Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wherein I judge a schooling show

The barn I board at is h/j focused. R and I are the only ones who mainly focus on dressage. It's a great barn with great care and plenty of places to ride, so we're both very content there. The barn owner/trainer decided to put on a little schooling show with the morning reserved for dressage. After casting about for an available judge (we're in West Texas; they are few and far between) I decided to offer myself up. I'm qualified enough to judge a schooling show up to first level, which is what this one was. I've scribed dozens of times and watched probably thousands of hours of dressage. So I offered, and they said Yes. I've never judged before and was hoping it didn't prove to be overwhelming. It really didn't! I felt comfortable, and most of the scores ended up in the low sixties, with the better riders scoring mid to upper sixties. It's funny -- as a novice judge you throw out scores for each movement and hope the overall percentage is appropriate for the ride. I'm sure experienced judges have a much better sense of where the percentage will fall.

I also judged dressage seat equitation and sport horse under saddle. Luckily I felt like there were very clear differences between first, second, and third, so I didn't have to agonize.

R and Dakota made their first-level debut and had two very respectable rides. The trot work is lovely; Dakota gets a little tense and distracted in the canter. Once Dakota and R find their harmony in canter, I'd say they'll be ready to try first level at a rated show, and start their journey towards a bronze medal!

Just before the very first ride of the day, one horse spooked and bolted out of the indoor into the outdoor, which in turn caused a little girl's horse to spook, dump her in the gravel parking lot, and high-tail it for home (about a quarter-mile away). With an Arab, they quite literally high-tail it! The little girl (maybe seven years old?) was tough as nails -- there were tears for about ten seconds; then she took a deep breath and said she would go ahead and ride just as soon as they collected her horse and walked him on back, which took about ten minutes. Then she went in and rode both her intro-level tests like a champ. It was her first show away from home and her first fall; I was impressed with her grit.

I most definitely do not want to be a full-time judge; but I would love to do it every so often. I had a good time.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Suzanne May clinic videos: day one

This clinic actually took place the week before the show, so I'm posting out of order, but whaddya gonna do. It has been busy. Was a great clinic!









Monday, April 10, 2017

Second-level bronze scores: check!

We are home from the Texas Rose Dressage Classic, and utterly exhausted. I've never shown three days in a row before. My first schooling ride, Thursday evening, was challenging. Clair was pawing and cow-kicking all through tacking-up, and then some more as I mounted, and then she was a live wire for the first ten minutes. I don't know why my brain shuts down at shows, but it does. I realize now I should have just pushed her forward, and then more forward. But instead I tried to contain her, and I'm sure I just irritated the crap out of her. In any case, we settled into a decent ride after a bit, and I was pleased.

My two rides on Friday were pleasant and obedient, but not nearly forward enough. I deserved the 57% and 58% I got. Trainer Suzanne hadn't arrived yet -- she would have gotten me forward right off the bat. She arrived Friday afternoon and helped me school that evening. Forwardness achieved!

My second-one test Saturday went really well. I had the same judge as the day before and he rewarded our new energy with a 63.4%. Second-level bronze score number one achieved! My second-two test was going sort of ok, and then I went off course (it was really windy, I couldn't hear my reader, and even though I had the test memorized I forgot where I was), and then things fell apart. 54%.

On Sunday I decided to scratch my second-one test since it was in front of the same judge as the day before. Plus, Clair and I were tired. So we put all our eggs in the second-two basket, in front of the toughest judge at the show. The test went really well, with just a few small mistakes. None of us was at all sure it was going to be good enough. We went to lunch, and I asked a friend who stayed behind to text me with the score, no matter what it was. As we were waiting to be seated at the restaurant, the text came through: 61.5%! Second-level bronze score number two achieved! And there was much rejoicing in the Mexican restaurant. I really have to give so much credit to Suzanne, who coached me Saturday and Sunday and fixed enough of our issues to get us our scores.

Third level, here we come!










Sunday, March 26, 2017

Less than two weeks to Texas Rose Dressage Classic

Clair and I are going for our second-level bronze scores in Tyler April 7-9. I'm feeling fairly optimistic. Unless Clair acts very different at the show, we should be able to squeak out a couple 60%s. Trainer Holly will be debuting at fourth level! She's bringing a couple of her students so we'll have a group to hang out with. My only real concern is day one, Friday, when I may not have a reader for my tests. I have second-one memorized and know that I can do the same with second-two, but my brain is also famous for fizzling out under pressure. That would be embarrassing.

I liked Clair's work today in spite of her being little miss spooky. I can't really blame her -- the West Texas winds were howling, causing lots of strange buzzing and banging in the arena. We have a clinic with Suzanne next weekend so we can work out any kinks.







Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dakota the wonder horse

R was out of town for four days (wedding planning!) so I rode Dakota four days in a row. It was wonderful. I know I sound like a broken record, but R has done a superb job bringing him along. And as a bonus, he's just a smart, sweet, willing boy. He's starting to really grasp leg yield and shoulder in in trot. His canter departs are getting better and better, and the canter itself is showing a slower, more balanced cadence. He's fun to ride because he never tunes you out. Sometimes he overreacts, but it's always honest.