As the Judge Groans

Show Day…

The day started off with me waking up at 1:30 am for no reason and unable to fall back to sleep.

At 5:00 am, I braid up Joy and try a new technique I read about. I give her a thorough brushing, brush out her tail, and stand back to admire this glossy and beautiful pony. I almost take a pic of her, but decide not to.

I run inside to change and grab something to eat. 

It’s load up time (which is always kind of hit or miss with Joy). I run out to the barn to grab Joy and she’s COVERED in poop. Top to bottom coated in it. 

Now we’re running behind.  

It’s STILL DARK OUT!!!!

I grab the pony and head over to the trailer to load. The trailer is a black pit. Joy balks. 

I finally convince her to get in. My other horse, Levi, is hollering his fool head off. Joy’s hollering back. Everyone’s upset. I’m rattled. We’re late. I’m freaking! And our running lights refuse to work. Did I mention it’s still dark out.

Ugh!

By the time we pull in to the show grounds, it’s finally light out. I see SA there already. She was looking calm and cool. Her majestic mare was unloaded and calmly eating hay. 

We pull in and I feel like a too-wired coffee fanatic with a semi-feral pony. My heart is pounding, my hands are shaking, Joy’s screaming inside the trailer.

The slope on the parking spot was so great that I felt like I hurled Joy off a cliff to unload her.

It is at this point we realize we have lights INSIDE of the trailer. That would’ve been useful to know an hour earlier.

Joy was a ball of nerves. Her whinnies are ear shattering.  I decided to hop on and put her through a warm-up to settle her down. It’s either that or lose my hearing.  

Oh, and Joy’s braids are slowly popping out, one by one. 

First Level Test 3.

Why would a show host put Test 3 first thing in the morning?! So sadistic!

I’ve got my test memorized. My pony is responsive and feeling good. My body is working fairly well for the lack of sleep and earliness of the day. I’m a little tense, but I’m okay.

And then I realized I would have to approach the judge’s booth to give my number. The booth where my old trainer sits. The one I’ve burnt my bridge with….

Eek!!!

Wait… it was…. pleasant!

Whew!

The whistle blows! 

I entered at A.

First center line and I’m feeling okay about this. We’re fairly straight. Halt, salute. All good. Ask to trot forward and Joy decides she has the world’s worst itch that she has to scratch right at that moment.

We recover.  

I get to about the half-way point in the test and my brain blanks. What comes next?!?! Suddenly all I can think is ‘Please don’t let her blow the whistle for off course.’

Aaaaahhhh!!

Just as I’m at max freak out, I remember the rest of the test.

Whew!

Joy and I spent the rest of the test bouncing between stalling out and rushing forward, but we nail the leg yields and do passably well on the canter loops. Yay!

Then it was SA’s turn.

She enters the arena looking poised and elegant in her maroon jacket and matching fly bonnet.

And that is the exact moment someone wanted to talk to me and I missed the rest of her ride. 

I caught moments of it. She does a better lengthen. Her canter is better. I can’t tell from my view point, but her centerline and halts look better.

The scores take forever to come out, and it’s a hike to go get them, so I have no idea how I’ve done by the time the second class starts.

I’m pretty certain at this point that the whole thing is moot. I didn’t feel like the first ride went very well. There’s no way I can beat SA or SC’s highest percentage scores for year end awards (I had NEVER gotten a score higher than a 63 all year). It’s hot, I’m tired, and I can barely remember the tests.

First Level Test 1

Why am I always first to go?

Another braid popped out.

I put my game face on. I enter the arena.

Our trot work goes okay. Again, our canter work was lacking. 

We get through it. The test seems easy in comparison to the first ride. I’m tired. Joy’s tired. Some good spots, some bad.

I noticed Joy HAD to take one final step at EVERY SINGLE HALT at this show. 

At this point, I’m still under the impression that I’m just putting in the face time to get the Year End Reserve Points spot because SC didn’t show up. 

We finish the test and I hop off. Joy’s soaked in sweat. Lathered. When I scratch her neck it turns white. It’s hot and she’s been working on building her winter coat for a few weeks now.

I pull her tack, hose her off and cool her down, and then run over to the office to scratch the last test.

When I tell the office manager I’m scratching the last test, she screeches “WHAT?!?!”

I thought “Oh, how sweet, she’s worried about my pony”.

Instead she says, “Your going to win High Point if you do the last test. Get back on your pony!!” She said it with such conviction and authority that I damn near ran back to tack up my pony. lol!

I take a moment to consider how much I love ribbons, but I love my pony more and she’s been so good that I’d rather we end the show season at this point.

I tell her again I’m scratching, hand her my bridle number. 

Results:

First Level Test 3: 67.361% – https://youtu.be/VXihZHfaCYE

First Level Test 1: 68.793% – https://youtu.be/Cr-OQoPuNzE

Plus….

We won Champion High Percentage and Champion High Point.

I found that twist highly ironic.

