Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Raleigh Summer Sizzler...I mean...Dressage Show

Well, we officially got through another show! Granted this had to be one of the most uncomfortable shows to compete in because the heat was totally unrelenting, but we got it done! I really don't have much to complain about, I was done both days by 10AM with scores in hand by 10:30, not too shabby. Ok, onto the good stuff!

Upon our arrival on Friday, we (being my normal pit crew of me, mom, dad and the puppy) almost melted trying to get Buddy cool, comfortable and situated in his temporary weekend home while trying to set up the tack room. It was a sweltering 103 out! I felt bad for the poor hunter riders who had a show going on at the same time/same venue. Those girls looked miserable! Then the mind-boggling thing was that there were people schooling their horses in this heat. I mean I understand the hunter riders, they had to school they were competing on Friday. The dressage show didn't start until Saturday. And, I also understand that some horses need to get schooled at a show (to get energy out etc.) but come on, couldn't you do it in the morning or the evening when there is a less probable chance of you or your horse suffering heat stroke?!?! I just don't get people some time! Excuse my rambling...now back to the show! After everyone/thing was settled (i.e. Buddy had a bath/dinner and the tack room was show weekend ready), we headed back to Creedmoor to take care of the other ponies before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning came early since my first test was at 8:21. I was prepared to warm-up all by myself since this was for Second Level Test 2 and really just a practice run before the "important class". I was just putzing around the ring when to my surprise I heard a loud voice telling me to sit up and ride my horse rather than lolly-gagging around! Lynn had come early and was helping me out :) Nothing like having an early morning "where did you learn to ride?!?" lesson before my class! Apparently, I had completely forgotten how to warm my horse up that morning. Thank goodness for early coaching :) We really schooled the canter and got him up in his shoulders before I was called by the ring steward for my test. I went in and ROCKED that test. It was forward and uphill yet collected and I only had one tiny, itsy-bitsy problem. I completely forgot where the heck I was in the free-walk...oops! I wandered aimlessly in hopes the bell would ring or just by chance I would go the right way. Alas, I did not and the bell rang. Other than that it was a great test and Lynn was super proud of our start to the day. Unfortunately, our judge did not agree and gave us a sad 58%. We still managed 2nd place but I was rather discouraged by the score. But I chose to move on since I had another test to complete and another judge to try and impress!

The next test came rather quickly and again Lynn and I schooled the same keys things we had earlier that morning, uphill canter, slowing the shoulders, and the most important "KEEP MY REINS SHORTER!!!" It was time for the test and I made sure to read my test again so as not to have another mishap during the walk tour. I managed to complete the test without any errors but left my overall ability to ride a phenomenal test outside of the letter A...ugh! I got tired and lost my half-halt that kept Buddy engaged for the simple-changes and the counter-canter was ridiculously rushed. The judge this time was very fair and gave me a well deserved 60+% which put us in 5th place. I was less than .5% away from getting my last qualifying score that I need for the GAIG's...ugh again! Lynn and I discussed the game plan for the next morning in order to raise those scores to where they should be. The rest of the day was spent socializing with our neighbors Jim and Louis of Hounds Run Farm, watching Lynn schooling some of her other students and just enjoying the horse show atmosphere. We did need the occasional break in front of the fan seeing as how it was 102 on Saturday. In the evening I decided to talk to M & M Tack Shop about the dilemma I was having with my Trilogy Debbie McDonald Series Saddle, this ended with a full saddle flocking/adjustment/test ride of my updated saddle. And yes, it needed ALOT of work! It is still not perfect but definitely much better than where we started. Afterwards, Buddy got another bath, an apple and a kiss goodnight.

Sunday morning brought much cooler weather and a very determined me. I normally am not a superstitious person but I decided to bust out a necklace that was given to me by my maternal grandmother who was extremely supportive of my riding (she even helped my parents purchase DJ back in 2001). I asked her for a little extra help that morning! I was on my own for my first class since again it was only 2-2, my warm-up for 2-3. I was hoping that with the cooler weather I would have an upbeat slightly lofty Buddy to deal with, but to my regret I did not. I had cranky stiff Buddy that was not very pliable, bendable or even very ridable in warm-up. I was riding under my judge from the second test yesterday, so I wanted to prove to her we could really put in a much better test than yesterday. So in we went at 8:04, it was overall an accurate test but lacked pizzazz and decent half-halts. I was pleased but not overjoyed. The judge did notice that we had improved, Buddy and I received 1st place with a score of 63+%! She gave us the points where we deserved it and in other places dinged us for the mistakes. Overall, it was a fair assessment of a lack luster test. Lynn arrived in the middle of the test and saw exactly what we needed to jazz up the next test...

9:20 rolled around and we immediately went to work in order to unlock his hind legs. With a longer frame we checked right and left flexion and bend then progressed to leg-yield and half-pass in order to really get his hind end rockin' and rollin'. This made a HUGE difference in the quality of work for the second test. He became free and light and forward...yeehaw! We really buckled down on the simple changes and the counter-canter trying to make them softer, but quicker with a neck that resembled jell-o rather than concrete. It was time to go in and do my test. Little mistakes were made such as careening around my 10m canter circles (oops!) and 1 break in the second counter-canter half circle (doh!) but other than that I was extremely pleased with this test. It was definitely the best 2-3 I have ridden this season! This was a new judge and we seemed to impress her because not only did I get my GAIG qualifying score but I got it with a 65% and 2nd place in a BIG class! I was so excited it was ridiculous and so was Lynn :)

So, overall it was a great weekend. I got the scores I needed, placed in every class, met some new friends, fixed my screwy saddle, had bonding time with my wonderful gelding, got some great insight from my Trainer, spent quality time with the family and managed not to die of heat stroke in the process! Not bad if I do say so myself :) Until next time!