dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Day 2 of the Show: A Different Kettle of Fish

To say I was happy at the end of Saturday would be an understatement. I was positively floating wiht happiness. I was proud of both of us and so happy that I decided to show. I was also really enjoying the socializing with old/new friends at the show.

My ride times were also in the afternoon but I didn't take her into the warm up ring in the morning. She was quite tired at the end of saturday and I didn't want to wear her out. In the end that might not have been the best decision but I don't know that it would have made any difference in what happened later (foreshadowing, sorry). Instead I hand walked her outside the barn and let her graze on some grass. I decided to set about 45 minutes aside for the warm up and headed over the warm up ring in plenty of time.
as you can see she seems quite content 

Some background info:
As you may have noticed, the show ring is inside a hockey arena. In the summer it's used as a show venue. That is why it has the appearance of thunderdome a coliseum. The warm up ring is just outside. It's a 20x40 indoor. One door looks out onto a busy highway with the exit ramp right there. It's separated by a chain link fence with weeds growing up around it. On the first day Carmen was a bit unnerved by the horses appearing and disappearing out of this door but she dealt with it well.

The steward is just outside. This time the steward had her daughter helping because she was recovering from a broken leg. On saturday I wanted confirmation about my neck rope being okay. In the rules it allows for a bucking strap or other equipment that is for the safety of the rider. But it doesn't define these and I wanted to make sure that it was all okay. She confirmed that it was fine to ride with the rope but after Carmen was so good I'm sure that she thought I was over reacting.

Okay, back to the post:

When I mounted and walked Carmen in I could feel that I was on a very different horse from yesterday. She was up and tense and very looky. There was one other rider in the ring who kept coming in and out. Part of me wanted to ask her to stop but common sense prevailed and I said nothing. This was her show too and we just need to learn to deal.

I simply rode Carmen to get her to relax and it was a bit of an uphill battle. She decided that the open door next ot the highway was full of trolls and there was no fucking way she was going there. She balked, I tapped her, she spun away, I turned her back and she threatened to rear. I gave my hands forward and booted her forward. I was glad that this hadn't happened yesterday. Today I knew that she was perfectly capable of handling this ring. I suspect that she might have had too much energy (after all she didn't get her turn out and hand walking is not the same). As things progresssed we had good and bad moments but I wasn't feeling like I was making any progress.  Forty-five minutes was not feeling like nearly enough time. At one point she gave a huge spook and banged the wall. The steward's daughter came to check on me and then in a few minutes they repositioned their chairs to keep an eye on me. (ha, see that's why I have the neck rope).. Which was yet another thing to cause Carmen issues but at this point I was like 'whatever'.

About 20 minutes (maybe) in, Jane came in to warm up on her horse. I didn't even realize she was paying any attention to me until she passed me and said 'Teresa, bend her'
I'm trying! I said
Stop trying and BEND HER. 

Of course.
Jane is now officially my Yoda

I was letting Carmen make too many decsions. I took a deep breath and asked her to bend and then demanded it. And if that sounds harsh you are welcome to come and ride her. The point is to be extremely clear: I want THIS, not that or that or even that, THIS. The trick is to keep the ask up until she does it and then immediately soften. We then started to make progress. The door was still and issue but one we could ride through. More people began to come in and I was able to get Carmen's attention on me. I need to let go of the 'if it pleases your highness could you pretty please consider a bend?'.

I still didn't feel ready for my test but it was time to go in so I took a deep breath and in we went. I walked by the judge and then circled back to go by again. You can clearly see her tension. As I rode the test it felt a bit like a powder keg. After someone asked how it went and I said, she didn't spook but she was spook-adjacent.  After I was a ball of sweat. It took every riding skill I had to keep her with me and on task. To be honest I was proud of myself for doing it (for example at 3:40 she really wanted to shy at A). We kept it together.

Shannea's mom (who was my videographer) came to me in the barn, took one look and said 'it looked a lot better then it likely felt' and she was right:

Our stretchy work suffered as well as our lengthens but otherwise I was happy with it. I'm trying to not bounce in the saddle at the canter but her back was so tight (something I will work on).

