Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The plan is to leave at the beginning of February and return the beginning of April. The primary purpose of the trip is to further Neo's training towards becoming a Grand Prix horse this season. We'll be working with David Wilson of W Farms. I'm looking forward to see how Neo progresses with daily lessons and I'm sure we'll begin to really see him shine.
The secondary purpose of the trip is to get some showing in. We'll be showing at two CDIs while we are in California. The shows we will be competing at are The Dressage Affaire and The Festival of the Horse. We'll be showing the Prix St Georges, the Intermediate 1 and the Intermediate 1 Freestyle at these shows.
A big thanks to Neo's owner Rebecca Chatfield for supporting us in our pursuit of becoming a Grand Prix combination.
I'll keep you posted as we get closer to our departure date and of course our progress when we are down there.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I'll probably start back up training between Christmas and New Year's but that of course will be dependent on the weather. We potentially could have a rough winter up here in the Pacific Northwest.
We ended the season in October and November with some really great training. I finished the month of November with clinics with Henrik Johansen (Neo and Falcon) and Shannon Peters (Neo).
With Falcon we are strong enough to hold a solid 2nd level/3rd level collected trot. The canter is much improving and we've begun schooling flying changes. For this horse, and where he came from, being able to school the changes, and other upper level movements, is truly remarkable and quite rewarding.
With Henrik and Shannon's assistance we now have Neo at a completely different level of fitness and strength. We are showing at times the trot and canter required for the Grand Prix and have the basis for the piaffe and passage in place. All we need to do is get the coordination and strength for the passage. The 1's are coming along and right now we can get 7-10 depending on my timing.
This is quite exciting taking a horse (Neo) that was out of shape for the FEI and with some bad training habits and bring him along so that we are now on the cusp of riding a Grand Prix.
I'll be updating through the next couple of weeks and in the meantime have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Dressage Through The Levels Symposium (October 30-31): Neo and I will be the Prix St Georges and Intermediate I demo horse/rider for this symposium conducted by Janet Foy and Debbie McDonald.
Henrik Johansen Clinic (November 10-11): MW Dressage will be hosting Henrik Johansen at River Run Ranch and Rider's Edge Farm. I will be riding Neo and Falcon in this clinic.
Shannon Peters Clinic (November 13-14): I will be riding Neo in this clinic hosted by Traumhof Farm.
My goals for these upcoming clinics will be to develop better strength and balance for Neo to improve his piaffe and passage (especially the passage) and to continue to refine the 1 tempi changes. For Falcon, I want to begin flying changes on him soon so I'll use the time with Henrik to develop better collection in the canter.
Also, during this period I have been summoned for Federal Jury duty beginning November 1st. I'm really hoping not to be seated on a jury since I cannot afford, both financially and training wise, to be away for an extended period of time.
I'll try to have the report for Championships posted later this week-sorry for the delay in posting.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I am excited to announce that Neo and I have been selected as the Prix St Georges and Intermediate I demo horse/rider for the "Dressage Through The Levels" Symposium conducted by Janet Foy and Debbie McDonald. The symposium will be held at Donida Farm October 30th-31st. Information about the symposium can be found here.
I am honored to be selected and am looking forward to it a lot.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Back in January when I was creating my show schedule the Devonwood show was not originally on the list of shows. The reason being was this year I preferred to keep the shows closer to home to keep the traveling stress minimal on the older horses and to avoid the hot conditions that occur at this show.
In early March I was looking through the show omnibus and saw the list of judges for the Devonwood show. One of the judges was my mentor Hilda Gurney. Since I left California in 1997 I had not shown in front of Hilda and had not seen Hilda in person since a clinic in Colorado in 1998. I felt this would be a great opportunity to show in front of Hilda with two FEI horses. I spoke with the owners of Neo and Claudius and both agreed to changing the show schedule to go down and show in front of Hilda.
I knew that there was a chance Hilda would not be assigned to any of my classes, but I figured at least Hilda would be assigned the Freestyles. When times were posted the only class I would be riding in front of Hilda would be the FEI Freestyle with Neo. While that was a disappointment not to ride in front of Hilda more, at least it was the most important ride of the show. Ironically, I rode in front of Joan McCartney and MacDonald for all four rides. Oh well.
On the Friday of the show I rode both Claudius and Neo in the Prix St Georges. In the weeks leading up to this show I had put all my preparation, both in practice and in mental in the rehearsals, into the freestyles and it showed when I rode the Prix St Georges. Both rides were a little sloppy and not as crisp as I could have ridden. While we placed Neo 9th and Claudius 10th with low 60's it was not the best we could do. But what was important was I had both horses in good places and primed for the freestyles on Saturday night.
