Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009 Regional Championships

Before I begin, I just want to start off by saying I couldn't be prouder of Neo. When we got him back in March he was a skinny, out of shape horse. The horse I showed at Regionals was a completely different horse that had about 75lbs more muscle on him and was starting to show his true potential. At the show, he gave me his best and while we didn't do as well as I would have liked, the effort he showed and the gaits he displayed made me not only proud but very excited for the 2010 season. I left the show grounds with the confidence that we will be very competitive next year.

Ok, now to the fun details........

Our first Championship class was the Prix St Georges Northwest Dressage Championship. In that ride, Neo performed the best movements/gaits in the show ring to date. He was up and engaged and it really felt good to ride. Unfortunately, I made 4 huge mistakes which cost us dearly. The first being we swapped leads coming up the initial center line. When that occurred I thought to myself, "no biggie, nail the rest of the test". The trot work went well and I finally got good medium and extended trots; where I didn't loose the hindend the last 1/4 of the diagonal. Pirouettes have been a work in progress and while they weren't perfect, they were our best to yet. Then the tempi's came. I hadn't missed a line of tempi's on Neo in the show ring, or in practice, since late July. Well, I blew both the 4's and the 3's. And the last mistake was a very abrupt, and early final halt.

I left the ring fairly emotional. I was so excited about how Neo went. We saw from start to finish what this horse can really do. While we still could use some more strength to get better gaits, he did not fade during the entire test. On the other hand, I was extremely frustrated with myself for the errors I had made. It was a tough couple of hours for me as I sorted through everything.

We ended up 6th overall (out of 19) with a high 61%. Without the mistakes I figured around a 64% which would have put us solidly in 3rd place.

On Saturday was the Prix St Georges USDF Regional Championship. In this test, we did not quite have the engagement of the previous day, but with less errors. My two mistakes were having a flying change coming out of the left pirouette and a flying change coming into the right pirouette. Leaving the ring I was happy, but was curious to see what the judges thought because we didn't quite have that sparkle from the day before. I figured a low 60's score. Well, that wasn't to be. We received a high 58%.

I honestly felt like I got punched in the stomach. The score didn't make sense. And not that this means anything, but everyone who watched that ride, they were shocked too. I can't explain it but it was tough to swallow. We ended up 8th overall for the class.

Like I stated at the beginning of this entry, overall I am excited and encouraged by Neo's progress over the past 6 months with me. The first show of next year is about 7 months away. I have the utmost confidence that over the winter we can elevate ourselves to another level. And I'll be using that little bit of disappointment I had from the show as motivation to make ourselves even better during the winter training.

Finally, a big "shout out" to everyone who helped me:

Rebecca Chatfield: thank you for the opportunity to ride your wonderful horse and giving me your full backing in getting to this show.
Rachel Robison: thank you for the grooming you provided at the shows. The last two shows you were absolutely perfect in what you did.
Wendy Meyers: thank you for the "eye" and guidance over the season; especially over the past 5 weeks leading up to the Championships. You had me (us) ready!
Everyone who traveled down to Devonwood to come watch up and support.

August Schooling Show

On the last Sunday of August, I took Falcon, and Rachel with Gitano, to the last EI Schooling Show of the season.

The primary purpose for taking Falcon was to see if doing a full show campaign next season would be in the cards. Falcon has been doing solid work in his training the past couple of months where he began to get over his spookiness/nervousness and really started to show off. He's gone from a horse I knew I could get around at walk/trot/canter with no problems for me, and his owner Alanna Danna, to a horse that I know will be competitive at the lower levels. If I can put changes on him, then maybe even the upper levels.

I took him out at First Level for the first time. Minus being a little "nervous" getting off the trailer, he settled down once I started our warm up. I just kept it simple and it paid off. He went into both classes, minus a minor spook here or there and a pretty funny whinny, like a seasoned pro. He scored 70% and 68% for his tests. I figured if it were a rated show, the scores probably would have been in the mid 60's.

How far this horse has come over the past year or so is truly remarkable (from a completely petrified horse who was scared of any work under saddle to a horse that is beginning to trust himself and really show off some solid gaits).

So, we have the winter to polish things up with him. Look for us to be showing at First Level and Second Level next season. A big thanks to Alanna Danna for her patience with her horse and letting me work with both of them!

My groom Rachel, went into the show ring after some time off from showing and put in a solid 2-4 test on Julie Bennett's schoolmaster Gitano. The little guy, at 19, showed he still can put on a game face and was happy to strut his stuff. They both looked sharp! We are still looking for a care lease situation for Rachel in her pursuit of making a Young Riders team in the near future.