Wonderful Show Results!

Friday last week – finally pulled off two great tests in the showring!

Valiosa was fantastic!  Seriously, she was.

She came out like an angel in the warmup.  A little more up.  A little more forward.  But more in a “Hey, I’ll let you decide what we’re doing here and I’ll just go with whatever you say” – way.

warming up outside the show ring
Right before the start.

She’s going to continue to surprise, I can tell.  This was a three-day show;  I put her in for one day only.  A gamble, who knows which horse will show up on show day, but this time she was all business.

entering at centerline

Best, miraculous day with clouds, in July.  Fantastic!

Lots of walking in the warmup – made sure to have tons of extra time, in case Frau Coconut decided to freak out, but instead, she was just perfect and I had to be careful not to wear her out.

first level test 2

canter in first level test 2

Energetic, but with her rider, not on her own agenda.  Zero spooking around the two separate judge boxes and she felt sort of excited to get started.

SO proud of my mare for making such a huge turnaround.

stretchy trot at first level
Stretchy trot can use some help.

We showed First Level Test 2 and Test 3.  In the first test, she got 62.3 in a really clean test, which included a super ugly kickout in the first canter transition and only a “3” there.  It’s been our trademark move – major kick/buck/tweak at the first canter in Every. Single. Show.  🙂  I should stop doing that.  Maybe her too.

The rest was great!  She placed 2nd AA horse, but the class had only 7 riders so there was no split between Pros and Amateurs:  ribbons went to higher scoring Open competitors.

up canter

In Test 3 she got 64.7, even with a “4” from a botched lead on the diagonal.  The rest came out really well, so prompt in transitions, very keyed in.

She rode like she was showing – for sure she’s figured out what show day really means!

trot straight on centerline

I’ve waited over a year to have her feel like this.  Major relief to finally pull it off.  Next up, pics from the second test and some picking on things that really need fixing. Because no one wants to hear about only good stuff.

Global Backyard-Horse Day

Take part in celebrating Global Backyard-Horse Day!

Maybe it’s not all that official.  No balloons or flags.  Yet.

But it is a thing now!

global backyard horse day

Taking my butt-high, behind-the-leg Butter Melt Mare to be all that she can be – so can you!

Go forth without fear.

Observe the day any way you like! Show us your backyard horse!  Links in comments are fair game. 🙂

Report from the weekend show coming right up!

Schooling Before The Show

Last minute training before showing tomorrow.

Valiosa has been going so good lately!  She’s incredibly patient, really, while I figure out just how to get her to the sweet spot…

Main take away from June:  Short reins, to get her engaged enough (Mine are always slipping out longer, often as soon as the contact ends up feeling too heavy.) but then the hand has to be much quicker and softer.

dressage show practice

Really tricky, but I can tell that the secret is right there, hiding, behind half halting enough, softening, and not holding.  She’s not the type of horse to offer anything at all if she’s being held.

Block her just a little through the seat bones (Hello, that’s me every day!), the hands, or the shoulders, and Countessa Cream Chunk just moves like a stock horse.

Can’t remember ever riding another horse that would give so little back, if it’s not “just so.”  Still, so hard to let go while having just the right contact.

This is where all the non-dressage readers shake their head and just go “You’ve lost it, say what?!  How complicated can it be?”

flea bitten gray
This awesome feeling horse probably won’t show up tomorrow at the show, but it’s great to know it’s in there! 🙂 Have a fun weekend!

Maintaining Training, Solo

Friday last week was the last ride of a month of continuous training.

I’ll miss it – it’s been so nice to have help and finally get a feel for how good she can really be.

schooling with trainer
Very happy with both my coach and Valiosa here.

We wrapped up what would for us normally have been some  5-8 months of training’s worth, into 1.  Very beneficial.  Worth it all the way.

Now, time to face all the things that’ll fall apart by solo training.  Half of it might happen just over the next two weeks.  🙂

schooling dressage

To make up for that a bit, I had one lesson this week, and two scheduled the week following.

After that, it will be mostly up to me to figure it out all over again, how to get her to move soft, forward, and most importantly, into the hand...

riding alone

gray horse in canter

Señora Sesame Seed, behaving.


at halt

If two is a pair, three is a party.  So fun!

Here we go – figuring out a way back to this all on our own..!

riding with eyes closed

The 5 Stages Of Dressage Show Panic

The Dressage Show – months of lessons and hours of practice at home all lead up to this.

The perfectly groomed horse, the spotless rider (Oh please!) and the effortless warmup.  For some, it’s actually more of a really sweaty, overexciting, super-draining day, with more feelings of feverish distress than “elegance.”

If you’re getting ready to trot down the Centerline, the following list of Stages of Panic is a great preparatory cheat sheet.

did such a fun job earlier this spring with her article The 7 Stages of Panic When Your Trainer Raises the Fences on Eventing Nation.  Here’s a brazen knockoff of her idea from a dressage perspective.

1*. The “No Biggie” Stage.

At first arrival, things seem just peachy.  The energy at the showground is a little higher than for a normal schooling day, but it’s fairly quiet and seems like a smallish, easy show.

Rider’s attitude at this point:  Whatever. No biggie, you’ve got this.

dressage show panic

2*. The “Ehh, Ummm” Stage.  
Somehow all the horses look much more polished, together, supple and powerful as soon as you get in the warmup arena.  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Well, this is interesting. Are you sure all these pairs are showing at our lower level?  Hmm, we’ve still got this.  Totally.  Just warm up as usual, never mind the passage over there.
horse show nerves
3*. The “I’m Out Of My League” Stage
Slooowly, a bit of panic starts creeping in.  Issues from earlier schooling rides are popping up.  And they’re bigger now.  Maybe it’s time to reconsider showing at this level..?  There’s just no way you’re ready for this, you can’t even go straight.
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Is my horse going be a complete tense ball like this the whole test?  Man, yes, she’s going to be all tense!  We’re 45 seconds out from the bell ringing and I know for sure she’s going to be tense.  Just half halt…  soften…  half halt…   
Wait, what’s a half halt?
4*. The “Why Did I Sign Up For This?” Stage.
Your horse seems to completely forget everything you’ve practiced for the past several months.  (Or make that a year.)  Staggering on to the centerline just strides out from halting at X, you’re so busy trying to go straight while also questioning the sanity of showing a completely untrained horse, everything else is blurry and there’s NO breathing going on.  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  I’ve obviously overestimated my skills.  10 years, and there are no skills.surviving dressage shows
5*. The “Just Do It” Stage.  
Making the turn at C, there’s no turning back.  Half shocked you’re still on the horse and actually know the next movement, fake confidence or not, you’re all business.  And it’s happening!  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Make the best of this situation!  You’re doing it!  Ride like no one’s watching, but better. 🙂  Forward!

Go out of your comfort zone!