dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, August 7, 2017

Show Business

"There's no damn business like show business. You have to smile to keep from throwing up" ~Billie Holiday

Well that was quite the weekend. Hang on to your hats because it might be a long post- there's highs, lows and even an unexpected twist at the end.

I headed off for the show with high hopes. Carmen and I have been working along and making progress. The trip there was interesting and could be it's own blog post. But it would be a post about how drivers are stupid and should just get off the road and who really wants to hear that rant?

Carmen settled in really well and our ride in the ring was lovely. There was zero drama and she was just so settled. I kept it short because it was hot and humid. Caelen and I headed to the hotel. Because it was the long weekend I found one hotel with a room available. It was very basic and there was a sign that said that the hot water would only last 15 minutes in the shower. But it was only 15 minutes away and close to everything.

At least it was clean. 
I planned for a 35-40 minute warm up for the first test. It was not enough. Carmen was blowing through the aids and not really all that keen on listening. But we went and did our test and really it was not bad. There were places where she was more resistant and our scores ranged from 5 (stretch trot which was legit because we had maybe 2-3 strides of reach) and 8 (final halt- nailed it and our medium walk!) . I got an 8 on my position and seat and 7.5 on effective use of aids. I was thrilled with that. The judges final comment was "lovely mare- lots of potential. Needs to get straighter in right canter and more supple over back. Lovely moments". Our final score was 67.5. Totally fair.



Our next test had a better warm up and I was feeling more ready.
jackets were excused by then thank heavens. It was HOT. 
I felt pretty positive about the test- it felt smoother to me but there were some moments of resistance. There was one funny Carmen moment that I posted on FB:
Carmen & I: Trot to B and then circle- no problem.  
Carmen: OMG WHAT'S THAT?
Me: it's a beam of sunlight 
Carmen: so duck away?
Me: No, keep trotting and bending
Carmen: so jump it then
Me: Just keep going. It's a fricken sunbeam 
Carmen: got it- jump with the front and twist the hindquarters around.  
Me: *sigh*
Carmen: phew. I saved us. You're welcome.


Our final score was lower: 62.9 ranging from 5 (stretch trot) to 7. Once again I scored an 8 on my position. Caelen was near the judge's table and she told me that she overheard the judge compliment my position more than once. Her final comments: "well ridden. Too bad about the resistance. Lovely moments. Needs to get straighter in shoulder for right canter.  

That night I took her out for a brief lunge in the ring focussing on the 'spooky spots' and getting her calm. 
I had her comments and reflected and I determined that the next day I was going to warm up focussing on keeping her straight. What happens is that when Carmen gets tense she throws her hindquarters in and will NOT straighten out. I need to establish her responding to my cue before that because in the moment it's useless. I have to say that we had a brilliant warm up. I kept my focus on straight and ignored any spooks or resistance. I praised her heavily for being straight and corrected when she went crooked. I felt her to be 100% on the aids and listening to me. 

We were ready. 

Then disaster struck. 

By which I mean the heavens opened up and there was a torrential downpour as we entered the indoor. I have no idea if Carmen is used to rain on a roof, I suspected she wasn't used to it on a coverall. So I walked her around the ring carefully. It was so loud I had to ask the judge if she rang the bell. You could not hear at all! We entered at A and Carmen was a bit tense but listening. We then turned right. Just past the corner was a door with a gap at the top. Into that gap was a waterfall of water streaming in. Carmen took one look as was 'nope'. 

we're supposed to be going my 'M' not bolting across the ring. 
And we then had a ride that really was more like a wrestling match. We circled up by M three times and then I took her down the long side and leg yielded over. I began to talk to her through the whole test.  I figured we had blown it all anyway and that she needed my support. It doesn't appear that the judge heard me. All I can say about the test is that we made it through. We had some moments of her listening- she was really trying. But was getting totally freaked out by the storm. I am not sure how many times I tried to do the canter circle in the middle before saying 'screw it' and heading down to side to finish this disaster. 

