Careful What You Wish For

Her rated show début did not go as planned.

You know that great feeling one gets when you get the Low Point for the show?  Me neither 🙂

Today, definitely not our day…  Strangely, I had a great time anyway!

12 hours of prepping at home, driving, prepping at barn, driving, more prepping, riding, driving, cleaning up, and more driving – it was still time well spent with 2 of my really good friends – Nancy and Valiosa.

dressage show with young mare
So sweet at the last show, wonderful scores.  Forget that at this show!

The warmup ring was shared by Training Level and Intermediare riders.  Good practice for her to get a feel for that intense dynamic.  (Apologies if we happened to get in the way for anyone.)

We never got that “good feel” in the warmup…  I thought she would come together more in the arena once alone.  She was also especially good with not reacting too much to the mule warming up with us at the end – good mare!

halting straight at training level
Straight halt at home. Forget that at this show!

Droning on and on about her less than forward temperament, and wishing for some oomph when schooling, she came out like a bullet after the 2nd move in the test.  Careful what you wish for!

The judge had fair and supportive comments, (Very nice, thank you!) giving her a 7 for gaits which was appreciated.  Total score, 48.86.

I wasn’t kidding about the bullet part!

Too much grain?  In heat?  Pitiful riding?  Not sure.  We just weren’t the same team as a couple of months ago, that’s for sure.

horse with curly mane and forelock
Embarrassing post show curls…

I’ve promised this blog to be completely Unvarnished.  Remember?  (Read it here.)

Well, we just really sucked this time.


24 thoughts on “Careful What You Wish For

  1. Ah! Showing! It can be disappointing and frustrating. That extra energy you felt? I know what a surprise that can be but believe me when I say you will learn to enjoy it. Yes, it can happen. The warm up is tough with a lot of advanced and intense riders. But you did it. Bravo! And …Onwards!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I would LOVE to get to where that energy is expected, and enjoyed! The hardest was that she made a 180 from our last show, and caught me completely off guard once we hit our first long side. No opportunity to practice it beforehand.
      Well. Onwards! 🙂 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Horses are just like people. Some days are a lot better than others. This list should cheer you up!

    “Rules of Dressage:
    1. If you really want to get better at dressage, take it up at an earlier age – and grow an extra 3 inches of leg.
    2. A test that starts with an arrow straight centre line and a square halt signifies the start of a Hickstead Speed derby.
    3. A dressage test is a test of your skill against another competitor’s luck.
    4. Dressage is about achieving a harmonious working relationship with your horse, whose only idea of harmony is eating grass in a paddock with his buddies.
    5. If you want to end a drought or dry spell, wear a new jacket and Patey hat to an outdoor arena.
    6. Untalented, difficult, aggressive horses have robust health, good hocks and long lives.
    7. Talented tractable horses are accident prone and have OCD lesions.
    8. You will ride the best test of your entire life just prior to being disqualified for not wearing your gloves.
    9. Never keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your head before a test.
    10. Never keep less than another 300 separate thoughts in your head during a test.
    11. Horses do not improve their paces because you are wearing expensive German breeches.
    12. If you chose a disco theme for your dressage to music test then the judge will be more than 90 years of age and Swiss.
    13. The less skilled the rider, the more likely they are to share their critique of your test.
    14. If you are considering the services of a horse clairvoyant to help you with training then you have reached the point of total desperation – try the German breeches.
    15. Your horse has never heard of Podhajsky, let alone read the book.
    16. No matter how badly you ride a test, it is always possible to ride a worse one.
    17. If it ain’t broke, try shifting your position and it will be.
    18. Judges only suffer from temporary blindness (or kindness) when they are judging someone else’s test.
    20. If you fall off your horse in the arena you will have paid to have the test videoed.
    21. If you are feeling confident before a show then three of the Australian dressage team will turn up to give their young horses some “experience.”
    22. Your horse will perform its best piaffe ever when you ask for extended canter.
    23. Since runs of bad competitions come in groups of three, the fourth competition is actually the beginning of the next group of three.
    24. No one cheats at dressage because no one has worked out how to do it.
    25. It is surprisingly easy to end a test with a perfect square halt once you have scored a four for every other movement.
    26. The result of an expensive lesson from a top pro is that you will stop believing in that tiny piece of innate ability that was holding your riding together.
    27. Remember when buying a dressage horse advertised as “needs experienced competitive rider” this really means “needs the skills of Phillip Dutton just to stay on board.”
    28. If you think your test was better than someone elses, it probably wasn’t.
    29. If you pay 60,000 for an imported WB, you will be beaten in Prelim by a quarter horse.
    30. Clinics given by someone with an interesting accent are not necessarily superior to those given by the homeboy.
    31. If you go to the expense of raising an expensive WB foal, he will have a talent for jumping and no walk worth talking about.”

