Monday, June 11, 2018

Dressage in Wine Country II

Yesterday was not the most fun show day I've ever had. I have to say that for all the drama my past horses have given me under saddle, none of them have ever had so many Feelings about their existence the other ninety percent of the time they were off property.

On the bright side, Hubby was able to come down with me so I have some media to share. It's not particularly flattering because of said Feelings, but it's better than nothing, right! I signed up for the show photographer not wanting to count on Hubby making it, but she ended up taking zero pictures so that was a wash.


The morning started auspiciously when I got done wrapping Opie and came back to his stall to put his halter on and bring him out. He saw me coming, spun around to stare blankly out the window, and began weaving in earnest. Way to make me feel like a horrible person, Dopes. He let me grab him without fuss and walked right onto the trailer with zero hesitation, but the whole ride down he spent weaving and screaming.

He'd spent the whole day inside Saturday while his pasture mates were away cross country schooling which meant he probably spent all day weaving and screaming in his stall. I'd completely forgotten they were both going to be gone or I would have gone out there and found someone else to babysit him in turnout, so that's partially on me, but clearly that can't be allowed to happen in the future. He was a complete fucking nutter to ride when I came out to show prep, so I chucked him outside with his friends as they'd just pulled in and let him have an hour of turnout before he had to come back in.

I think that was a huge factor in his mental instability the whole morning. He was absolutely dreadful at the trailer the second he unloaded--hands down the worst he's been yet. We were parked far away from stabling and the rings so he couldn't see anyone, and he just could. not. even.

just needs to see all the horses all the time.
also my browband was crooked which i didn't realize until the day was over and
now it's all i can see in every picture. life ruined. 

I took him for a walk and a graze so he wouldn't be alone which he was mostly alright for, but eventually I had to go back to the trailer to get ready. Cue screaming, weaving, pacing, circling, pulling back, and eventually getting handed off to Hubby where he got walked in circles between flinging himself around and trying to rear (at which point I had a brief intervention and laid down a CTJ about keeping one's feet on the ground at all times).

Once I was on, he made the long walk down to the rings quietly, but he was ungodly tense and scrunched up. At that point I had already committed to the day being a wash. I'd accepted defeat before I even gave improving the situation a chance. I made zero effort to rally and make good decisions.

I let Opie walk around on a long rein for a good bit while he stared all around him. Once at the trot, I had a horse that was periscoping everywhere when I usually focus every ride on getting his head head out and his neck up. My reaction was to just go to town with my hands and try to force his head down. I legged him and tried to get him forward as well, but it was hands down (pun intended) shit riding on my part on a horse that wanted no part of participating that day.

pure elegance

I'd also shortened my stirrups a hole the day before for no other reason than that I wanted to change them to see if they felt better shorter because one day last week they felt a little long. The change wasn't great, but I never got around to dropping them. It made my posting huge and ugly and put me in a horrible balance.

Honestly, the whole lead up to this show was approached with complete laziness. I knew this was going to be the last one for a month, and I was basically coasting on last weekend's success. Of course last weekend's success was due to a well thought out and executed game plan and didn't just poof into existence.

could do some jumping with those stirrups

I was cantering Opie around at a high rate of speed hoping to get some steam blown off when the ring steward asked if I could go in early. I told her I need another couple minutes (it was a solid ten minutes early), but I'd hurry it up. That wasn't a good choice on my part. I should have let her find someone else to go early or just made them wait until my ride time as I'm allowed to. Instead I wrapped up the canter as quickly as possible and went right over.

Training 3

I hate when shows have the higher test before the lower test. I know it's training so it's not that exciting, but when your horse is not much for stretching at the trot on a good day, he's certainly not going to do it in the first test.


We were in Ring 2 which was tucked into the furthest reaches of the show grounds. The judge... ahh, the judge. I feel like I probably should not whine about judges as much as I do, but this lady really gave the impression she didn't want to be there. She was ringing people in the second the previous rider cleared the court--not even the ring around the court--and while I was standing around waiting for scores later, she went hustling past after the lunch break exclaiming loudly, "Thank god I only have a few more!"

