Thursday, July 25, 2019

WNYDA Summer Fest II

(I had this post ready to go out the door a couple days ago, but fancy pants pictures were needed. Thanks again to Emily of Cavaletti Photo for offering such a great deal on such incredible work!)

hands down the sweetest person ever, and she
consistently went out of her way for everyone to grab
some candid shots when she had time. i love how pleased
this kid looks after his first test of the weekend.

Oof, getting out the door at 3am for the second day in a row was tough. The one good thing was that both mornings had the most amazing displays of heat lightning illuminated by bright moonlight for the entire drive down topped off with gorgeous purplely sunrises.

Gotta find the small wins, you guys. Because my old ass needed a nap by about nine in the morning.

Our rides times on day two were also bumped up by an hour, but we actually had a gorgeous 75* and windy day. My 7:24 first ride was downright pleasant. Dopie felt much more settled coming off the trailer and had his #childgenius cap on instead of his tweaker pants.

Confident the brain was in there, I only gave him fifteen minutes for warm up and it was plenty. I ended on a good spot and asked the ring steward if the rider before me had scratched--I knew her and hadn't seen her anywhere. The office said she hadn't, and no one else had been told she was scratched, but she wasn't in any of the warm ups so I went out the gate steward and they radioed that I was going to take her spot since she wasn't there. They sent me in and around the ring we went....over and over and over.

the light at 7am made for great pics in the indoor warm
up, but it was also literally blinding while riding.

The show organizer had gone to the judge to make sure she knew who I was, and for whatever reason that caused much chaos to untangle. I don't know why. I do know my old ass did not appreciate all that extra sitting trot.

Second 3

(don't watch if you get sea sick. i think hubby was in the midst
of seizure during this one.)

Opie didn't feel quite as soft or forward for this test, and that directly lends itself to bouncing around off the contact more. He definitely had a more difficult time with the lateral work this morning as well, and our steady 6 and 6.5s from Saturday got deservedly knocked down to 5s and 5.5s. The walk work--even the TOH-- are usually a given, but he got quite stuck in both of those and that really crushed us with 4s. That was a big bummer because we got 7s on them the day before.

showing off that lovely neck

The canter work came back with a solid line of 6s even though it didn't feel great. The second counter canter serpentine I had to hold back a laugh as I finished, and talking to a friend who watched afterwards we were both like, "WOW THAT WAS SPESHUL." The balance started to careen out of control and--if it looks bad in the video, it's nothing compared to how it really went down--I had to half yank him over to finish the turn without falling over. And we almost fell over anyway. The judge's comment was "struggling on counter loop". Good lord, yes. Yes we were.

The last three movements were 7s though, and he actually scored a 7 on gaits. Her overall comment was: Needs steadier contact, but capable pair. Work to establish a supple, balanced connection. We finished with a 58% for third, actually beating people--multiple people!

there are moments in there where he looks like a real second level pone, and
not a 6yo, 18 months off the track pone

I was marginally bummed that we didn't pull a 60% out of this judge since my 61% from the day before was from the judge I already had a score from. We have allll next year at Second though, and I was so proud of my green bean for keeping his shit together and doing the thing. All his problems are just greenness and strength issues. He's perfectly capable, it just needs to grow up to score better. I'm not mad at that.

when you halt square but you have side eye for everyone

Our second test of the day wasn't until 2:28. It was a LONG FUCKING DAY. I got on earlier than I needed to in hopes that it would make the time feel like it was going faster. Nah. No such fucking luck. I chatted with the final rider of the day as we waited to close out the show, and with one rider in front of me, I got Opie going really well. He nailed the warm up. I didn't want to dial in this First test again, and really wanted to finish out the weekend knowing I had tried my best for a good score.

First 1

We got one lap around the ring before the judge rang the bell right as we passed A. Have I mentioned how much I hate when they do that? Because I really hate when they do that. I got all flustered and had to make a wonky short turn around and headed in with a trot I wasn't happy with. The judge was cool with it and gave us an 8 to start, but the rest of the test was again solid 6s and 6.5s with a 7 for the walk and a 4 for picking up the wrong canter lead.

