Monthly Archives: April 2010

Faxx is qualified for the championships…

He was a bit fussier today, and his scores were a bit lower than yesterday, but he ended up winning both Training 4 classes (the largest classes he was in) and got both the scores he needed to compete in the USDF Regional Championships this fall.

He got a 66 in Training 2 this a.m. – he was completely distracted by a  horse someone was hand grazing outside the arena, and he was fussy in the free walk/walk transitions. There were only 3 in the class and we got second.

He got a 67 and won his last class, Training 4 with, I think, 14 riders. He was several points ahead of the second place horse.

All in all, a super show. I can remember when I could not even get him connected at home. Now, the connection is very reliable at home, but not yet reliable at shows.

We are losing a ton of points on our entry/halts and the walk/free walk/walk scores. He does well on the free walk, but the working walk is where he drops contact and gets very fussy.  This generally does not happen at home – but if he is going to drop contact, the walk is where it will happen. That’s part of the reason for our lower scores on our entry/exit halt as well. I know we need to do a million of these transitions at home so we can try for better scores on these movements at our next show. In general, I did not think any of our tests were nearly the best he could do, or even as good as he does at home.

Oh, and by my calculations, Faxx earned the last points he needed (and then some) to complete his Legion of Supreme Honor from the Arabian Horse Association. The Legion of Supreme Honor is designated by a +/ after the horse’s name. Since Faxx has a Legion of Merit (++) as well, I am not sure what little symbols they use – maybe ++/ ?? I guess I’ll find out!

My next show will be Pine HIll in Bellville May 8-9. It’s about 2 hours away, and I am taking Faeryn. Pine Hill used to be one of my favorite places to show. Back in the early 90s, HDS had a show there every Labor Day weekend. That was back when dressage shows were more fun – only two competition rings, and small enough that you knew everyone. And there was usually a competitors’ dinner either Friday or Saturday night.Now our local shows are 4-5 rings and there are way too many people to have an intimidate dinner.

I like Pine Hill for the same reason I liked the Rose Horse Park in Tyler – all the competition arenas are outdoors and there are vast expanses of space where you can warm up – you are not restricted to an overcrowded warm up arena.

 

 

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Quick report from the show..

Faxx and I are competing at the Houston Dressage Society Spring Show this weekend. This is his first recognized show since last September. He was a bit intimidated by the new gazebos with green and white striped awnings flapping in the breeze yesterday. They were right between the two outdoor arenas.

Marta came and schooled me yesterday and again this morning – I was on my own for this aftenroon’s ride.

Neither ride was as good as I know Faxx and I can do – my first ride, Training 4, in the outdoor arena, seemed lackluster to me and I was pleasantly surprised when we tied for first with a 70.8!  There were 14 in the class.  Marta told me it was a good ride with no major issues, but I knew it could be better. My second ride was in the afternoon in the indoor arena that Faxx has never done well in – in my warmup he was super fussy and not wanting to take contact at all. I just tried to not panic and really ride him completely off my seat and legs — and about 2 minutes before we were due to go in the ring I stuffed several sugar cubes in his mouth! When they told me to go in, we entered at trot and he was super connected – fortunately the judge rang the bell almost immediately and we went straight down center line. We had a sticky canter depart and his reluctance to take contact really showed in the working walk – i was able to really push him forward in the free walk and that was ok – but the medium walk before and after, he was Mr. Fussy. But he was well connected in trot and canter, but not working over his back like I would have liked.

A friend of mine was scribing and she found me later and said I did well – of course she did not know the score, but said we had many 7s and 8s.  We ended up with a 69.6 and were 2nd out of 7.

I looked at all the scores posted today and our training level scores were higher than almost all the pros’!

We do it again tomorrow!

 

 

Faxx gears up for the show

Super ride on Faxx tonight. Tonight is the third day in the row that I’ve ridden him. He’s been fussy and taking inconsistent contact – but tonight it all fell into place. I got better bend in trot and canter and soft downwards where he maintained contact.

Our biggest challenge is our halts. At home I can get a decent halt (Faeryn is the halt ‘queen’ ) but at shows he halts and dives down and invariably jerks the reins. I did a lot of halts today and they were quite good – so hopefully that will translate to the show. I have to remember to LOOK UP, lean back a bit and really put my legs on him and sit up tall and ‘sink’ into his back with my seat and remember to BREATHE and to give with the reins as he halts. I could sit his trot very easily and we did three loop serpentines both directions, and 10m circles.  Hopefully he will work this well at the show this weekend!

I rode Fling tonight too and worked a lot on flying changes. Had some spectacularly crappy ones until I just put her on the rail and made her do changes along the straight line. She was getting very crooked during the changes, and since they are no longer new and exciting, she sometimes just ignores my aids for the change. I have to make sure that I ‘hold’ her with BOTH legs to ensure she does not fall sideways during the change.

