Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dressage at the Fair

Back to dressage land we go!

As if we ever really left it. Dressage. It's everywhere.

and hot damn, we are really good at it.

So all last week as I was preparing for this show--and by preparing I mean I have no recollection of doing any real work focused towards improving these tests aside from not flailing too badly at the canter--Opie was a spooky hot mess. Dopie is not a spooky horse, so I went out and bought an armful of UlcerGard and started shoving tubes down his throat. It was going to be his first time stabling at a show in a big atmosphere and I wanted him to not be even more of a tweaker than he was already being at home.

Surprise! It didn't do shit. I had a lot of success earlier this summer treating him with ranitidine (Remember when I thought he had pee cancer? Never rule anything out!), but this fancy stuff didn't help with the tension, or the spooking, or the loose nervous poops all day at the show. Possibly he contracted a sporadic, acute form of spooking cancer. Possibly he was feeding off of the hot fucking mess I was all week.

both of us experienced some Feelings about warm up

I was fucking wound up over this show. I'm the type of person that exists on routine, and any deviation out of my familiar comfort zone sends me into a tailspin. I've never stabled at a show before, I'd never shown at this facility before (this facility being the NY state fairgrounds where they were three days out from hosting the state fair), and I was signed up to scribe in between my two tests. Alone, one of those things I could probably handle. All together? Hot mess express.

(Sorry to blog reader Kourtney for being a checked out spazz every time I passed you! Congrats on your giant ribbon!)

Of course, nothing actually went wrong (enough) to validate my anxiety. Does it ever? BM let me raid her trailer the day before to get whatever I needed to set up my stall, and I had been in the barns a couple times before visiting with my barn as they were overnighting for hunter shows so I wasn't completely unfamiliar with what was where. I got in, got set up, got the weaving horse off the trailer and tucked into his cell for the day, got checked in for volunteering, and went to watch some tests.

little horse scopes things out

I took Opie on a walkabout before getting him tacked up for the first test so he wasn't completely blown away by where he was, but he surprised me by being completely chill about the whole thing. He let me ground mount in the middle of the road and then strolled over the warm up and walked around on a long rein checking everything out. When I asked him to go to work, he took a peak out the open sides every now and then, but mostly stayed focused. When I felt like he was ready to go, I looked down at my watch and only seven minutes had passed. Which was nice that he felt good, but it left a lot of time to get trampled by the worst warm up riders of my life before I could escape into the coliseum for our first test.

doping along to warm up. i'm clearly very deeply paying attention.

Training 1

The coliseum's ring is just big enough to stuff a standard dressage court in. They still had a small court set up for this test which left us just enough room to trot up the sides and get up close with the flowered letters, banners, and people in the stands. It didn't leave enough room to go by the open judge's stand which turned out to be the undoing of pretty much every single horse in their first test.

Opie was no different. He trotted in, halted nice and square, and then I asked him to trot off and he was like, "Fuck fucking no, we are not trotting directly up to Satan's altar." I got him going a little wiggly, but as soon as we turned left he spooked hard to the right and then jetted through the corner when I got him turned left. The judge was really understanding of everyone's horses being in probably the spookiest, biggest ring of their lives, and our score was still a 6.5 with the comment, "Square halt. Drifted right before C."

all these pics are from T3, but this is opie giving the judge a hard stare down 

A 7 for the first trot circle, 6.5 for a slightly above the hand (as always) left lead canter depart, 7.5 for the canter (praisejesushallelujah), and then we came down the long side and right as I was about to cue for the trot Opie propped and tried to Nope right out of going past the judge's stand again. He started to back up a step, and I know if I fight him on that he likes to go up instead so I just nudged him forward and stroked his neck, giving up on even getting the trot back, and we sidled on past at the walk. 5.5 with "Abrupt (LOL), falls on forehand."

Mostly 7s for the rest of the test with no more spooking, with all 7s for the collectives except a 6 for submission with confidence circled. Fair enough. "Lovely pair! Keep working on consistent bend in all circles--your straightness is doing really well! Overall well done." I'm glad my straightness boot camp has paid off. Now it looks like we lost the gumbiness. Never fails. I wasn't impressed with the test because half of it was spent spooking, but judges fucking love Opie no matter what. We ended up second with a 67.17%

i was pleased that the canter felt like the best part of both tests.
hard work and wet saddle pads paying off!

Here's where I turned the corner and went from keeping my shit together to starting to lose my shit. Again. And not for the last time. I was signed up to scribe for an hour directly after my test up to the lunch break. The organizer had done me a solid and slotted me in so I could get some more volunteer hours after I emailed the GMO begging for anything. I met her in the stands, she told me to head over to the judge as soon as the test in the ring finished up, and I was good to go.

FALSE.