On Saturday, temperatures pushed into the mid to high 90's. Claudius was the first horse to go at 4:30pm and Neo second at 7:15pm. I was excited to be riding the freestyles at Devonwood because of the great venue, good footing, super amenities, and of course the large crowd to watching. I'm always motivated to show in front of a large crowd and try to show the crowd a great ride to watch. Plus, the loud ovations at the end always feel good.
I managed Claudius' warm up well with the hot temperatures (hence not riding with a jacket in both rides). Claudius's freestyle went well, with just a couple of bobbles. By far this was our best ride in two years and we still aren't at our best. We placed 5th-at this show they combine all of the USDF freestyle together. We were actually the 2nd best 4th Level freestyle with a 68%.
For Neo, I knew that moment we started our warm up we would have a great ride. Going around the competition ring prior to being rung in, I felt cool and confident. Everything seemed slow and I knew we had the ride we wanted before even going in. Minus a mistake in the 3's and in the canter zig zag I couldn't have asked for a better ride. In each of Neo's extended trots I could hear/feel a buzz from the crowd. The final halt/salute brought a huge ovation from the crowd. As I started walking away I turned around to catch Hilda's eye and she looked up momentarily with a big grin on her face.
We ended up 4th with a 66.5%. Without the mistakes we would have easily been 3rd and maybe even 2nd. Regardless, being our first time out for the I1 freestyle I couldn't have been any happier.
After the conclusion of the freestyles and the placings were set, I sought out Hilda and had about a 5-10 minute conversation with her; giving us a chance to do a quick catching up. Numerous times Hilda repeated, "you are looking so good on the horse". Hearing that meant so much to me and will be something I won't forget.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
For the Champagne Classic I only took Falcon as Neo and Claudius were showing at Devonwood the weekend after.
We thought that Falcon had a break through show at Beaujolais but that show seemed like nothing in comparison to this show.
The big thing with Falcon is to get him relaxed and then have him be able to mentally handle going forward with smooth long gaits. At this show, he started to show even better gaits. At Training Level he does quite well but at 1st Level with the smaller movements and change within the gaits he does struggle a little bit. Overall, Falcon is showing great promise and really with this horse the expectations continue to grow.
On Saturday we rode Training 4 for our first test. Falcon just put in a solid test from start to finish with the only hiccups being in the canter transitions. We won the class handily with a 74.8%. This was a legit score and not a "fluff" score.
Our second ride of the day, at 1st 4, also went solid. Falcon put his best 1-4 test to date and was rewarded with a 68.6%. This turned out to be a competitive class where we ended up 7th. However the winning score was only a 72% so with some cleaning up in the canter work we can easily be up there in the standings.
On Sunday, we just rode the 1-4 test. We did a better job in this test in many regards, mostly our canter transitions were better-but still room for improvement. Coincidentally, we scored the same score as the day before (68.6%). This time we won the class. A couple of the horses that beat us the day before were not in the class, while the others did not do as well.
Coming out of this show my objectives for Falcon changed dramatically. Now I knew I could start asking him a little bit more to show off his gaits better. I'll do this in small steps but I know we have a super horse.
For Championships Falcon has a reasonable chance to be in the top 3 or top 5 at Training Level and Top 8 or Top 10 at First Level. Both of these thoughts would be unthinkable at the start of the season.
This horse continues to be a rewarding partner to work with. Much thanks to his owner Alanna Danna for the opportunity to work and show him!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Beaujolais Dressage Show (June 18-20)
Weather was a big factor for this show as we had heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday. Friday was sunny and really nice. Then the rain came. The rain was moderate on Saturday, but was a steady downpour on Sunday. I was concerned about the footing holding up and the Donida grounds crew did a superb job. Not once did I feel that my horses would be slipping on the wet sand.
At this show, Falcon "broke out" and started to really show off. About a week or so before the show, I found a new gear for Falcon and got him to start moving forward in a freer fashion. We won two classes, placed 2nd in two others and then two 4th places. Plus, we got 1 qualifying score for Championships at Training Level. The frustrating part of the show for Falcon was on Friday and Saturday, we were always 1 or 2 points away from the qualifying. Our scores at Training Level were always a high 67% (69.6% on Sunday) and at First Level we received high 65%. Even though we didn't get all of our qualifying scores, overall our scores were 4-8% higher than last season and the first show of this season. With these results I had good feelings about what Falcon could do this season.
For Neo, our goal was just to get qualifying scores at Intermediate I. Two weeks prior, I had taken Neo to a clinic taught be Canadian Olympic rider Leslie Reid. Coming out of the clinic I was getting better flexion, suppleness and collection from Neo. Going into the show, I was still unsure how exactly we would do.