The final scores for all the riders:

One last thing.. and more important than the show…

SA did really well with her mare. She has a horse that I highly doubt anyone else could’ve gotten to this point, and even though I have no doubt SA will be able to move the mare up the levels, she will always struggle with this mare…  And, this is the first horse SA has trained herself. Joy is my fourth I think.  SA is not only a very talented rider, but a great sportswoman and wonderful friend.  She’s someone I feel really honored to be able to compete against, and she’s a strong competitor who brings out the best in me.

At the show, we parked next to each other. After SA’s second ride she tells me that some jerk bystander (not riding) made an extremely rude and derogatory comment about her size. I mean, horrible comment. SA took it in stride. I lost my shit about it. SA rode her final test (Test 2) after the comment. I can’t even express how much I admire her. 

While she was riding her final test, I reported the jerkoff to the show managers and they scurried him off the show grounds. 

For everyone else out there showing or riding, and you’re not feeling the most confident about your weight… You’re amazing! Go ride, and I’ll flying tackle the basement dwelling jerkoffs when they show up.   

Advertisements

The Twists Keep Coming

It’s T minus 1 day ’til show day.

We’ve just received word of a Judge change for my classes.

The new judge is the old trainer I had a seriously bad falling out with….

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu *k!

The show Saturday, the one where everything rides on me scoring well, just got harder.

As someone who already turns into a ball of nerves wrapped in anxiety on show days, this new development adds an extra special sauce of EEEK to the experience.

Will I be able to hold it together well enough to pull out a passable rendition of First Level, WHILE being judged by the old trainer I pissed off?!?

Will I forget my all of my tests and be DQ’d for off course, sending myself into a humiliation spiral for our final show?!?

Will the judge spit on us as we turn at C?!?

Stay tuned for more of “Avandarre Really Knows How to Burn a Bridge”.

….

I’m eagerly awaiting how all this plays out on Saturday! 😂

The Twists, the Turns!!

Its T-5 days til show day.

That’s right. I entered one last show this year. I had no intention of showing for the rest of the season… BUT…

I found out I’m in the running for Reserve Champion at First Level (Year End Awards)!

Plus I need 3 shows to be eligible for year end awards.

My two main rivals are SA and SC.

Now, SA has busted butt this year to clinch the Champion spot for points. She’s attended every show and earned 47 points! Plus, she’s a mere 1% off the high Percent Champion with a 68%.

SC has only been to a few shows (like me), so her points are lower (26 points), but her high percent is 69%, which puts her in lead for Percentages.

Disclaimer: Both SA ad SC high scores were from a specific judge at the show I was going to go to but decided it was too hot. Now I wish I’d gone.

SA is a hard working, very dedicated young lady who has worked tirelessly for every gain she’s made this year. She’s improved immensely.

In the two shows earlier this year where I competed against her, I was able to beat her.

But SA’s improved a lot over the course of a year. Will I be able to beat her again at the last, and final show of the year??

Or, will SA finally crush me under her heel, proving that she has overcome training and horse issues?? Will she wave the blue ribbon at the last and final show??

SC, the far better rider than both SA or myself, chose to step aside this show.

SA and I will battle it out beteen ourselves this show.

If I beat SC in points, it’ll be a hollow victory. One earned by forfeiture rather than skill and talent. SC could’ve easily beaten me on points this show.

Will I be able to top SC’s incredible high percent at my final show (a score I’ve never gotten close to in all my years of riding? Or will SC hold on to her title of High Percentage Champion for First Level?

Who will win? Who will lose?

Tune in next time for “As the Judge Groans” to learn how it ends!!

** I really like SA and SC. I couldn’t be happier for their success this year.

I also really like how much they challenge me to become a better rider.

Hopefully no one takes this post too seriously. It’s tongue in cheek. I’ll be happy if I stay on and no unplanned ring depatures.

Show #2 Recap

The second show went well.

I won a lot of swag.

Two first places (Test 2 and 3), one second place (Test 1). We won High Point Grand Champion for First Level, and Reserve High Percentage Champion. There were 6 to 8 riders in each test.

My scores sucked. 63% was the highest score (Test 3). Ironically, the scores increased the more wore out Joy became. haha
No scores below 60 though (whew).

I was really tight that day. You ever just have one of those days where you can’t ride as well as you’d like? This show was my day.

You can watch First level Test 1 here (movement w/scores): https://youtu.be/xMYPnT8hjLE

Judge was an ‘S’ judge. The main issues she noted were bracing, short, tight neck, rushing, and balance issues. Pretty much the same as the first show.

However, our stretchy trot and lengthens improved greatly.

I decided after this show that I’m done showing for the year. I wanted to see if Joy could handle a dressage show, and if she was ready to compete at First Level. I think I achieved both of those. I’m not getting the scores I’d like because I have some holes in my training that need to be addressed first. Yet, she’s competent enough at this level to beat out 7 other riders and receive a 63% under an S judge. We have room to improve, but I’m feel like we’re on the right track.

