Monday, July 26, 2010

A Weekend Full of Not-Win

It has been a crazy week (as always).  On Sunday, Beth and I packed up Bastian and headed out to Grand Haven for the NODA Encore show.  I was showing Training Four and First Four.    Let me add in just two little bits of background:

-On Tuesday I dropped a table on my right foot.  Holy Bruising Batman.  On Thursday I went the to Dr.  and got x-rays.  Friday morning his nurse calls me and tells me I have two fractures in my foot but that the Dr. said I was allowed to ride on Sunday and that I could wear my boots.  (What an awesome Dr., eh?)  So I rode with a broken foot.  Not that it is that big of an accomplishment since I a)doubt the fractures are more than hairline and b)since I can't really feel my feet I wasn't in unbearable pain.  But still, it sounds friggin' cool right? 

-On Saturday night I went the barn after the first day of the show to lunge Bastian and pack the trailer.  We got the most badass storm that I have ever been in that night.  I left the barn at 7:30 to come home.  ALL the roads home were blocked by downed trees.  I had to turn around twice before (thankfully) I found firemen at the last tree working to clear it.  So what is normally a 20-25 minute drive home turned into an 1 1/2 hour ordeal.  It was just not my week.

So I know that I shouldn't let outside things bother me, but I did.  I was distracted and a little grumpy and just overall not 100% committed to the show.  Beth and I headed toward Grand Haven under the greyest most depressing sky ever.  No rain...yet.  As we pulled in, it started :(  

My first ride was 9:32 for Training 4.  We warmed up in the indoor since it was POURING down rain.  Grand Haven's indoor is nice!  The footing is very fun.  He felt pretty good.  We went out in the pouring rain to do our test.  Our first centerline was okay until we halted and he swung his haunches really far to the right.  almost like we were going to salute a judge at H instead of C.  Oh well, our trot loop was great, then he bucked into his right lead canter and for the next three strides he felt like he was going to buck again.  I froze and let him break (we scored a 4) then we trotted 3/4 of our canter circle at E, he was ignoring my leg and I was afraid to use my whip (we scored a 3) then we got the canter and our canter from E to C scored a 6 (thank god they break the score up!)  After that our test was pretty peachy keen.  He had a tiny spook during left canter when we started our circle, but it was miniscule.  The rest of our test was all 6s and 7s, he got a 7 on gaits and I got a 7 on rider (yay!).  Our final score was 60.8%  and we finished 9th overall. 

Aside from our right canter it was a great test for us.  Now we are soaked.  My helmet is drenched, my coat is drenched, my saddle is drenched.  This is a strong point against the Wintec Isabella.  It absorbs water like a flippin' sponge.  My breeches were a mess so they came off and I put on my second pair for my later test.
My saddle was not even close to being dry for my second test.  In fact it only just now, after sitting in the sun all last night and this morning is finally dry. 

Then we got to our First 4 test.  Let me just get this out of the way:  We bombed it.  Hardcore.  Okay, here's the rest.....  I thought we warmed up well, I was happy with him and myself, I was THINKING at least and reacting.  We go in for our test and our mojo got a bit messed up because the judge stopped us and said that we weren';t supposed to be in the ring then and it was about four minutes before we got that sorted so our flow from warm up was interupted and thats why we sucked!  No, just kidding, but it was a convenient excuse huh?  He blew the whistle and I got tense and stopped thinking and riding.  I was pretty much just a passenger doing minimal steering and guidance. 

He was very fussy with his head and ignoring my leg, a lot.  Our leg yields were stuck, I'm glad I didn't do the "diagonal" leg yield, but we basically got stuck and there was a huge disconnect between our front and hind end.  There was no trot lengthening.  Our walk was great!!!  Free walk looked good.  Our left canter stunk.  There was no lengthen, he broke a ga-zillion times on our loop.  We picked up the wrong lead after the change of rein at X, our canter lengthen on our right was great!  We were headed towards the barn so I just kinda let him go and figured I would find a way to get him stopped at the other end.  Our canter loop was much better (as in we didn't break!) but we did break at C, our stretchy circle was good and our final centerline was okay.  Our final score was a 50%.  I haven't seen the actual test yet, I had to leave before scores were posted.  I am assuming I was last in the class though....... 