On Friday's ride, I started to put in some better pirouettes in the warm up. With the
solid pirouettes in warm up I knew we could put in a solid ride. In training if Neo is pirouetting well that means he is through and will be good in anything else.
Overall, the Friday ride went well. Ironically, I blew the pirouettes but had everything else fairly good. I left the ring knowing we did well but could also do a whole lot better. We won with a 63.8%.
Saturday's ride was really good. We warmed up indoors because of the rain. As the warm up progressed we started to get connections/balance that we hadn't before. When we went outside to finish the last few minutes of warm up, Neo refused to trot because the mud was splashing up on his belly and he didn't like that. After getting him to canter we went back down to trot. From there I had the horse I wanted. Going around the ring, waiting for the judge to ring us in, I gave my hands forward ever so slightly and Neo just lifted up and went soft. At that moment all I needed to do was ride relaxed and we would have a good ride.
The trot work went well where we scored 8's the extended trots and medium trot. The canter work went well, where we showed our best pirouettes in the show ring. The only big mishap was we messed up both lines of tempi's where we tripped up over X in both the 3's and 2's.
We won again, this time with a 65.5% from Carol Hoffman who is a tough judge.
Again, and this is what is exciting, is we can still do so much better. If I get the half passes in both the trot and canter better, and get the 3's and 2's a 69+% is well within reason.
Overall Claudius had a good show. Coming into the show Claudius had been dealing with a slightly sore back and that little bit of soreness prevented us from going as well as we could. For the first time I always had the horse straight, and riding in front of my leg. In the PSG on Friday and Sunday we scored a 59.6% (1pt from qualifying) and if Claudius was feeling his best there no doubt a score in the mid 60's would be possible.
We also debuted Claudius' 4th level freestyle at the show. To be quite honest, it was a little sloppy where I messed up on the choreography and Claudius broke into canter in one of the trot half passes.
I knew leaving this show that we could have a fantastic freestyle when we showed at Devonwood in July.
Start to finish this was my strongest show with all of the horses. This included four 1st places and two 2nd places. The highlight of the show was prior to entering the ring for my first test of the day on Sunday having the judge say to me, "You sure are having a good show!"
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Unlike last year I did not use any schooling shows for Falcon as tune-ups and instead focused on the training at home.
Falcon performed well. He was a little excited in the tests and I rode him conservatively so that we would have positive experiences and then go for more in the upcoming shows. The conservative riding did not produce as high of scores that Falcon is capable of but we got the job we wanted done accomplished.
We were 3rd in our Training Level class and then rode a pretty good 1-4 test, winning the test.
Up next for Falcon, Neo and Claudius too, is the Beaujolais Dressage Show.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I took Claudius and Neo. In the months leading up to the show I spent a considerable amount of time working primarily on improving their gaits and getting both horses to use their haunches and back more. Coming into the show I had both horses the strongest they have been with me.
I showed Neo at the Intermediate I. This would be the first time out at this level together. Overall, I'm very happy with how Neo went. The pirouettes and half passes in the canter are our weakest movements and on Sunday's ride with started to show some brilliance in them (but of course a lot to work on). In fact on the pirouette to the right the judge commented "This horse can sit".
Overall, we showed greater strength and did not fatigued through the test which happened sometimes last season. I personally made some errors in the test both days which cost us a lot of points. Without the errors we are in the 63-64% range and with the continued work on strength and suppleness being in the upper 60's at the I1 should not be a problem this season.
For Claudius, we showed at the Prix St Georges. Like last year the first test of the season was an experience of riding a very explosive horse and we had a lot of blow ups. That night we watched the video and for kicks, I also looked at one his rides from last August. Claudius looked like a completely different horse from this year to last year. Much more balanced, more muscular and most of all straight. Claudius has always had a tilt in his neck and that is now gone!
On Sunday's ride, I was able to put Claudius in a good spot and we had a warm up that just flowed smoothly. Wendy was giving me an eye from the ground and I heard in my ear piece "Matt, this is the best I have ever seen this horse go". I was able to carry a lot of that togetherness into the show ring. Again, some errors on my part cost us some points.
Coming out of this show I am very encouraged by both of these horses and just with some clean up in the test movements we should have both horses very competitive and also a lot of fun to watch.
A big thank you to Neo's owner, Rebecca Chatfield, and Claudius' owner, Cindy Bucceri for the opportunity to show their lovely horses and for the support the provide to me.
I have a new groom for the season, Emily Schnoor. Emily did a fantastic job with the horses. I was able to focus completely on my riding as Emily had everything taken care of. What a difference that made.