Those quick transitions in Second get Opie paying attention and ready to roll, so he kept trying to step right back into the canter after the trot at X. He got kind of jiggy and after being shut down several times, he was all twisted up and didn't get the correct lead. I got it corrected and went right into the lengthened canter for a 6.5. Never get stuck on one movement, folks!

not being able to braid his forelock made him pretty cute actually

Final comment: Steady, obedient and balanced. Could see more elastic and expressiveness in the gaits. Good luck. A 62+% put us in fourth in another big class which left us with a 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th for the weekend. This made my rainbow ribbon heart happy.

Overall, while maybe the scores weren't as high as we've gotten in the past or that we're capable of, I'm totally calling this show a success all around. I felt like I rode four clean tests for the first time all year. There weren't any mistakes were I came out mad at myself for being a fucking idiot, or mad at my horse for not stepping up and participating.

I'm also glad I was able to get video so everyone can see that you don't need a fancy horse or to even be a particularly talented rider to participate at this level. I'm all about spreading the word of mediocrity, yo. Not that you should be delusional about your abilities--I'm the first to admit I'm a floppy weakling--or that you shouldn't be trying to train your hardest or as correctly as you can--because I do both of those things--but dressage doesn't need to be taken so seriously. (Waits for a post to come out about how dressage/training/riding should be taken super seriously because this is super serious business and you're doing your horse a super serious disservice if you ever score below a 65%.)

can't wait to work more on bringing that balance back this winter

I'm not saying settle. I am saying go the fuck out there and try the thing. Go have fun if it makes you happy. Judges will reward you everywhere they can, and the majority of them are going to give you some great comments on how to improve your weak areas.

In the meantime, Dopes and I are going to suffer through enough First tests to pick up some scores for our GMO year end awards, and keep plugging away at 2-3 so that next year it feels easy fucking peasy. But first we're gonna do some more napping.

always a pat for this side eye king

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

WNYDA Summer Fest I

Ahh, horses. While the showing went well, the lead up was not without drama. I got a text Thursday afternoon from BM that she had just brought Opie & Co. in from their field because they were running around like wild asshole stallions. That's what I get for giving my fit, young OTTB the day off! I thought to myself, and then went out to ride him at six the next morning to beat the worst of the heat. Only as soon as I opened his stall I was greeted with a puffy RH.

sometimes people get tricked into thinking he's large when he is indeed a pony

I stuck him on the longe, and within the three minutes I had him going around to assess soundness the swelling almost disappeared. He looked...fine. But just fine. If anything he looked a little tight in his butt. I cold hosed the leg anyway and gave him a bracing liniment bath before wrapping those hind legs and leaving him in front of his fan with a stuffed hay net for the day. When I went back in the evening, hoping to braid but prepared to scratch if needed, he looked perfectly alright and proceeded to be a giant toddler tool to braid--to the point where I left his forelock free to move about the cabin because after several failed attempts to put one in, I had to ear twitch him to pull it out. #childsatan #saidbadwordsinfrontofchildren #theyreusedtoit

To combat the excessive heat warnings lighting up the east coast (and all coasts, it is July, folks), show management did some awesome things for competitors (THEIR INDOOR IS AIR CONDITIONED WUT). They had extra hoses hooked up so no one had to wait to get into the wash stall, coats were waived right off the bat, there were coolers of cold water for anyone that needed one outside each ring and the volunteers were enthusiastic in offering them to people, and they moved all ride times up by an hour.

That meant I was out the door at 3am, and had parked the trailer at the show by 5:45. It also meant the school's horses were still in turnout, and when I went to unload Opie, a couple of ponies came trotting up to the fence and Opie lost his shit. He launched down the ramp, stepped all over himself, almost fell over, and then went flying backwards screaming his fool head off. And I was so proud of him for marching right on in the dark, too.

