Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

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Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

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From last time. It was still really windy! 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep. He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!? 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

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Putting the work in: CDRC dressage show recap!

I forgot that I was too busy to update on my  jump lesson (last Thursday) but it was a very good, solid and workmanlike lesson. Oats was stiff and sluggy for it when we were warming up, so I was reminded by my trainer to limit my expectations for the warm-up and deal with the horse I have, in the moment and on the day. So true! Fortunately he warmed up and was moving better after a slightly longer warm-up.

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All screenshots courtesy of Nicole G.

Dressage lesson was on Friday with Sam and it was very encouraging! One thing I wasn’t so sold on were re-visiting my canter loop F-X-M. We kept swapping in the past, and I felt very unsure about it. We worked on it, and nailed it! And then I promptly forgot how to ride the transition to trot at ‘x’ and then pick up the right lead…Yikes. These tests involve much more ‘riding’ than I am used to (I find the intro to dressage a lot more ‘sitting pretty’ which I and Oats are good at. The actual physical riding part? Not so good, and needs a lot more work).

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Anyways the day of the show, the weather was horrendous. In Victoria I heard it was sunny, gale-force winds, hailing, and raining. Up at the show in Cowichan, it was 1 weather- tornadoes. Small dust devils were whipping up in the ring, and it was just chaos. I had sand in my teeth, hair, eyes, ears. Everywhere. It was just so awful and distracting. I wanted to leave!!!

But hey the show must go on?

We warmed up and Oats was feeling good, pretty jazzy considering how miserable the wind was. His left bend wasn’t very good though, and he was leaning heavily on my hands in the trot. His canter felt a tad rushy and unbalanced, but no worries, we could work on that…It was just hard to canter left, because you got a face-full of sand every time. I couldn’t really see where I was going. Poor horse too, yikes… And my friends came to watch! I felt awful for them, dealing with the insane sand and wind in their faces for hours. Troopers, all of them!!

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I was feeling good about putting front shoes on him early though. Score one for me!

We went in to the test and we had a good centreline halt, and then botched the  pattern (First Level Test 1 has a 10-metre turn to the centreline), where I left early and just sort of turned…at will. I honestly couldn’t see, so I think that had a bit part of it.

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The test rode pretty well, I was happy with Oats’ canter, his turns and some of the transitions were a bit sucky as I let my reins get way tooo long at the end.

We finished, and then prepared for my bigger challenge- First Level Test 3. Counter-canter loops, here we come!

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I am VERY pleased to say that we conquered the canter loops! I rode them too conservatively, making the too shallow, but I think that is an easy fix for sure (again I couldn’t see very well at all), and Oats tripped over part of the dressage court fencing (it was on the ground because it kept getting blown over!). Whoops!

I also flat-out forgot to ride my transition to ‘x’…yes even though I knew that was a tricky one that I had to ride more strongly. I tuned out for it, and Oats broke. Damn! 100% my fault though.

Otherwise, the test flowed nicely, I kept my reins (mostly) shorter and we did what we came to do- conquer those canter loops! 🙂 Yay! We wrapped up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Good god, the wind. I don’t know what my scores are, but I’m happy with the efforts and with how saint-like Oats was while dealing with challenging weather conditions. What a star!

Wordless Wednesday: Show photos

I bought three photos from the show photographer, and I am really happy with them!

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”– Jim Bishop

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Photo taken by Christian TW Photography.

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Photo by Christian TW Photography.

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Photo by Christian TW Photography.

Show report: Mid-Island Cadora Halloween Haunt Dressage Schooling Show!

I signed up for this show hot on the heels of my last show, exactly a month prior (CDRC in Sept 20-21). I wasn’t super sure about how this was going to go- a new venue, a bit further, 2 hours away in Nanaimo, hack classes (our very real nemesis for awhile) AND dressage tests? Phew!!

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Winner winner!

But, you know what? We had a GREAT time! I had a good feeling when we went to pick up our numbers from the show office, and they let me know I had won the early bird entry prize- some cash back from my entry. YES!! Plus swag bags for the entrants- Purdy’s chocolate pumpkin and apples for the ponies. Sweet eh?

We didn’t have to load up too early, thank god. We were all in the same hack classes (command and dressage seat equitation), my friend and I were in the costume class- purely for fun, and then we were all in two dressage tests.

