Dressage Lesson!

I have a dressage lesson Saturday!

I’ve been really struggling to find a dressage instructor near me who has ridden at a level higher than me, can teach it effectively, and I can access them without requiring a four hour haul.

Oh, and that aren’t over $100 per 45 minute lesson.

I learned about this trainer after attending one of the GMO hosted clinics in my area. I’d never heard of her before, so I was really delighted with how effective she was as an instructor with some really run-of-the-mill type horses.

Then I had the opportunity to see her teach again at an eventing barn.

I’m extremely hopeful that she’ll be able to help Joy and I fill in the holes in our training.

So that’s my big news this week.

I already signed up for second lesson with her the beginning of July.

I’m a little nervous about it.  Every instructor is unique in how they approach things. Sometimes their approach conflicts with the ways I was taught previously.  This isn’t usually an issue if the instructor is knowledgeable enough to convey why the change is needed, or what it will improve, but I find I’m resistant to change if the “why” for why it should change isn’t clear.

I have a hard time blindly trusting people the way you need to trust your trainer.

But I’m hopeful about this trainer/instructor. She seems to know her stuff, she’s ridden through PSG, her scores match up with what she’s claimed, and it appears she’s taken horses from training level up through PSG.

So, I’m hopeful. And it feels really good to be “hopeful” again.

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Joy’s First Dressage Show

Our first dressage show is completed!

We survived!!

Joy loaded and hauled like a champ. <- That was actually my main concern for the show.

She hopped right on and I latched her in with ease. She hauled quietly and without issues. Whew!

Once we got to the show, she was a million times better than I expected her to be. She was hyped, but easily controllable. She listened to me. I bet a few more shows and she’ll be completely unfazed by it all.

The only thing that wigged her out the entire show was when a horse unloaded from a trailer next to her. She wigged out… as in, all four feet left the ground, she started bucking and leaping around. I was walking next to her, so I just ignored it and kept walking. She was back to normal a moment later, but I didn’t stand her near unloading trailers after that. 😮😁

The actual test scores weren’t very good. The rides, while riding them, felt awesome! Not perfect, but the stretchy trot felt balanced and as if she had massive stretch. The lengthens felt like she lengthened well (for her and where she’s at right now). It felt… Good.

The scores and video show it was was not good. It was crap. Rushing, braced, unbalanced… not good at all.

That disconnect between how it felt and how it scored/looked, really had me bummed.

Final Scores:

  • First Level Test 1 – 60.172%
    • 4th place out of 5
  • First Level Test 2 – 63.286%
    • 2nd place out of 4
  • First Level Test 3 – 62.22%
    • 3rd place out of 4

We somehow eeked out a Reserve Champion High Point tie with the girl that womped our butts in test 2 and 3. Don’t ask me how.

The overall theme in the comments on each test was: Tension, bracing, lack of suppleness, lack of balance, lack of bend.
That pretty much describes all three tests in a nut-shell.

First Level Test 1 Video Link: https://youtu.be/1P4VtMRlWUI

First Level Test 1 Score Sheet:

First Level Test 1 Collective Marks

 

First Level Test 2 Video Link:  https://youtu.be/fzAVGxnhHP0

First Level Test 2 Score Sheet:

First Level Test 2 Collective Marks

 

First Level Test 3 Video Link: https://youtu.be/haGVdILY98Q

First Level Test 3 Score Sheet:

First Level Test 3 Collective Marks

 

My friend takes beautiful photographs!

Count Down to Show

We successfully loaded and hauled Joy around the block this week. I was nervous. She hasn’t been in the trailer in two years. She did great.

I’m feeling a touch more confident about at least getting to the show Saturday.

I got my ride times.

First ride is 8:37 AM.

  • It’s a 45-ish minute drive.
  • It’s her first off-property event in two years.
  • It’s supposed to thunderstorm.

I should’ve gotten an overnight stall.

I thought the rides would be closer to noon for my level. Nope.. all the First Level rides are first thing in the morning. *sigh*

I have test 1 and 2 mostly committed to memory. The flow on the First level tests seems so odd to me.

Straight from strerchy trot to lengthen?

Why is free walk in test 1 so short?

Why are there random spots where you’re just tooling down the rail after they jammed in 7 movements in 12 meters earlier?

Do we trot at C or M?!?

Do we hit the rail at V or K?!?

Ack!!!

The joy of being an AA

Work has been killing me. 50 to 70 hour weeks for over a month. I am exhausted. Burnt out.

I also don’t get anything for all this overtime. No overtime pay, no extra time off..

I can’t even reap extra money for all this hard work. *sigh* No new brushing boots for Joy again this year.

My first show is a week away. I’m not sure what to expect.

I’m still struggling every ride with either making her too hot and tense, yet better balanced, or supple and relaxed, yet horribly on her forehand. I can’t seem to get balanced, supple, forward, and relaxed all in one ride.

We have some fabulous moments though.

Our lengthen canter (aka go fast) elludes me, but we have a very nice downward transition. She engages well under herself. It’s quite neat to feel. There’s not much length of back on a pony so you really feel the back coil and the haunches come under.

Our lengthen trot has gotten a wee bit better. More lengthen in the stride. However, we can’t hold it long. Not long enough even for a short diagonal.

You know what’s really improved? We can do simple transistions down the quarter line like nobody’s business. Not exactly a staple of dressage tests though. Super fun to ride though! Weeee!!!

Anyway, I just don’t know how this whole show will go. We’re not really ready for First Level Test 3. We’ve got the canter loops and leg yields, but no real lengthens. I can’t get a stretchy trot at all if she gets tense. It’s so easy to accidentally make her tense, and so hard to relax her again.

