Not Our Day

Show Recap –

No fantastic results.  Valiosa was tense in the indoor warmup.  Never released over her back.  Very worried in the main large indoor during the first test.

Two judges in the first ride, one which gave us a qualified score, but the other didn’t see any harmony.

horse schooling well at home
Blurry little video-capture from home. She can be awesome then.

In the second test, possibly even more tense warmup in another new indoor, with some background thunder rolling by.  A steam train in the actual test, which was in an additional different indoor.  A qualified score in that test too, but truly, it was low and our worst performances to date.

Summary:  tight, worried, harried.  Pretty good canter lengthenings – she’s really improved there!

Overall, it’s clear she can’t roll in for just one day.  Some more rides there would have made for a more even playing field.

trot lenthening using the hocks
Trot lengthenings CAN happen, but only at home. 🙂

My mare, who has started to feel more soft and willing at home never once let her guard down.  With this, I’m rethinking everything – she’s going to have only relaxing work for some time.  (And actually nothing for a whole week as she seemed off on a hind today – vet check in a few days.)

Showing should be fun, for both, it’s not negotiable.  Didn’t like the look in her eye.  To keep doing it now, would mean only doing it for the rider.  And that’s not why we ever got started.

gray horse in sunshine and grass

Pictures from one of the tests coming up!

35 thoughts on “Not Our Day

  1. What happens on the showring can be totally different from what you get at home. It has taken me a some memorable experiences with a hugely powerful , strong and rather rude horse in the showring to learn that I have to be able to ride that horse as well as my much easier horse at home. I think it is tough to turn up on the day of the show and pop into the warm up and show ring without any acclimatizing. However….do not despair…..this is all part of the journey. This year I did better riding the “show horse” Biasini. In our final ride of the Florida season he had moments of being very strong but I did better riding that and managed to get a clean test. As we went onto the diagonal for the 7 two tempis he said :”now we do the extended canter”. I said ” no, we’ve already done that…this is the twos!!!” So a couple of serious half halts and we did 7 clean ( but rather large) two tempis. So Elinor don’t give up. This is all part of the learning process. You will get there!

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    1. This is so helpful, thank you Anne! I know you’ve been there so many times and trust that you recognize all the “craziness” that went on. I find this the very hardest thing with showing – not the nerves, time, effort etc, but simply the absolute shock of having an entirely different horse to ride! And it seems that the more mature and fit she gets, the more she reacts when getting out there. Oh boy 🙂 It’s fully sinking in that she’ll need to be able to have some riding in the warmup arena before actually having to do a real warmup in it. Or we’ll just be trotting around completely tense.
      Really appreciate you cheering us on!

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  2. I heartily commend you for your approach to the whole show thing: fun for both of you or it’s not happening. You set a great example! However, I suspect young Valiosa can learn to enjoy competing once you figure out what she needs to do so. Honestly, I would have been intimidated by those surroundings myself. And then, thunder! Don’t be too discouraged.

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    1. Thank you, thank you! I think we’ve gotten fooled by going to several smaller competitions, where the pressure was lower. She was a different horse to ride then, and now that she’s asked to just blow in to a large venue and work in a much more concentrated manner, she just blows.
      Really appreciate you cheering us on!

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    1. Yes, you’re right, she needs more exposure. Maybe one of the hangups is that I expect to just show up, and still have “almost the same horse.” It’s a big time commitment to take them around to different venues, not to mention money and opportunity since I don’t have my own rig. Just discovered yet one another of the many reasons for why many riders don’t show a lot – it’s an entire lifestyle 😉 I know you’re in the same boat too. Very challenging to get all the pieces just right.

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  3. She just needs more miles, and you probably do, too. Your show sounds just like our debut at Del Mar in February: tense, tight, not what we are capable of. When I looked at the pictures: UGG. But I will say by the second day of showing (her THIRD day there), she was a different horse and much more normal and happy. It just took time in such a busy, really rather weird environment. Murietta is much the same: so overstimulating! Next time, take her for several days, just get it over with. I know it’s expensive, but go for one long show rather than doing a bunch of little ones. Or just stick to smaller show grounds, nothing wrong with that…at least for a couple more years…she is young still. At least she kept it together, and that is victory of a sort, it really is!

