Over the past weekend the MW Dressage team traveled down to Devonwood for the Heart of the Valley Dressage Show to kick off our 2010 season.
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.