Monthly Archives: December 2011

Recap of Schooling Show Champs and Flying Change Progress!

 I showed Faeryn in First Level Amateur and Second Level Amateur at the Schooling Show Championships. Unfortunately we only had an hour between our rides, which is just about the most awkward timing possible. It’s not enough time to really untack them and let them rest, and it’s too much time to just stay on them and chill out somewhere. Fortunately, First level was scheduled first and so she had enough ‘juice’ for that classs, since there were about 5 total in it. I was the only entry in the Second Level Amateur Championship so all I really had to do there was make sure we showed up and did not leave the arena or part company!

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Faeryn at the Schooling Show Champs

A complete recap tomorrow, but Faeryn won her First level and Second level championship classes. To be fair, we were the only pair in the Second level championship – but we won the First level championship fair and square. 😉  She had a 65%+ average from the two judges on the First level ride and, a disappointing 58% at Second level. More tomorrow.

Schooling Show Championships Sunday!

This weekend the HDS Schooling Show Champs are being held at Great SW Equestrian Center in Katy. The show is Sat and Sun. but my classes are only on Sunday. I am showing her in the First and Second level amateur championship classes. Amazingly enough, I am the only entry in the second level class and there are only three other riders in my first level championship. Tomorrow she goes to Marie’s for a lesson and I need to have a ‘beauty shop’ day with her to trim her and try and tame her wild mane. Her mane keeps ‘flipping’ from one side to the other so it looks awful, since I pull/thin it from one side, and then before I know it, it’s flopped to the other side and all the short hairs are then on top! I’ve never had a horse that had a mane that changed sides at will!

I had a great ride on Faxx yesterday. His back was up and he was taking really good contact. I am starting to ask him to make quicker transitions from canter/trot and walk/canter to start working toward our walk/canter and canter/walk transitions. His turns on the haunches are coming along, as are his shoulder-ins. He needs to go for a lesson soon. Debbie Bowman is coming in January, but I am going to sit this one out since I am on a very fixed income these days. I can take four lessons from Marie for the price of two from Debbie, and I need to get lessons on all three horses in the next few months.

I have to decide by the first week in January if I think Fling is ready to show Fourth level at a recognized show. My test sheet is still in the truck – I need to really read the comments on it and see the movements where she needs work vs the ones she did well.

Our Fourth level debut!

Another milestone. Fling and I made our Fourth level debut at Marie’s “Dickens on the Sand” show today. It was a fun show – this is always a fun show as everyone dresses in holiday garb which is a refreshing change since the usual boring dressage ‘uniform’ is black and white. It was COLD though and I am a cold weather WIMP. I had on a turtle neck and festive red plaid down vest, but was so cold I warmed up wearing a red down coat over that. Fling sported a red velvet saddle pad which was about all the ‘bling’ she needs since she is a pinto.

Unfortunately, I did not really allow enough time to warm her up, considering I had taken her straight from her stall where she’d been standing all night and then loaded her into the trailer to go to the show. I got on her 30 minutes before our ride time and 40 would have been better. She really needed to just walk for 10 minutes before doing anything else. I had to rush her into the trot/canter without spending enough time stretching and bending her at the walk. Between the time constraint and other people in the warm-up arena, I did not even get to practice a flying change before we had to do it in the test. Totally my fault.

I was not really nervous. Nothing riding on this – just a chance to actually ride through the test in a show situation. There is really no substitute for riding a test in a show situation, even if it is just a schooling show. I ride through portions of the tests at home, but can never make myself actually ride the entire test from beginning to end.

The trot work went ok, but she’s ‘lost’ her right half pass and her right turn on the haunches. Those movements were some of her better. Her haunches are trailing in the half pass – we need to work on that.

She was late behind in her first flying change and the second direction, she uncharacteristically broke from canter to trot during the counter canter before the change. That was my fault – I almost dropped my whip and in futzing with that and trying to move it up higher in my hand, I quit riding and that’s when she broke.

Her canter to halts in the entry and exit were good, and her canter half passes were better than her trot half passes. She also nailed her downwards from medium and extended canter and her very collected canter strides from quarterline to quarterline within a 20m canter circle. And, because Pam was judging, she got a 72.3. Truly a “Christmas gift.” I think the high score of the show ended up being a 77 or a high 76 at training level. Marie saw some of my ride in between calling it for me and she said it looked pretty good. I am most happy with her canter  – she is finallly listening to my aids and not blowing me off when I ask her to sit and collect more. Now if _I_ can learn to _think_ and prepare her and cue her properly for the flying changes, and fix our half pass right and turn on the haunches to the right, we’ll be ready to take on a recognized show.

Super, super lesson today

I took Fling to Marie’s today for a lesson. It is my last ‘prep’ before the schooling show on Sunday. We worked on getting her straighter – i am tending to bend her too much – really more ‘pulling on the inside rein’ than bending. So Marie has been having me do two things  to get her straighter…think about riding her more with my outside seatbone and put her in slight renvers. It is working and has made my flying changes better. It also helps to KEEP her from changing early in 4/1 where you have to do half pass from D to E and then keep the counter canter along the side and through the corner before doing a flying change at C.

So once we worked on getting her straigher and ‘carrying more’ at trot and canter, we worked on the movement from 4/1 where you have to go across diagonal in medium, but then do six or seven strides of collected trot over X. Marie said I need to think half steps and really think about ‘bouncing’ her a bit with my seat to get move activity  not just slower. We then worked on the similar move at the canter where you do a 20m circle and show show six or seven strides of very collected canter between the quarterlines.

And then we put it all together and it was magic. I have been riding her mostly in the field with only an ‘approximate’ idea of letters and distances. The half pass from D to E/B is pretty steep – but was not difficult at all to make it to the letter. And then we put it all together — the half pass to flying change and then immediate circle with very collected canter from quarterline to quarterline. And it was magic. Effortless. Clean flying change. She came ‘back’ to me easily and she felt like she could do canter on the spot when I asked for very collected canter between the quarterlines.
When we finished the sequence I stopped and threw my arms around her neck and almost cried. And then she got a peppermint. Those are the moments you live for. And make you so grateful for these generous creatures.

Successful schooling show!

It was threatening rain, and, in fact, a short sprinkle got me cooled off as I was about to get on and start warming Faeryn up at the schooling show this morning. I could have used a bit more time to really get her supple, but I just did not allow enough time for our warmup. I got her right out of her stall where she’d been cooped up all night and put her in the trailer to take her to this show. I love being the first ride when the show does not start until 9. 😉

I really did not know what to think about our ride. It is very difficult for me to  be objective about my performance anymore. I am more critical of myself than any judge. This was our first outing at the more difficult Second Level Test 3. Up to this point, I’ve only shown her 2/1. Second 3 includes shoulder in to renvers, a lot of counter canter work and you have to do a walk/canter transition on the counter leg  each direction ON the rail, and there are turns on the haunches.

Faeryn struggled with one 10m canter circle and broke early but the judge did not seem to notice it. I will say her 10m circles really WERE 10m this time and not 12, as they seemed to be last time.

I was very happy to get a 63% from a fairly tough judge for the ride. and interestingly enough, she got mostly 7s on her canter work and mostly 6s on her trot work. I was happy with 6s on the shoulder-in to renvers but know she can do better on her mediums. She also got 6s on her turns on the forehand, and she should be able to get 7s on those.

She gets next weekend off, and then goes to Great SW for the HDS Schooling Show Championships Dec. 17-18. We are arriving late Saturday afternoon and competing on Sunday.