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!

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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

Results from Show

Post about the November Show I entered: Second attempt at online show shines light on crappy rider

Final Score: 63.33%Nov2018ShowResult

Score Sheet:

nov2018_scoresheet1.jpg

Nov2018_ScoreSheet

Judges comments in Further Remarks are:

Nicely matched pair. Nicely energetic throughout test, but needs to be more supple and relaxed in the back so can take bigger steps (especially in lengthenings).

So.. first… HOLY SHIT!  Joy got a 7 on gaits?!?!?! Dang!

Plus, we got four 7’s during the test! Pretty awesome!

The stretchy circle and lengthens really hurt my score. I definitely need professional help with those.

And, the rest was pretty much rider error. Which I’m not sure whether to be thrilled with (easily fixed), or horribly ashamed of. HA hahahaha

A 63 is decent! I’m pretty happy with it!

Bakersfield Dressage earns the gold star for the winning guess on the last post!

My mom guessed 100%. I have the best mom! 😚☺😍

Second attempt at online show shines light on crappy rider

Today was the last day to enter the last online show of the year for Better Dressage Scores.

Video of the test submission:

 

For fun, comment your guess on the final score below.
You won’t hurt my feelings if it’s extremely low. I have thick skin. 

This whole thing has really shown me that I suck. I mean, seriously! Why am I leaning?!? And what is going on with my shoulders? I look like a sack of potatoes up there. No, wait.. at this point, I’m pretty sure a sack of potatoes could sit up there straighter than I did.

*sigh*

And!! And!!! Normally the free walk on a loose rein is Joy’s strong suit. This time.. ugh. She only wanted to rip the reins out of my hands and barge forward. There was no lengthening over the top line. It was just rip and go. Bleck!! Same with the stretchy trot. It SUCKED!

I was happy with the canter departs. The right lead strike off at C is on a downward slope. That depart is difficult for Joy to do successfully.  Any other spot in the arena would be a thousand times easier than right at C, going downhill. I hate that spot.

(Extremely) brief moments in the trot work were nice. I felt she showed more bend in this video submission than she did the last time I submitted a video for this show series (I still lost her shoulders a lot, but moments of better bend in there).

My guess for final score is 60%.

What’s your guess?

 

The Somewhat Disturbing Audience

I hopped on Joy to play with a few of the exercises I had found. She was extremely distracted from the get go, looking for things to spook at, tense, tight, and amped up.

I went through the normal warm-up routine and was getting frustrated that I couldn’t get her attention on me.

As we’re trotting across a short diagonal, I look up and see a doe staring us down from less than 20 meters away.

She was standing in the clearing between the arena and the woods, next to the small drive we use to access the back yard. Just standing there… watching us… seemingly at ease with the situation, with no intention of moving.

I tried to ignore her. I tried to get Joy to focus on me again.

Nope.

Let me tell ya, it’s not easy to ignore a strange animal staring at you. It leaves you a little unsettled.

And Joy wasn’t having any better luck ignoring the doe than I was.

I stopped Joy at the edge of the arena closest to the deer.

Me to the deer: *sigh* “Do you want to learn dressage too?”

Doe: No answer

Me: “I’m looking for a new eventing partner. Do you like to jump?”

Doe: sidles closer to the woods.

Me: “Come on, I bet you’d be a fantastic eventing mount. We could go far!”

Doe: slinks into the woods and hides behind a tree.

Apparently she isn’t keen on eventing.

I really thought that was the end of it. And then I realize the doe is watching us from the treeline. She hung out there the rest of my ride.

I swear to you, it really seemed as if that doe was enjoying watching us.

I’m expecting to go one day and find that doe in my arena practicing dressage moves.

20181109_1623217178213378246875305.jpg

 

 

Exercises to Improve the Trot

The Exercise: half-pass, medium trot, half-pass:

In trot ride round the corner of the arena and begin half-pass from the quarter marker across the diagonal. 28juneexercise

After about six strides of half-pass, straighten your horse and ask for some medium strides as you cross the X marker.

After another six strides or so, half-halt and go back into half pass again. Repeat on the other rein and from both ends of the school. 

After the half-pass, you horse should be more engaged, so this exercise could also help to improve the medium trot.

