Monday, May 6, 2019

WNYDA Challenge Series Dressage Show

I went into this show with my expectations set firmly on "Information Gathering Mission". We haven't been able to escape the indoor because we live in an aquarium which means I haven't been able to ride any of the movements in any sort of dressage ring dimensions.

I usually pride myself at being really good at geometry because when you own a fruity fruit bat of a horse, you need to pick up every half point you can. Opie picks up random cuteness points or something though so I have to admit my dedication to where to hit my movements has fallen by the wayside. Having not ridden in a dressage court since last August, I started off my first test LOLing in my head in a kind of mildly panicked, "Where them 10 meter turns go?" type way.

Additionally, it's hard to gauge how a test flows when it ain't flowing at all in our narrow AF indoor. So. Information Gathering Mission, and mission accomplished in the end!

r.i.p. purple halter.

My first test wasn't until three in the afternoon. I was able to watch some Badminton before sauntering out to the barn, sending a barn child to fetch my horse for me (He was supposed to be in, but was instead turned out in the mud and all I was wearing was tennis shoes. Pass. Thanks, booted barn child!), and then giving him a piping hot bath and braiding him from under multiple coolers. Thanks for never leaving, eighteenth winter!

It sprinkled on and off all day, but it ended up being warmer down at the show so it wasn't too miserable. Well, in my opinion. Opie found the whole experience completely emotionally taxing. It was like we started the season for the first time ever all over again. I had a weaving, pawing, tongue chewing horse at the trailer the whole time. At least he shut the fuck up all day and loaded like a gem. #smallwins

Hubby followed me up about an hour later in the car, and as I was on the phone with him directing him to parking I had to hang up as Opie had somehow wrapped his lead rope multiple times around his hay net and shortened himself into a choke hold which produced a massive tantrum. Okay, whatever, fair enough.

good thing i carry spares to my spare halters in the trailer. asshole.

Then I walked over to him with my saddle pad and he immediately sat down like a BAD DUMB DOG and tried to break free. He was in no way scared or panicked. He was just straight up being a BAD DUMB DOG. I stood there and yelled at him to knock it the fuck off and he caved in about ten seconds when he realized his tantrum was getting him nowhere. He still broke the fucking snap on the halter though so I had Hubby hold him while I got him dressed. He stood still while I mounted then went jigging up to the rings. I was glad I'd given him some extra time for warm up because #childgenius was nowhere to be found.

is this how you dressage?

Warm up was pretty awful. I swear I run into more trouble warming up with only one person than with a ring full of riders. This chick would dart off onto circles or quarter lines with no warning or care about where I was in relation to her. Nothing annoys Opie and I more than having to check hard to not get crashed into--especially when you have the whole ring to share--so that added to Sir's already tense and wound up state of being. I didn't feel like I got anything productive done before our first test. He cantered fine, but the transitions were shit. He moved off my leg, but his head was in the air...or sideways or wagging.

To make matters more exciting, our first test was under our favorite judge. She seemed well-liked by others, too. As I was unloading Opie, my trailer neighbor had just returned and was ranting about how unprofessional she found this judge after going off course. Yeah, Information Gathering Mission for sure. See how the test rode, fingers crossed I got some semi-productive feedback while doing so.

i almost ran over this lady and child multiple times as well.
maybe standing on the track when i'm trying to avoid your rider isn't the best idea.

First 1

This was Opie's third time showing in Houghton's fancy and lovely new indoor ring--third day of showing, fifth and sixth tests. I was hoping he'd remember it's nothing to be worried about, but he instantly was like, "WOW FLOWERS WOW LETTERS WOW PEOPLE WOW HOLY SHIT THE JUDGE'S STAND WOW MORE FLOWERS." The judge rang the bell right as we passed A (Why, whyyyy do some of them do this????). I kept trotting around the corner to give myself space to turn around and pick up the trot again, and right as I went to turn in Opie, again, was, "WOW FLOWERS."

And this is where my wafflely geometry came in. I couldn't for the life of me remember if I was supposed to be making half 10m circles for the tear drops (I was) or just turning at B and E so I didn't really commit to either. The judge rightfully marked down a bit for that--"avoids difficulty"--but fortunately that's an easy AF fix.