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    1. That and just going for the experience for her, managing your expectations that you are just really going so you can school her and get her exposed. More time and miles, no worries.

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    2. This is very encouraging Edie. I know you’ve seen this venue, and yes, it was overstimulating for her. They’ve got one more new indoor now, a large tent, and in the heavy winds the straps were making dinosaur noises – we barely made it past the outside of it 😉
      Can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support – this was a rough one. A three day show will have to be the way to go for us when we next have a chance to get out – maybe in the fall. For now, shows at home. Which may be even more frightening 🙂

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      1. That sounds extremely difficult! the fact that you did it at all and did not fall off or bolt out of the arena is a huge success. I think you maybe should sit back and think about all the things you managed to do well – and that Valiosa managed to do well – in spite of remarkable challenges. You got through your tests, you got qualifying scores, and while it was NOT what you know you can do, you were in a really difficult environment. You know you can and will do better. Good job doing THIS. It was excellent experience for both of you in just holding it together and it is a kind of bonding experience to survive something like this together.

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        1. Aw, thank you! You always help putting things in perspective. I’m so glad she trusted me enough to go through with it. Flustered and very humbled that we sucked so bad we couldn’t really “show”, but she did it, and I looked at the pictures last night again – some very nice moments. (Coming up next)
          And, turns out she had an abscess ready to burst!!! Heart goes out for her!

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          1. Oh, poor girl! Still, if you’re going to have lameness I will always vote for an abscess! Quick recovery in almost every case. Fingers crossed she will be back to herself in no time at all.

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          2. Aaaaauuuugggghhhh…that’s exactly how I think every time my horse takes a weird step (which seems to be all the time, she gets muscle sore every time I introduce something new and is weird for the next day or so, and I think: that’s it, I broke her, life is over for us both). We’re all over dramatic, but we know how fragile these horses can be. SO GLAD it turned out to be very minor, and that she is on the road to full recovery!

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          3. Wondering if that worry will start happening more for Valiosa and I too, later on. She’s not really sitting, or extending, at all yet, and I can only imagine how worried I’ll be later on as she gets a little sore from that. Oh, and I’m ALREADY worrying haha! 😩

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          4. Oh yes. We do a lot more collection now and a lot of lateral work to enhance the collection and strengthen her. Understandably, she gets sore muscles (probably ligaments too, sometimes). One has to be careful. Two steps forward, one step off, and listen to the horse. When she starts to get cranky about doing something, I back off. She’s so willing, that crankiness is an indication something hurts and needs a day or two (or more) to heal up. It’s a tightrope, pushing hard enough to condition and strengthen, without injuring. I worry…a lot. Varying the work is a must, I think, and you already do that.

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          5. Yes, agreed! Less variation now, we can do trot poles or free jumping whenever we wish. But I’m definitely on board with walking a lot outside of the arena on varying surfaces. It really helps to get out of the arena footing!

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  4. I’m with Leueen and Horse Sage on this one. And my mare is no better at showing than yours. So I get your frustration. I always arrive at the show grounds the day before and get a little rehearsal ride in the showring. The rehearsal is always beautiful. The next day is usually horrible, and if it’s a 2-day show the second show day is even worse. Go figure…(I personally think it’s because she can’t stand being stalled for 3 days—but I’m not a horse shrink, so who knows??)

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    1. 🙂 Yep! That’s been another thought. I purposely have Valiosa living 24/7 outside. It’s sort of my negotiation for keeping a horse and training it – I want to allow for as free of a lifestyle as possible for the horse. I can see where it can backfire with suddenly stalling for days during a show. Ugh. It gets complicated 😉
      Well, I’ll never know until we try. In the fall, if we can go again, I’d like to try the onsite option.

