I have had lessons, clinics and my first show of the season since my last update so I'm gonna move quickly...
4 lessons were had before the first show. Two were with Lynn and two with my mystery clinician...drum roll please......Ms. Linda Zang!!! Again, this may not be so exciting to some but goodness it is to me! If you click the link I've attached you can see a small blip of some of her many amazing accomplishments. Between Lynn and Linda, Buddy and I are getting quite a work out/tune up for this show season. Let's review the highlights:
- keep him pushing forward into my hands
- keep his shoulders up for more airtime
- always check for bend-ability and make sure I have him in my outside rein
- I tend to lean so in order to right Buddy's sometime leaning canter, lean the opposite direction of the current lead we are on to straighten everything.
- lots of transitions from canter-walk-counter in order to lift his shoulders and get him prepped for the changes
- in the half-passes remember that it is a variation of travers and make sure the outside eye is looking at the letter to which we are going for better alignment.
- outside rein to half-halt in half-pass
- don't quit before the halt is finished, make sure all four feet around square underneath (we tend to park out in the back or leave one foot behind!)
- don't be afraid to push for more!
I'm sure I'm forgetting some very key points, but these are the ones that are constantly on my mind while I'm riding. Of course I'm still on my quest for perfect position and after watching videos of my lessons and the show, I still have a long way to go ;) But, it's definitely improving and I'm sure Buddy appreciates that!
Well, the NCAHA All Arabian was the first show of the season for me. Although I ended up missing out on going to the Spring Break Dressage Show in Williamston with the rest of the NSTC team, this ended up being a smart decision because it was 40 min. from home, no hotel fees and it was a much easier start to Third level than an open show would be. Buddy tried his bum off and gave great trot work getting consistent 7-8 scores, the canter was a little braced but balanced. The mediums/extensions were mediocre because I was fretting too much about the changes. Being the over-achiever that I am, I signed up for 4 Third level tests over the weekend without having confirmed changes...Oy Vey! Really?!?! What was I thinking (rather I think that was "wishful thinking!")? Anyways, I literally lucked out in the first test because Boo just kind of fell into both changes. The judge gave us a very generous 66+% which means.....I FINALLY EARNED THAT BLASTED USDF BRONZE MEDAL!!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!
Our USDF Bronze Medal Ride
(photo credit to Tracy Kelsey)
The second test that day did not pan out as great, Buddy was exhausted and everything ended up being lackluster and the changes were non-existant which resulted in weird counter-canters both directions. We tried again the next morning and got two very late changes but still managed to squeak in a 63%. Not bad at all for Buddy's first time at Third! But due to the fact that our changes are still not 100%, I have decided to forgo the May show and probably the June show for now. This way we can keep working and not worry about trying to qualify for anything.
Ok, fast-forward to tonight...I decided to ride both boys tonight since it was so nice outside. Buddy had a lesson with Linda on Wednesday, the Farrier came Thursday and it rained BUCKETS yesterday, so today was the first ride since our lesson. We worked on maintaining centered work. Lots of transitions and leaning in the proper directions, and wouldn't you know it?! Clean changes can occur when all the right pieces are in the correct place! What a wonderful feeling! Next was DJ. He hasn't been getting a whole lot of attention while I have been taking Buddy all over. I am convinced something is just not right with his saddle because I have much better rides when we are bareback than saddled. So, off I went bareback on a dusk trail ride with my boy. We made it around the property and back to the ring. I decided to try and ride him exactly the way I have been riding Buddy lately and again another lightbulb moment. I had collected canter, half-pass and a clean controlled change with no saddle. I was ecstatic! We played with trot-piaffe transitions and really that was just the icing on the cake. I think he had fun tonight. Well, I know that was quite a bit without much detail but as always I promise to change my bad blogging ways and update more often with better attention to detail. Until next time, happy trails!