The trot lengthenings are essentially nonexistent for any horse but Opie. That is his current trot lengthening. Bro just doesn't have it in him, but fuck it if I'm not going to try to pry one out of him in the three weeks before his next show. His consistently high scoring walk work makes up for a lot, but we can't be completely throwing away movements.

8s from both judges

Overall he was slightly tense and very distracted for the whole test. He completely biffed the first canter depart because he wan't tuned in in the slightest. We got a 5.5 and the comment "blocked" for that. Blocked by what, I don't know. The vision of flowers dancing in Opie's head? The scores ranged from a few 5.5s, a couple 8s (the walk), and everything in between. All well deserved though. I actually felt like she judged very fairly, and she gave me some great comments to work with. We finished up with a 64% for second.

We had just over an hour until the next test. Opie spent it staring at things--I don't know what those things were--and generally being an impatient fool. I gave us another hefty warm up time, but this time when I got on his brain was actually in his head. The show was running fifteen minutes ahead by this point which worked out perfectly.

i know you're in there, grown up horse!

Opie felt soft and relaxed so I put him through some of the movements from 1-3 before picking up the sitting trot and working through the lateral work from 2-3. He felt even better after that, having something to occupy his squirrel brain, and we headed over to the ring.

First 3

The show ran from 8 in the morning until 8 at night so a judge change happened right after my first test. I'd never ridden under this judge before so had no predisposed feelings of "lol fuck it, this judge's scores don't count in my head anyway, imma do what I want." Generally a good thing, and it helped that my horse was horsing again.

Dopes felt quiet and steady this time around. Lighting the world on fire? No, but having a horse that lit the ring on fire through chaos and destruction, I'll take quiet and obedient any day of the week. The flip side is that I can let him get too chill and then he's coasting along like an adorable mired in the sand land yacht. Beebopping around in a Training frame still garners cuteness points because judges just can't help themselves, but that's not the end goal here. Or even the immediate goal, Carly. Ride your fucking horse.

is capable(ish) when asked

Another 5.5 for the first trot lengthening and a sad 5.5 for the first leg yield. I'd brought Mr Tappy in the trailer with me, but didn't take him along for the actual riding. Bad mistake, as I think even if I'd only used it for warm up someone would have moved their ass over for the lateral work. He's perfectly capable of doing much better than that. Another 8 for the walk and then mostly 7s for the rest of the test. He finished with a 67% for first.

Both judges had super constructive comments that I can't wait to get to work on. Both judge's collective comments were about getting the trot lengthenings bigger and better. He needs to get his balance up (can do, has done, need to ask for it in the ring), I need to get him working over his back more which means the booty has to do actual work, and I need to rev the engine up for the trot work in general.

still gets good boy pats even if he alternates
between being a tweaker boy and a lazy boy

To finish the day I also picked up my high point prize pack from a show last July (don't ask) which included a giant ass ribbon, some goodies, and a hefty SmartPak gift card. I didn't get home until seven at night, but I can think of worse ways to spend the day!


  1. His tail is magnificent. Absolutely magnificent.

    Thanks for sharing your tests, it's really enjoy watching him go. Can't wait to see you guys start stepping it up this season!

  2. I agree with Megan... that tail tho!!

    Congrats on the satin :) You guys look great!

  3. Ahhhhh yay! Please just keep going to shows because I love for your recaps.Dopie is looking more and more grown up even he acts like a baby sometimes!

  4. You guys look amazing!! Congratulations on some really great scores. Especially for this point in the year :)

  5. I love how easily you handle the baby moments- not letting it get to you! Congrats on improving every ride, and yay for fun ribbons and a gift card!!

  6. I am so jealous of your quiet canter transitions, quiet mouth, and lovely canter rhythm. You have no idea. Dope, keep on keeping!

  7. I can't believe you're just starting year two of showing. You guys are looking fantastic! I like that gray jacket too!

  8. Y’all look like total pros ! And yay for judges that have useful things to say haha, it certainly doesn’t always feel that way lol

  9. What an improvement from test to test and a great outing overall! Opie def deserves all the cuteness points <3

  10. Mission Accomplished - nothing to see here folks!

    Other than an adorable Dopie 12 points for Cuteness


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