dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, June 12, 2023

Carmen the Magnificent Strikes Again- show Recap

If you are following along, last weekend I took Carmen to a dressage show and Quaid came along as a learning experience.  The nice thing about being retired is that I could pack up the trailer and get things organised at a more leisurely pace then when I tried to do it all in one day. 

Carmen and I were assigned a warm up time in the show ring at 1:00 on Friday so I left around 10:00. It's about a 90 minute trailer ride and I wanted time to get everyone settled. After loading Carmen I worked a bit with Quaid to get him to self-load. After a little hesitation and some questions he walked on.  The ride was uneventful and the horses were in their stalls by 11:45. 

Quaid: what are you guys talking about?
Can I have snacks? Guys? GUYS?!

The warm up went well. Jane was also in at the same time and I had told her that I was not expecting her to coach me. Of course when she saw things she couldn't help giving advice but it was really helpful and built on our lesson from Thursday. I was quite happy with my ride and felt that we had done all we could to be ready. 

I actually felt prepared for Saturday and my nerves really began to settle. With the new jacket I actually had two show outfits to wear so decided to wear the jacket Saturday and the vest on Sunday when it was to be warmer. 

screen grab of the coat and matching saddle pad

I have to say that the jacket was incredibly comfortable and breathable. I could move without restrictions and that makes me happy. 

In our warm up on Saturday Carmen started off really good and then spied a garbage can painted like a cow and decided that it was clearly dangerous. In the past that would have led to a real discussion and probably me avoiding it. But armed with my plan I worked us through it. I did not buy into the garbage can being a thing of danger. I let her relax by it but also when I asked her to bend I insisted and did not let her run sideways. You can think me mean for that but I know that once Carmen sets the agenda of where she will go it is the path to hell. Also, given that she was willing to stand by it on a loose rein I filed it under avoidance rather than fear. Same for the far end by the traffic. 

When it was time to go in the ring I felt ready. I'll share my test videos, not that you have to watch them all (unless you have insomnia). My goals for the show were to ride a solid test in our second level debut and keep Carmen listening to me. I didn't want to freeze or become tight and tense. 

I was so happy with this test. We had an issue with the counter canters- but it wasn't really difficulty with the movement: canter to B, CC to P. Carmen decided that she didn't like that area of the ring and backed off and broke. But other than that I was happy. 

Julia took the video and shared that she noticed when Carmen backed off cantering the half-diagonal I curled up and didn't really help her. My next ride was 30 minutes later so I didn't dismount.  Instead I walked her and then went back to work. I practiced sitting up and actually, you know, riding the movement. 

And guess what? It worked. I was much more effective. I was so happy with both tests, feeling like we were working together. My marks were both in the low 60's and quite accurate given our ride. I don't know how to say how happy that made me. 

I was excited for Sunday, although I did have a little voice that said 'you know that she's usually worse on day 2 right?'.  Instead of ignoring that voice, I decided to recognise that there was truth in that. And also to recognise that I had the tools and plan to manage it. 

Carmen was fairly mellow Sunday in the stall and out for the handwalking/grazing. My warm up was pretty similar to the day before. The garbage can barely registered. Another horse having some difficulty registered but only in the sense of her not liking any other horse in her space. 

when we went in Carmen asked me a couple questions. Including trying a big spook at A. Instead of curling up and being defensive I sat up and gave her a boot with the inside rein. And that was the end of A being dangerous. 

Before we went into our last test I leaned forward and whispered 'remember you are magnificent. let's go show them'

At the end of the second ride I almost gave a cheer. When I came out I decided to try something I had never been brave enough to do before: ride Carmen back to the barn. This required us to leave the horses, walk behind the arena by a bunch of cement blocks, equipment and such. She was perfect. 

all smiles at the end of the show. 

I hosed Carmen off and went back to watch other rides. All on cloud 9. I felt that I had smashed my goals. I sat beside Julia and she asked what did your test sheet say?  
I don't know' I said, I didn't even think of it. Because to be honest, it really didn't matter. And I meant that. For the first time I wasn't worried about what the judge thought. But I went and picked them up. My scores were very similar to the day before and some nice positive comments from the judge. 

Also came home with some pretty satin

Three weeks ago I was thinking that I wasn't going to go. Now I'm so glad that I did. Carmen asked me lots of questions and I was able to answer them effectively. She responded to that very well and became more relaxed not agitated. 

It was not easy. In fact it took attention, persistence and was physical. But the result was totally worth it. 

And I don't mean the satin. 


  1. That's awesome! It really is a partnership and tou are both progressing. Not that I know anything about dressage! But I do understand about those questions and answers. Well done- that happy at the end is what it's all about.

    1. Thank you!
      There are a lot of similarities regardless of discipline. After all horses are horses!

  2. Awww how wonderful you both are <3

  3. Yeah! I love show updates like this! Nice job thinking your way through the weekend and riding well! ♥️♥️♥️

    1. Thank you! I really enjoyed the show and seeing the progress.

  4. What a fabulous show. It sounds amazing!

  5. Sounds like your best show together yet! You two are really a wonderful pair, and I love that Carmen is looking to you as the leader these days. Congratulations!

    1. It was- we stayed very consistent which is probably our first time.

  6. My favorite part of test 2 was the lateral work. She just flows into the movement. Congratulations on your success on all levels. The burgundy coat was absolutely worth it, too!

  7. The last video! Y'all look like such a team and congrats!


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