Also she hated me. Probably on a deep personal level by the time we were done showing.

Opie wanted no part in being in that ring all by his lonesome. We came down center line as the previous horse was leaving the ring (I seriously had barely made it into the ring and past her truck when she ran the bell for me to go in), and he stared forlornly at his best friend disappearing.

Thus kicked off an entire test on a horse who only wanted to look for all the other horses. He did the things in right places, but he was tight, braced, tense, above the bit, hurried... I think that's a summation of all our comments. Aside from the constant head wag from both my too busy hands and that being one of Opie's go-to's when he's tense anyway.

you don't have to watch the test. this should sum it all up for you.

We got a wide variety of marks for this test. 5s. 6s and 6.5s. Lots of 5.5s, and our very first 4 for the nonexistent stretchy trot circle. I came out of the ring knowing there was no way this thing was even going to make it to a 60% and I was right. A 57%+ got us fourth with the final comment of, "Stunning youngster whose rider could develop elastic feel and quiet hands to encourage horse to reach down and out to bit."

Ouch. My stunning youngster could help by growing up and paying attention, but let's be real. We're building a reputation for judges loving Opie and not being a fan of me. Just little old me over here, taking this young, not long off the track horse everywhere by myself and getting him around to the point where you judges can love him, no big deal.

Okay, I'm done with that. I promise.

could have used this stunning youngster in the ring

I was pretty fucking annoyed with Opie at that point and decided to take him right back into the warm up ring to trot around more in hopes that when I brought him out for our second test a few hours later I'd have a more tractable horse. We'd been cruising along for a good fifteen minutes without Opie showing any signs of relaxation or at the very least exhaustion when the show organizer called me over.

She wanted to know if I could move my second test up--as in, could I go back in in twenty minutes? I wanted to get off this stupid baby horse, put him back on the trailer, and dump him in his paddock where I didn't have to deal with him anymore so I quickly agreed. It turned out that about half the show had scratched after the previous day. The footing in the rings was not particularly good. It was hard and uneven, and there were quite a few complaints about it so I wonder if that had anything to do with it.

I got Opie trotting again, and when they tried to call me in early again, I told them no.

gritting my teeth so hard at the canter. so over it.

Training 1

Opie was slightly more settled and therefore a bit lighter in this test. Still, the childishness hadn't gone anywhere. At the first canter depart a horse in the distance neighed so Opie answered back. He hasn't made a peep in the warm up or in tests yet, but he was a scream machine all day long. We got a few 7s in this tests, but mostly 6s and another 5.5 and 5 for the second trot circle and final halt. Fortunately she didn't comment on him tripping behind in the corners in both canters because the footing had really turned to uneven shit by that point.

(youtube is being super slow, so this might not be uploaded yet)

More overall comments on me being a bad rider with horrible position (like, a lot of these comments), but whatever. I've had worse judges, lady, and way worse rides. We ended up with a 63% and a second.

both happy to be done with this nonsense

Thus began the two hour wait for scores to get done. I scored an entire show last Sunday so I know it can be a serious hassle, but I scored by myself and had those puppies in people's hands asap. There were three people that were supposed to be in charge of it here, and it took them forever to get anything done in the most unorganized fashion possible. Then the musical freestyles started and instead of leaving someone to continue scoring, everyone emptied out to watch. Never mind the growing crowd of people milling around the scoreboard waiting to leave.

ready to leave this creature behind by this point.

Fortunately for all parties involved, today starts Opie's week long vacation I planned into the schedule at the beginning of the year. I think it's safe to see we're both ready for some mental down time. I won't even be doing lessons for the rest of the month. When I bring him back we're going to start playing over fences to get in gear for hunter paces. There's still a bunch of dressage shows on the docket, but right now I want to give the kid some variety to keep him fresh.

28 comments:

  1. Holy crap that judge sounds like such a cow. :( You guys have been so busy, hope you both enjoy the little vacation :)

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    1. I'm mostly to the point where comments don't get to me, but the fact that she went storming through a bunch of people hanging out ringside and said that in such a snotty way struck as pretty unprofessional.