He managed to hit the one inch of exposed skin on the inside of his LF and scrape himself up, but with some quick sponging and a spritz of BluKote he was back in business. Thank fuck it wasn't on his white leg so I could hide the wound care.

the trot lengthenings are coming together

I fed him his breakfast and we went for a quick walk since someone's eyes were still bugging out of their head. His midget self was towering about ten feet above me staring at everything like he'd never shown here before even though this could basically be his second home at this point. Feeling SUPER OPTIMISTIC at this point, I put on a little Taylor Swift while I got dressed and headed over to warm up with thirty minutes of monster management time scheduled.

Turns out I needed all of five minutes before we were ready to go in. He was soft and with me, and just went ahead and did the job. During a walk break--because I had a lot of time to spare--I passed a friend and muttered under my breath, "He's so good when he's not being an asshole." Another competitor was hand walking her horse by us at the same time and started laughing hysterically. But really. Raise your hand if you can relate.

wow so cute

Second 3

I know the trot work in this test isn't yet where it needs to be to score well, but I did my best to at least keep everything where it belonged. We had a good first center line, and then actually got a 6 for the first medium trot which I will not turn down ever. The lateral work was, as always, kind of tight and stilted, but he did the movements and got 5.5s with "braced" and "unsteady".

can get wobbly when tight

The walk work-- including rein back and turns on haunches--were 6.5s and 7s which helped compensate for the trot work just like I hoped it would. The canter was a long line of 6s and 6.5s which I was happy for since the simple changes were a bit sticky in warm up, but her only comments were "needs collection" and "strung out but balanced". We finished with an 8 for the final center line and 7s for gaits and rider position. Sold!

Her final comments were: Your gaits need more power. Needs more collected frame. Correct, could be more effective. Lovely horse, work on the collection. Final score a 61+% for fifth (out of five, but the two riders in front of me were half a percent ahead).

I didn't have time to check my score before my first test because I was the first Second rider to go and had to scamper over to the other ring to finish out 1-1 with just enough time to sponge him down and offer him some water (which he wasn't interested in; he handled the heat really, really well because fitness and conditioning, y'all. Train in what you compete in!)

i got pro pics saturday but they're not ready yet so all of these are from sunday

First 1

I was so happy with getting Opie's Second level debut out of the way without making a complete fool of ourselves, I completely wrote off our First level test. Story of the year. I just can't get behind First. I hate it, I don't want to ride it, the tests sucks, it's the worst, the end. I put in enough of a warm up to say so, Opie went around and did the thing, and then we parked it outside the ring with two rides to go and chatted with the photographer while Opie cocked a hind leg and literally fell asleep.

We went in and laid down the most 6 test that ever did live. 7s for the walk broke things up, as did a 5.5 for the most beautiful but unasked for canter to walk transition over X. Save that for the other test, buddy!

Her comments were focused more on my rider mistakes which is never a bad thing because it's no secret I need all the floppy help I can get. We ended up with a 62+% which was just enough to snag the last ribbon in a giant class. Coasting by on cuteness, let's call it what it is.

We were done and on the road by 9:30 which meant Opie and I were both back inside and in front of our fan/air conditioner by 11. That was a massive relief since the heat was no joke, but we made up for it the next day with some super shitty ride times!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

You've got it or you don't

Dressage is the new thing around here, guys. Every show I've been to has had two rings running full time until late afternoon. The show I scratched from a couple weekends ago only had one ring--and they ran until seven at night. We got an email from the secretary from this weekend's show that they were so filled, no one was getting a tack stall. Fortunately for my poor cheap ass, no worries there because my stall and tack room are one nicely consolidated slightly rusty rig.

This also means that classes are fucking enormous. My First level tests have been averaging a dozen riders each time, and it's no different this weekend. Thank fuck that participants in Second dwindle by the time 2-3 rolls around because 2-1 is filled with about fifty riders (that might be the teensiest bit of an exaggeration, but not by much).

After yesterday's ride, I feel good about things. My horse is capable. 2-3 is well within his wheelhouse. If he can stay relaxed and soft, we have got this.

After Tuesday's ride, I was cackling in that, "My eyes are twitching because my brain is utterly broken and melted into useless, hopeless fucking goop." sort of way. If we don't have the relaxation, I have no horse.

