I had a very busy weekend, taking both horses to a dressage show and then taking Oh So for a gallop yesterday.
Let’s start with the dressage show. Sam had the early times at 9am, so it was a very early morning. He settled right in the warmup, but got a more spooky as we kept going. The show was indoors, but it didn’t help that we had 50 mph gusts of wind! I don’t know if I can remember it ever being that windy. I heard on the radio that multiple wildfires ignited across Northern Virginia since it’s been so dry. Our arena is actually dusty.
So, Sam’s warmup was decent, but I think we really need to work on our canter. He just braces under his neck sometimes, especially in the upward transitions from trot. We rode Second tests 1 and 2. He was quite distracted in the actual test, so as a result, we only scored a 60%. I had a few minutes in the warmup before my second test, and he was much more focused for the second test. We got a 64%, our best so far. It was also our first time riding the test. We’re slowly inching towards my goal, which is mid-upper 60’s. I know we’re both capable. We just need to turn the 6’s into 7’s and maybe get a few more 8’s. I was mostly concerned about getting the pattern right since it was the first time I was riding Second 2, so I feel like next time I can ride a little more accurately. So my goals for the next show are: work on better upwards transitions to canter, get a more supple canter, and work on better transitions from medium gaits and back to collected gaits.
With Oh So, I had Heidi come again to help me warm up. I wish I could have her every time! He started a little tense, mostly just holding himself. I’ve found over the last few weeks that if he gets tense, sometimes asking for a bigger trot, almost a medium, for multiple circles, or down the long sides really helps. Heidi said the same thing; it just gives him a place to take his tension. He schooled somc lengthened canters and comebacks, which were quite good. I know I need to ask for more, but in the tests and the warmup I was able to really push him and not have it blow up in my face.
We also schooled some leg yields, which we need to work on. I think I’m so concerned that he’ll be haunches leading, that I make his shoulders lead too much, so he’s not straight. We had some good ones and some bad ones in the warmup, but I can feel the difference.
First test 1 was quite good. We got a 67%. He actually tried to stretch a little in the stretchy trot circle after the trot lengthening. And he kept it together in the free walk to medium walk. I think the first level tests give both of us something to think about. First test 2 was a bit more tense, especially after the free walk, but after each little fuss, he came back quicker than he used to, so it was still a good experience overall. The stretchy trot circle was not as good in this test because it came after the free walk and the leg yields were not quite straight enough, but it was a good effort. We ended up with a 65%.
Yesterday I took Oh So for a gallop. I didn’t want to do it right after the show, but the weather and the footing were good, so we went for it. The schooling facility had just been sludged as they usually do before spring. So it smelled, and putting studs in was character-building to say the least. We walked around a bit, and then went off with another horse and rider for a warmup. We didn’t actually trot! He was so excited to be out, so I just let him have a steady canter, and then opened him up a bit. I never actually “let him rip”, because it was the first gallop of the season, and he wasn’t very happy about that! He was fussy, but that was to be expected. I just had to insist that he listen when we started jumping. We did a bounce bank combination and stepped on and off a bank. His footwork was all very good, which was our goal for the day. He actually pulled me to the log/bank into water and the ditch! It was a great feeling, and I have a good feeling about this season. He felt so confident.
He’ll have a couple of days off and we’ll go for another school next week, then a stadium school, and off to Southern Pines!