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!

14 thoughts on “Schooling Before The Show

  1. I like that rein length better for her! Just like every horse that is building their strength little by little for collection, she wants to be on the forehand whenever she can be, to give her hind legs a break, and the longer rein was not helping her keep her front lifted. You’ve heard the ballet-bar analogy I’m sure…the bit is like the ballet bar, and the horse needs to lean on it for balance while they dance, especially in these early days of learning to carry their own weight correctly. If you drop that bar away from them every time they lean on it, you’re not supporting them or helping them practice correct form. Sometimes the contact does feel heavy at this point, and that is OK. Self-carriage will come with time and strength. As long as your contact is following and not blocking–but sounds like you’re very aware of that.

    When I get stuck taking backwards instead of following with my hands, I pretend I am pushing my fists into a wall. That “push” feeling activates something in my core that immediately improves my equitation, and my hands are instantly much steadier, yet following. Then, with that feeling, it’s simply a tiny wiggle of a finger to create some flexion or more roundness or a shoulder-fore or whatever, and half-halts become a breathe. Why can’t I ride with that feeling constantly? Because it’s freaking tiring! Ack! My stomach is on fire! But that tells me I let my hands do the work my core should be doing. Always something to work on, isn’t there?

    Anyway. You’re dance partners, turning and flowing and anticipating the next step together…and yes, sometimes holding each other up. GOOD LUCK TOMORROW! Have fun.

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    1. Thank you Tonia! We DID have a blast! Most importantly – she came out like an absolute angel in the warmup. Could barely believe it! It was as if she she felt – OK mom, let’s go, you lead, I follow…
      The tests were really good too. I’ll post pictures as soon as can. (which won’t be soon.)
      With the hands forward – this is one of the most difficult things to really sink in. Pushing forward, I often do too much, and not always backed up by the leg. What I absolutely loved seeing from this show was that the hands actually WERE more together and out in front. Love! Slowly happening.
      Truly sitting on the hind. Hmmm. Not so much 😉

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  2. Best of luck at the show and remember to relax and have some fun along the way (if you can). I hope it is not too hot. Your mare looks like she is improving all the time. Baby steps…keep looking back to where you used to be and you will see ho much better it all is now! Congratulations on your perseverance and progress!

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    1. We had a cloudy day!! Absolutely fantastic and unbelievable. Still sweating buckets, but wow, no heat lamp on top, just more muggy. And the tests – yay for finally pulling off two almost clean tests. I REALLY needed that. Ride sort of “half way” too many times, and doubt starts creeping in. Update on the show with pictures coming up. Thank you so much Edie!!

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  3. Carmen does not like to be held either- in my last test last week I really had to focus on the give and she met me. It felt so good. Looking at these photos it seems that you and V are getting there too.

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    1. It’s all in the give, isn’t it?! Give too much and all is lost. Not quick enough, and they just tighten up instead. I’m never quick enough. Although we ARE improving! Proof coming up!


  4. Enjoy your show. And do not be intimidated by fancy flashy big warmblood horses. that may be at the show. Valiosa is a very nicely put together mare and the two of you make a good team. So all the best!

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    1. Love that! Friday was the first day of the 3-days, and a lot smaller than last time. Quieter, and because we’re on our own, I get busy enough where there’s not too much time to look very much at what anyone else is doing. And I try to ignore anything flashy on purpose 😉 Stay in our bubble, and try to pull off a controlled warmup, and clean tests. It finally worked this time! I’m thrilled with her, and will share results when I get a chance.
      Thank you for cheering on Anne!

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