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I'm no judge so will leave substantive feedback to others. But thanks for sharing the video, I enjoy watching others ride and learning from it.
Well the only thing to learn from this video is what NOT to do. Even though we didn’t make any mistakes, Ana was not forward or through or relaxed. She was basically the opposite of what is expected at Training level. T2 was even worse than T1. We were low point champions lol. Second lowest score of the entire show.


So yeah I’ve got some thinking to do because things are not working out. No worries, Ana will be with me forever, that part will not change.
 

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Dear @frlsgirl, there's actually a lot of water in your glass! :) And a lot others can learn from your ride, including the many good things you do riding. Your posture is magnificent; I'm a lanky person with scoliosis who can never hope to aspire to that. You're elastic and supple and ride so well, and you also ride a tense horse very well! Try putting someone else on Ana in that situation you had that day, and you'll see what I mean! :hug:

We are all works in progress, and it helps to see what we're already doing right, not just what we need to improve. When I look at the farm, I need to make myself look at all the things we've already done, and done well, and not just the to-do list of jobs, some of which have been on that list for years...

If you shoot for the moon and miss, you'll still be amongst stars. :)

Lots of :love: to you and Ana, and thanks for sharing your rides and progress!
 

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:wave: hi @SueC you are right. My glass is still very full. I just didn’t want people to get the wrong idea and think that I would describe this video as “good”

I do realize that the situation was simply crazy, I mean what are the odds that ride times would get moved up by over an hour and that Ana would get trapped in a stall minutes before her test. I’ve never even heard of ride times getting moved up, pushed back yes, but moved up, no.

Chances are something crazy like this will never happen again, but still I’m not sure that the stress of dragging Ana from schooling show to schooling show where I have such little control over anything is the right path for us. I’m so dependent on others for pretty much everything and just don’t have enough power to make Ana feel comfortable.

But you are so kind and sweet, thank you so much for your wise words :Angel:
 

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I drove by the barn to check on Ana last night. She was up to her ears in a freshly delivered round bale. She looked so content just munching away, savoring every bite. I didn’t have the heart to interrupt her so I just drove back home.

We are not so different; we are both very food motivated. Every day, I get a green tea frappe from Starbucks and I savor every last drop. I only wish the cups came in round bale size :)
 

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Spent some time with Ana last night. We did some grooming and body work. She looks like a hot mess right now. In addition to her scratched up neck, she’s also started to scratch her bum again to the point that she has a line in her fur and broken skin on her tail dock.

Oh yeah and she’s also in season.

The vet is coming to the barn on 3/4. I’m thinking about adding Ana to the appointment list. She also has two scappy crusty things; one on the front leg and one on the back leg that just won’t heal so I wanted the vet to look at it to determine if it’s actually abscesses that haven’t broken through yet. While she’s there I’ll have her do a range of motion exam on Ana to see if she’s in pain anywhere and have her do a full chiro adjustment.

I’m now wondering if she maybe has something wrong with her neck because she won’t stop rubbing it and we’ve already eliminated the most obvious suspects. I do recall a trainer once saying that Ana’s neck is not coming straight out of the withers like it’s supposed to.

I’ve also got a call into the animal communicator to see what Ana has to say. I’ve tried to reach her all week; maybe she’s out of town so I’ll keep trying.

Plus the saddle fitter is coming tomorrow.

I tried to do a before and after grooming pic. She looks worse body wise in the second pic; not sure how that’s possible.
 

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Izzy is shedding right now and starting into that nasty phase where the hair is matted and dandruffy as the new coat comes through. Also has had the neck cover on enough that the middle of her mane is getting rubbed out again this year after rolling tight into dreadlock mats that fall out when you tug on them. Ick.
 

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I don’t think she looks worse....I see that line...Tootsie slams her haunches into the wall when she is in heat. DH’s TWH stands with her butt against the rough wood wall in the stall, so her tail is always crunched up strangely! She even poops like this, so it piles up right next to the wall!
 

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@greentree That should make it easier to clean the TWH’s stall :smile: mares I tell ya :smile:

Ana got lunged, ridden and saddle fitted today.


She was full of it today after having a full week off from work. I hand walked her first which seemed like a good idea for her benefit anyway but then she got spooked by a bird and jumped against the side of my foot. Ive not been brave enough to take my sock off to assess the rainbow.