No. Fucking. Horse. AT ALL.

Forget the lateral work, the added collection, the bigger step and sharper transitions. Forget a 20m circle, folks. A two inch inverted neck, chomping at the bit, and a jacked up sewing machine trot? Yeah, we got those!

But perspective, right? Find the good! The walk work will be there. The canter I can salvage 95% of the time. Trotting is only a third of the test after all. And then first impressions and collective marks for submission and whatnot. LOL IT WILL BE FINE.

Our first test of the weekend is, of course, 2-3 and it is, of course, in the spooky indoor. It's also under the same judge I already have a score from at Second which kind of takes the pressure off hopefully squeezing out that 60% since it won't count. The second try is in the outdoor which I'm hopeful will make things a little easier.

I'm going to do my very best to enjoy this regardless. In the grand scheme of being a relatively incompetent ammy rider, it's pretty fucking cool that this is the second horse I've brought up to Second level all on my lonesome. Good or bad, it's all come from me.

On top of that, the first horse I rode at this level was a psycho, beyond shittily conformed OTTB with a reputation for trying to exit the arena mid-test...who got me one score towards my bronze at this level already. The second horse is an OTTB with a ten mile long back and inchworm legs whose been off the track for eighteen months. I could be doing worse.

Now let's go win some non-yellow ribbons and not die of heat stroke!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Engleside Stables Hunter Show

Oh yes we did.

and we had the braids to prove it.

I got back from Chicago Thursday night and obviously went out to the barn Friday morning. I rode my horse, giving him a pretty easy First-centric school with a couple jumps over the barrels in the outdoor when we were done for funsies. I was grooming him afterwards while BM was holding a horse for the farrier, and it randomly popped into my head: "BM, do you have a prize list for the hunter show tomorrow?"

The smaller hunter shows around here offer a flat only division, and that was where my interest originally was. But this was a slightly bigger show and they didn't offer it, so after poring over the prize list we decided to just go ahead enter Level 1 Hunters (2'-2'3") about noon the day before the show.

Preparation is not the name of the game. It's all about spontaneity and whimsy! Or just having no shame or fucks, call it what you will.

the judge was hysterical and lent to my overall mood
of giggling every time i went into the ring.

The show barn is literally right around the corner from our barn, so after a perfectly reasonable start we still had plenty of time to play over all the jumps in their ring and derby field. Hunters are so weird!

I didn't put spurs on because I was trying to go for the whole neutral hunter look thing, but also because I'm not sure I even own a pair of plain black spur straps at this point. My wardrobe is bling and color. #nochill That meant it took me three tries to get Opie to pick up the canter from the walk, but once he bothered tuning me in we didn't have a problem on the flat. Where it did come in was not having enough to back me up over some of the more heavily pimped out jumps.

I should first point out that this marks...maybe the sixth or so time this horse has jumped so far this year? For sure the first actual full course he was going to be asked to go over since our jumper night back in December. Plus since he turned into a know it all/doesn't actually know anything bulldozer cantering stadium jumps (fortunately not something that seemed to carry over to xc fences) the few times I tried jumping him this spring, I've only been trotting him up to jumps.

blurry screenshots are the only jumping media you get. i wasn't able to find a free
barn mom to give my camera to until our flat.

Nevermind though! Into the canter and off we went!

Oh my gosh, guys. This fucking horse is so fucking cute. He picked up the cutest canter and went loping over everything like he was the brokest, most idiot proof 2' hunter on the planet. The only problem I ran into was a bright yellow oxer with bright white boxes as fill coming out of a 4 stride line. Things Opie knows nothing about: oxers, boxes as fill, lines. I had to school him through it a few times before he finally felt confident jumping out of the line, but everything else? Easy peasy. He coasted right through the long diagonal lines without ever changing pace, he half halted off a breath, and I never had to touch his face.

ears up, taking the cute gappy distance, loving his life.

