Tuesday, October 7, 2008

USDF Regional Championships

I got back home last night from the USDF Region 6 Championships. This was something I was shooting for the moment I began working with Vienna. It was a lot of hard work (and some hardship) to get her to this show, but what transpired over the weekend was well worth all of it!

With our training the past 4 weeks I knew I could be competitive with Vienna in our Championship classes. But I wasn't too concerned with that. My main goal was to present and ride a horse that was listening and through with me. If we placed well, then that would be the icing on the cake.

We left on 10/1 for the 9 hour drive. We traveled with Vienna's owner Deb, River Run Ranch owner Julie Bennett and her horse Piero, and our friends from KGF Equestrian: Siggi, Kristen and Sandi. It was a safe and thankfully uneventful trip. Vienna got off the trailer in the dark and was looking around, but nothing out of the ordinary.

On Thursday we spent the morning getting completely settled in to the show grounds and walking Vienna a lot around the grounds to get her adjusted to her new environment.

Our schooling session in the afternoon went okay. Honestly, I pretty much "slept walked" through the ride. The past few weeks and the travel had taken a toll on me. Getting feedback from Wendy and watching the video of the ride showed me it wasn't all bad, but I needed to get back on track.

The show started on Friday, but I didn't have a class this day. I wanted to spend another day schooling Vienna to ensure that I was in control of how long we rode for and could make adjustments on the fly. This ride went well. We schooled for a short period of time 15-20 minutes and then went through the Training Level 4 test. I had told Wendy prior to the ride, to really push me and not hold back. So after a couple of F-bombs dropped my way to look up and to stop riding like an amateur I got things together and put together a good ride.

On Saturday, we were planning on riding in the Training Level 3 class as a warm up for the Championship classes on Sunday. I woke up to rain and wind in the morning. During the midday hours all was well weather wise. Then ominous black clouds began rolling in. For about an hour and a half we had two brief, but potent thunderstorm came through delaying my ride for about 2 hours. After looking at the footing that got drenched I quickly scratched the ride and elected to school Vienna in the indoor arena later that evening. By doing so, I would be showing Vienna in the championships without going into the show ring.

The schooling in the indoor ring started after almost disastrously as Vienna was spooky and tense with all of the "things" to look at. I was wondering if I could get the mare back together and actually have a good ride. After about 15 minutes Vienna started to relax and started to trust me. For the next 30 minutes we put together some of our best work. It felt great and it was fun to show off in front of a fair amount of people. Getting off the horse, I had a big smile on my face and felt very confident about tomorrow.

Well, it turned out to be a good thing to elect to school indoors on Saturday as our first Championship class (Northwest Championship) was moved from outdoors to the indoor arena. If we hadn't schooled the night before then we would have had big problems in the test.

Vienna was still a little nervous while warming up, but in the show ring she put together a solid test. The only mistakes we made were in the free walk and the stretching trot circle where she became momentarily distracted. I left the arena happy with our ride.

I knew going into this show that the Open (Pro) classes would be extremely competitive. I just didn't think it would be very close. We placed 5th in the class with 349 points (69.6%). We were 1 pt behind 3rd place which had 350 points (4th too). Even though 2nd place was 11 points ahead, we actually were placed higher than them by one judge. Click here for results.

Our second championship class (USDF Regional Championship) went well too. This class was held in one of the outdoor arenas. Although the weather was good, the footing was a complete muddy mess from the rains the day before. This was Vienna's first experience in muddy footing so I wasn't too sure how she would ride. In warm up, she actually rode well. In the show ring she had a very big slip in the first canter circle, leaving a huge divet. From that point on, I rode her a little more conservative as I didn't want to risk her health.

After the final halt/salute, I felt happy with the ride, but knew it wasn't as good as the test earlier. We finished 5th again in the class and were 2 points out of 4th place. We were still in the thick of things and that meant a lot to me. Click here for results.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with how the show transpired. I have been riding this horse for 4 months and only 3 days a week. To bring this horse along to this point has been a wonderful experience and very rewarding. Thank you Deb for the opportunity to train and show your horse.

This brings a conclusion to the show season. In the next couple of weeks, I'll provide a more thorough recap of everything that has transpired since the move and what I'll be working on during the off-season.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Swedish Warmblood Inspection

This past Saturday (9/27), I presented Cinzano at the Swedish Warmblood inspection.

We began the inspection with him getting his measurements done to make sure his confirmation was correct. After that we began the free jumping segment. The first round through he wasn't too sure what was going on, but after that he was all for it. The inspectors raised the jumps successfully up to 4'2". On that jump Cinzano had to put in a big effort to get over and kicked backed with his hind legs aggressively to get over (more on that).

After that I trotted him in hand. All of this went really well.

The final component of the inspection was me presenting Cinzano under saddle. We showed in an arena with the two inspectors in the middle and about 20 people watching on the side. This was quite unnerving to the horse as he had not been in that situation at all. I was asked to show him at walk, trot, canter in both directions (plus lengthening of the trot and canter). From the get go, he felt different. On the left rein he was feeling okay but to the right he was all over the place. In the canter Cinzano was swapping leads, throwing his head, and even rearing. I was sitting on top, thinking "What the hell is going on". I tried everything I could by not sitting deeply and trying to keep his neck as long as possible.

After that we had the inspectors give their scores and opinions of the horse. Overall, they like Cinzano a lot and repeated this a couple of more times verbally and in writing. He received 7 and 8's in all of his scores, except for under saddle where he scored a 6. His total point total gave him a Class I status, but to be approved as a stallion all scores need to be above a 7. The inspectors repeated a couple of times to bring back Cinzano next year as he shold be able to pass.

Needless I was disappointed that I could not get Cinzano passed and couldn't figure out what happened under saddle. In prior rides he never rode like that. I thought something felt wrong in his back but couldn't pinpoint it.

The next day, Cinzano received a chiropractic exam. The chiropractor found, and adjusted, a rib that was out of place on the right side. More importantly, Cinzano's pelvis was severely rotated. This is what caused the misbehavior on Saturday. How the pelvis became out of place, came from the free jumping in the inspection. On that 4'2" jump he injured his pelvis. With the adjustment, Cinzano is now fine and ready to come back to work!

It was slightly frustrating to loose a confirmation because of something that was out of my hands. But that's the beauty of horses sometimes :).