First Level Or Bust

Keep filing away at First Level.

How hard can it be?  For us, quite a challenge, but this time out Valiosa did everything right and we had two solid tests.

horse posing as Breyer horse
Valiosa, making her best Breyer Horse pose. Although she went rogue with one hind.

Her show result from last Friday’s Training Level Test 3 was 64.1, a 2nd Place ribbon.  Thrilled with her, and that score included a low 4′ score for coming on the wrong lead once – all stemming from tension which I hope will go away with time.

canter at first level
Pictures today are all from the First Level Test 3 Class last Friday.  Complete photo overload, sorry, but if your husband comes out and takes wonderful pictures of you poppin’ around endlessly in the ring, they’ve got to be shared! 🙂

horse that looks like breyer horse
This is the big ring, with the big horses – expectations are higher here than the shows we did last year.  Miss Silky Blue’s lengthenings, both trot and canter, are what really hurts our score.

trot lengthening with short gaited horse
For Lady Pumpkin Tush, this is really good, but this lengthened trot diagonal got only a 5′.

Canter lengthening scores were a bit stronger with 6’s. I think she did phenomenal, staying straight and focused.
canter lengthening with horse with short gaits
The score for this First Level Test 3 class was 61.8.  Nope she didn’t place in the class, but it’s a qualified score and she was wonderful and very different from the show just the weekend before.

white horse in dressage ring
Peach Tart, doing her thing and being fantastic.

collection at first level dressage

This was a wonderful experience for her – strong-willed and with a mind of her own, we negotiated on being a show horse for the day.  Carefully.

I don’t have the tools to be super strong and ride her perfectly.  Instead, I try to be very tactful in moments of tension, and together we get through it.

riding tactfully on tense horse

This crazy sport of dressage. Last halt; square, straight, prompt and in the right spot.  (Bit of nose tilt out to the left.)  Still only a 7′. Judge’s comment – Not closed.
square halt at first level

It can only get better from here.

Go & be someone you’d like to remember!

For Those Of Us A Bit Too Busy

All plans of getting the show-update posted have gone out the window.

Too many things going on.  An overflow of wonderful pictures – what am I supposed to do with them all?  Just erase them?

first level dressage horse

Gray Velvet tried so hard and pulled off two really nice tests.  But you’ll leave and never come back if all the photos go up in one post 🙂

I work tonight.  Tomorrow is a schooling day, running day, and Scout Court of honor.  Your photographer is working toward his Eagle while your little horse tamer is getting his Star Rank.

And there’s a physical therapy appointment for, well, butt pain.  Because some of us are more pain in the butts than others.

gray mare competing in dressage
Lady Sealskin trotting her stuff. Promise an update from this day soon!


Results From Show Last Weekend

Miss Blue Pudding, showed she can sort of do it.

We had the hardest 3-day weekend show to date.  The kind that can really test your confidence in ever completely making it even at the lower levels with your horse.

Here are the picture evies of Silverminx, actually surviving, and yes, sometimes nailing a few moves.

showing dressage in windy conditions

First day, a qualifying score, although low, of 60.9 in Training Level Test 3. The First Level test on each of the three days never got a qualified score.

showing at training level

Second day, an even better score at Training Level with a 61.8, even with a costly course error for a full percentage point.  She felt so much better on day two – best decision ever to do the full multi-day show!

riding straight on to centerline

In the First Level test there was so much tension she swapped leads once in the counter canter, which cost points in the movement following too.  Live and learn for us both.

canter at training level on center line


Day three, we didn’t manage to pull off a good score in any of the two tests.  Dressage can be very humbling this way.  If scores sit at 6 to 6.5 in general, it doesn’t take much to completely botch up an entire test and completely blow the score up below 60…

This is why people decide not to show their horses, I’m sure of it.  All that work, only to bomb things once it really matters.  I was still happy with her, she was brave and much more focused on the last day – all that matters.

collecting the trot with short gaited horse
Sugarbuns trying hard and looking so Incredibly Fit, Wow, and Wonderful.