I watched the video of the test this morning and surprisingly it wasn't as hideous as I thought it was going to be.  Yes, we had a ton of mistakes, stupid mistakes, but there were a few nice moments and when I did ride and think and he listened to my leg we looked good.  So we are (or will be) capable of doing this test and doing it well.  We need to develop our lengthenings more.  They need to happen the instant I ask, not halfway across the diagonal or longside.  I need to balance my leg yields more, keep the hind end in rhythm with the front end.  And keep my leg on at the canter.  I know that he'll break, I know better.  I need to develop a better flow through the actual test itself, think ahead more movement to movement. 

So lots of work, but I know that he and I are up to it and that we can and will accomplish this.  Will it be when I want it to be? (Two weeks from now) Don't know, but we are sure as heck gonna try. 

Our next shot at this is the WPDA Summer Sizzler at Grand Haven August 14-15.  We've got a lot of work to do between now and then!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Full of Win

This update is long overdue, but this past week just got too crazy with all the little projects I had going on.  I actually get to breath a little this week, and a blog update was needed, absolutely.

Bastian and I returned not only unscathed from our first dressage show, but as winners!!  WOOT!  I am so insanely proud of him and so stinkin' happy about how we did I don't even have words to describe it, but as this is a blog, I'll do my best.  I was nervous overall going in, in the past no matter how good I thought we were doing at home on any horse I happened to be riding, I would get to a show and learn that we still pretty much stunk.  Whether I just wasnt' riding well enough or I never had an "exciting" enough typy horse I don't know.  But basically I was always just an "also ran" in whatever class or event I was in. 

Kristin rode him first on Thursday when we got there to school.  We decided that since it was his first time at these show grounds she would make sure he wasn't going to be spooky about anything.  And he wasn't.  He wasn't a good boy though, he decided to have one of his little teenage temper tantrums and not go forward off the leg.  But Kristin worked him through it and when I got on he was FABULOUS.  Absolutely fabulous.  I was feeling better about the whole show thing.  Thursday was also ungodly hot and humid.  Yuck.

It rained all night Thursday and was cloudy and overcast on Friday.  Our first test went okay, it was Training 2 and I was very tense and nervous.  We scored a 58%, came in fifth and received a beautiful pink ribbon.  Its really pretty.  (I know, sorry, I'm having a total kid moment here!)   Our second test of the day wasn't until 3:40 something.  By then the arenas were a mess, it had rained off and on all day.  It was not raining as I started my test but right as I did my first diagonal the skys decided to open up along with the wind.  Every letter blew over during my test a few as my horse walked past them.  He didn't flick an ear in the wrong direction and finished his test nicely (I was proud of myself for not rushing to get out of the bad weather!).  This is where it pays off to know your arena layout since you couldn't see the letters anymore, LOL.  Poor Kristin had to go in right after me and no one was running out to set the letters back up again so she didn't have them either.  Heck she didn't even have a scribe.  Sometime during her test the scribe disappeared and the judge was writing down scores...crazy!
We won our Training 4 class that day with a 64.2%.  So we got an almost as pretty as the pink, Blue Ribbon and our first Qualifying score!!   I was estatic.

Saturday was dry and at lunch they finally dragged the arenas.  I felt that both of my tests rode better that day, but the judge in my arena was being conservative with her scores.  I earned a 62% and a Red Ribbon for my Training 2 test and a 60% for my Training 4.   My Training 4 class was huge, like 15 people, I came in 9th overall in that class.  So despite not getting better scores, I was still very pleased with him.  I felt like we were relaxing more and being more consistent in our tests.

Sunday, we were exhausted.  But Bastian being the quick learner that he is almost has this dressage thing figured out.  We scored an awesome 70% in our Training 2 test and won the class (by the skin of our teeth, 2nd place had a 69.5%!).  He was great.  Here is the awesome video:

Our Training 4 test that day rode almost as well, we scored a 66% and got our second qualifying score (the show was actually two shows: Fri/Sat and Sun) for Training Level.  So guess who's going to Regionals!!!!!??????  WE ARE!  Yeah!  Our Training 4 Class was just as big as on Saturday and we finished in 7th place, just out of the ribbons.  I could not be happier with our performance at the show. 