The show was running behind and the judge was trying to get everyone in and out as quickly as possible. I told the scribe I was there to take over for her, but the judge rung the next person in before the scribe could tell her I was there. The scribe was like, "Whoops, sorry?" That test finished, next test same thing. Finally the scribe just waved me off and told me she was good until the lunch break, and I was like, "Uhhh....okay?" So there went ANOTHER opportunity to get any hours, which leaves exactly one show left. I already committed to not showing in it so I could be free all day to volunteer instead. I emailed the secretary and manager to tell them to put my down for anything two weeks ago. Have I heard anything back? OF COURSE NOT.


I checked in with the office to see if there was anything else they needed help with, but they were good to go there, too. I wandered back to my stall, took Opie out for another walk and graze, got Hubby corralled after he drove right past me, and eventually got ready for the second test.

Training 3

The warm up was blessedly empty when I first went in. I got some walk and trot work done, and then all at once the ring filled back up. I have all sorts of feelings about this, but they can all be summed up in a post I wrote four years ago. After having to yank Opie to a complete stop multiple times to avoid getting run into, I finally just gave up.

the lady behind me was all about not sharing space

I ducked into the chute to ask the ring steward where I was in regards to which horses were in front of me, and she pointed out one horse between me and the rider in the ring, explained to me that with the switch to the standard court we were able to go into the ring and warm up before the bell since there wasn't enough room to go on the outside anymore, and then moved on to the next rider.

One minute later she stuck her head in the ring and was like, "Where's Carly?! Carly?? You're on deck!!" And I was all, "Right. We literally just had this conversation." And at that point I was ready to go home for real.

he's just adorbs

We trotted into the ring and went right over to the judge's stand. It was still slightly offensive, but no dramatics this time around. The judge rung us in, and we had another square halt and another moment where he thought trotting out of it and towards Satan's altar was not a good game plan. 6 with "Straight, slightly against hand. Drifted afer X." Yep. He twitched a bit as we went by the first time, but fortunately no peacing out of there this test.

I was so pleased with getting through the corner that I checked out and kept right on trotting instead of turning at H to start the loop. Whoops! Fortunately I caught myself quickly and got us back on track only a couple strides past H. The rest of the test was a mix of 7s and 6.5s with a 7.5 for the free walk and an 8 for the second trot loop. "Correct geometry and bend." No comment on Opie's battle against the world's smallest fly circling his ears the entire loop...

i know judges are supposed to ignore horses reacting to bugs like this, but still.

it was a little embarrassing nonetheless.

7s and 6.5s again for collectives with final comments, "Another nice test with your willing horse--keep working on down transitions--better balance before will improve them a lot. Keep at it." The downward transitions are still a heavy work in progress. She'd made a comment on the previous test about them as well so I'd worked on them in warm up, but Dopie is a quitter at heart and the second he gets wind of a half halt in the canter he's all over that as a cue to stop. Add it to the list of things to work on. Overall though the test felt really steady, and I was pleased with it. It was another second and another 67.95%.

They were giving out giant ribbons for champion (and a cooler) and reserve champion for each division, but the person that beat me in T1 won with a 70% and they announced the winner of T2 had won with a 72% so I assume that knocked me out of contention for either. I didn't stick around to find out.


Instead I went over to the parking area to get my trailer hooked back up so I could pack up and leave. That went fine, but when I drove into the same gate I had pulled into that morning with zero issue, the security guard told me I had to turn around and go through a different gate at the far end of the fairgrounds. So I did that, almost missed the fucking unmarked gate and burned rubber braking in time, and then got told to go two different places by the security guards there. Totally frazzled, annoyed, and done with this show, I almost drove right past the DOT cop waving me in for a check stop. That would have made my day just spectacular, but fortunately he was really nice and only checked my license before sending me on my way to go get lost in the maze of gated off parking lots leading to nowhere.

I finally got back to where I needed to be, got the trailer loaded, and then led Opie to the ramp. He'd walked right on for me by myself that morning without issue, but he got halfway up the ramp to leave and parked it. At that point I didn't even care. I parked it myself just inside the trailer and waited him out for a few seconds before he gave up and marched in without dramatics.

he's so very cute. and at some point i need to do a post about white breeches.
because oh my lord do i have words.

Overall it went both better and as bad as I expected. The tests themselves were much better than I thought they were going to be. I was expecting nonstop spooking, tension, and staring at everything the entire time I was riding. Instead he had a few justifiable spooks, but moved on from them and put the work in. The second test was downright pleasant minus a couple minor bobbles. And while I was being a raging hormonal bitch all weekend much to Hubby's delight, I can't actually complain about two second places with 67%s. Those are good scores and good placings, especially since we can easily do so much better.

I think we're set with Training level now. I'm planning on doing First at the end of September to close out the year, and then we'll have all winter to work on the new tests to see what next season brings us. Hopefully I'll get my final fucking three hours of volunteering in so I can have some year end awards to show for all this.

