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.

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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!

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?

 

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.

Online Dressage Show

I wrote about an online dressage show series a few weeks ago. You can read it at Online Showing.

I tried it. I wanted to share with you the details of how it worked, feedback I received, and other things I learned about this service.

I don’t want to show you the video because it’s embarrassing. The pony was lame in it, but I hadn’t realized she was favoring the leg until AFTER we started videoing the ride.  She was a powder keg the moment I got on. I hopped on and spent 5 minutes of riding out bolts and bucks, then decided “screw it” and video’d the test ride. As soon as I turned left at C she started bopping on the turns. That’s the leg with the club foot, and she is always short-strided and choppy on it when really tense. However, i later found a small cut on her pastern on that leg, so she may have whacked herself during her shenanigans. I don’t know.

She’s fine now. No lasting damage.

Anyway… excuses aside, if you can get past the shitty riding, lame pony, etc. and you want to know about the online show series, then below is how the online show went and the results I got.

Entering the Show:

Entering the show was really easy. Click on the Enter a Show link, choose your type (“I am a US dressage rider” or whichever one you are), and it takes you to the page where you can select your test.  Add a test to your cart, and when ready to check out, click “view cart” and then enter your billing info.

The only catch I ran into here is that you have to pay $5.95 to receive a ribbon and a hard copy of your test scores in the mail. This is optional. If you don’t care about the ribbon, and an email of your test sheet/scores is fine, then you don’t pay any extra. However, I had assumed a ribbon was included in the $19 charge, not an additional fee. No biggy though.

You can also choose, on this screen, to have personalized feedback from the judge. That’s $9.00 extra. Again, optional.

I chose the personalized feedback from the judge to see what that got you for $9.00.

You can either attach a video of your ride on this screen, or upload to youtube and add the link to the Notes section, or email the video to them. I chose to upload to youtube because my file was too large, then I added the youtube link to the notes.

You pay for this through Paypal.

Observations:

I received a receipt from Better Dressage Scores after I paid, but it said my entry was on-hold until payment received. I never did hear anything back that it was off hold, or that payment had been received. The communication during this process was a little lacking.

Results of the Show:

The closing date for the show was the 23rd. The actual show date was the 30th. On the 30th, I received an email with a link to the show results. At 12:30PM I received an email with my test sheet and scores, plus an audio file of the judges personalized feedback.

 

Observations:

I thought it’d be days past the show date before I received my scores and feedback. I was incredibly happy to get it so quickly!

The test score sheet is returned as a word document.  Easy to read.

The personalized feedback is returned as an m4a audio file. Windows media player will play it.  I thought the feedback was really good, spot on, and helpful. The judge was super nice about addressing the lameness issue.

** I overlaid the audio file onto the video of the test to make it easier for you. See link below.

Overall Thoughts:

I would absolutely do this online show series again.

  • I felt the judge was spot on, and she had positive and supportive comments.
  • I thought the scoring was an accurate reflection of the movements.
  • The cost was incredibly affordable.
  • I didn’t have to wear show clothes or braid the horse.
  • The setup for the arena was easy (I just shoved white blocks on the RSVP letter spots).
  • The results were quick, easily accessible (email), and score sheet is easily readable (typed instead of written).
  • The optional personalized comments were helpful and informative, and I felt they were well worth the $9.00 I paid for them.

Video and Documents:

Video of Test with personalized comments from judge applied: https://youtu.be/57GYXZ3sXZU

PDF of Score Sheet: https://avandarre.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/usef-first-level-test-1-729.pdf

Other Notes:

It’s my understanding that they do this every month, even through the winter. This would be an inexpensive and quality way to get feedback throughout the dead winter months (without having to brave icy roads with a trailer).

You can even do a “barn show” if you contact Better Dressage Scores to set it up.

And as a reminder, they offer western dressage classes also.

Online Showing

I want to try the online show series called Better Dressage Scores.

It’s 100% online. You video your ride (as if you’re the judge at C), pay the $19.00 per test to enter, a real judge judges you, and you get the marks and comments back in an email.

You can also earn ribbons and year end awards.

Instead of “winning” based on the quality of your competition though, places are awarded based on score. So, a 70%, or higher, is First place, and multiple people can earn a first for the same test in the same show. Which is a bit different, but I like that you’re actually competing entirely against yourself and your placing isn’t determined by quality of your competition.

They have Intro through FEI levels available.

And, for all of you Western Dressage riders out there, they also have WD classes available (Intro to Level 3).

This seems like a great way to get some feedback without having to suffer through an extremely long day at a real show. Plus, if I only want to do one test, then it’s $19 total. No office fee’s, no haul in fee’s, no gas costs, etc. Total is $19.00.

Their next show is Sept 30th (entries close Sept 23rd). If I can figure out how to get markers up so they’re visible for the video, and figure out how to work through the large hole at M, then I should be all set to enter this.  I think that’ll be my goal this week – figure out how to set up lettering.

Along with power washing all the water tanks, cleaning the feed bins, cleaning tack, and continuing to fill in the giant hole in my yard.

I suppose I ought-a get off my butt and get started!

Our First Show

Loading, and hauling,  Joy went without a hitch.  We even stopped at the gas station to pick up ice on the way to the show.  Joy was perfect in the trailer. It was cute though,  she saw Bob walking back to the truck with the ice and she whinnied at him.  
We got to the show and I was so nervous about unloading her that I almost wanted to quit right there. Heart jumping out of my chest.   Joy was vibrating like a top and screaming her fool head off.  I was scared…  

We got her off and for the first time ever I used a chain on her. 

The pony was a powder keg. 

Luckily i had a friend there to offer advice and moral support. 

I walked Joy around for a few minutes,  and once Joy figured out that the place was filled with other horses she settled right down.  

I lunged her for a bit.  She was “Up”  but sane. 

And then I got on… 

Yeah…  That’s Joy not giving a shit about anything,  acting like an old pro at all this.  

Ha! 

Best pony ever!! 

So we entered 2 walk/trot classes.  

This show didnt require show attire,  fuzzy show. 

I was on my own game plan.  Just having fun.  Weee! 

To my utter shock,  we won both the classes! Ha! 

What a fantastic pony. 

Oh,  and she loaded up like a dream and rode superbly to come home.  

Definitely a show pony in the making. 

I’m so thrilled with how well she did. 

Next weekend we have our first lesson.  I can’t wait! 

May is Here

The start of the show season, the end of the snow, the beginnings of a new summer of possibilities!20170428_230511

I love May!

I’m taking Joy to her very first show May 6th. This is a local, open show. Not a dressage show.

This will be “the test”. She did well with hauling to the neighbors house. How will she do in a completely new environment? I have no idea.

 

Side note: I haven’t taken a horse to a show since 2014. Three years! Guess how many of my show breeches fit?

That’s right, NONE!!

Tubby rider definitely needs to lose weight.

giphy

 

Then, on May 13th, I have my VERY FIRST LESSON in three (3) years!!

Count them… THREE YEARS!!

WOO HOO!

I’m so excited.

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