Blog .:. May 2014 2 Entries

Second show, better than the first

23 May 2014 Comments

After the first show, I decided to sign us up for another show in mid May.

The plan was, again, to take him on a field trip at a minimum and let his attitude guide the rest. He’s still young, so the most important thing was to ensure he had a good experience.

Our “good experience” started out with having to change a tire on the highway, but it turns out my Trailer Aid was worth every penny. Fortunately, he and the other horse going to the show were both very good while we changed the tire, and we were back on the road pretty quickly.

He spent most of the morning hanging out at the trailer or being hand walked.

My trainer warmed him up again, and he looked fantastic. I think he really likes working out in big fields, and he was having a blast at the canter. I hopped on after, and it was definitely the best ride I have had on him. That was partly the great warmup he’d had, and it was partly that I was much more confident than I have been later—so I was staying back, keeping him in front of me, and staying more relaxed while I did so.

We had a fabulous first class and ended up scoring a 63.4%. I realize it’s only Intro A, but I don’t think I’ve ever broken 60% below First Level before, so I was very happy about it—and it was a huge improvement all around from our first show. We were both a little tired for our second class, but we still broke 60% and there were some really nice moments in the test.

Our biggest issue is that the judges want to see him coming over his back more and we don’t have a free walk. The two are connected, of course. For where he is at in his training, I was very happy with the way he went. We are starting to ask him to use himself more, and he is figuring that out; as he does, he’ll naturally want to stretch down and out at the free walk.

Our other issue is… well, back up a step or two. Somewhere along the line, Fin decided that “good boy” means “all done.” And by “all done,” I mean he does the horsey equivalent of flopping on a couch and cracking a beer. We are working on that, but if I forget to drive him forward at the same time that I say “good boy,” he does… flop to a halt and crack a beer.

So coming up the centerline for our last halt, I sat up to ask for a transition to a walk and he was, really, just ready to be done. He flopped into the walk, I flopped, and before I could fix either one of us, he’d flopped all the way to a halt, with his hindquarters cocked off to the side in another zip code.

I laughed because… my bad, that was all my fault. My trainer was laughing too, because she thought I’d said “good boy” as we did the downward—it was that bad. I’m there are moments when the judges wish they could write “FUBAR” next to a movement, and this was one of them.

We, uh, need to work a bit on riding every stride, even when we’re both tired.

Despite the halt, it was still a pretty respectable test. I was particularly happy that he had handled a warmup and two classes without throwing a fit because he was being ridden, getting a break, and having to come out and work again.

The plan from here is for him to spend a couple weeks with just my trainer working with him—I’m moving apartments and dealing with some deadlines at work—and then a week or two for he and I to solidify a few things as a team. After that, he’ll get the summer off—he’s coming along fantastically well, but he’s also only four. He can spend the summer romping in the field and growing a little more, and we’ll pick things up again in the fall.

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Showing Off

6 May 2014 Comments

Fin had two major accomplishments this weekend.

First, he learned how to eat from a small-ish hole haynet:

For anyone who has been following along, this is a major accomplishment. Of course, he couldn’t eat normally; he spent most of the time pinning it against the trailer with his shoulder and reaching behind it, or else trying to eat from the top down. But at least he was eating from it. And he kept us entertained while he did so.

Second, we had an awesome first show!

The plan was to take him there and just see how the day unfolded. He came off the trailer curious but not stressed, which is how he has handled all the other trips we’ve been on. He was very interested in being in a new place but settled quickly and was happy hanging around at the trailer and well behaved on the lunge.

My trainer rode him first, as much for me as for him, and he was very well behaved. I hopped on after. The warmup area was basically a large field with a dressage ring marked out in it, and the fact that it was so open really helped me sit back and stay behind him a little more—something I struggle with a lot. He responded very well to that, naturally, and since everything was going well I went ahead and rode him in our first class.

The video is below; obviously I still need to sit back a little more, relax a lot more, and ask for more from behind. But I was very happy that we stayed in a pretty consistent rhythm, even if it was under tempo, and he didn’t hesitate at all at the judge’s stand or announcer’s booth.

I scratched our second test because he had been so good all day long and I did not want to push the limits on his first show.

Our scores were all over the place (4s to an 8) but all totally fair and the judge’s comments were great—very clear explanations of what we needed to fix to improve the scores, and very complimentary on the movements where we scored well.

I really couldn’t be happier with how the day went—he acted like a pro and the experience was a huge confidence booster for me. I’m looking forward to taking the momentum from this show back home; clearly, we are both ready to step things up a notch and expect (and deliver) more during our rides.

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