Monday, June 29, 2009

Whidbey Island June Dressage Show

Over Father's Day weekend I took the Sabu and Sharon, and Nick and Deborah up to Whidbey Island for the June Dressage Show.

I rode/showed on Friday and then Sharon and Deborah showed their respective horses on Saturday and Sunday.

I rode both Nick and Sabu at 3-3. Going into each ride I knew the flying changes would be a little tricky as Nick is late on the changes a lot, and Sabu prefers to do flying leaps rather than flying changes. In training with each horse we were more on the side of getting consistent, good changes rather than bad changes, but the changes were definitely not 100% confirmed.

On the warm up day, both horses rode beautifully. Both were a little excited about being on the show grounds and I rode them enough to be calm, yet keep them energetic for Friday. Sabu can become a little too excited/nervous but for the most part he keep his emotions in check and really showed off his movement. Nick, who at home can be a little lazy, used his energy to show off a little too.

On Friday morning, I showed Nick first. He gave me a great warm up, and was light and responsive to the aids. Overall, we had a solid test, received four 8's. Our only problems were in both flying changes (both changes were late) and in the turn on the haunches (I goofed in my aids). We scored a 64.8% and 2nd overall in the class. Without the mistakes we would have won. What I'm really proud with Nick is, I only ride him twice a week, and we beat riders who work with their respective horses every day of the week.

Sabu also rode well in the warm up, but was a little more tense than he was the day before. For the most part he kept his nerves in check during the test, but showed tension in some key moments. Specifically, in both medium and extended trots, where we broke gait; in the medium canter where we showed a beautiful medium canter until he became distracted and threw his head, and finally in the second flying change where he got so nervous we trotted through the change. For my first time showing Sabu, I was pleased.

Because of a prior commitment, Deborah was unable to show on Saturday, so I just had Sharon to coach (I schooled Nick later in the afternoon). Over the past couple of weeks, Sharon had put in some very solid rides in her lessons and she started to show off he new found riding. She had strong rides in 1-1 and T-4.

On Sunday, Sharon took her riding up another notch and posted her best ever ride in a show. She scored a 62.8% at T-4; 1pt off a qualifying score. What I am most impressed/happy with is she scored ~10% higher at T-4 from the show in May.

Deborah come through with 2 good rides at 1-1, 61%; and T-4, 62.4% (2pts off a qualifying score). This was Deborah's 2nd show and her first "travel/overnight show".

I am extremely pleased with both my students. It was a great drive back home because in the truck both riders had big smiles still on their respective faces.

Both Deborah and Sharon are in full gear preparing for the Devonwood Show in 3 weeks. I will be taking them, plus riding Neo (PSG and I1) and Claudius (4th Level and PSG).

Later this week on Thursday and Friday, I'll be riding with Henrik Johansen. I'll be riding all 4 show horses (Neo, Claudius, Nick and Sabu) with him. I'll have the clinic report up over the weekend.

In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beaujolais Show

This past weekend (6/13-14) was the Beaujolais Show. This marked a big event for me as I was returning to the FEI show ring. This happened a lot quicker than I expected when I created a list of goals over a year ago. What was exciting was, I was able to show two horses (Neo and Claudius) at Prix St Georges.

When I began working with Claudius this past September I put out the goal of riding him at PSG at some point during the 2009 season. At that time, and through most of the winter, I was thinking I could have him ready in August or September. Things started to come together well after I began riding again after the rib injury. Honestly, there were times I thought I was crazy, but kept at it. With Claudius this was his first time at the FEI level.

With Neo, I knew I would be showing him PSG (and Intermediate I next month) when Rebecca purchased him in March.

I won't bore you with too long of a blog post so here's the short and skinny:

I rode Neo first and the warm up went well. I was a "tad" nervous in the warm up and throughout the test. I made some small mistakes in both the pirouttes (walk and canter). I also missed a change in the 3 tempi changes. When I made the final halt/salute I was content. I knew I had put in a solid ride and that while it wasn't perfect it was very respectable. I/we were a little shocked at the score we received: 61.8%. I/we felt it was more in the 63-64% range. We ended up 2nd overall.

For Claudius we had been dealing with a sore back issue. The week before I switched saddles on him (that's a whole different story), and thankfully it worked well. I went into show week with a horse a little less conditioned then I would have liked. We had a good warm up, but I knew I wouldn't be able to collect him as much as I would like. In the test Claudius threw his usual first test of the show spooks, but I was able to put in some descent parts. Compared to the first test at Devonwood last month this was a big improvement. With Claudius it is all about "baby steps". Leaving the arena with Claudius I felt we scored a 56-57%. Surprisingly, and I'll take the score any day of the week, we scored a 60.4% (5th overall).

I was able to accomplish a goal of getting a qualifying ride for Championships on the first day with both horses.

Going into Sunday, I knew I could win the class and really put in a showing with Neo if I put together a good warm up. And I did do that. I had Neo working very well, moving great, working for me, and I also had my mental focus exactly where I wanted. Then in the test, I blew it. I over rode/tried too hard in a lot of sections (most of the canter work). The moment we finished the test I was fuming at myself for riding like I did. I had the horse to do it, and all I needed to do was let him do it. BUMMER!!!!!! We scored a 58.8%. A week later, I'm still a little mad at myself, but will use this as motivation to knock 'em dead a Devonwood next month.

Because of scheduling, I immediately got on Claudius after Neo's ride. It took me about 10 minutes to regain my composure and once I did we put together a good warm up. This ride was much better than the day before as Claudius gave me more of an honest effort (minus blowing me off in the 3's). I was happy with this ride. The judging was a little more realistic with a 58.4%.

Overall I'm happy, but very hungry for the next couple of shows, especially Championships. I have no doubt I'll have Neo ready to be extremely competitive by Championships for the PSG and maybe I1. I know with more time Claudius will be a more solid small tour FEI horse and that we'll be right in the thick of things come September.

It was nice to have a lot of support including some old riding friends come out (Amanda Olson and Laura Journey), plus clients and friends from River Run and Simpatico.

Finally, A heartfelt thank you to Rebecca Chatfield and Cindy Bucceri for the opportunity to show their respective horses. Without you two I wouldn't be here. Also, thank you to Wendy Meyers, Karla Spirtus, and Henrik Johansen for their instruction, guidance, and motivation. And finally to my family for their support.