In the barn I untacked her to have a drink and a bathroom break and I sat down to catch my breath. I think that she had too much energy and didn't know how to direct it. She's also not fit enough to be ridden three times a day (yet) so I still think I made a good decision to not ride. It's one of those things that are part of the learning process of showing and it is our first this year. Having had the great rides on Saturday helped me on Sunday because I knew that she was completely capapble. She just didn't feel it on Sunday. That I can handle.

My next ride was pretty close and I wanted some time in the warm up so I got her ready about 30 minutes before. I still had no idea of my test scores (there simply was not time to go and get them).

Our warm up this time was 100% better. She was softer and listening. Which is a good thing because the ring was back to being crowded. Jane was in there again and I leg yielded out her way and then back again and she smiled and said 'well done'.
****
Aside: you know that literary convention where the protagonist is helped by a wiser person who gives the exact right advice at the right time? That was Jane for me at this show. I have no idea if she even realizes how she helped me to stay grounded.
****

We headed into our last test and I was determined that we were going to put down a good test. My goal was to not stop riding but to be there for her every step of the way.  And it was a good test, despite the tension. Again our lengthens suck but I was happy with the leg yields. We recieved a 7 on our free walk and I was like 'really?' I wouldn't have given it that but I will take it.  I loved our canter transition at A.

You will see at 4:36(ish) Carmen gives a sudden spook coming across the diagonal. To be honest it didn't feel like a true spook but more of a 'I'm done with this shit' spook. (Becasue she has learned that it gets her out of work in the past. Working on the memo that that no longer applies. I think she may go to her union steward). I simply pushed her back to the letter and gave her a tap with my crop to tell her to get her butt forward and we carried on. At the end of the test I gave her a long rein and walked her by the area that she spooked at and she was perfectly fine with it.


Later when I picked up my tests I was happy to see that I had marginally better scores then Saturday. This garnered us two more red ribbons for first place.

Test 1-1: 63.52. A smattering of 6/6.5 and 7s. One 5.5 for the transition to canter at C where she was all balled up.
Comments: Think forward in all transitions. Forward into clear rhythm. 
Collectives:
Gaits: 7    Impulsion: 6   Submission: 6.5    Riders Postion: 7     Riders correct/effective aids: 6.0


Test 1-2: 64.53. A smattering of 6/6.5 and 7s. One 5.5  for the transition to canter where she spooked. The comment said 'disruption'. I love that description!
Comments: Show bend and position through the body. Upright balance.  
Collectives:
Gaits: 7    Impulsion: 6.5   Submission: 6    Riders Postion: 7     Riders correct/effective aids: 6.0

And, just like that, our show was over. I am so very happy with how it went. There were bobbles but we recovered. My fears were not realized- clearly we are able to do this thing. Now it's about making it more solid. 

38 comments:

  1. Yay! for riding through the attitude of a sensitive, opinionated horse!! Good job!!

    BTW, Red is first place in Canada?

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    1. Yes- here 1st is red, 2nd is blue.

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  2. Wow, to see a horse dressaging continually on or slightly above the vertical, how it should be done. How do you do it? Was she born on the vertical? She comes from her hind end so lovely.

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    1. LOL, with her conformation it's really easy for her to curl behind the vertical. I have worked very hard to not have her do that. Thank you for noticing.

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    2. It would be great if you did a series of posts about how exactly you work her through that, because it's epidemic, in my honest opinion.

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  3. I love the stop trying and do it comment. My Jane was very much the same way with me and I needed it. I really learned the difference between just sitting up there and actually effectively riding and while it did seem harsh at first as long as when they listen you go right back to being soft I feel like it’s actually helpful to them. They’re large prey animals and in environments like that I feel like having someone tell them what to do (or make them haha) in a kind and considerate way is much more helpful than letting them think for themselves.

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  4. Sweet! The ups and downs of horse life. I wonder if Jane ever feels any of this when working her own horses? Who gets to be Jane for Jane? :) I laughed when you said that if we have a problem with any of it, we're welcome to ride her! haha. Yes, you've got to do what you've got to do.

