Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Texas Rose Fall Classic I

For those of you not into detailed recaps of Training level dressage tests (which are almost as exciting to watch as paint drying or grass growing), here's the cliff notes version of what happened on Day 1:

  • Training 2 - Paddy forgot he's no longer a green horse in warmup, so we had no bend and no brakes in the test, and I forgot to ride because I'm always super nervous for the first test of the weekend. I wore my new brown Pikeur coat and almost expired because while it looks amazing, it breathes about as well as a wetsuit and it was 94 degrees. I managed to forget my test AGAIN (well actually I did the walk MXH and not MEH), so we had to do that part over and took the -2 error. Final score was a 64.4 (2nd/5) despite the judge commenting that EVERY circle was off-center and/or not round. Fail.
  • Training 3 - I ditched my coat (yay white everything! So easy to keep clean!). got my act together, and rode the warmup and the test. The test felt pretty solid and workmanlike, even though I rode with too much hand and he got curled after some movements. The canter wasn't as good as he's been at home, but he didn't get too quick or unbalanced so that was a big win. Oh, and I made my circles round, dammit. We scored a 65.0 for 6th/11.
The nitty-gritty details:

If I want to do well in my first test, I have simply GOT to get to the show the night before and get a ride in. That was the original plan, but because of the additional 2 hours it took to drive, we got in much later than expected and there are no lights in any of the outdoor arenas, so riding was out. Unfortunately, Paddy's not an experienced enough horse to be able to go out into a crazy warmup the morning of the show and focus. Plus, he's not fit enough (and the footing was deeper than he's used to, so he got tired more quickly) to put in a long warmup, especially when he's putting in two rides per day. As a result, we didn't have enough time in the first warmup, so I wasn't able to really get him off my seat and especially off my right leg. Because he was so forward and distracted, I was hesitant to put my leg on and really demand that he work, which is what I should have done. Our test lacked focus and bend, and his haunches kept escaping me to the right. At one point it was so bad I remember thinking that we would have gotten good scores for the 2nd level test, where haunches in was a required movement. Oops! Oh, and I forgot my test. Again. Dammit. 

Most of the judge's comments involved making better circles, him being a bit quick, and me needing to prepare him better. That's pretty obvious when you watch the ride:

Training 2

For Training 3, I was determined to make the most of the warmup, actually RIDE this time, and get my circles the right shape. Oh, and not forget my test.  I was really pretty pleased with this test. The canter could be better, and I could have asked for more throughness in the trot, but overall, it was very steady and workmanlike. The judge's comments were mostly about quick tempo, showing more reach from behind, and more bend in turns. Paddy did start to suck back BTV more in this test, which is super hard for me to counteract. I made a mental note to kick him more up into the bridle the next day, because it gets worse the more tired he gets.

Training 3

We stuck him on a hill for this picture so he'd look bigger. I'm not sure it worked. Also, WTF is up with my saddle pad?

Fuzzypony and I stuck around to watch the para riders (SUPER amazing, btw), and then we headed out for dinner. Would you believe we actually got decent sushi in Tyler, Texas? We called it an early night, since the unexpected heat had taken a lot out of both of us and the Haffie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top 10 takeaways from Texas Rose Fall Classic Dressage Show

1. Google maps LIES LIKE A RUG about how long it takes to get there. It said 4 hours one way... it took us 6 hours to get there and 5 hours to get home, including a 30-mile detour since the interstate was a parking lot for miles.

2. Always, ALWAYS pack a fan so your poor horse doesn't melt into a little puddle in the 97 degree heat. Especially when he decides to re-grow his winter coat (that you clipped a week and a half before the show) overnight.

3. If they waive coats, don't wear a coat. Because nobody will care how awesome your new brown Pikeur looks if you pass out and fall off your horse.

Looking fancy is not worth losing consciousness.

4.  It's OK that you're competing against a bunch of big fancy warmbloods. Everybody notices the cute Haffie; nobody notices yet another bay Dutch horse (sorry if you have a bay Dutch horse). 

5. I apparently cannot remember a dressage test to save my life. Seriously, off course AGAIN?

At least the judge was nice about it...

6. Angry Orchard hard cider now comes in a 12 pack of cans. Epic.

7. I can probably survive a show by myself, but having Fuzzypony there to make sure I had everything together was awesome. She also braids WAY better than I do. And drinking aforementioned ciders alone is probably bad form, so it was good to have someone to drink with. Also, thank you MC for stepping in at the last moment so Fuzzypony could keep me company! :)

8. Thank the volunteers. No seriously, get off your horse and go thank them. It only takes a minute and they really appreciate it! Almost as much as I appreciate them out there in the blazing sun herding cats dressage riders.  

9. I need a different white saddle pad. Mine is huge and looks stupid.

10. I will totally take that blue ribbon and run with it, even if there was only one other person in my class.

Also, I won a thing! Even if it's only a coffee chai mug.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Poor planning on my part

Once upon a time, I used to ride a lot. Like, 5-6 days a week. We made progress. We did shows. We had goals. Then summer came and because I am a wuss when it's over 100 degrees, I had a lot of excuses not to ride. So I didn't ride.

And then at the beginning of this month, I realized that the USDF Region 9 Championship show, which we qualified for in the spring, is the second weekend in October. I had barely ridden in three months, and we hadn't shown all summer. Panicking seemed like a great idea.

If I'd had my shit together, we could have done a nice warm-up show in Houston or San Antonio, WITH my trainer. Or we could have done a low-key local schooling show. But because I wasn't planning ahead, I missed the closing dates for both rated shows, and the schooling show filled up because everyone else in the entire world ALSO wants to get one last show in before regionals. And obviously those people have their acts together way more than I do.

The only option left was to sign up for a show this weekend that's a four-hour drive away. Hubby is in Germany, BFF is taking care of the critters at home, and trainer is shockingly not interested in participating in a road trip when she has no horses going. Which means I'm on my own. Just me, myself, and Paddykins. I know lots of you show solo, and you're probably telling me to just get over it right now, but I'm terrified I'll leave my coat off or forget my wraps or not get my warmup timed right because I don't have a functioning watch (no really, I don't, I'm getting one at lunch today) and normally my darling husband just tells me how much time I have left before my ride and keeps me on schedule. Oh and he also holds my coat. And the water. And takes video. Sometimes he even calls tests. Have I mentioned that he's the best husband ever?

Anyway, I'm going solo. I've managed to get Paddy's mane and tail back into show-horse shape, and my tack is clean-ish, but so far my packing list consists of chai, margaritas, and ciders. It's too bad they don't make chaigaritas, because I may need to start drinking before my first test at 10 a.m. My Training 3 class has 23 entries... all Hanoverians, Trakheners, KWPNs, and two imported Dutch horses just to keep it real. No pressure, right?

Moral of the story? Plan ahead, you moron. Also, if you can't wow them with your horse's fancy movement, have great hair and be as cute as you possibly can.

After all, it's hard to beat a fro-lock like this...

... or a tail like this!