Faeryn is still enjoying her post-show rest and relaxation  – she’ll probably get ridden Thursday or Friday. She can be off several days and pick right up where she left off. Faxx, I am discovering, benefits from frequent riding – the sessions can be short – I only rode him 30 minutes tonight — but it usually takes several days for him to get back up to ‘speed.’

 

Faeryn rises to the occasion!

I am home and, as usual after a horse show, the washer is running full time! I am not sure who is happier to be home, me or Faeryn. It took me almost exactly 5 hours coming and going….and I went 59 going and 45 coming home. There is just no definitive ‘fastest, best’ way to get to Tyler.

Tyler is absolutely beautiful country – rolling green hills, and it seems every home had masses of azalea bushes in full bloom. The show facility covers probably 100 acres or more and includes a huge cross country course and five outdoor show arenas, a covered arena, permanent tack store and a large trailer/RV lot. They must have spent a fortune on dirt work on this place since the rings are spread out over a hill and every arena has large “berms” around them which serve as viewing areas, and also to keep spectators from getting too close to the arenas and possibly spooking the horses. The footing in all the arenas was super, and they were meticulously groomed with a water truck and tractors. I was told the footing is a mixture of felt and sand.

I was concerned about Faeryn when we got there since she did not drink immediately when I got her settled in her stall with two water buckets. In fact, she did not drink anything for almost 4 hours after we arrived, and did not drink as well as I would have like the entire weekend. Luckily it was not really hot and she barely broke a sweat even after being ridden.

She was pretty calm on our ‘walkabout’ around the place and she grazed some. I decided she did not need to be lunged before I rode her. I spent a long time walking her since she spent so much time in the trailer. We walked around all the rings and everywhere we could go EXCEPT into the arenas at first. Unfortunately they’d blocked access to the cross country course – I would have loved to taken here there.

She was not sure about the water truck, the huge tractor, the large roller parked next to one ring or a few massive downed tree trunks that were scattered around as a cross between spectator seating and a way to block vehicle access to some areas. But what set her off the most was the music from the loudspeakers while they were doing the sound check for the next day’s freestyle competition.  When we happened to be right next to a speaker when the music started, she did a pretty good spin and bolt. I took her to an arena further up the hill and away from the speakers and worked on getting her to listen to me. She was quite strong to begin with, but settled in and I quit before she was ‘perfect’ since I did not want to wear her out.

The next morning I got on her 45 minutes prior to my ride, since I wanted to walk the first 15 minutes or so to really let her stretch. She was calm during our walk, but when we went to one of the warm up arenas something got her wound up and at one point we went flying backwards out of the arena and down the hill. At one point she slipped on the grass and for a minute I really thought she might fall.  I finally remembered to SIT DOWN on her, used my whip (carried for just such a situation, since I rarely carry one at home) and got her pointed the right direction.

Her canter felt absolutely wonderful! I finally got her where she was relaxed enough to be supple, but she was still ’up’ enough to be a bit brilliant. The gatekeeper  told me I was up next and I headed to the arena – and Faeryn stopped dead and started backing up…she had to be led in by a bystander! I was thinking “Oh, this isn’t a sign of good things to come” – but when we actually got into the arena and started our final pass around the outside, she settled down and had complete focus. The judge blew his whistle and in we went. It was a clean ride and I thought it was pretty good. Friends watching agreed.  So we went back to the barn and I untacked her and began the wait until our next ride, which was about 3.5 hours later. I was the last ride in my class so I was hoping the scores would be posted soon – especially since I was riding for the same judge later in the day.

I made the long walk to the show office to see if the results were posted. Truly to me that is when I get the most nervous Sometimes I feel like I’m walking to the hangman! This time, tho, it was like getting a reprieve from the governor – Faeryn had scored a 71%, had won the amateur division and had the second highest score of the entire class – only one pro beat our score. I almost started crying!

 I still miss her mother, Sonnys Mona Lisa, so much, and Faeryn reminds me of her more so than Fling. There’s a certain way she turns her head to look at me, and in certain mannerisms – sometimes it’s almost as if Lisa is with me still. I tell Faeryn all the time when she is good “Your mother would be so proud!” (And also, when she is bad I tell her that her mother would be ashamed of her!!)

I returned to our stalls clutching my test (all 7s and a few 8s!), the blue ribbon and a ‘commemorative’ glass. I did not even hang the ribbon on her stall but put everything in the truck for safekeeping. (If I know Faeryn, she would try to eat the ribbon!)

So now the waiting game until time for the next test.  I gave myself less time for warmup, thinking she would be more settled. Um. Not necessarily. Faeryn cam be perfectly calm and then one thing can rev her right back up. She was not spooky but she was still strong, and not wanting to bend – and this test required much more bending than the earlier test. I would have liked about 5 more minutes when we were called next. This time there was no drama entering the arena and Faeryn went to work.

