Monday, April 7, 2014

4/5 Dressage show: We might finally be doing it right!

This weekend, we attended yet another schooling dressage show at Silver Hill. I signed us up for Training 2 and Training 3 over a month ago, and then spent the entire month panicking because Training 3 is almost all canter and we all know how much Paddy's canter sucks. But we've been doing nothing but practicing canter transitions and circles and changes of direction, and I'm pleased to say that it seems to have paid off.

This is our Training Level 3 test... we got a 68%. A SIXTY EIGHT!!!! That's a personal best! I will also note that I was ONE point (that's point, not percentage point) behind first place.

So I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Fuzzypony and I rode back-to-back for both tests, and I was the first ride of the day at 8 a.m. I arrived at the show grounds with Taran and Paddy all braided and ready to go around 6:30, and we sat around and drank our chai and nibbled breakfast while we waited for the sun to rise. We were on by 7:15, and did a generously long walk followed by our new warmup routine, which no longer involves careening around at mach one-Haffie for fifteen minutes. Lisa Bauman from Austin Eventing coached us again, and she commented that she was thrilled that she didn't have to hide during warmup, lol! Paddy was a little looky, since the sun was coming up and it was quite cool and windy, but he warmed up quite well and we went in promptly for our 8 a.m. start.

I love this pic... the first footprints in a freshly dragged arena, on our way down centerline for the first salute of the day. 

Our first test, Training 2, went really well except for our free walk, where he was really distracted. But we stayed balanced and relaxed (a big deal for both of us!!), kept a good rhythm, and mostly stayed focused. We ended with a 64.change% for second place, three points behind Fuzzypony, who had a super awesome ride for first place!


Left lead canter... I don't look braced anymore and we are both so much more balanced (and this is now our "bad side!")

We had an hour between our first and second tests, which was enough time to go back to the trailer, strip tack, take a bathroom break, then get ready again. Paddy was a little like "wait, WHUT AGAIN???" when we headed back into the warmup ring, and started off against my hand. Judicious application of lateral movements to activate his hindquarters, along with staying relaxed with my hand and not giving him anything to lean against, got him to a much more obedient state. However, Lisa noticed that he wasn't as active with his left hind, so we did a couple of 10 meter circles into shoulder in down the long side right before we went in for Training 3, then rode all the long sides during the test like I was riding shoulder fore. We had a sticky moment in the downward trot/walk transition where he really wanted to halt (poor tired Haffie!), and another where we cut the corners coming around the short side of the arena in left lead canter, but otherwise I could not have asked for a nicer, more balance, obedient test. I felt like it was a really good example of where we are at in our training right now. Woot!


I'm so much more relaxed too!

Hover Haffieeee! I love how balanced and awesome we look in this shot!

And that right-lead canter that we've been struggling with? An EIGHT on the depart, and SEVENS on the circle and downward transitions. H3ll to the yeah! Our uh, left lead canter, which I have been neglecting, wasn't as good. Oops.

And if that's not enough... the judge gave us a NINE on the final centerline. I've never gotten a 9 before, ever. I feel like bronzing and framing that sucker.

So yeah, that test was worth a 68% even, for second place, ONE POINT behind first. The first place horse actually ALSO got a 64% at First Level test 3... so he's basically way past Training level. I'm feeling pretty good about that!

Me and Fuzzypony. Paddy had his ears up the entire time for these pics (natch), but Taran required some bribery (note hand with carrot on left).

As usual, a show is never something that one person does alone. Many thanks to Fuzzypony for Paddy's awesome braid job (I promise to pull his mane more in the very near future), MC for coming out, helping groom, and taking pics (all these pics are courtesy of MC) with her friend M (M belongs to the carrot-holding hand), Hubby for providing water and a cheering section (!!!!), and Lisa for the awesome coaching as usual. It takes a village!

30 comments:

  1. Drooling over that canter shot. Gorgeously balanced, you guys look like pros! So pumped you got a 9! wow. way cool.

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    1. MC takes great pics! That was a super good moment she caught. And I still can't believe the 9! I actually gave us a 7 in my head when I saluted, lol!

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  2. Those photos look AWESOME!! Especially love the Hover Haffie and centerline photo... there is seriously nothing like being the first ride in a freshly dragged arena. Congrats!!

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    1. The only thing better than being the first is being the second after someone who knows the pattern so you can follow their path. LOL!

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    2. Too bad I didn't make really round circles for you. ;)

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    3. Alicia, thanks! I agree, nothing nicer than a freshly dragged arena. I always feel a little bit naughty "messing" it up, teehee!

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  3. Congrats! Great job, very proud of you guys :)

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  4. Jen, Taran and I only beat you by 1 point for T-2, not 3. We got a 65.change%. For T-3... You and Paddy Rocked! Taran and I only got a 62% (6th out of 12 riders).

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    1. One percentage point, but four actual points. And a 62 on T3 is nothing to sneeze at! You guys had a really nice test!

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  5. You guys look GREAT! Much improved....and heck yes on those awesome scores!! :)

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    1. It does seem to be coming together...

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  6. Great scores! I can see how much better the canter is from the pictures alone.

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    1. Thanks! As always, I'm super lucky to have pics. Thanks MC!

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  7. Congrats on your awesome scores!

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    1. Thanks! Let's hope we can do it again, lol!

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  8. Awesome! Such exciting progress. I mean, HOT DAMN, that canter shot.

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    1. It's nice that we're finally not careening around like a train wreck, isn't it?

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    1. I admit, I think the judge was being kinda generous...

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  10. A lurker here, stepping out of the shadows to say congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, and welcome to the de-lurkers club!

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  11. That first canter shot is beea-utiful! Having worked with lots of Haffies, I know that they can sometimes be super heavy in the canter- and he looks so light on the forehand and uphill! Great job!

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    1. We have worked really really really hard not to plow around on our forehand. He's very good at that, lol! The light uphill canter is such a joy to ride, so hopefully it will get even better!

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  12. Oooh, kickass! Congratulations! Love that first centerline pic too, that's gorgeous.

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    1. There's just something about "messing" up a freshly dragged arena that I love!

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  13. Congratulations!!! A 68 is amazing, especially that 9! The canter pictures look like you guys have made a HUGE improvement. Onto First level??

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    1. Well, it was just a schooling show, so obviously we would not have done as well at a recognized show. Still, I'll take it! And yes, we have made major improvements in the canter, although it will always be a work in progress for sure. As for First Level... definitely!

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