We still have work to do to fix the bobbles we had, but coming back from a 10 week layup and getting our act together in just three weeks for a show I think shows that we have what it takes to play with the big kids. 
Our next stop is the NODA show at Grand Haven this weekend.  We are only showing on Sunday and are signed up for Training 4 and First 4.  I'm hoping I can eek out a First Level Qualifying score.  As long as I continue to focus and ride every step of the way I think we can do it.  Bastian has been so good this past week as we've been preparing.  Just five more days! 

After that we'll be showing at the WPDA Summer Sizzler at Grand Haven, just on Saturday: First 4 and then the VADA-CH Twin Shows I and II in Culpeper, VA at the beginning of September. 

The BEC team did fantastic in Delaware and I am excited and honoured to be considered part of the team! :) We had so much fun and it was a positive experience for Bastian and I, I can't wait for this weekend!! (Look at that pretty pink ribbon!!!!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho, its off to Show we go.....

Just two measly little days.  Two.  On Thursday we load up and head out to Delaware Ohio for the Mid-Ohio Classic, two shows held over three days.  Bastian's first ever recognized dressage show and my second. We are riding the same two tests each day, Training 2 and Training 4.  I"m hoping to get my qualifying scores in Test 4, we need to get at least a 63%.  We'll be keeping our fingers and hooves crossed.

Bastian has been going wonderfully.  I had a lesson the Wednesday after our schooling show and it really clicked.  Kristin had me riding every stride and got me back into "thinking rider" mode instead of just being a passenger.  We had about 8 minutes of beautiful work, then Bastian and I were both exhausted.  Actual riding takes a lot out of you! LOL

She also suggested that I get back to lunging him.  For us, lunging is about breaking through his stiffness and making sure he is forward.  I have to over-do it on the lunge forward-wise, this way under saddle he is more willing to move off my leg and actually go.  Bastian is by nature, a lazy boy, he would be happy to just trot and canter around nice and slow.  Too bad he doesn't have the movement for western pleasure, he sure as heck has the mentality for it.  So lunging is a great way to do our warm-up.  15 minutes and he is through and forward, not to mention he is just a sweet, sweet boy to lunge.  I've lunged some jerks in my life and Bastian is a saint, thank goodness.

So we've spent the past week lunging then riding for 20-25 minutes.  He has been a totally different horse, he's gained a lot more muscling and fitness and so have I, but we still have a ways to go.  If I keep my stuff together and breath, sit straight and THINK about what I am doing, we may just have a chance of pulling this off. 

Today's lesson was good.  We had some moments of brillance, but I need to sustain them longer.  Moments don't get good scores.  I'm feeling more and more comfortable with my tests and just need to relax and let the test happen instead of rushing it.  Dressage is not a race, dressage is not a race, dressage is not a race...... (although if it were, Bastian's and I's chances of winning might increase!)

I also spent last week freaking out about my dressage coat.  I had gotten a new one for this year, my other coat was very old and had some other issues, so I ordered a new one.  It looked like I was wearing a black circus tent.  Seriously.  I tried to find a tailor to take it in, no luck.  Finally on Friday, another boarder at the barn, Wendy,  told me she was going to The Paddock and Schneiders and asked me if I wanted to go.  I jumped on that bandwagon as fast as I could! 

We get to The Paddock and I, thinking I wear a size 18 don't see any dressage coats that will fit.  Just for giggles I try on a 16.  Not too bad, it actually fits.  The sales associate came over to help me out and has me try on a 14, I'm thinking, no way-too fat!  But it fit perfectly.  The only thing I need to do is let the sleeves down a smidge and I mean a smidge.  So I finally have an elegant dressage coat to show in.  Although I am disappointed that I wasn't able to get a velvet collar or silver piping :(  Sorry, the ex-eventer needs her bling!

Today my mom helped me to pack up Bastian's show things.  Everything is packed minus his Saddle, bit, and lunging equipment.  I've got all my show clothes ready to go, I just need to pack up my sundries and multiple accessories for travel.  I'm excited to finally be showing Bastian at a recognized show! 

Wish us luck! ♥