Feeling totally happy with him in the ring, we scooted over to the derby field for a quick romp which included having to step down a bank to get into the field. I'd watch two horses in a row launch off the bank, but our young Dopie horse? Who's never seen a bank before? He lowered his head to watch where his feet were going and stepped right off before strolling away to see what was next.

I pretty much spent the entirety of the show silently squeeeee-ing to myself. Remind me of this the next time he spends an entire ride rearing because I ask him to step his inside hind under more than one inch.

probably the only person smiling the entire flat class.
that stupid yellow castle line behind us was our bugaboo.

Praise the baby Jesus, we were the very first division of the day. He got to take a break for awhile while the ring got dragged and set, and then BM secured us in the second rotation (you hunters!) so one of my two barn mates showing in the same division and I could watch several rounds go first.

Of course the very first jump in the very first class was the only one I didn't school over. It was a fake stone wall single, but oh well. Off we went! Dopie gave it the hairy eyeball and broke to the trot a couple strides out, but I was able to leg him on enough that he popped over it from the trot and stepped right back into the canter. He floated through the first diagonal line no problem, jumped into the scary outside red line, and then wiggled to a stop on jump out--another box-as-fill oxer (that was a vertical when we schooled it before). We came back to it from the trot and he went right over, and then finished with another perfect diagonal line.

i mean can you even?!

I could not have given two shits about the mistakes. He landed every lead, he jumped the jumps he understood, and he never got flustered or upset. I walked out and was like, "HE'S SO CUTE!" and everyone at the gate was like, "STOP IT HE IS!" He hung out totally chill while we waited for our second class, and then back in for round two.

I was able to push my phone into BM's hand for this one so there's video evidence:

That fucking yellow line was nearly our downfall. I barely got him over on the second attempt and that was with a lot of clucking and a pony club kick. But he recovered just fine and finished like a very good boy. Oxers are hard, yo. Especially when you never, ever jump them.

He got to go back to his stall to hang out for awhile before going back in for the flat.

it was dusty and breezy, but not ungodly hot for once

There were twelve horses in our division, and as BM pointed out, "I don't understand why everyone entered their giant warmbloods in the 2'" so we ended the day with no satin, but REALLY WHO CARES?!

"a strange show to be sure, but i'm not mad."
--opie, for real.

Dopie went around a wild and wooly warm up jumping everything I put in front of him, he did both his courses like this was something we actually practiced more than once a year never, and he finished cruising along in a giant flat class without getting upset about anything the other horses were doing. Plus he stepped right into the canter from the walk which means I don't want to see anything else in our 2-3 tests this weekend, sir.

#childgenius sash hung around his neck Saturday, hands down.

We finished the weekend out by taking a group to the park. Fortunately it was super low key and we spent the majority of the time walking because the kiddo would have preferred to nap the day away.

did thoroughly enjoy his splashing tho

He gets a well deserved day off today, and then I have to figure out how to manage our rides in the upcoming death heat so we can get some schooling in before returning to dressage--and Opie's official Second level debut!--this weekend.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Replace it with a pace

I was all set to go to the show on Saturday. Really, I was. I never got around to running through 1-2, but that was fine; it seemed like a simple enough test. The show was hosted by a neighboring GMO, so while it didn't count for my own GMO's year end awards, it's a really nicely done show, and the results could be stacked towards the TIP year end awards.

that swag tho

I woke up that morning to sunshine, and I couldn't believe they were still calling for storms. I stalked the radar over Buffalo all morning, and instead of blowing off, the storms kept blowing up. It looked like they were finally going to clear out over the show grounds right when my first test was going to start, but the storms were travelling in a direct line over the interstate into Rochester which meant I would be driving the entire time under severe thunderstorm warnings. Not fun, especially when the running lights on my trailer don't like working on a good day.

It worked out for the best anyway, as I was talking to a girl who did end up going for an earlier ride time who said that it was wet and sloppy, the ring they got moved into wasn't standard size, her trailer had to get pulled out with a tractor, and driving down 90 was awful.

