Saturday, August 17, 2013

Keeping Our Focus

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” ~ H. Jackson Brown

This weekend Bastian and I were at the WPDA Summer Sizzler, the weather cooperated, which was nice compared with the drenching rains of previous shows. Bastian didn’t feel quite himself. He was tense through his back, super grabby on my left rein and we a few downright ugly moments during our schooling ride on Friday. I wasn’t able to get him to where I wanted him to be and he wasn’t giving me any help. By the end it was better, I finally had him softer through his mouth and back, but not soft enough. We took it though and I got him all tucked in for the night.

Bastian and his new friend Boomer playing Halter Tag(Boomer is for sale if anyone is looking for a cute kid's horse!!!)

On Saturday our first test was Second One. He felt much better as we started warming up and we scored a solid 64% for second place. Overall I was happy, it was a huge improvement from the 54% that I scored on Second One last fall in Kentucky…lol. Next was our Second Three test. I felt like it rode much better than our earlier test, but alas, the judge did not agree. We scored a 58%.  After reading my test and seeing the scores, I realized that while I was happy because he was a bit more through, he was stuck behind my leg and inconsistent through his poll. The judge gave us nice scores (7s!) on the things we did well and nailed us on the movements we didn’t do so well (4s!). It can be tough to take sometimes, but it pointed out our weaknesses and left us with some serious homework.

On Sunday we only had one test, Second Three again. This one actually did ride so much better than our Saturday test and we walked away with a 61%. The judge was fair, we got our 7’s on our strong points and this time scored 5s on our weaker points (turn on the haunches, medium trots). We have a lot of work to do to fix all of those little things. Regionals is just two months away.

I’m a little frustrated by our lack of progress and I gave it a lot of thought on the hour long drive to and from the show each day. My conclusion is that Bastian and I have made such immense progress in the past few months that we’ve temporarily plateaud. I had to take a moment and appreciate how much we’ve both learned. Our bad days are still pretty darn amazing. Second Level ain’t no walk in the park and developing the muscling needing to maintain the collected gaits while maintaining softness through the poll and being precise through all of our transitions takes a lot more than what we needed for our training level test. I have spent the past 20 odd years of my riding career at training level, so this is a huge move up for me and we’re still figuring things out. We have the perseverance to do it and Bastian is more than capable, so its onward and upward for us. Our next stop is USDF Regional Championships in Lexington, VA.

With that being said, it’s back to work. Our focus needs to be on developing the muscling to maintain the collected gaits, and I’ve got to make our mediums more noticeable. We have two months to work on everything. Next weekend was supposed to be a schooling show at Grand Haven. I've finally uncovered Bastian's "not quite rightness" though-he is muscle sore on the left over his hip area, he doesn't seem to want to swing through on that side. Its nothing serious, but I'm giving him a few days off and we'll do a few light rides to get him moving and stretching it out, I don't want to push him. I've also switched up his bit and the difference was amazing, he was so much softer so we'll see if it was just the "hey this is different" effect or if after two weeks in a different bit he is still as wonderful and soft as he was. We had the opportunity to go on a walking trail ride the other day (We figured that walking would be good to help stretch him out and get the muscles moving without causing strain) and he was fabulously happy. His little ears were perked and I think he was flashing back to last year year when we were schooling XC. It definitely freshened him and me from being in the ring and I'm looking forward to more trail rides before the weather turns and getting the chance to trot and canter up and down some lovely hills.