Monday, June 28, 2010

Schooling Show Success

This past Sunday Bastian and I went to Grand Haven in Jefferson Ohio for one of their Dressage Schooling Shows.  We rode Training Level Test 2 and Training Level Test 4. Bastian has only been back to real work for two weeks now and is still lacking in physical condition.  I've only been riding again since last Monday and a lot of those rides have just been me getting comfortable and confident on him again after my fall. 

I'm riding much more timidly again and while Bastian is a great guy, he is lazy and is only going to give me what I ask for, especially since he's been off work.  So he's a bit behind my leg.  Our timing is still off, although its getting better.  Definitely a work in process, we will have it together before the show next week (eeeeek!  Just a week and half....can't wait!).  Today Bastian is enjoying a much deserved day off and I'm enjoying a "get everything done that I haven't done for the past two weeks" day.  Which was sarcasm on the "I'm enjoying" part in case you weren't sure. 

Back to the show.  It was hotter than the gates of Hades, luckily there was a bit of breeze so it was barely tolerable.  I was going to lunge him to get him forward, but then opted against it since it was A) Super hot and B) I figured a bit slow and behind my leg would be 'safer' for me.  He has been to Grand Haven once before, a year ago and he was really good there, so I wasn't overly concerned he would be a fruit loop or looky.  And he wasn't.  We went in the warm-up ring and walked around a bit then did our warm-up, he felt pretty good, nice transitions, fairly consistent.  I couldn't have been happier. 

Our first test was Training Level 2, an easy test where all your transitions are between letters and it has two diagonals, my favorite movements because if I can get him in a nice place, its a great place to showcase his gaits and his rhythm.  Overall the test rode pretty well.  There were some very nice moments, but more just "eh" moments due to our lack of fitness and my own show nerves.  I get nervous about kinda silly things and fixate on them.  Like while I'm doing my 20 meter circle at E, I worry about having to trot past the opening at A and wonder if my horse will try to leave the arena.  I need to learn to refocus on whats happening and not worry about that other stuff.  We scored a 63.214%, which I was very pleased with.  I was shooting for a 65% and had I not had a few bobbles in the test we would have made it.  We were actually tied for second place, so the other rider must have had better collective remarks.  We were only 1% behind first place, so we were right up there. ☺

Here is our test:

(Thanks to Tawny for videoing!)

Our next ride was nearly two hours later, so he got untacked and went back on the trailer to munch his hay.  I got him back out and tacked up for our next test.  I was about 10 minutes ahead of schedule so we took our time warming up.  He warmed up great, he felt even better than he had felt that morning.  *sigh* then it went away.  We entered the arena to start warming up around the outside of the ring and as soon as I turned him to go down the long side Bastian decided that he was tired and done.  He sucked back and balked at my leg (we were just walking), I smacked him with the whip and he kicked out at the whip, which made me nervous.  He went forward, but was still cranky.  Once we got past B, he was fine, then he was wonderful going back toward the barn/trailer, then we turned the corner again and same thing.  I didn't want to get into a big fight, mainly because I'm too scared too.  I know what he is capable of.  I also know that if you make your point known once, without question, he'll say "yes ma'am" and carry on being a good boy.

We started our test finally (the judge was talking to the previous rider) it was Training Level 4, the one I really need to master so I can hope to get my qualifying scores at the recognized show next week. (NEXT WEEK!!)  We quietly "argued" for the first half of the test.  He didn't want to go and I wasn't about to anything to jeopardize me.  It culminated in one of his half hearted teenager moment bucks between A and K where we were supposed to pick up a right lead canter.  Of course in the corner closest to the barn and going away from them.  We scored a 3 on that movement, lol,  the judges kind comment was "late."  I didn't ask for the canter again until we were halfway through our 20 meter canter circle at E.  After that Bastian capitulated and said "okay mom, we're doing this and I'll behave."  Our scores improved towards the end, but not enough to save us.  We ended up with a 56%, not exactly the best, but given the circumstances and the fact that I eventually won our argument I was happy.  We stayed in the ring, I stayed on and I didn't miss any movements in the test. 

The judge was Joanna White and I really liked her.  We talked a bit after my test and she asked if he was young (yes!) and said she thought that in six weeks we would be right on par with putting in a good test.  Hopefully I can fastforward that six weeks into a week and half.  I'm pretty sure that if I just stop pussyfooting around with him we'll be okay.  Had I resolved our argument the moment he balked we would have been fine and had better scores.  So lesson learned, he'll be getting pulled out twice a day a few times before the show to get used to the idea that sometimes he'll get ridden twice a day.  Silly Pony.

I placed second in that class and overall, the test felt better.  I was actually prepared for it this time unlike last time when I looked at it as I was going into the ring.  I need to be more assertive in my riding and remember to prepare prepare prepare. 

Overall I am very happy with our experience!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rodeo Bronc or Loveable Dragon, you decide!

Well, Bastian has been back to work for almost three weeks now, I on the other hand have only been really back to work for about four days.  Believe you me, this will teach me to brag about how awesomely calm my horse is.  We were hacking around quite nicely last Tuesday, Bastian was a little full of himself, but nothing too bad and he was tired.  I asked for a canter, which he picked up and we were going well until he started to slow down and was about to break to a trot, I sat to push him forward and he scooted.  So I sat up/back more because that is my emergency response and Bastian said "No mom!" bucked pretty darn hard and I came off. 