In the meantime? Our next show report should be a little more exciting....

almost as exciting as the return of fair food to my life. my fave time of the year!

29 comments:

  1. blergh this is where volunteering gets really obnoxious sometimes. like, you say you need volunteers desperately. and here i am, a volunteer, ready and eager and literally waiting to be told what to do. and... somehow so many organizers literally *can not* get their shit together enough to actually take advantage of that. it's infuriating ugh lol. hopefully you get your hours soon tho!

    in the meantime, Opie looks like such a grown up in that big coliseum! congrats on those killer scores!

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    1. Right? I feel like all we hear about is shows begging for volunteers and here I am begging shows to let me volunteer.

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  2. Even though it was scary for the horses it sounds pretty cool to show in a big arena like that! Lol at satan's altar.
    The real question is, how did Opie feel about the fair food??

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    1. It was really fun to be able to get to ride in there! And Opie was far less impressed with grease than I was. Give me fair food all day every day!

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  3. Look at Dopie doing big horse things! Like not killing anyone in that scary AF arena and warm-up. GO DOPIE!

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    1. He was such a good kid for the atmosphere!

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  4. Those coliseums are terrifying and he looks great!

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    1. He was waaay less distracted by all the craziness going on than I thought he was going to be.

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  5. I wanna show at the fair. Because fair food. Although white breeches and fair food probably don't go together.

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    1. I will take my cellulite showing through my white breeches for the chance to stuff my face with funnel cake any day.

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  6. What a good horse! Great scores despite a hectic show!!

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    1. I really can't complain about the scores. Except I can because no giant ribbon. But I SHOULDN'T complain! :P

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  7. Ahahaha "Satan's altar". Judging by how Bast reacted to a jump set up in a new place the other day... I'm expecting the same reaction today. 🤣 Lovely show, honestly. What a grown up boy handling that atmosphere. Oh, and fuck those organizers.

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    1. Beware of Satan's altar. They pop up when you least expect them!

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  8. So many thoughts:
    I believe that 'Satan's Altar' is the single best description of the judge's booth/table I've ever heard in my entire life. I am now going to blatantly steal it. :)

    There are two shows that I take Carmen to that are in a stadium that is used for hockey in the winter. It looks a lot like this. A lot of horses lose their shit over it. Carmen and I are a mixed bag about it.

    However, you should be really pleased with how you both did. I love the fly photos. :) They made me giggle.

    Warm up rings- oh my god. I hate them. It's like trying to drive on a roundabout the wrong way in a huge city. It feels more like Thunderdome.

    As for volunteering- I once drove 90 minutes one way to volunteer at a show and when I reported for duty was told 'oh we don't need you.' Grrr. If you want to come her for my next show I know that i can get you some volunteer hours.... :D

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    1. Grr that volunteering thing is so frustrating. It's a good 90 minutes to 2 hours for any of these shows for me so it's not like I can just swing in and offer my services if no one gets back to me. SO JUST GET BACK TO ME!!!

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  9. Opie looks great and at least you fit in white breeches (I sure dont!) great job and omg that sounded like a nightmare trying to volunteer and move your trailer etc etc. GOOD THING FAIR FOOD MADE UP FOR IT!

    Opie really has grown up so much (BUT DYING Laughing at the fly photos) HA HA HA oh Opie...:)

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    1. That stupid fly! The test was going so well and then he had to throw in a hard DERP in the middle of it!

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  10. I feel like you should get the volunteer credit anyway. YOU were prepared and ready to help. Not your fault it didn't happen. The showing part went really well! Sucks that everything else was such a cluster. Congrats on a good day in the ring!

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    1. I'm so annoyed! Hubby told me I should keep track of every time I've TRIED to volunteer and count those as my hours instead.

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  11. Aww I am so happy Opie is starting to put his big boy pants on at shows! He is such a dopie though, those fly pics had me cracking up. I hope you get that stupid volunteer stuff figured out. I didn't join the new local org bc I can't do the volunteer stuff this year. Congrats on a great show day!

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    1. I originally switched to the GMO instead of the first when I joined because they required less volunteer hours, but then of course as soon as I joined they jacked them up. I don't mind volunteering at all, but I can't do it if there aren't any opportunities for your members!

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  12. Huge congrats!! Opie is one in a million, you guys have such a great partnership. I can't imagine the stress of trying to volunteer BETWEEN classes, and fitting in X numbers of hours in a season. I really hope you get them in, because y'all definitely deserve some year end swag!!

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    1. What's the point of having a show season if there aren't giant ribbons at the end of it, right?! :P

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  13. "Satan's Altar"

    I'm dead.

    There's truth to it though. I always feel like a sacrificial offering as we trot down centerline.

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    1. For real. Although Opie was not feeling willing to be that sacrifice lol.

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  14. Opie: Professional Dressage Horse

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