Monday, 20 October 2014

Dressage divas (or not)!

The nights are drawing in now so I am limited to schooling after work - the plan is to get up early and have a few rides before work in the winter but I am awful at getting up early so that will be a struggle I'm sure! The focus over the last couple of weeks has been to prepare for our dressage championships.

Stride length difference - shod vs barefoot. Can you guess which is which?!
We had another clinic with Warren last weekend - I have been so busy with work that I'd not managed to see him in between my last one (I like to have a private session in between usually just so we can have some focused attention). I wanted to work on straightness and building on what we'd been doing previously and luckily that's what Warren had planned! We warmed up over an upright with two poles on the floor in an A frame. B started drifting to the left and so Warren got me to correct it but I didn't feel I quite had his left shoulder in control. This came to bite me later in the session when we were asked to string some fences together - Buddy said no, dropped out through that shoulder and I came incredibly close to hitting the deck. I had enough time to think 'I'm coming off' but somehow managed to get my leg back down and back in the stirrup. Go me! But this showed up the issue so I really concentrated on keeping my left elbow tight but he ran out again. Third time I grabbed my neck strap and kept my leg on - Warren had also put another pole on the other side - so Buddy popped over. We came round a few more times and popped it without an issue. 

Throwback pics - Top is the first week he arrived as a 4yo - bottom 4 years later as a fit 8yo
We then focused on angling fences, first one on its own and then a double Then stringing a course together and Buddy was awesome. The poles really helped him focus and I wasn't distracted by them so it was great. Warren gave us some great feedback and was pleased with how B looks and how he is performing. He did mention that we may need to consider our bitting arrangement shortly as B is a big, strong horse and we want him to listen when I check him. After our eventers challenge I had wondered if this was coming but I like to try and school my issues first but my size vs B's is a no brainer really ;o)

Next step was onto the dressage champs. I was really excited about it but our prep hadn't been ideal as I've been abroad with work but the plan was never to win but it was great to have qualified. B has been a bit of a twit recently about warm ups and he was wired when I got on, every time a horse came towards us he stopped and span. I couldn't get anything decent out of him for 10-15mins. When he relaxed the trot felt good but every time I asked for canter he shot off. We got a bit of work in but it definitely wasn't enough so I decided I'd just have to do a bit prior to them ringing the bell. I knew that this could really affect our test but I had to work with the situation I'd been given.

At the Dressage Championships - Looking the part if nothing else!
I was actually really pleased overall with his test. The trot work looked (the joys of mirrors) and felt super - and got complimented outside the ring but our lack of canter prep failed us again as he struck off on the wrong leg on the right rein and then broke twice. He just wasn't off the leg enough. I expected to be hammered on my canter marks (although what he did show was super) but we've definitely done worse tests. I was then absolutely gutted to be given our worst mark ever at prelim and we were in the bottom half of the order (I thought we'd come last but just looked at the results and there were a few beneath us - wahoo!). The comments on my sheet were confusing - lots of good, very good and excellent comments scattered across the sheet but with marks of 4-7 across the board. I'm ok with being given low scores (although I do think it was undeserved in this case - bar the canter obvs) but the comments must reflect this. But hey ho, dressage is an opinion and I mustn't take it so seriously but it is really hard when you have worked so hard, are clearly getting better and then the scores are getting worse!

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