Plus I ended up riding my horse at home anyway and he was quite the little shit.

wow so pretty but so bad

We're going through another cycle of "This is hard, I don't wanna." We hit this is in the spring as well, when I really ramped up the show prep to come out at First. It wasn't new information, I was just asking for it to be cleaner and bigger. Now that we're gearing up for Second, it's the same thing. He already knows how to do all the things, but I want the things to be better.

That's hard. It means he has to sit more, and be steadier in the contact, and we don't quit until he softens over his back. On Saturday that meant riding through three lessons until I got what I was looking for. There was much rearing, a heavy side of spinning, and a few bolts thrown in for good measure. #ZenNinja sat there and didn't change the rein length, didn't take my leg off, didn't stop asking for more forward.

Finally, FINALLY, Opie figured out there was no evasion he could try that could make any of that go away and melted into my hands. We floated down the long side, I halted him, and then immediately got off and shoved candy in his face.

Stepping under yourself without inverting is really the worst thing in the whole wide universe, guys. The. Fucking. Worst.

The one good thing about all the storms was it blew the suffocating humidity out of the air and we had the best weather for the barn's hunter pace the next day. I threw a borrowed jump saddle on Opie in bout thirty seconds to sub in for a girl that got hurt right before she was about to get on, and had the best time with my partner.

good old oz took opie on many of his first trail rides

Opie started out popping over everything right out of stride, being super soft and smart. Then his partner went behind a bush and Opie thought the Horse Black Hole Vortex had swallowed Oz and he lost his shit. Nevermind that Oz reappeared in all of fifteen seconds. He had a few jumps of landing and trying to bolt back towards the barn, but we had a little timeout and he went back to being perfect.

throwback to trying to exit because all alone

He jumped pretty much everything on the property, and only had a few of his hysterical, "Wow, what are legs!!!" jump forms where he twists the front half one direction and then lands by twisting the back half in the other direction. Grids would for sure fix that, or just teaching him to jump in general, but LOLZ, who has time for that?

"it's okay, i'll get us over somehow!"

"not sure what to do with these legs, so i'll just throw them over here!"

I had Oz lead us over the big 3' log stack since it was his first time jumping it. Opie cleared it by five feet and I was sooo proud of him for getting his legs out of the way. Only then he thought the fun game was chasing Oz over jumps and almost plowed through the next one when he barely lifted his legs at all because he was too busy galloping after Oz. So no more leads over jumps after that.

He got a quick break in his stall to pee and grab a drink, then went right back out to escort my favorite tiny barn child around. Her Haffie was being a sass machine, so he got shoved up Opie's bum the entire ride to slow his roll.

Opie might have Opinions about doing the work, but he is A Very Good Boy most of the time. He went from romping around jumping things with his giant OTTB friend, to jogging on a floppy rein with a pony attached to his hind end. Plus he got our tiny partner another blue ribbon, and we ended up with a second for our round.

He gets the next four days off while I party take my mom in for surgery in Chicago. Then it's back to being mad when I ask him to have a real job. Whomp whomp.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Sundman Stables Show and Tell

Well, we made it into the ring so...success!

Nah, it wasn't that bad at all. A bit sloppier than I was hoping for, but such is life when you can't be bothered to measure out a dressage court at home--something I'll probably do this week in between training hard trail riding--and get a wee bit spastic on how to ride in a real arena.  And actually, the last time I was at this facility was many years ago with Bobby also doing one of his first attempts at Second. Opie was green and we had some mistakes, but guys, he didn't take the chains of the court for a ride with him.


i have absolutely no media so enjoy this tack cleaning snoot

I gave Opie a ten minute spin on Saturday because it was horribly hot and disgusting. He was fine, he felt as good as he was going to get. Sunday was much cooler with clouds and a breeze, and he came off the trailer kind of a tweaker. I let him have a good hand walk all around to snoot things, and by the time I got on he was completely settled. Only he was a little too settled, and I ended up never getting him jazzed back up enough to where he felt inspired to put forth any effort whatsoever. That warm up happy medium is going to take some trial and error.