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He was moving better at Sept CDRC for sure…

That made for a very busy day. We were hauling ass back and forth from the trailer, to the hack ring, to the dressage ring alllll day. Phew, I was tired! So was Oats! First up was command class (which I got confused and thought we had just ridden dressage seat equitation, hahah). There were not many horses in our class, which made me feel relieved because I just watched a rider all off their horse in the class before ours…

It went well, Oats got a little jazzy at the trot, but he kept his hair on and was very well behaved. We did a turn on the forehand, and change of direction through the trot, and probably some other things that I can’t recall. We were first!

Next up was dressage seat equitation- a rider scratched, so it was just me and my two friends. This got held up, because an ambulance came with a firetruck. We later learned a young girl had gotten kicked in the head, and had to go to the hospital. Jesus. 😦

So the class was delayed due to the emergency, and the judge cleared it with us that the horses were ok with the ambulance/sirens coming through (Oats and Donato could care less, haha). This class had a few more interesting tests, sitting trot, drop stirrups, pick them up again, collected trot, extended trot, collected canter (we broke, whoops) and extended canter (fun!!). Oats again was a superstar and we won this one too! Next it was a quick change for my friend and I to do the costume class, which was super fun.

My other friend had to hustle to the dressage ring, and had to find someone to read her test for her, haha. Lucky for her, and me, we found someone! She rode her dressage tests, and then I hustled over and got changed back into my show clothes, and onwards to the dressage ring.

They were lovely about helping us out with reading the tests, I mean I know mine but still… My first test was very ‘eh’…Didn’t have that round, bouncy pony that I am used to having. He was stumbling a bit on the footing, and just felt kind of flat. Like, the minute I went for a downward transition, he’d just flatline you know? Eh.. And our canter transitions? HAHA yeah he flung his head up, hollowed and didn’t want to. Ohhh well…My test 3 for First Level was kind of similar, but he broke before doing the canter serpentine, not during it, weirdly. We actually got them this time?? Hm.

Curiously, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but I scored higher on my First Level 3 test for first place (with a 63%, the judge was good but NOT super generous, apparently with everyone) and I got a 62% on my First Level 1. Now that’s funny, a full swap from last show? Ah, I’ll chalk it up to him struggling a bit with the footing and move on!

And the day even got better- I would up with high point in the hack classes courtesy of our two red ribbons. A brand new dressage saddle pad!!! And I pocketed a few mini chocolate bars from the office. YUmmmm… Thanks you guys. A great day with fantastic weather out with my horse buddies? There is truly no better. I am so lucky. 🙂

 

Time to come home: Crazy horse show weekend! Dressage day.

This past weekend Oats and I participated in the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper and dressage days (Sat jumpers, Sun dressage). Wow, I am tired! And I bet Oats is too, ha.

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I really like doing these shows because they are very reasonable, cost-wise and the people running them  (all volunteers) are lovely people and offer a very relaxed atmosphere. That being said, I was a bit anxious for dressage day as I was trying my hand at a level above where I normally show (Level 1 test 3, as opposed to just trying Level 1 test 1). Actually I am pretty new to Level 1 in general! Not an expert here!

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We warmed up and Oats was okay…Kind of dragging me around a bit, and getting strong and kind of downhill. My hauler and friend was really helpful in getting me to find a way to fix it, instead of just getting annoyed, haha.

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We went in for Test 1 and it went okay but it was a little rougher, above the bit than I would have liked. Our first lengthen was pretty weak too. Oh well!

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Then it was time for Test 3 and before it, when we were hanging out in the warm up ring, I watched a horse literally rear its rider off. Scared the daylights out of me! I find that kind of behaviour really triggering, and rattles me to see it. The rider was fine, but landed pretty darn hard. It was very frightening, but they rode a nice test regardless.

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Anndd overbent…

Test 3 I felt physically ‘rode’ better than Test 1, but it did not score as well, the judge was definitely tougher and expecting more from us (which we kind of didn’t have at this point, but hey it was a fun experience!).  The canter loops went went well until Oats kind of had a minor hissy fit about it and broke the second loop. Shit!

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Our geometry was off, but that’s a work in progress too, and the judge was very kind and commented that if we fix that, our scores will be MUCH higher. There is hope for us after all! 🙂

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Leg yield- a bit resistant. 