So that was discouraging. Five minutes earlier and we would have been before the deluge. Oh well. 

I put her in her stall to rest. I looked at the rain coming down in sheets and decided that I was not taking her out to warm up ring. I went to talk to the show manager and she was kind and said that she was going to let riders hand walk in the ring during the break. Which was perfect because I was right after the break. Then they realized that the warm up ring would be impossible so they allowed for riders to have a 5 minute warm up in the ring and then ride the test. Since we are all training through first and Western dressage that worked well. 

I handwalked Carmen during the break letting her see that the rain coming in. She was tense but was listening. But when I got on we had a disastrous second test. I think it was less disastrous then the first one but can't say for sure because I totally forgot to go get my test. I remember looking at it but they still needed it to place the class. I know I saw scores as low as 4 and perhaps as high as 7/8. 
'nope' with a frosting of 'hell no'

All I can say about the test is that I didn't give up and I didn't come off. I came close to both of those things. I did pick up the last test (see total mind freeze). Our scores ranged from 5 to 7 with a score of 58.86. Once again I got 8 on my position. Perhaps for the velcro seat. Final comments 'well done. Too bad about the tension today. Lots of potential'. 

I was bummed and a little upset. Not with Carmen, not with me but that we did not show what I knew we were capable of. It did show us that there is more work (and that Carmen will be able to nail canter pirouettes). But I am nothing if not goal oriented and wanted to do better. 

The rain had a lull and the weather was predicting thunder and lightening later. I did not want to be trailering home in that. So I went to the office to apologize and explain that I wanted to leave before it got worse again. Ed had let me know that it was clearing up in our area so I felt that we could drive out of it. I have left a show early only one other time- when my father in law was dying in hospital. I believe that organizers work hard and we, as riders, should be there for the final ceremony. However, Carol was very understanding and gave me a much needed pep talk on how well I have been doing with Carmen. She told me that she was seeing real improvement and gave me details so I know she wasn't just trying to make me feel better. I can't say enough about how great the shows there are and how helpful to everyone. 

With Caelen helping we were able to pack up and clean up pretty quickly. The first part of the drive was awful- at times the rain was so heavy you could barely see but after an hour we drove out of it and it became easier. 

And the plot twist you ask?

Well when I got home there was a message from Carol telling me that Carmen and I were reserve Champs for the series. I think it was based on your highest score of each of the three show. I was happy with that and will try to get there soon to pick up my prize. 

And that was what I did this weekend. 

How was your weekend. 

38 comments:

  1. Omg what a roller coaster! The first day sounds so so so lovely - even with small moments of resistance, like you were really able to show off Carmens development and current level of training. Day two tho, ugh. Environmental interruptions and distractions can be so demoralizing. Bc we can try to be as prepared as possible but there's always something we could have never seen coming. Like I don't even know how one could specifically prepare the horse for the sound of pouring rain on a totally different roofing material. Sigh. Seems like you made the best out of it tho - and what a silver lining about the high point award!! Congrats!!

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    1. It really was a roller coaster. I have some take aways but that's a different post.

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  2. All in all I'd say you and Carmen did very well. You can't help the weather and she wasn't used to it. But neither of you gave up and she got more experience. Congratulations on being reserve champion. Don't wait to pick it up see if Carol can send it to you C.O.D.! What a great accomplishment for you both.

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    1. Thanks for helping me see the sunny side. :D

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  3. It's so hard to prep for weird situations like inclement weather 😔 but kudos for you to sticking it out. Congrats on some excellent scores the first show day, and being reserve champion over all, that's fantastic!

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  4. Congratulations. I take it you weren't expecting that call. I have no idea about dressage scoring. Many people have tried to explain it to me, but my brain just explodes.

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    1. No- I was quite surprised. The scoring can be complicated but once you get into it all seems to make sense.