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  2. You know what- I love that you didn't have the best show ever. Not in the "I'm glad you failed" sense, but in the I love how honest you are. Not every horse show goes well. Not everyone has a great time. I think it is SO IMPORTANT to share those "less then" experiences. Social media tends to make it look like every show goes awesome for everyone, or there is always a positive spin.

    And yes, their always is a silver lining, but sometimes it is hard to constantly be crazy super positive. Sometimes you just want to say, "well that sucked" and move on. So THANK YOU, for being so down to earth, and putting some light on how hard the baby horse training thing can be. It's not always sunshine and daises after all!

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    1. I'm always willing to report on terrorist activities. ;)

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    2. plus, the T3 really was not all that bad. by reading just the write up I thought I would be seeing all sorts of wild head throwing, leg failing, falling down, explosive poo (his not yours) baby nonsense but the test didn't look all that bad!

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    3. The judge disagreed. ;) It felt horrendous, and the reason the head wasn't in the air was because I was being so aggressive with my hands.

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  3. If you find the cure for the behavior at the trailer please post!I dealt with that this past weekend myself and it sucks.

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    1. Ugh, same. He has outings where he's pretty chill, and then he has outings where I wouldn't go out of sight for him for a second.

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  4. What a naughty baby horse and sounds like a disorganized show. I’m sure you’re both going to enjoy some well deserved time off :)

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    1. We could both use a little mental breather!

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  5. Naughty Dopes!

    Let's leave that for a moment and talk about how great YOU look. You are a shining example of a person wearing the appropriate length show coat, and it makes you look fantastic. And that stock tie is amazing.

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    1. You just can't see the holes that appeared in the crotch of my breeches as they gasped their last dying breath. ;)

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  6. IF it makes you feel any better, your “bad” tests are our normal tests right now haha.

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    1. I shouldn't be so critical of him because he wasn't that awful in the ring for a baby horse, but he made me want to murder him the whole rest of the show!

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  7. hmmm a drama llama emotional basket case ottb at a horse show??? yep, can confirm, is no fun. gotta love that low key back handed compliment of the "stunning youngster" tho.... oh judges, sometimes y'all are a trip.

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    1. Must have been something in the OTTB air this weekend!

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  8. you guys stll look good (and i have had that crooked browband before and all the pro photos that is ALL i can see now LOL ARGHH). I am glad you both get a bit of time off and yay on JUMPING more :) He cleans up nice even if he is a drama queen :)

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    1. It's funny because there was another rider in the ring with a crooked browband and I was like, ooh how unfortunate. Should have checked mine right then!

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  9. I dislike that judge for you. I'm sorry Opie was Dopie this weekend, but I think you're probably right and the lack of turnout buddies on Saturday probably started the whole thing.
    I'm sure the break will do you both some good, and I can't wait to read about the jumping adventures!

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    1. He was definitely pretty mentally unhinged about losing his buddies the day before. Lesson learned the hard way!

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  10. IT'S REALLY HARD TO DOPE, MAH! -- Opie, most definitely.

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  11. Argh, sounds like such a tough weekend. Naughty horses don't make for fun shows. Hopefully a week off is the perfect reset for both of you and you guys can get back to fun shows & rides soon!

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    1. Hoping some jumpies set us both back to rights!

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  12. That judge sounds like a real gem, but I thought your tests looked pretty solid!

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    1. For him they were pretty awful though. One of the downfalls of having no media for most of my shows so far--he's capable of much more and I haven't been able to show it off!

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  13. Ugh, I'm sorry it was such a shit show. Honestly though, your tests look pretty good, all things considered. You're still learning about what he needs to be successful (friends obviously) and you made the best of it. Sometimes that's all you can do.

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    1. If parking wasn't such a hot mess wherever I went, I'd probably have better luck managing his friend addiction. Sadly it seems like that's something he's just going to have to learn to get over.

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.