Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Give-It-A-Go Dressage Weekend Recap - Saturday

Coming into this dressage clinic I had:
  • Two brand new shiny tires for my trailer
  • One beautiful pony who was approaching maybe cantering in the same zip code as the cue for it (so if course I was doing a test with cantering!)
  • One great friend just as (un)prepared as me also participating and a cooler full of booze
  • One shitty forcast for 90% chance of rain
Saturday morning did not disappoint. It started raining around 9:30 a.m. My ride time was 1:00 p.m. so I remained hopefull as I arrived, settled wonder pony in and sat down to read through Walk/Trot B test for the first time in a year.

Wonder pony is so little! She can barely see out of her stall! :)
By 11:00 I had to get out to warm up. It was still raining of course but Savvy was good about it, although sceptical. We had a decent warmup. Savvy was very looky - a peacock kept shreaking from a nearby farm and cars going by were suddenly terrifying for her, but overall she handled it all well in the pooring rain and never felt unsafe to ride.

A took her back to the barn for lunch and to my surprise the rain stopped (thank you weather gods!).

My goal for this walk/trot test was just for Savvy and I to get used to the venue again and I wanted to see if I could pay more attention to quality rather than just 'showing up in the right spots' - if that makes sense?

Savvy had other plans. As we came to the outside of the ring to do the typical walk-around waiting for the bell, Savvy was a bit overwhelmed by the new area we were now in, the trees with sounds of a horse banging in the barn behind them, a still distant screeching peacock and a hyped up rider on board. She was just about prancing on the spot and grinding the bit. Surprisingly, I was feeling a bit meh, what ever, lets do this!

The judge had better ideas though. She called me over and promptly suggested we lesson first, test second. Brilliant idea!

Working on riding with a 'bridge' in the reins to ride with the
 hands as a team rather than two independant entities.
I won't bore you with the details but I will say it was all very different from how I ride. I played the good student though and tried all the things with an open mind and enjoyed her coaching style. She was a fun lady that was very direct but kept a sense of humor about things.

Savvy did settle finally and our test in the end was decent. Our main issue was consistancy on the contact at a trot. (Her shoulder balance was actually good though!) This has been a longstanding issue, made worse when Savvy is nervous. Her mind can get so busy and it comes out in her body all over the place, but it is getting better.

I did catch a glimpse at dressage as a competative sport and could see how some riders might end up on a path of trying to get results from the horse for the points, and just how easy it would be to lose sight of the horse's mental wellbeing.

I am a ridiculously competitive person, but knowing better means an obligation to do better. And lucky for me, my competitiveness is within myself. I know what I am looking for from Savvy and will know what a successful test will feel like for me - actual scores be damned.

I know Savvy's training is progressing at a snail's pace, but she's doing great! She is happy, healthy and we like each other. For me, that is winning.

Stay tuned for day two!


  1. I decided maybe we should be real life friends when I read cooler full of booze! Seriously though, sounds like a good learning, miles type experience. She will get there if you persevere and stick to the training methods you believe in-it will just take time and mileage. That's why made horses are so expensive. Really like the new cover photo and blog design btw...

    1. I know it in my head to just stick with what I believe in and it is my plan going forward, but hearing it really helps. Thank you - and yes, we definitely should be real life friends! :)

  2. Cooler full of booze is how to do it. I really want to try one of these lesson-test shows sometimes. They seems like a really interesting concept. I look forward to hearing about day 2.

    1. If you have the chance, I highly recommend it! They are usually cheaper than a regular dressage show with the added bonus of getting dressed up and treating it like a real show, and an hour of coaching.

  3. My hands need to get on the same team! Sounds like day one went well :) A cooler full of alcohol always helps!

    1. Its the best way to show/clinic in my books. ;)

  4. Ha I want in on that cooler too! Sounds like a good day despite some green horse stuff - I'm looking forward to catching up eventually to day two!