    I kind of like #’s 16, 17 and 18 myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love it! We all needed this, I’m sure!!!
      Number 16, 17 and 26!!

      Oh, and 18 – I found my self wishing perhaps the judge was too busy figuring out the comments for the prior movement to notice how bad we just wrecked this one 😉


  3. All of us are sympathetic. We’ve all been there if we’ve taken the risk and shown. So sorry! Warming up with FEI horses is intimidating and can really throw you off your game; I’m not surprised Valiosa found it stressful (maybe you did, too). More experience will help you both find coping strategies and “inner peace,” or at least ways to focus. The only way forward is to keep trying. Thank you for sharing your honest struggles and frustrations with us. We learn and share your journey. I encourage you to go to another rated show (and soon!), and think how you can make it better. I KNOW you two can do it. You’ve proven you can at home and at schooling shows. Now you both need a few “big show” miles. Go get them: we’re you’re cheering section!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so grateful to all of you for coming along in this crazy journey. It’s especially the support in the frustrating rides that is SO great. Love it all!
      I feel that the takeaway from Sunday is that she needs more miles AWAY from home. I’ve ridden her with gardners taking down whole trees next to us, but it means nothing when in a new enivronment…
      I need more opportunity to practice with her when she’s ON, which isn’t exactly happening at home 🙂
      Best decision ever to have this blog. What would I do without you guys!!?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good lessons learned: the horse away is not the same as the horse at home, and the horse on a cold windy day is not the same horse as the horse on a hot summer day, either. Mare in season not the same as normal mare…oh, the list could go on. Moral of the story: more miles for her, which takes time (and some money). Try to enjoy the process and I predict Valiosa will accommodate to the big shows much faster than you expect. Star went from crazy tense to almost seasoned campaigner in just a couple of shows. Still has tension kick in sometimes but it’s (mostly) manageable.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. My biggest cheerleader – I bow my head 🙂
          In thinking over the whole thing more (and seeing some of the pic proofs from the showgrounds photographer where Valiosa managed to look very nice. You know, before bolting…) I think it really all comes down to miles.
          Like you say.
          She’s done 4 shows, spread over many months, but they were all quick in and outs, in the same safe place. NOT fair to expect the same horse in this whole new setting.
          I’m saving up for taking her out to a multiple day thing, preferably 3 days but not sure we can pull that off. With luck, in September, but a lot of things would have to come together. If not, maybe October!


          1. Yes, miles! It’s a whole different show (ha ha, pun intended). Star learned a tremendous amount at the Woodside show, where she went for 4 days (one to school, 3 to show). Huge improvement over the days. And then when we went back, no problem, no need to “preschool” or stay overnight. And the next new show ground did not seem to freak her out in the same way. She pretty much understand the whole thing now after three different show venues (all pretty busy), and about 11 training level tests. Take her in Sept or Oct to at least a two day show and you will see a difference. If you can, go early and school in the show arena the day before. It’s how the pros do it.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. This! Yes!
            I’m too well familiar with the schooling the day before the warmup show, riding the warmup show, then showing Sat + Sunday. Seen it. Never thought it was TRULY necessary.
            (Silly me. A fool could beat me with a stick on the head here, just to make a point.)
            I already know 4 days won’t happen. 3? Maybe if current trainer will bring me, and I can pimp out my grooming skills again.
            If not, I will take your advice for sure with doing a two day show already in September if I can.
            My mare, tricky in that she internalizes, doesn’t really show her “worries” outwardly – just gets completely unridable when in the showring 🙂
            Really liked to read that things sort of “clicked” for Star during the long show outing. Very encouraging!!

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Yes, I always laughed at people who did that. Why would you spend that kind of time and money? Ha ha ha. And then I bought Star, and saw how worried she was, talked to my trainer, and thought, “o.k., I will do this for the first two rated shows, and see how it goes.” BIG payoff, so worth it. Star does not do anything terrible (other than refusing to go near the judge’s booth at first), but gets very WOUND UP, and then she inverts, hollows, oh all that icky stuff. But given time to accustom to the shows, we’re not having those issues any more. She’s not even worried about the judge’s booth any more – or not much…

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, but Izzy get style points – he owns the arena, and should be able to prove it in a year or so 🙂
      What got me was that we had done well in other shows, and then completely BOMBED this one.
      Just knowing we’re not the only ones makes it much better.
      Let’s go out there and train, both of us 🙂


  4. You got the experience and you had fun. The experience comes with time. The fun, you had blast being with your friend and Valiosa. Bottom line: you had a good show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll tell you – that forelock has been primed and primped – she tore out half of it after her first few months with me.
      I cut it sort of “pony style” and then kept it short for a while to encourage growth…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh man! Sorry you had a frustrating show. I think this is an example of when you just have to embrace the suck. Eventually this will lead to some amazing rides, in and out of the show ring. 🙂


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