Since this will be her first time off property in 2 years, and only the second show she’s ever been to, I’m not expecting it to go all that well…

But… I’m hoping to take her to a few more shows this year, and I think she’ll get used to it pretty fast. She’s always had a really fantastic brain on her. Adapts well. Maybe the second show we can show off our training a bit better, or the third. We’ll see.

First Dressage Show

My first dressage show, ever, on Joy is in 3 weeks.

I’ve been freaking out ever since I signed up for it. A combination of excited and scared to death.

I have such high hopes for our debut in public and at First level.

However, since this will be Joy’s second show (first was 2 years ago at a local open show), I’m expecting her to be tense, distracted, and spooky.

I’m more nervous that we’ll do poorly because my training sucks. This is the first horse I’ve trained solely on my own, without lessons (I did have 2 on her a couple years ago).

She is entirely a reflection of my level of knowledge. Not a trainers, not my ability to do as told, not any outside influence… mine and mine alone.

It means a lot to me that we do well.

Add on to that… I am highly competitive. So I’m bouncing back and forth between “It’s just for fun. We’ll have fun and who cares how we do!” to “Crush the competition! I must bury them in the dust of my success!”

And on top of that…

My anxiety riddled brain is coming up with ever horrible event that could possibly happen the day of the show. Pony freaks out and runs off with me, tosses me, freaks in trailer, won’t load in trailer, freaks at judges stand and refuses to go near it, etc. etc. etc..

Oh, and add in that I’ve idiotically decided I can’t buy a new show coat and will lose enough weight in 3 weeks to fit my old show coat (a goal I’m not convinced I can achieve), and we’ve got an amazing recipe for total disaster!!

Really all I’m saying is I’m a mental basket case.

Stay tuned for more “How can Mia screw this up?” adventures!!

Those rides where it all goes right

I’ve been working on walk/canter transitions the past couple of months, but our canter/walk attempts have been HORRIBLE!

I got the BEST canter to walk transition today! It was… a big girl canter to walk trans! Balanced, engaged, and she just walked forward into the transition.

I was so floored and happy I immediately hopped off and quit. I figured we couldn’t possibly top that today.

Ultimate effort from this pony!

She’s just amazing!

New photos:

As you can see, we’re still too short in the neck. I get more moments of longer neck, but not consistent (yet).

Leg Yield

Springing into Possibilities

The great white north. Where 45 degrees is t-shirt weather.

The ponies are shedding hair faster than lazy people run from work.

The ticks have made their descent on critters and humans alike. They had gathered their armies and attacked before the last snow had even melted.

And me? I am tubby and out of shape, still suffering from cabin fever and a horrendous cold/flu.

But over there.. just past the horizon, is the possibility of Show Season. That glorious time where horse and human become one athletic team, stunning audiences with their grace and skill, wowing judges with their grasp of core dressage concepts, signing autographs for their adoring fans…

Oh wait, that’s other people…

I’ll be the chubby one on the plain brown pony who is desperately trying to ride a 20m something that should resemble a circle instead of an egg.

I hate to even suggest we might go to a show, or lesson, or whatever this year. It seems like every time I plan something, the horses end up lame. So finger’s crossed this year works out for us! I have high hopes, but I’m also a horrendous pessimist.

Actually, I’m beginning to get a bit superstitious about even mentioning I’m planning something. The moment I commit is the moment the horse goes horribly lame.

So, for now, I’ll leave you with the idea that if all goes well, then we’ve got fun times ahead of us!

Over the deep edge

Day # 745 of artic winter.

We have taken to wrapping cats around us to stay warm. They are accepting of it for the most part, but resist when we stand up.

The air feels nearly warm at 19 degrees Fahrenheit. My fingers did not immediately freeze to the metal latches when I fed.

Only three instances of nearly falling on the ice today. My balance is improving.

Ponies have become feral. I found one eyeballing the cat as competition for food. There are no more pleasantries to be had with the she-devil, Joy. We vie for dominance over the only path through the snow. She-Devil wins more times than I care to admit.

~ winter crazy

Future Tense

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use the remaining active years of my life to my best advantage.

I figure I have about 5 more years before I land in a deep depression due to the incongruous juxtaposition of my real age and the age my mind actually thinks I am.

Before that happens, I really want to try eventing.

A few facts stand in my way currently:

  • Fact one: I know Joy isn’t the right pony for me to do that on.
  • Fact two: I do not want to purchase another horse until I’ve sold Joy.
  • Fact three: No one wants a sassy, red-headed pony with a club foot and no show record for what I want to sell her for.

My conclusion:

I must actively campaign Joy on the schooling show circuit (and do well) in order to demonstrate her stunning movement and awesome training!!

**Rated shows are so far above my ability to afford that I am going to pretend they don’t exist.**

    • Issue 1:
      • I suck as a rider.
      • I haven’t had a dressage lesson in years
      • I am old and out of shape.
    • Issue 2:
      • Due to ice accumulations, I haven’t been able to ride or work the pony since the beginning of January.
      • Truck is old, rusted, and “iffy”.
      • I haven’t taken Joy off property since 2017.
    • Issue 3:
      • My last dressage show was 2014 and I no longer fit in any of my show clothes.
      • I lack funds to replace show clothes with larger clothes
      • really like to eat.

 

My Conundrum:

  • I need to use the money to take the lessons in order to do well at the shows.
  • If I use the money for the lessons, then I don’t have the money to do the shows.
  • I need the shows to sell the pony.

 

Five years from now, my extension cord collection will reach crisis point. I must act NOW!!

hopesAndDreams