And a final thank you to Wendy Meyers for giving me an eye from the ground for the warm ups.
Up next is the L'Apertif Dressage show (5/24) where I'll be debuting Falcon for the 2010 season. We'll be showing Training 4 and 1st 4.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
It has been a roller coaster type of winter for me. The biggest thing is that for the month of March I battled a severe head cold that actually knocked me out for a few days. For the first time in years (maybe even decades) I missed multiple days of training. This was a nasty bug that affected a lot of people and we all went through the same symptoms.
By the end of March I wasn't feeling terribly symptomatic but I was so exhausted from being sick. I battled the exhaustion also during the month of April and I'm starting to come out of this month with some more energy! This is part of the reason for why no blog entries, I haven't had the energy to do so.
BUT, the most important thing is the horses have been going well. I have been able to put energy/focus into the riding and we are coming out of the off-season in great shape.
At the beginning of March, I rode with Henrik Johansen with Neo and Falcon. I did not ride Claudius as we had his hocks injected a couple of days earlier.
My lessons with Henrik, especially on the second day, were the best training sessions I have ever had! Both Neo and Falcon rode beautifully. After my ride on Neo, Henrik said, "If I were you, I would be opening a bottle of champagne tonight!"
I have been able to take the things I learned from the lessons and really have accelerated the training in all three show horses.
In two and a half weeks time I'll be taking Neo and Claudius down to the Heart of the Valley show at Devonwood. Neo will be showing at I1. This will be our first time out at the I1 and I'll be needing to get good scores so that we can become qualified to show the I1 freestyle, which I would like to do at the Beaujolais Show in June. Claudius will be showing at the PSG.
The week after that, I'll be taking Falcon to the L'Apertif Show and will be campaigning him at Training and First Level this season.
Thanks for reading and I'll keep the updated a little more frequent!
Monday, February 22, 2010
May 15-16: Heart of the Valley Dressage Show I and II
Neo and Claudius
May 23: L'Apertif Dressage Show
June 18-20: Beaujolais Dressage Show
Neo, Claudius and Falcon
July 17-18: Champagne Classic Dressage Show
July 23-25: Dressage at Devonwood
Neo and Claudius
August 14-16: Whidbey Island Summer Show
September 16-19: USDF Region 6 Dressage Championships
The plan for this season is to show Neo at I1, including a I1 freestyle. Claudius will show at PSG, including a 4th Level freestyle. Falcon will be showing at First Level and Second Level.
This is looking to be an exciting season for me, and we are starting to develop some ambitious goals for the three horses.
The entire show schedule for MW Dressage can be found at: http://www.mwdressage.com/showschedule.html
Friday, January 22, 2010
Nick is an elegant 16.1h Oldenburg gelding shown through 3rd Level.
He is soft to sit, has a good mouth, but does require a rider with confidence. He would be perfect for a amateur who has background in dressage and is looking for a horse to be successful on as they move up the levels. Or for a Junior/Young Rider with experience looking to have success at the medium levels.
Nick is being sold as he is too big for his current owner.
Included in the sale price is a custom (for Nick) Hulsebos saddle.
In August of 2009 Nick incurred a soft tissue injury in his upper left hindquarter. He has been back in work since October and has been in full professional training since December. He is schooling all of the 3rd Level movements and feels absolutely fantastic.
Nick was shown last year at Training/First Level by his owner (scoring in the 60's)and once by Matt Eagan at Third Level Test 3, scoring a 64.8% (with only riding the horse twice a week).
Nick is a very sweet horse, with no vices. He hauls, bathes, clips and can also go on the trails.
Watch a video of Nick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLVMpBRDvsE
Friday, January 8, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
With the last 3 weeks being very easy for the horses, and for me too (I was taking 2 days off a week!), it's time to start easing back into full work with the focus on the 2010 season.
The training will be pretty simple for the next four weeks as all we'll be focusing on throughness, suppleness, straightness, and any other weakness/limiter in each specific horse. For the most part, I'll be working the horses a little deep, with a lot, and I mean a lot, of transitions. A couple of the horses will be starting out with basic walk/halt transitions to develop a better half-halt and sit, while other horses we'll be emphasizing doing simple changes of lead in the canter. While the overall picture is the same for each horse, the approach will be different.
The goal for each horse by the end of January is to have each moving extremely well and with a better use of their hindend and backs, so that when we start in on February we can start emphasizing more lateral movements, but still keep the emphasis on skill building. By taking this approach I am hoping that by the end of winter we'll be having some fun horses to watch train!
Thanks for reading!