Then I lunged her long enough to break through the tension but not long enough to completely tire her out.

Then we rode with focus on forward into the outside rein. My posture is a bit collapsed forward probably from the Pilates exercises I did last night - my middle feels like mush today.

I didn’t see or feel any lameness or pain response while working with her.

She did kind of pull away from me when I was grooming her neck area; probably from all the scratching she’s been doing. We still don’t know why she is scratching. It’s not a skin problem and it’s not a worm problem and it’s not an allergy problem. So why is she doing it?

Could she have pain in her neck due to injury, malformation or degenerative processes?

The saddle fitter agreed with me that the new saddle fits her much better; she only made a small adjustment to the flocking which should keep the saddle from sliding. She said the saddle was probably stacked on top of other saddles which caused the flocking to get a bit smushed on one side which in turn caused the saddle to slide a bit.

The vet is coming on 3/4 so I will have her check Ana’s neck to see if there is an obvious problem or a blockage that can be released with a chiropractic adjustment.

I’ve also got an appointment with the animal communicator to see what Ana has to say about her neck.

After mulling over last weekends events and talking to others I’m thinking that the combination of going into transitional estrus, stressful show environment and lack of proper warm up resulted in Ana not being forward enough to achieve throughness which in turn affects the quality of her movement.

I need to invest more resources in training (riding her forward and through) and not into showing especially if the environment is questionable due to weathers or other external factors.

So we will be training a LOT this year, showing very little if at all, and going off property to get her used to performing in strange environments.

I might leave schooling shows behind us altogether and focus on getting solid enough in our training that we can go to rated shows once a year where they can’t just move ride times or take warm up time away. Maybe I can pay someone to trailer us or maybe we will have our own trailer by then so I don’t have the added stress of tagging along with someone.

So that’s where we are at right now. Onwards and upwards.

You can see her progression from tension to relaxation in this sequence of lunging pics:
 

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That second to last cantering picture is a stunner.
She's pushing from behind and she's over her back. The trot pictures are absolutely beautiful. Does she still flick her tail at home at canter?
She looks like one I'd push a little deep and ride in two point. Really not care about engagement and work on the stretch at canter and trot. Get that nice bounce.

I'm thinking about showing this summer so thus reminiscing on what it was like to show. My thought is this: count on losing 30 rides worth of training, meaning- between the rider and the horse the nerves and the situation is going to set you back... The solution is making sure one's enough rides ahead. The other thing is- habitual behaviours will always persist. It's like relationships .. the best and the worst will come out. Which sucks when not doing the best means show fees lost and the wind out of the sails.

You guys have got this.
 

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@lostastirrup yes there is still some tail talking going on but not nearly as bad as it used to be.

I like what you said about the best and the worst repeating itself and showing up in stressful situations. That is very true.

So you’re going to take the plunge and work on those bronze scores, ey?

Here is what I’ve learned from dragging Ana to 20 something shows over the last 4 years:

Schooling shows are a great way to do a dress rehearsal providing that they are managed well and you retain control over environmental factors. For example, trailering with other people seems like a good idea but it can actually add stress because you might end up arriving or leaving at a less than ideal time because you are on someone else’s schedule. The judges are not as educated in providing constructive criticism.

You pay a lot more for rated shows and the standards might be higher but your ride times are guaranteed and your warm up time is guaranteed. Rated shows are often a multi day event so all the effort and prep work seems more worth it and there is less confusion and rushing around. The horse has more time to get used to the venue.

If you’re not sure whether your pony will be relaxed enough at a strange place to do a test well, I would invest time taking him places to school so he can get the idea and learn that it’s no big deal.

That’s what I’m going to focus on anyway, taking Ana off property for clinics and to school her.

You are much more advanced in your journey with Nick so you will get the hang of this a lot quicker than Ana and I.
 

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@frlsgirl
I think you've got us beat for shows. I can't for the life of me imagine it being old hat. Aqha schooling shows are Nick's sole experience. Which he obviously does very poorly in, unless he wins on accuracy.
No one believes me but nick is actually not a bad horse put away from the familiar. Dare I say chill? He's gotten used to crawling off the trailer and going to work. So that's nice. Though he needs way more show exposure than I've given him.