We met some really wonderful people at the show – the dressage community can be really supportive if you let it.  How great is that!  Amazing riders who all work really hard, some of us a little harder than others.

Brought home three 4th place ribbons and a plan to try again.  Go out and enjoy your horse!

halting at x in dressage test

Poptart got two days off, then two schooling rides, and then we went again.  More next time!

Thank you to friends and family for showing up – lucky to have your support.  Very special husband showing up in a wind storm to take pictures of what looks like the very same thing, over and over 🙂  .

Windy Warmup

Super windy spooky warmup on the first day of last week’s show.

I had help ♥ the first day, which was great since Cottonball thought it was extremely concerning to stand still for even 5 seconds.

having help to mount

A lot of pressure for her.  I thought it was cool with two different out-of-state barns driving down from Oregon and tons of horses filling up our home barn.

She wasn’t the only one completely tense and wound up in the high winds.  Yes, this is what we had going on. ⇓ Possibly the only one spending a long time rushing around like this though.

horse running with nose in the air
While the trees turned themselves inside out and with sand plastered on our teeth, Sparrow Eye slowly got it together.  Warmups with tons of other horses can be intimidating – doing this for 3 days in a row was great practice for her.

horse tense in warmup

Maybe the warm-up is harder than the real test, not sure… By Sunday, she was a lot better and I was really happy with her.

dressage warmup at show
Straightness is a serious problem for us. In the windy warm-up, we were twistier than ever.  Here, Cornchip is going reasonably straight, a small victory 🙂 .
pushing hands forward in dressage warmup

Minutes later, by the showring, we kicked off with a major balk at the judge’s booth at E and never made it far past K as the bell rang – great set up for a test 😉 .

horse spooking at judges booth

This is where it became such a great learning experience – by the third time we showed in this arena Peach Muffin made it around without any spooks.

Showing you all this so you know we’re out here struggling just as much as you.  Or probably more but who’s counting 🙂 .

The most difficult show weekend to date…  Results and some really nice pictures from two different tests coming up next.  Focusing only on the good parts here.  The way to go!

Right now, off to groom and do a fourth show day.  Somebody’s got to finish last!

The place is smackful of beautiful horses!

Later today, our first two classes.

We’ll be marinating in the late afternoon sun together.

This, quiet and empty in winter, is completely different this weekend.

empty show venues in winter
Today’s post goes out to all riders out there, finding themselves really out of their element at some show this month.  Maybe your horse has been riding like a bat for the past two days, skittish with every single new trash can or tent appearing, crazy distracted with all the new horses and activity.

I’m in the same boat over here, wondering if we’ll even make it into the ring

Have fun, and measure your riding success in how many times you can fail at something while still staying positive and coming back for more! 🙂

show barn before the show
The indoor is the warmup.  Wonder mare has decided she can’t exist in the warmup right now…

Thanks to you guys it’s sort of like having a little cheering crowd on the sidelines! 🙂

We’re going to have fun – and hopefully, she’ll be a lot less distracted than this in all the outdoor rings once the tests are underway.
distracted horse in outdoor arena

With less All-four-in-the-air-moments than the last show 🙂
canter stride with all four hooves in the air
Back with a report next week.

Show Bucking & Other Moves

Gray Bean struggled to keep it together in the first test.

Way in over her head, and with a secret abscess brewing in her left front, she really just wanted to get out of there.

Giant buck, followed by sloppy half levade.

rearing after bucking

On to other interpretative move.  Not even sure which end is coming up or down here.

horse misbehaving in test

New Rider Score Sheet Check Box:  Rider carrying on like nothing’s happening.  Check ∅!

bad dressage show behaviour

Several pats to carry on with the canter in a 15 meter later on. She was very strong here. Sometimes the only way to get through then is to completely soften and follow.
We all know this, but wow it can be hard in the show-ring.

petting the horse in a dressage test

Excellent, square halt wasn’t enough to make a good impression of it all.  Her chomping on the bit, head popped up, and look of “What-Just-Happened-?” in her eyes is priceless.

square halt at x