First Show: Successful?
A short timeline :) for our very first dressage show together.
For anyone new who hasn’t heard the story, Paddy is a new horse by 8 weeks as of today. While having a very basic background in dressage, he is still very green.
I rode him for about two weeks when he came up lame with a stone bruise. It took 12 days for that to clear and then he had teeth problems which meant we didn’t really get anything “done” by way of training as he was just too uncomfortable…this was for about 4 days’ until I could get the tooth doc to come out and float his teeth.
Our barn has a quarantine routine and all new incoming horses are quarantined for two weeks. Problem is, when it came time for Paddy to be introduced to his new paddock mate, said paddock mate had a runny nose and cough so Paddy was only getting turned out about two hours a day so as not totake a chance on him contracting whaever the other horse had..not nearly enough for his energy level.
Once he was sound from the stone bruise and his teeth were done, he was like a pogo stick to ride..always up and down due to excess energy no matter how much I free lunged him. A few days before the stone bruise we had a dressage clinic and then had another one a couple of weeks back. There was also a formal dressage lesson in there so he wasn’t totally without SOME decent training; it just wasn't consistent.
Last week was his first real week of all day turnout and the difference was incredible..his whole attitude changed. We spent the week really working the Intro tests in prep for the show today which also included desensitizing him to strange things like the dressage letters, flowers, squeaky swings, the judge’s tent…..however, what I failed to plan for was a chain saw taking out small trees and water being tossed off of a high porch, out of buckets, from one of the houses that neighbor the outdoor arena we use for the dressage shows :)
The first test was fantastic even if he WAS a little tense and short in his strides but the second was just plain funny due to his spooking at the chainsaw and the water. I can’t be angry with him as he really did do fantastic given the little bit of true quality training time I was able to put into him (due to the lameness and teeth and lack of turnout) .
We took second in Intro A with a 59.83 and even a surprising 3rd in Intro B (the “spook” test) with a 58.13. The classes weren’t huge, 7 and 6 respectively but hey, it is a start and a good baseline. The judge probably thought I was a moron after the first test as I was so happy I burst into tears. I was in tears after the second test as well but that was due to laughing most of the way through the test :)
Have to say I like this dressage stuff . You may screw up on a movement but there is always the next one to ride. In the second test we did a couple of really nice half passes, a solid sidepass and a pretty good turn on the forehand …too bad these movements were NOT a part of the test.
Vid 1 is Intro A; Vid 2 is Intro B.
The pics are of Paddy in his turnout area afterwards, showing how exhausting showing in two dressage classes can be for a horse :)
Well, you looked pretty good, especially the first test.
I'm not going to comment on the second one as he was already pretty tense in the first one, but one thing that would really improve your scores and get your horse a bit more relaxed and thinking is really sticking to your lines and riding figures accurate down to the millimeter. Don't let him drift through your leg and kind of cruise through the corners. Yes, I know what it feels like on a ticking bomb of a horse, but as soon as he learns to accept and listen to your legs for direction you're going to have an easier time with his focus, and a bonus is your scores go up.
The other thing that really needs focus put into it is the neck position. He uses his neck for everything, every walk and trot stride he is throwing it around for balance and in the transitions it is even worse. There are a few things which will help this, the first is working in long, lowly attached side reins on the lunge. The second is as he relaxes his neck will naturally come down. The third is related to the second as he relaxes you will better be able to start the "engine" behind and get a more forward reaching stride and his neck will lower. The final thing is working on the lateral suppleness which will come with time, but right now, especially in the walk which is almost completely lateral, you should focus on a lot of dramatically bent leg yeilds where he really needs to yield his ribs to your inner leg and move over. Developing the submission this way will also help you to get it when you are riding "normal" lines (and riding on your lines, and your figures exactly to the millimeter).
Overall, those are respectable scores for your first time out on him, and of course the judges comments as well will hopefully give you lots of things to work on for next time. That's the great thing about dressage - we never get 100% but we are always striving towards it!!
:)He was fine during the wait between tests and the new warmup and walked through the gate to the outer ring nice and calm...the second test went sour due to the chainsaw cutting down trees and water being thrown...the water stopped but the chainsaw was going all the way through the test..he was still so spooked at the end I had to dismount inside the outer ring and even have someone hold him to do that.
Admittedly we were both pretty up...me with the culmination of worrying over the show and him probably feeding off of me. It is exposure at this point...for both of us. We have 4 weeks now until the next show and in between that I have another clinic. Hoping to add Intro C to the mix now that he is getting regular turnout and has a little less excited energy.
He actually does very well in lateral moves. I had a clinic (prior to the stone bruise) with an L judge and also with an FEI rider who both took us through the lateral work. We work constantly on shoulder ins, haunches in and leg yielding on both sides and they are relatively easy to get. All that tense in the vid isn't normal for him on a normal riding day..I'll have to try and post one of our schooing workouts so you can see the difference. If I can get someone free I'll vid the clinic coming up next Monday with the same FEI rider from the clinic a couple of weeks back.
The big thing with Paddy is to keep his mind active..he hates the boring "around the ring on the rail" exercise..he settles in very nicely when I start adding in the "fancy" movements :)
I do appreciate the looksee and comments :)
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