I’m spending the remaining 4 to 5 months on monthly lessons and fixing the holes so we can move up next year. Along with the bracing/tightness, the canter needs a great deal of work. The jump from First to Second, in my experience, is pretty hard to make, and I want to make sure we can do it successfully. I think this pony has a lot of potential for collected work, and I’d love to see her excel at dressage. Maybe eventually go to someone with the money to show her at the upper levels? That would be so awesome.

So, that’s my plan for this summer. A lot of consistent (as consistent as I can make it) work for both Joy and I. I’ve been trying to stick to a running routine to increase my stamina. I’ve added a similar routine for Joy, but at the canter. Both of us are not in the physical shape needed to be true athletes, but we’ll get there.

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!

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!!

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! 😚☺😍

Rider Tests – I did them! Woo Hoo!

Ah Ha! I have completed my mission and successfully completed both First and Second level Rider Tests. By successful I mean I stayed on the horse, didn’t get eliminated, and we performed all the movements (wasn’t a zero score on any part).

First Level Rider Test

The First Level Rider Test started a bit shaky. I made Ava mad right before we went in the ring. You know those warmups where you just want to do something you’ve done a million times just fine, some small little confidence booster right before you go in, and right then is when you screw it all up. Either you’re tense, or the horse is tense, or whatever, but that one “go to” move you knew you could nail is now the biggest IF statement of the entire test. That was my Turn On The Forehand move. Except, instead of just letting the resistance go and moving on during the warmup, I had to fuss with it. Which irritates Ava to no end. So when we got to the arena for our ride and had to wait for the bell to ring… Ava decided that was just unacceptable and started tossing her head and doing little mini-rears. She so non-scary when she does a little tantrum. I know she’s trying to be intimidating, but she’s so fluffy and squishy that it’s hard to feel like there’s any real danger. That and she’s lazy, so you know at most this will go on for 5 seconds and then she’ll realize it’s way more work then she bargained for.

Anyway, Ava’s throwing a little tantrum, the bell rings, we trot on in. Watch the video.. I was laughing about her head during the first halt.

I put the movements on the video so those of you unfamiliar with the test can follow along. Hopefully it’s not too annoying.

Read (or skip) the purpose statement on the test to better understand what is being judged during this test.

Purpose of Test: To confirm that the rider, in addition to the requirements of training level, shows correct alignment, posture and mechanics in sitting trot, including maintaining a steady, elastic rein contact. In turns on forehand and leg yields the rider remains centered and the responds willingly to the aids. The transitions are ridden in better balance and with more throughness than at training level. In response to the correct application of the rider’s aids, the horse moves actively forward showing a consistent tempo and correct rhythm in each gait, shows bending, lengthens, and shortens the stride in trot and responds willingly to both longitudinal and lateral aids.


Final score: 71.000%
The final comments were:  Great test riding of this demanding test. Good basics too. Hurray!

I have never received a score so high in my entire life, so I was thrilled with the score.  This score was from a USEF r judge.

Second Level Rider Test

I was dreading the Second Level Rider Test. We just started showing Second Level this year.  In fact, our simple changes are non-existent. I have to say, I was sweating bullets about them for the last few weeks. We can occasionally get a really good canter/walk transition if the sun and moon align perfectly, but normally it’s a hard fall through a trot. Watch the Second Level test. You can tell a few of the transitions were just crap, but there were a couple that were just, almost, sort of, getting there.

And I was proud of Ava’s medium across the diagonal into counter canter. If you realized what an immense struggle it has been for the two of us to get a relatively balanced counter canter, then this video would absolutely amaze you. Last year at this time we couldn’t even do the shallow canter loop from wall to X without falling over. Let alone go from full on lengthen canter to counter canter. I was so proud of my little girl! Please ignore the down transition after the counter canter though. Those sucked.

Here’s the video.

The Purpose: To confirm that the rider, having achieved the requirements of First Level, is able to ride the horse reliably on the bit with an uphill tendency. The rider lengthens and shortens the horse’s stride in trot and canter while maintaining correct alignment, posture and mechanics. In lateral movements the rider stays centered and demonstrates an appropriate angle and bending of the horse. As a result of the correct application of the rider’s aids, the horse shows a greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, thoroughness, balance and self-carriage than at first level.

Final Score: 63.000%

The final comments were: Have a stable position [rider]. Level “Challenging” for horse so trans often tight and abrupt. Traver now is 4 track.

You know.. they don’t introduce shoulder-in to traver until I1 in the regular tests, so when I say this test was hard… I mean, HARD. But om my goodness it was a BLAST to ride! I’m so tired right now all I can think to write is “it was like bam, bam, bam”. hahaha

Anyway… watch the video’s, and then everyone needs to go try these Rider Tests. They are challenging (they’re the hardest test of every level), but I really enjoy how these tests are put together. I had so much fun riding them today.