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  5. So many great things! I think the part I love best is that when things weren't going your way, you still rode so well and got the job done! Congrats on the reserve champion!

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  6. Wow! Crazy plot twist indeed. I completely hear you on feeling disappointed especially since your later tests were the worse ones. Tough to feel positive after that but you guys have made so much progress and I"m sure those conditions would have been tough for many of us.

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    1. Thank you. the weather was pretty horrible but everyone else handled it well.

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  7. My weekend was great . . .

    Sounds to me like you worked through it just fine, just add it to the list of "experiences" - rain on a coverall can scare even a fairly calm horse if they're not used to it. I can't even imagine what Red would have done . . . we'd probably still be on our way to Wyoming (assuming that he didn't leave me behind somewhere on the way)!

    Glad you got your award - helps to keep things in perspective.

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    1. You are right- it's all about the miles.

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  8. Part of Carmen learning about showing (and becoming comfortable with it) is the bit about riding in horrible conditions. It sucks at the time, and it is really frustrating when you've made the financial investment -- but its all part of the training. Kudos to you for keeping calm, keeping your seat, and showing Miss Carmen that she can entrust her survival to you.

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  9. The rain sucks. Poor Carmen. There's just no way to prep for that sort of thing. I guess unless you like at/board at a barn with a coverall. At least you got reserve champion.

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  10. UP! Down. UP! Down. TWIST! Celebrate? That's awesome that your position is so solid and consistent no matter how Carmen behaves. That speaks volumes. Congratulations on getting through what sounds like difficult circumstances.

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    1. thank you! And you summed up my post so much more succinctly then I did

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  11. It may have been rough to deal with, but riding through that kind of experience does so much for our horses. Carmen will handle it much better next time. Congrats on Reserve Champion, how awesome is that!

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    1. I really hope that you are right.

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  12. That is horses for you! Good for you for sticking with it and powering through. Your improvement is great, focus on that. I know all those comments were earned...and the reserve! Congrats! It just was not your day. Next time!

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    1. You are so good at showing me the bright side. :D

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  13. Whew - that was a whirlwind of a weekend!! Sounds like a lot of positive progression and some unfortunate circumstances. You should be proud tho - she was still rideable in the freak rain-storm altho not her typical self! Congrats on the reserve championship!!

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    1. You are right. The more I think of the more I am pleased with the change in her ride ability from the first to the second in the storm. Thank you . I am also exhausted.

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  14. Reserve Champ? How wonderful! No doubt the fact that you have an amazing seat & Carmen is electrifying pretty had something to do with that!
    Btw, I love rants. LOVE.

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    1. LOL- I bet you would love my 'I'm towing a trailer could you stop being a f**&!@#@@ idiot?" rant.

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  15. Congratulations! Yes, it's a learning process for both of you, but that's what makes it so wonderful. Someday, you'll earn those top scores and you will appreciate it so much, but more importantly, it'll mean you've arrived at togetherness through all circumstances. That is a magical place to be, if you can get ever get there with a horse.

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  16. Sounds like a crazy weekend - sorry it wasn't quite the experience that you had hoped for, but it sounds like overall it was a good one!

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    1. In many ways it was a good experience.

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  17. I wonder if other people had trouble with the rain? I know my horses would... Either way, Congrats! That's exciting!

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    1. They all seemed to deal with it fine.

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  18. All in all a success for you! Sucks about the rain, its been ruining everyones summer it seemslol

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  19. Congrats! A 67.5% and 8s for position are seriously impressive! Too bad about the rain and spooks but that's just horses and horse show luck imo. I hope that doesn't discourage you any because you're clearly doing a great job!

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  20. Congratulations on reserve champion! I am so happy for you! And riding your tests in a downpour in a coverall arena??!!! I know how loud that can be. Too bad it wrecked Carmen's relaxation, but you should be so proud you were able to get through it (mostly and without eating dirt!).

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