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  5. We’ve all been there, and will be there again. You’re not alone! I know how frustrating it is to have a less than stellar show weekend, after all the work if takes to prep for it. Sounds like V will probably need some more shows under her belt before she will feel truly settled in that environment. Don’t write off her show-ability yet! Are there any schooling shows you could take her to that would provide a good experience for her while also saving you money?

    I am so lucky that the recognized shows closest to home for us are very small and quiet, so every horse Ive ever taken there always has a good experience. I do wonder how Clay will react to a bigger show, like Regionals or the National Dressage Pony Cup, in the future…but I am hoping all these great small show experiences will be enough to convince him that showing is fun. 😉 So far so good…

    The sensitive horses make the best dressage horses, but then we have to make all these considerations for them in return, to both respect and protect their sensitivity. It can be a pain in the butt at times because they aren’t usually the most adaptable horses, but then we’re so thankful for their sensitivity when we can THINK “trot” and they do, or simply exhale and they go to the walk from the canter…Hang in there, it’ll be worth it someday. 😉

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    1. So appreciate this, thank you Tonia!
      I think what stings the most is that we’ve practiced so much, and I felt she was definitely going better, really listening, and becoming a little bit more willing in her work. Plus, we’ve also gone to countless of schooling shows. And then this 😉
      Well, goes to show that yes, bit shows are THAT much more of a big deal for them. And she’ll need a lot more experience before we can look in that direction.
      Keeping on striving for a light feel at home, where one day aids will be so in sync she just sort of does it, by thought, or breath, like you said. How awesome that would be! 🙂

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  6. Hi Elinor –

    Step back and let yourself and Valiosa breathe a little. Then, ease back into your training program. Always remember Valiosa came to you as a blank canvas. Though it was not a good day at the show, it was not a bad one by any stretch of imagination. Valiosa did, and gave, her best in unfamiliar, and scary, surroundings. Failing to score high enough with one judge is not enough to rethink your whole process. The other judge thought the both of you did enough for a qualifying score.

    Quieter shows at quieter venues is likely the prescriptive for the moment. We’ve all had experiences like what you had: the distracted horse, the non-performing horse, etc. Elizabeth’s Lilith had a reputation of being a good practice horse, but a lousy competition horse in her previous life as a TB, termed as untrainable when someone wanted to convert her to dressage. Mark got her turned around by being patient. Trish refined her for the show ring. When Elizabeth assumed the everyday, Lilith flourished. Their first schooling show at Colorado Horse Park, however, was a complete disaster. CHP is a large venue, always buzzing along during show season. Though we’ve been to other large venues and large shows, CHP is our least favorite place to compete … whether it’s one day or one month. Their next schooling show at CHP, Elizabeth and Lilith won their class hands down. It was their last time competing there until the past two summers when we’ve put in an appearance. Elizabeth still hates the place though she and Lilith have dominated there.

    Don’t let this get you down. Both of you are strong girls. 🙂

    Ride well,
    Deborah

    PS – In a couple of weeks, we’ll be heading to SoCal to get our 2018 season in full gear. We’ll be there for two weeks, come back home for three weeks, before heading to Texas. The TX part of the season has been totally redone – it’ll be more of three FEI type events compressed into two weeks … a real challenge and sounds exciting.

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    1. Thank you for setting us straight – it’s so appreciated! That’s how it goes sometimes, we so badly want to have a great team-work feeling, and have a better test than last time. And then when it goes the other direction, it can be really disappointing.
      And you’re right – she did keep it together fairly well, for her at least. I got a look at the pictures, and there are several of them where she looks simply SO much better than in some of her first, greener, show appearances. So proud of her for that.

      Now we’ll just have to get it together better another time. This week, no riding and a vet visit instead. So we’ll start on a clean slate once we start back up.

      SoCal! Sounds exciting. Fingers crossed! And if the show route ever points up this way (Sacramento International or something) I would love to hear about it!

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