So this is how we scored (and I am happy with it, I know we have lots to work on), but I feel grateful to have this experience with Oats.

First Level test 1: 65% for first place

First Level Test 3: 63% for third place.

None too shabby!

Thanks again to my dear husband for braving an entire weekend of horse showing, my hauler and friend, and my other friend who’s horse had to cancel because he hurt his eye. Shoot! Bad luck.

Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

With a busy few weeks, you’d think that my riding has taken a hit, but it hasn’t! I am happy to say I have had some great jump lessons lately, taking advantage of the outdoor arena while it is still open for the season. AND I had a dressage lesson this past Friday with a new trainer! Yeah! I have been dressage-trainerless for quite some time since our previous trainer Karen Brain moved to Vancouver.

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Doesn’t this look just like Oats? An artist in our community does animal portraits, and while this isn’t mine, I love it! 

Cue sad face, arghhh now what?

I worked with another trainer who was just lovely, but she too moved! Man!

So on Friday I rode with Samantha, who owns a really amazing facility in the Saanich Peninsula. It’s gorgeous! I was a bit nervous, I had a stressful day at work, was planning to go to my family’s place for dinner (stressful on its own right), and a new trainer? Plus was feeling anxious about the level (First Level test 3) that I signed up for next, and quite frankly a bit overwhelmed?

Yeah…Not the recipe for success. At this point, I wanted to cancel all of my plans and toss it up and go for a glass of wine at happy hour after work!

But, I sucked it up, and you know what? Things went well. The lesson went super, I was happy with the techniques and tips offered to us, the trainer listened nicely and was very encouraging and positive about Oats and I and our partnership. It felt really cool, and the exercise (a movement in the test I was freaking out about) turned out to work really well! No problems! And the dinner meet-up didn’t have drama, thank god.

Now, I just have to replicate it on the day. But if I don’t? There’s always another show, another day and another ride.

I was fussing about time last night (had a chiropractic appointment, my first ever) and was running late to get to the barn, and trying to figure out when I’d be home, when my husband said to me, instead of my fussing about time: How about you just go and have fun?

He was right. Early, late, middle ground= all that matters is fun. And so, I had my relaxing walk-trot ride around the field last night, in the fading light. The long shadows took over the grass, and for 30 minutes, I didn’t think about anything at all.

And that, friends, is true luxury.

Horse goals: Go get it

Had actually very few rides last week (rode Tuesday and Thursday) took Monday/Wed/Fri off because I wasn’t feeling well on Monday (exhaustion is a thing??) and had a physiotherapy appt Wednesday after work for my back, and had a work thing Fri night that ended up kind of not happening…

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But in the end, I felt like riding fewer days worked well for Oats and myself? He had more time off, and I had time to recover from the busy horse show weekend. Win-win! It’s hard to convince my brain of this though. My busy brain likes to remind me that I need to keep going, keep grinding, keep working. But I don’t have to listen to it.

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In fact, my jump lesson on Thursday was far from perfect. So far. Ha. But it was pretty fun and by the end I was saying Oats needs to have the jumps up higher because he’s not respecting them! One jump he was just cantering over and I was like wha, where is the jump?? Pfft.

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But my dressage lesson on Saturday was really good! He felt pretty nice, very cooperative and I felt much less tense than I have been. Even the awkward moments (breaking stride, trying to drag me out of a circle, some swapping, it was like hey, ok you can just sit and be ok with this awkwardness. Just sit with it for a moment, instead of reacting, or scrambling, or whatever.) And you know what? It went just fine! 

A lesson to me- sometimes you don’t have to react, do, be, whatever. You just have to maintain and be ok with whatever is happening.

So I think my goals for the summer are:

  • Ride a 2’6” course at home – ideally comfortably. Maybe try for a 2’9” fence in a grid? I’m not going to push this too much. Feeling good and not stressed about it is key.
  • Ride a competent first level test- I don’t much care about the scoring, but I do want it to feel more cohesive, round through the back, less struggle. I will know it when I feel it. Be present in my body doing it.
  • Show at 2’3” comfortably- maybe a course at 2’6” if I am feeling confident and good about it. I’m not pushing this goal too hard- I want to feel present, confident and comfortable.
  • Practice what I preach- less tension, less stress. Ride a 5-day week, and then ride a 4-day week. Let things go with Oats, let him have more time off.