It was a decent test with no major mistakes, but I knew it was not as good as the previous one. We had some awkward transitions and I did not think her walk was as good.

Despite that, we scored a 67.6—and even more amazing – won the class and were Training Level Champions of the two-day show!! (Show 1 was Friday/Saturday and the second show was Sunday.)

Again, I almost cried – and this time had my arms full as I carried my test, first place ribbon, champion ribbon, glass and embroidered saddle pad back to the barn!! Faeryn got many carrots and peppermints, got hand grazed and got much praise and pets.

I had a celebratory glass of wine with dinner that night. And wondered how I would ever top this?

The next morning it was drizzling when we got up and continued to drizzle all the way to the show. Overnight I had already decided I was going to scratch our second class to get home early. By the time we got to the showgrounds, I’d also decided to scratch the whole show that day.

Showing is supposed to be fun. Riding in the rain would not be fun. I also wanted this adventure to end on a high note. I knew we would not do our best in the rain.  Plus, Faeryn had been very, very good – remember, this was the biggest show she’d ever been to, she’d been cooped up in a stall for two days after a 5-hour trailer ride, in a strange place – and yet she still went in and did her job.

 Faeryn has a long show career ahead of her. I want showing to be fun for her too. (yes, I really do believe most horses think it is fun to go somewhere new and ‘meet’ new horses and see new things.)

There will be other shows.

Saturday afternoon I stood in Faeryn’s stall with her head pressed against my chest and whispered into her ear, “Your mother would be so proud.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packed and ready to go!

The trailer is packed and loaded, it’s hitched up, truck is gassed up, has a new tire and is ready to roll. Tomorrow morning I head out to Tyler, Texas to the Texas Rose Horse Park. It should take me 5-6 hours to get there and I’m not looking forward to the drive – but it’s supposed to be a neat facility. They have eventing there and hundreds of acres. The competitio arenas are all outdoors – which can be bad if the weather is not ideal – but my horses and I both prefer to show outdoors. I am meeting up with my friend, Margaret, who is bringing her Arab gelding, Apollo, as a non-compete so she can ride him around the showgrounds and see how he behaves. Apollo is the same age as Faeryn and Faxx, and has been Faxx’s ‘traveling buddy’ at several Arab shows.

It is a huge show – and there is a wait list. This is definitely Faeryn’s biggest gig. It will be the third time in her life she’s spent the night away from home – and two of those were during hurricane evacuations! She also has never been in a trailer this long.  I have no expectations – she’s been working well, but she will be up against much more seasoned/older horses. Mainly I am looking to have a good time. Hopefully she will be as good and calm as she was last weekend. The best is yet to come with her and I love riding her. If I had time I would really love to take some jumping lessons and do a little low-level eventing. But I think I would have to win the lottery and quit my job to ever have time to squeeze anything else into my schedule! 😉

I rode her this evening and she was a little sluggish until something spooked her and then I was able to harness that energy to get some good work. Her main issue at this point is clear downwards from canter to trot – hers are a little unclear, with some sort of little shuffling, unbalanced thing happening between canter and trot. So I worked on that, and I also worked on halts – she halts reliably square in front, but tends to leave her right hind back. So I concentrated on using my right leg further back and leaning back a bit more to really encourage her to bring that leg up. And it worked. The trick will be to remember to do that IN the show ring. 😉

 

Just the “Faxx,” ma’am

I had a great ride on Faxx this evening. He was steadier in the contact/connection than he has been. I think it took him awhile to get ‘over’ his teeth floating last Thursday. 

It has been a long journey to figure out Faxx. He is a good boy and has a good work ethic, and is very laid back. But he is still my toughest ride. It has been a real learning curve to ride well enough to ride him the way he needs to be ridden. He is almost a ‘professional’s horse’ – only because you have to ride him very ‘sympathetically’ since he is quite sensitive. He just does not tolerate any unsteadiness in your hands or imbalance in your body. That has been good for me as a rider because I’ve had to step up to the plate to do him justice. He is definitely the best-moving horse I’ve ever had – and luckily he has the brain to go with it. But, as someone once told me, “every horse has a hole in it’ — and Faxx’s “hole” is that he is a little tricky to ride due to that sensitivity.

Keeping him connected enough to sit the trot for long periods of time has been the latest challenge. He’s doing great, his lateral work is absolutely effortless, and his canter is super easy to ride. Most people are wowed by his trot, but his canter is, I think, really his best gait. He can do the canter serpentine from First 4 very easily already.

I think he is about ready to show First level. This evening I sat the trot for the majority of our ride and was able to keep him nicely connected throughout. Now I need to find a schooling show to take him to. I am going to show him Training level at a few more recognized shows, tho. His next outing will be at the spring HDS show April 24-25.