Clinics sound glorious. I think they're awesome for the experience since it's longer than a test and you're literally there for help.
I don't know what it is but I hate it when everything you've worked at has gone put the window at the show. I have a pile of horror stories from just one summer with the mare and the TB. I'm hoping Nick is different.
 

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@lostastirrup If you can set your own riding goals the kind that are under your control, prior to going to the show that might help. Like “stay in the ring and on the horse” or “riding a warm up according to plan” that will help you achieve your own success independent from the circumstances that are outside of your control.

Since I’m still a bit down in the dumps I made myself go through all of my dressage tests that I’ve ever done and write down one nice thing such as a good score, or a nice comment from the judge.

Here is a recap:

I’ve ridden 27 tests on Ana between 2015 and 2019, in 7 different venues, under 13 different judges, and done 5 different types of tests (Intro A, B, C, T1 and T2)

Our highest score ever was an 8.5 for the free walk in T2 back in 2017.

Most of the highest scores are spread between square halt and stretchy walk.

Even the judges that scored as low overall had at least one nice comment or one nice score or both.

So whenever I feel down in the dumps about our progress, I can re-read this page in my journal to keep me focused on the positive.

Here are more pics from this weekend. Suddenly Ana looks really well and healthy. Her fur is shiny, her neck looks better now that I trimmed her mane, and her weight and muscling looks better.
 

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I talked to animal communicator yesterday. I don’t know if it was helpful or not. If anything I’m more confused than ever. The hardest part about horse ownership is knowing what to do. It’s kind of like putting together puzzle pieces; some pieces come from trainer, others from Dressage judge, a few come from the vet and a few more from barn manager, my own observations and animal communicator. Now I’m just trying to figure out how these all fit together and what it all means.

I feel like one of the interns on “House” the show about a cranky doctor who solves medical mysteries.

He always gets out the white board and writes it all down and then uses process of elimination to reach a conclusion.

Maybe it’s time to get out the white board...

Here is the other thing to consider: if the roles were reversed and Ana was ordering physicals on me, I would not pass. She would put me out to pasture, or even worse, on a truck bound for Mexico.
 

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You need to get her home, to reduce the number of voices! What did the AC say?
That she has some discomforts on the right side of her body and that perhaps her neurological issues aren’t quite resolved. She said Ana wasn’t very forthcoming with intel because she’s shut down emotionally and that she could benefit from a change like trail riding.

She could use an adjustment on her neck and I should change farrier because her heels are under run and she has heel pain because of it.

It just made it sound like Ana sees herself as this 80 hour per week Wallstreet hustler that is at the brink of burn out when in reality her days consist of eating, sleeping, running, playing and occasionally riding.

So I just don’t know.
 

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Did you talk to the communicator over the phone? In person? With the horse? I'm curious how this all works..

You know one thing I think as dressage riders we forget- the horse isn't actually meant to canter and trot circles. They tolerate it- and some like it more than others, but even Charlotte Dujardin insists that her top horses hack out.

My other thought - what does she do when you 'play' with her? Loose in the ring with nothing on.. does she enjoy goofing off with you? I think it's important to get a horse to the point where they look at you a little as a playmate- it makes the work less drudgery. Also I will add Nick's disposition changed dramatically when we introduced treats into the groundwork and rides. It let it be something that he really wanted to work at. I know you mentioned she's food oriented, it might be a good place to start. I have. +R book I could send your way if you like.

Hope that helps. Could be she has a touch of the dramatic to her.
 

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@lostastirrup “a touch dramatic” lol it does sort of fit her, doesn’t it?!? In regards to playing with your horse, spoken like a true gelding owner lol. Mares don’t play; it’s beneath them. She does enjoy being groomed and doing carrot stretches. She also gets to hand graze after most rides.

I would love to ride Ana out in the fields again but everything is under water right now. I took her for a micro trail ride last Sunday on the “dry” parts of the fields; she seemed annoyed with the condition of the footing like “ok whoever is in charge of dragging the arena is fired” lol

The reading was over the phone based on a recent picture that I sent her. Very nice lady; she goes into the body of the horse and tries to feel her way around and then explains what she’s feeling. I’ve used her before. I like to gather data from all types of different sources to help me formulate a plan although this time it seems it’s just all very confusing.
 
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