Exercises for developing thrust carrying capacity in trot:

1. Start out in working trot, tracking on the long side of the arena.

2. Walk at the letter before the corner, maintaining a good bend.

3. Promptly make half a walk pirouette to the left, which turns you back to the same wall, facing the other way.

4. Using the lightest-possible aids, straighten your horse and transition back to the working trot.

5. Before you get to the corner, transition to walk and make half a walk pirouette to the right. Stay on the long side, heading in the other direction.

Repeat the exercise, asking for more during the trot on the long side. First, ask for a lengthening of the working trot and then for more extension, each time with an easy downward transition to walk and then the half walk pirouette to turn around.

This exercise highlights one of the extremes of collection, which is the collected walk required for a walk pirouette. Perfecting this will help you transition to an extended trot because the horse must remain active in the hind legs and do so with a correct bend. The pirouettes give you a moment to gather confidence, establish balance and reward the horse for thinking in the right direction.

In the process, you form the horse as you focus on the integrity of your position to maintain looseness, bend and flexibility. This allows your driving aids to flow through the horse’s back to maintain the looseness that keeps the energy flowing.

The Shoulder-in Loop Andrea Taylor

On the left rein, ride straight down the long side of the arena in a balanced trot (may be working or collected depending on the stage of the horse’s training). Shoulder-in Loop

At R, ride a half 20 metre circle to S in medium trot, thinking about creating impulsion without allowing the horse to take faster steps.

At S, half-halt and develop shoulder-in in collected trot down the long side to V.

From V to P, ride another half 20 metre circle in medium trot to refresh the impulsion, and develop shoulder-in in collected trot again down the long side to R.

At R, ride a half 20 metre circle to S in medium trot…and so on.

“Your horse may rush in the mediums and as a result stiffen and lean on the contact,” cautions Andrea. “Check that you are pushing and engaging him uphill using half halts rather than chasing him out of balance.”

You may also find that your horse feels “stuck” against the wall in the transition from shoulder-in in collected trot to the medium trot. “Make sure you are keeping the horse in front of your leg in the shoulder-in so he is ready to leave the wall exactly when you give the aid,” Andrea advises.

This exercise can be adapted to suit different horses by varying the degree of impulsion in the medium trot and asking for more or less angle in the shoulder-in. With a more advanced horse you can even add a half-pass out of the shoulder-in at E or B to the top of the centreline. Then come back down the long side and repeat the exercise from the beginning.

Dressage training on how to improve the trot with Olympian Courtney King Dye

Dressage training with Garreth Hughes, How to improve the trot

 

 

Proposed Competition

I want to see a competition where 12 riders have 12 months to train, or re-train, a non-dressage horse in dressage (no warmbloods or warmblood crosses, no imports, no purpose-bred horses).

Horses are donated, and each horse that is donated is independently valued at no more than $3,000. All horses will be at least started under saddle (walk/trot under saddle).

Each rider will be assigned a horse based on a random drawing.

Horses would be videotaped ridden at Intro or Training level at start of the 12 months.

At the end of 12 months, all twelve riders compete their horse at one of two tests: either First Level Test 3 or Second Level test 3.

Then have prizes for the rider who created the biggest overall improvements, rider who improved the gaits the most, rider who over came the most issues, etc.

And the riders who scored highest overall at the test they chose at the end of the 12 months gets prize money.

The donated horses are then sold and proceeds go into prize pot. Or, horses are donated to Jr/Yg riders who demonstrate talent.

This, in my opinion, would showcase trainer talent. You want to prove your chops, remove the option to buy the horses that are bred to excel at dressage.

We need a low cost platform for trainers that don’t have the deep pockets, but have the skills to pull out the absolute best from a horse, to really shine. A competition that would really cull the wheat from the chaff and find the best trainers.


I’m tired of seeing trainers post videos of their co-owned, $40k, imported warmbloods and then asking “Can you see how much his trot improved this year?”

No, Fred. I don’t. The thing already moved like an FEI level horse when it was 3.


The Thoroughbred Makeover is similar, but if ours allowed video submissions then it could draw in the trainers that are usually excluded due to costs. They might be able to finagle housing and training a horse for a year, but couldn’t absorb travel and competition costs.

Remove as many barriers as possible and see what kind of talent comes out of the woodwork. Make it prestigious enough to capture the attention of top trainers, but affordable enough that anyone could play.

Just saying.. I’d be far more impressed by a trainer who could take an average Qh or Morgan and create a marked improvement in it over a year than I am watching some of these incredibly gifted youngsters do the young horse tests.