Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Dressage at the Fair

I was thrown for a loop with this show because instead of getting up at O'Dark Thirty, I sat around twiddling my thumbs cleaning out my basement until noon when I finally let myself get moving and head to the barn to bathe and braid. My first test wasn't scheduled until five in the fucking afternoon, with my last ride finishing up just after seven.

Remember how I said dressage is booming up here? Bitches love them some lower level dressage, you guys. I was the second First rider of the day--the show started at 8am and allll the rides before me were Intro and Training.Want to participate in an active dressage community? Come to Western/Central NY! (Only don't because this state is the worst.)

also our weather has no chill. after being in a drought all summer
we got a good two inches of rain in--no shit--about five minutes right
as i was getting ready to get on. good thing dopie lives for swimmies.

We pulled into the fair grounds around three, got unpacked and settled in, and was then informed that rides times had been moved back by twenty minutes. The worst. A friend and I went over to watch some tests and suss out how the horses were handling the coliseum, and she fortunately got intel that we were allowed to enter directly into the ring before the test started as a standard court takes up every inch of the ring and the riders we were watching were sticking to trotting up the long sides and having to turn around without circling the entire court--and therefore passing Satan's Altar the judge's open booth.

First 1

I got on with at most fifteen minutes of warm up time. It was more than enough to touch on everything we needed and head into the ring feeling as ready as we could be while knowing that nothing was going to prepare for the actual atmosphere of the show ring. I was hoping that since he'd shown here before he wouldn't be quite as stupid as he started out last year where he wouldn't go near the judge's stand in either test.

Yeah, we barely made it out of the chute before he threw on the brakes and tried to spin and leave because he had to pass the letter A.


I booted him past it into the ring and made him circle in front of the judge's stand until she blew the whistle. There was a lot of side eye and he was tense AF, but at least he deigned to be in its vicinity this time.

The whole test was tight, tight, tight. He didn't spook, but he was so locked up I could barely steer him. I was super fussy with my hands trying to contain the lurking giraffe just under the surface, and that made him understandably fussy with the contact. Bro doesn't let me get away with any sort of busy hands without calling me out on it loud and clear.

My entire ride was focused on managing him and getting him through without any major mistakes. The second half of his stretchy circle he actually took the stretch for a second and I was like, "Yes! Success! Now he'll take a breath and settle." No, he saw Dopie Things in the distance and lost it. Judge's comment: Minor distraction.

minor distraction is your new show name, dopes.

Usually the canter gives him some forward momentum to propel him out of the stupids, but I had nothing to work with. I tried about two strides of the lengthen before putting the kibosh on it because he instantly locked up and tried to run. I was happy to get the right lead picked up even though the transition was a mess.

Overall most of the comments were "braced" or "tight". One hundred percent accurate, and I was happy to get that test out of the way while feeling optimistic he would come out for the second one much more settled. He ended up with a 64+% for second. The horse that beat us had already done two Training tests so had the advantage there.

relax yo self

The judge was being a rock star and bombing riders through there, ignoring her breaks and giving us just enough time to make a quick tour of the ring while she finished up comments before moving on to the next. I'm sure by her 500th test she was as ready to wrap up this marathon show as much as everyone else. Guys, she judged for twelve hours straight. #beastmode We ended up going in for our second test at our originally scheduled time, and she even ditched her dinner break to get the last block of us through early.

First 3

I warmed Dopie up when the rider before me went into the ring. 10/10 less is more with this horse. I had to harass him a bit over the right lead canter, but I made it clear that under no circumstances were we picking up the wrong mother fucking lead in the change at X for the fiftieth time this season.

Opie was still a little distracted in this test, but he was actually rideable.

the were more people in the stands this time and he was very interested in them.

The leg yields were rough. At this point he basically automatically braces the second any sort of lateral work comes in. I have a body work appointment set up for him to kick things off, but this is going to need some serious attention in the off season. You've gotta stay supple, my midget friend. Those garnered a 5.5 and a 6, but the 10m circles were 7s and then!!! He hit that stretchy circle and flowed right down and around for an 8 with the comment "well done".

day of stretch days paying off!

