it works! This test was MUCH, MUCH better…. He scored one 8 and predominantly 7’s for a 66.2% (In horse trial scores, that would be a 33.8). I felt much better about it, and he was really great.
Then came Grashopper…. I was the first ride of the day on Nemo, and the last ride of the day at 5:07pm on Hopper’s last test…. It made for a long but wonderful day! Hopper did the 1st level test 2 as his first ride…. He warmed up brilliantly, but as I was going into the arena the bit check’s tent blew over as the wind suddenly picked up, and again my focus was not the greatest… Because I was at a dressage show and had been advised to have someone call the tests to me, I took the expertise to heart and did just that. Unfortunately, twice in the test I couldn’t hear poor Emily (who was doing a stellar job) over the big bursts of wind, and started second guessing my memory of where to go…. Resulting in two figures in the test that looked more like cookie cutters than dressage movements!!!! Those, very deservedly, earned “4’s”. I was very disappointed in myself…. I didn’t trust myself enough to stick with what I know, and second-guessed my riding throughout the test. His neck was shorter than I’d like, and it just didn’t live up to what he can achieve. It was a fine test, but for him nothing special…. He still finished with a 69.2% (or in eventing a 30.8) with collective marks of 8 gaits, 7 impulsion, 6 submission, 7 rider. I LOVED her comments…. “Pay more attention to the test caller!” LOL!!! She’s absolutely right…. I had a caller, and I still got lost! LOL. The test did have six 8’s on it, so I guess when we weren’t rambling around aimlessly, he was pretty good!
I learned so much about how to warm him up, what to push for, and to trust myself as much as I trust my beloved Grasshopper. I came back for the second test confident and determined, and THAT is how I need to ride from now on!!! I rode this one from memory instead, like a true EVENTER, and went in there and gave it our all. Hopper was in a much better frame, with a longer neck and a wonderfully soft contact. Just two minor mistakes—one medium trot wasn’t huge, and my canter-trot transistion was two steps after X, to earn 6 for both of those movements…. And EVERY OTHER score on the test was a 7 or and 8!!!! The flow was amazing…. He is such a star! He focused and listened and we were really on the same page…. It was a blast! The collectives were 7 gaits, 7 impulsion, 7 submission, 8 rider. Even better, he WON his division with an outstanding score of 72.3%!!!! (That’s a 27.7 in eventing!) He was sooooooo good!
The results: Nemo came home with a 1st and a 2nd place ribbon…. Hopper continued his spring winning ways, continueing to be unbeaten thus far…. Winning every one of his classes today, against all the WB’s and dressage riders…. My beloved little killer truck TB!!!
The Comments: The judge was one I had not ridden in front of before, but I felt like she was incredibly good….. She caught me on the 4’s when I absolutely deserTved them, and had some really, really great comments to help me along the way. She definitely hit the nail on the head with every comment. But the BEST COMMENT of the day: Under SUBMISSION for Nemo’s test, whose show name is Widespread Panic: 7, Does not live up to his name this test. 🙂 I thought that was HILARIOUS!
If any of you get the opportunity to go to a dressage show sometime, I strongly encourage it…. I know these two horses (my intermediate and advanced horses) incredibly well, yet I learned SOOO much about them today. Plus it is so helpful to get to go back in the ring and do it more than once—takes all the pressure off! Till then, may you find incredible dressage inspiration and go wherever it may lead you…. 🙂