Test 1

We got to go right into the court to make a couple laps for warm up as the ring wasn't large enough to fit a standard court and still have room to make a lap around. I shoulda woulda coulda used this opportunity to run through some movements and make sure I was comfortable with my geometry, but instead I tried to get Opie to wake up. He did not.

He headed down center line simultaneously tight but lazy, and reeled off a long line of 6s with 5.5s for the travers for not enough angle--I actually almost forgot to put him into it coming off my first 10m circle so well done me. That's rider error, and I can easily ask for and get more angle in those so an easy enough fix there for the future.

The halt, rein back, and turn on the haunches were all 6.5s. I know that fucking halt can score way better, but someone halted and then immediately periscoped to gawp at the horse in the round pen just behind the ring. The rein back itself was fluid and obedient though, and the comment was, "halt distracted, rein back submissive."

8s for the walk because obvi, and then 6 and 6.5s for the canter with 5.5s for the simple changes were that one trot step wasn't eradicated. A 4 for the final serpentine where he broke when the horse started banging on the round pen which was way more exciting to pay attention to than me, and then a 7 for the final halt.

the bad horse halter came out for the morning.

So! Lots of varying scores, but I'm pleased with her scoring and her comments. One thing I didn't want was fluffed up schooling show scores that gave me no real idea of how this test would score later this month in front of a real judge. While she might have thrown me an extra half point here and there (she gave us 6s for our perfectly acceptable lengthenings/non-existent mediums which was generous), she wasn't like, "You tried, here's a 7!" The final score for the first run through was a 62+% My only goal for the rated show is to eek out one single, solitary 60%. Clean up the mistakes, bring in a more focused horse, and I think that should be attainable.

The Clinic

We had about ten minutes to talk over the test and troubleshoot any problems. The judge is the head dressage coach at Cazenovia College. She was super fun and positive to ride with, but more than anything she was obsessed with Opie. I told her right off the bat that he was young, neon green to the level, and that his main problem was tension in the ring because I have a very different, softer horse at home. I know the medium trot is nonexistent and am not worried about it right now. What I hoped to get out of this was any tips on how to get him to relax a bit more over his topline.

She put me on a 20m circle at the posting trot and had me flex him back and forth a bit, leg yield out  couple steps, and bring him back and forth a bit. The end.

He got softer-ish I guess, but he wasn't any different than the horse I have in warm up. Really most of the quick session was nonstop gushing over Opie. He's got a great hind end, he's got the gaits, oh my lort that walk, he can do the movements, he's so lovely, he's so nice, he's going to be super, etc etc. I ain't mad to hear that, y'all, but I guess I just thought I'd get a little more out of it.

she clearly wasn't sassed with any of this side eye

I understand that it was a super short time period, but I was hoping to at least work in the sitting trot. She told me overall she wanted to see him more round and less braced. We wrapped up there and went in to do it all over again.

Test 2

This test actually went worse than the first one. He felt more tight and those 6s became 5.5s. The canter was a hot mess of him anticipating, and while he held the counter canter for the serpentines, he broke coming off the first medium canter, and then screeched to a halt in the second simple change before launching into the canter--at which point I halted him myself and made him stand for a second before walking a few steps and picking it back up calmly. I definitely used this test more of a schooling ride where a couple times I could have pushed him through and carried on, instead I made a very obvious correction. These scores count for nothing, so might as well use my time the way I need to.

We ended with a 60%--so I guess still what I was looking for even with the drama. Her final comment was that he "needs more suppleness over topline to fulfill the demands of this level." YEAH I KNOW.

that topline is plenty supple when begging for candies.
for real tho, he's looking awfully beastly lately.

Overall, it was worth the $50 just to get to ride the test twice in front of a judge in a really nice ring. I didn't get any bad or confusing feedback, and the comments and scoring were plenty to work with. Plus Opie was back home and out with his buddy before noon which doesn't leave a lot to complain about!

Now I just have to decide whether or not I want to do this fucking show Saturday. My ride times are next level dreadful and the weather is looking like it wants to be shit. Plus some idiot signed up for all three First tests. Don't do benadryl and fill out entry forms, kids.