I was able to go for the canter lengthening a little bit more this time around, but still not to the point where he's picked up big scores before. He picked up the right lead in the transition at X, but I pretty much threw his ass onto it. As I was riding it, I was like, "You fucker, I will take the 5 this is going to get over the 4 picking up the wrong lead will get IF MY FUCKING LIFE DEPENDS ON IT." Also he tried to leave the ring picking up the first canter but I cut him off at the literal pass.

opie: soulmates this way
me: not today #childsatan

Despite the couple of disorganized bobbles, it felt like a much steadier test. It scored a 63+% for another second. Just like last year, with a cooler and giant ribbons on the line, we did just enough that on any other day it would have been super results--but we got no giant prezzies. Cue my inner sad child.

Second 3

With the judge giving up her final break, there were only four rides before my final test so I stayed on and hung out in warm up feeding Opie candy. When the rider before me went in, I picked him back up and he was instantly right there. He felt really soft and loose, did a couple of tight but acceptable shoulder-ins, stepped right into the right lead canter from the walk, did a counter canter serpentine easy peasy, and we were ready to go in.

refueled by candy, he went strutting in like he owned the place

Unfortunately, the trot work is all lateral work which means all the loosey goosey went right out the window. Every comment was "tight topline" or "stiffness". Where another judge might have let a 6 slide, she tipped towards 5.5s instead with just a couple 6s for the shoulder-in. Honestly I don't even know how we got a 5.5 for the travers--they felt more like retarded on the wall leg yields.

The rein back, usually a strength to kick off the walk work, had an extra step which killed that score, and it almost had more before I goosed him with my spurs when he ignored me. Then the stupid turn on the haunches we we started off the season with 7s bombed again. The free walk was mediocre, so all those areas where we can usually make up for the tense trot work did nothing for us.

i still think he's super cute and that's all that matters

He stepped right into that canter like a boss though and finally picked up a long line of 6 and 6.5s to finish out the test. Still, only a measly 57+%. We were the only rider doing 2-3 so we at least got a blue ribbon, but there was another AA doing 2-1 who scored a 59%. You know what that means? NO COOLER AGAIN THIS YEAR. We got a consolatory reserve champion ribbon that's a good 4' long, but come on, man. My inner five year old couldn't even. 

he doesn't know the difference. he still got all the candies and snugs.

Not a bad show in the grand scheme of things, though. The judge's comments are all in line with what I know are his weaknesses right now--namely tension, but also needing more collection. He'll get there, and I think next year he'll come out feeling super confident in this test for having gotten the chance to do it several times this season.

In the meantime, we have one more show for our GMO to close out the competition year providing we don't get guilt tripped into doing a CT put on by one of Hubby's coworkers. There are lots of hunter paces on the horizon though, so fun things for the young Dopie Horse as a reward for grinding through another full year of dressaging.


  1. Bummer about all the tension, but you guys still look pretty fantastic. (That's half the battle right?) I'm sorry you didn't get a cooler. That's lame.

    1. My grown up side is totally okay with no cooler. My inner five year old is destroyed. :P

    2. I fully believe reserve should get a prize, too!!!

  2. Your 1-1 is my life right now!! Can feel super in the warm up and then tight tight tight soon as we approach the show ring.

  3. ugh charlie also always gets a plethora of "tight" or "stiff" comments. except for when he's getting "labored" written out five different times on a single test (sigh)...

    1. "Tense" was basically Bobby's show name. Dopie's doing much better this second half of the season, but stepping up to Second and having to work harder is just not his jam, thx.

  4. Candy always refuels me too. Way to go, Opie!

  5. Opie just picking out his next victim in the stands lol

  6. You can’t have minor distraction as a show name. That belongs to us. It’s where we live.

  7. You're both looking awesome. I feel like the tension thing is more miles than anything else and he'll get there (says the person with the most tense pony mare in the planet)

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