Friday, May 22, 2009

L'Apertif Show

This past weekend we took some of the horses to the L'Apertif Dressage Show at Bridle Trails. What's nice about this show is, it is a 20 minute drive from the barn and has a very low key demeanor (think a dressed up schooling show).

This was very good as I took Falcon out for his first ever show. We had ridden in a schooling show at Bridle Trails the month prior with him to prepare for the show.

Falcon has been in my program for a little less than a year. Prior to me he had been with an abusive trainer and Falcon lost all sense of confidence and was/is very nervous. Falcon could barely walk or trot without having a massive meltdown. At that time, last June, cantering was completely out of the question. With a training program that emphasized the positive and without any rushing I have been able to bring Falcon around to being close to a "normal" horse. He still has his moments but the last two weeks of training have been absolutely solid.

The fact that I felt confident enough to take Falcon to a show is the biggest success of all. Our goal was simple, go out and have a positive day with no catastrophes.

Mission accomplished and then some. Falcon put in a very solid test (T-3) for his first ride. We inevitably had some tense moments and he sucked behind me a couple of times. Overall, it was a good picture and something even 3 or 4 months ago was almost impossible. We scored at 64.8%, winning the class.

The second ride (T-4) didn't go as smoothly. Mostly because Falcon was a little tired; more mentally than physically. He got behind my leg and then curled up on me during some sections of the test. We scored a 58.9%, but I feel that I was a little to low. After the final halt salute I felt we were more in the 60-62% range. Regardless, it doesn't matter Falcon went well.

I'm very proud of Falcon and look forward to making him into more of a dressage horse! A thank you to his owner, Alanna Danna for allowing me to show him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May Devonwood

This past weekend I traveled down to Devonwood for the Heart of the Valley Show. I went with Claudius, his owner Cindy, Julie and Piero, and Wendy.

The previous weekend I had worked with Karla Spiritus and we had some really good work with Claudius (Neo too) where we got Claudius to lift his back up and come through. This of course has been what the emphasis of the training has been.

I have been battling a nasty head cold for the past week and while I was overall feeling better my energy levels were quite low and I would say my mind was cloudy at best.

The warm up on Friday went alright. We had some decent moments, but I was late or forgetting my aids and didn't get him where I wanted. I wasn't too concerned as I knew I could focus for an hour on Saturday.

On Saturday we rode Fourth Level Test 1. I was pleased with our warm up as I was able to get Claudius through and deep in the work. A lot of emphasis was placed on getting him to stand up on the outside in the canter. I put my coat and top hat on about 15 minutes prior to the start of the test. The top hat is brand new and I had tried it on and thought I had a good fit. BUT I had not tried riding with it prior to the show (a dumb ass move on my part). Immediately, it was shifting on my head. I handed it back to Wendy to stuff some tissue in the hat to get it to fit more snug. After about 4 or 5 adjustments I thought I had a fit that would at least get me through the test.

We rode in the indoor arena and Claudius immediately became pumped but still rideable. I thought to myself, "Take advantage of this and get some spectacular gaits". Well, that didn't last because as we made the corner to enter the arena Claudius began bouncing around in the canter. I walked him for a moment and then re-entered the arena. Upon entering the ring, Claudius became extremely tense and nervous, and began doing one time changes up the center line. Impressive yes, but not the entrance I wanted.

After the first medium trot across the diagonal my top hat began lifting off my head. In each subsequent corner I tried to push it down on my head to keep it from falling off. Well, on the extended trot we had lift off. It wasn't a big deal, but looked a little amateurish having my top hat come flying off and then riding the rest of the test without it.

The rest of the test we had some descent moments, but I couldn't get him to relax. We had another series of 1's on a single change. I kept trying to get the next movement better.

We scored a 62%. I was disappointed because the horse I presented looked like the Claudius of old and not the Claudius I have spent the past 8 months getting better.

My plan for the test on Sunday was to find a way to show Claudius that we are here to work/show and that there was no reason to be nervous.

Our ride on Sunday was Fourth Level Test 2. The first 15 minutes of the warm up was filled with stiffness and tension. I continued to work on getting him deep and through. Then finally we had a break, and he relaxed and came through. He wasn't as deep as the previous weekend with Karla, but I had a better horse than I did the day before.

The test was better in quality as I was able to ride him without much muscle. However, we made some huge mistakes that cost us dearly. On the diagonal lines in the canter work, Claudius immediately became stiff and running (something must have happened in his past as this is his normal reaction). In the working pirouette movements I wasn't able to get the half halts to last and either had a very big pirouette with no sitting or bend, or we had steps of walk. Also in a flying change Claudius took the half halt and trotted instead of balancing up and then changing. We scored a 61%.

While the scores on some of the movements don't reflect us, we did have a strong start to the year. Our mission is still the same and that is to get Claudius in better shape and more confident. I know if I can get him deeper and through in the work at home, I'll present a better package at the Beaujolais in June when we show Prix St Georges.

A big thanks to Claudius' owner Cindy Bucceri for allowing me to show her horse; plus she did a fantastic job grooming. Another thanks to Wendy Meyers for coaching during the show and to Julie Bennett who did a fabulous job with her horse Piero. They destroyed the classes on Saturday and Sunday with 68%'s at Second Level Test 4. I'm very proud of her!

Next show in the L'Apertif this Sunday.