Long story short, I went to the ER to get checked out, nothing serious, just bruising and muscle pulling.  But boy did it hurt.  I was a bit nervous because I didn't know what had caused Bastian to turn into a rodeo bronc.  Kristin rode him the next day for me and he started to do the same thing to her when she sat at the canter, but she had a better reaction than me, get up off his back and kick him on.  She did the rest of the canter in half-seat and he was perfect, the good old reliable Bastian we know and love.  He was extremely back sore, and bucking my fat butt into oblivion was his not so subtle way of saying "OW!" 

At least now I had a reason for his unusual behavior.  I had the chiropracter out last Thursday and Bastian was all sorts of out of whack.  When the chiro was done with him, Bastian was only half as reactive in his back as he had been.  This with a combination of having lost all of his muscling on his 10 week hiatus equals a sore back.  Poor Guy!  I've also added a thinline saddle pad to our equipment.  I think it will have great benefits for both him and me. 

So I officially started riding again on Monday.  I had a lesson Monday, Wednesday and today.  Part because I totally need lessons and part because I didn't feel comfortable riding without supervision, I'm very paranoid about accidently sitting too hard on his back until he feels 100% better.  Aside from being exhausted after my ride, I don't hurt so that is a good thing.  Bastian is struggling too, his fitness needs about another two weeks before we can really be back to a basic "normal."  But we'll get there. 

This Sunday I'm taking him to Grand Haven for the Dressage Schooling Show.  We are doing T2 and T4.  I don't expect a whole lot considered we're both so out of shape.  At this point is more of a just getting him out there kind of a show, which is something that we both need anyway.  I just hope the weather is better than last time! 

I'll be sure to update and post video of our tests after the show!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back in the groove

Its been a while, but then there really hasn't been much to report until about a week ago.  But by that time things got so insanely busy, that I just haven't had the time to sit and think up a decent blog entry.  So here's the scoop:

After the frustration of the no-show vet, I finally got to take Bastian to Dr. Genovese, who is by far the coolest vet EVER.  I love him.  Seriously. ♥ Anyway, he was flexed, lunged, trotted, ultra-sounded, and x-rayed and the good Dr.  found nada.  Aside from a slight positive after flexing, he was sound.  His ultra-sound and x-ray were clean as a whistle, they didn't even show that there had been something and here was the evidence of healing.  I was told to start him back to work, bute him for a few days and see what happens. 

So far, so good.  He's been back to work for a full week now (with the exception of this past weekend because as much as I wanted to ride him, I was just too exhausted) and felt great.  And just to prove that I have the most awesome horse in the world:  He has now been on stall rest for 9 full weeks.  He has not batted an eyelash or gotten his tail in a twist about riding.  He hasn't even thought about being a bad boy.  Today I had to use my whip to encourage him to move out more.  How many 6 year old Thoroughbreds with only a year under saddle do you know that would be that steady and sweet?? 

He'll get to return to the world of turnout either tomorrow or Wednesday, which should make both him and his buddy RW happy.  As it turns out, we are going to a show that was not originally on my schedule and I'm really excited about it.  I just filled out my entry for the Mid-Ohio Dressage Classic I and II in Delaware, OH.  Since we're coming back from time off (both me and him) we are only doing Training Level and if we're lucky we can get our qualifying scores over the weekend.  If I can just get one I'll be happy.  That is the weekend of July 9-11, I can't wait!  In the meantime we are going to do the Grand Haven Schooling Show on June 27 to get a gauge on where we are and what we need to focus on. 

This past weekend was the WPDA and Dressage at Grand Haven recognized show, I wasn't able to take Bastian, but I went as a groom for my instructor.  She had four client horses going in two classes each every day.  She was the first ride at 8:00 AM and then went steady every hour until 4 or 5 PM,  I was the tacker-upper/lunger/untacker.  We really did basically just trade horses at the barn door a couple of times.  It was a blast.  I did a pretty good job and only messed up once when I tacked up the wrong pony.....we caught it just as Kristin got in the saddle, and I tried so hard to keep Good Pony and Bad Pony straight.  LOL  Next time I'll have it for sure. 

Everybody got a qualifying score or two, one of Kristin's client's horse got High Score Arab at the show, Kristin got the High Score Open Training Level award.  Despite some crazy weather, going from pouring down rain to incredibly humid it was a good time, I can't wait until the next one!  Although I think it will be a few more days until I am officially physically recovered, I was getting home at 9 every night, going to bed at 10:30 and getting up at 4 the next day. 

Lil' Magnus went to the show on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.  She was awesome and is going to make an incredible horse show dog.  Everyone loved her snuggly fluffer-nutter cuteness and she was excellent about having to stay in an empty stall when things got hectic, she barely barked or whined. 

This coming weekend I'm off to the Lost Hounds Pony Club event in Edinboro.  My friend Jess from NC is bringing up her awesome eventing pony Bug and going Intermediate.  I get to groom for her :)  Cindy, the owner of the barn where I board is bringing her awesome horse Banff and going Training, hopefully I get to groom for her too.  At the very least I'll be cheering everyone on!  Including my Erie locals :)

I'm looking forward to a lesson on Bastian on Thursday!  Its been so long, I love being back on my pony ♥