A Good Day At The Schooling Show

My trainer, Marie Morgan, always has a schooling show on Mother’s Day. It’s been a tradition for years, and now she uses it as a fund raiser for various women-oriented charities. She donates proceeds, and has a silent auction, a ‘mother’s ride’ at lunch, flowers for the moms, etc. It’s a lot of fun and I always go – and always spend too much money on the silent auction!!

I signed up to show Fling Fourth 1. It was the first time to show her at all since last December when I showed her at Marie’s Christmas schooling show (cleverly called “Dickens on the Sand,” a nod to our local Galveston holiday event, Dickens on the Strand,”)

Interestingly enough, Donna Meyer, a USEF licensed “r” dressage judge, who’s showing at FEI herself, officiated at that show – and also judged the Mother’s Day show. It was nice to be able to be able to possibly track progress.

I warmed Fling up in the outdoor arena and she was very good. Listening to me, obeying my half halts. All was well. However, when I rode into the covered arena  — only the same arena we take ALL our lessons in  – she turned into the proverbial freight train. Fling’s number one problem is trying to contain her energy and get her to listen to the half halts. As soon as I felt the train arrive at the station, I put her to work doing canter serpentine with ‘square’ turns and simple change at centerline. It is the one thing I have found that somewhat helps ‘defuse’ her when she gets soooo strong. I do this exercise every day at home – strong or not – because it helps her build muscle and balance and gives her the idea changes – even simple ones – CAN be done on the straight line, and the ‘square’ turns keep her shoulders upright. So, I was still doing these serpentines when the judge rang the bell – would have liked about 3 more minutes, but that’s show biz. She definitely did not work as well as she’s been working at home. With most horses, that’s a given, but Fling usually works almost to 100% even at a show. Her half passes were ok, but they were not as good as she does at home on a daily basis. She nailed one flying change  – yeah us! – but was at last a stride late behind in the other one. She still is not nailing the halt at x from canter, but our scores are better because even tho she doesn’t ‘stick the landing’ she is very, very much straighter than she has been.

So, you’re saying, what was the score already? A very respectable 62.7. And believe it or not, out of about 30 rides – none others at fourth, or third and only two at second, she had, I think, the fifth highest score of the show.

The take away? SHORTEN my reins. I keep them short fairly well at show, but you know how things ‘get away from you’ during a test. Also, quit worrying about ‘sticking the halt’ and worry more about super straightness in the canter and a really energetic, straight trot off afterwards. Do more haunches in to help the half pass – “haunches trailing’ was one of the comments – and rare for her.

Our collective marks were some of the best we’ve gotten at this level. Fling actually got a 6 on submission and I got a 7.5 on rider, and we got a 7 on harmony. Judges comments included “she really tries for you. Work for more suppleness over back for more suspension.”  Nothing new to me!  Now we have our homework. And we’ll be riding in a Debbie Bowman clinic this weekend.

Fling shows at a recognized show Memorial Day weekend. 


Oh, and last December we scored a 58% for our Fourth 1 ride under the same judge.


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