    Congratulations on the great rides! Whatever you're doing, it's working.

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    1. LOL Jane has Susan. :)

      thank you for your compliments too!

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  5. Congrats on a well-shown series of tests. I watched some of the video and it really does look much better than you describe. I know how that goes though when you feel like you're riding a powder keg and no one believes you because it looks fine. Good job getting it done.

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    1. What? You didn't watch every second of these videos? Trust me they are great if you are an insomniac! :D :D

      I love video because it allows you to see what really is going on.

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  6. I am kind of sad Carmen didn't rally for you, but at the same time, it sounds like YOU rallied and got Carmen roped into following your lead :) I love how methodical and thoughtful you are in your rides - especially because you can do it in the moment. You guys really do look lovely, even if it doesn't feel that way sometimes.

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    1. Well she is Carmen and things are so much better. She’s taught me a lot and she’s figuring things out.

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  7. She just can't make it easy for you, can she?

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    1. Or on herself. Change is not easy and slipping back is. But I think that we got there in the end.

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  8. What a good feeling to have already established that “yes I know you can do this” so that you could push her through!

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  9. You handled Carmen's shenanigans so beautifully! I don't think it sounds harsh at all to demand things from her - but then again, I have a horse with a very similar personality. Strong mares need strong leadership is how I see it lol

    I also love "disruption" lol. What a great way to describe that spook. Euphemisms make all things better.

    Huge congratulations on such an outstanding weekend!

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    1. Thank you!
      'disruption' is my new favourite word. :D

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  10. She's a feisty mare! I'm convinced that after working with Carmen, you could ride ANYTHING. Well done.

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    1. LOL, maybe not 'anything' but I feel much more confident

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  11. ya! you're my hero! and neck strap for dressage? I need to consider that next time. I feel Sunday was a bigger win :D Riding a 'spook-adjacent' Carmen and still performing tests that good is huge!

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    1. I wear the strap all the time- sometimes I just reach down and gently hold it. Thank you for your kind words.

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  12. Congrats on a great outing. Sure it wasn't the exact test you wanted, but it looks way better than you described it and you kept actively riding and being proactive instead of reactive. Those are all major wins!

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    1. You are right. Thank you for your perspective.

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  13. Congratulations! You've brought Carmen a long way.

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  14. Well ridden! Good for you for powering through a tough ride.

    "And if that sounds harsh you are welcome to come and ride her." Yup. I feel like making this exact comment repeatedly in my life for those watching at home.

    Congrats on lovely scores as well :)

    I laughed really hard at the Yoda meme as well.

    It's good to know that neck straps for safety are allowed.

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    1. Thank you! I hardly use the neck strap for safety but it's good to know it's there.

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  15. What a great weekend. You both handled yourselves very well. Just think back at how your past shows were and visualize a show a year from now. The mental and physical fitness will come with time. Each is different.

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    1. The looking back and visualizing forward is a great idea.

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    2. It is the only really way to track your progress/how far you have come and to set yourself up the future success. Visualization is so very important. Very similar to riding every stride. Focusing on the next movement.

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  16. I think you both showed up for each other that weekend. Picking up the slack when the other needed it.

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  17. ❤️❤️❤️ I love following along in your relationship

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  18. Congrats on another successful show day!! If it isn't hard we can't learn anything right lol. You handled all of it so well. I was SO impressed with how well you handled the spook... pardon me the "disruption" (love that!) and went straight into the canter transition. I would have lost it and broke to a walk most likely. Very well done!!

    I watched all of the videos and they definitely look better than how you describe them feeling. That's usually how it goes though. The funny thing is if you hadn't mentioned how it felt and I hadn't been watching for it I was so blinded by her beauty I wouldn't have even noticed her fussiness until the spook. She is so gorgeous.

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    1. Thank yo! In the past I would have done what you described for the spook but now I know that for Carmen that just reinforces the behaviour. I am blinded by her beauty a lot too. Good thing- it sometimes saves her life.

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