Fancy Prancing

Oh So and I have spent the last month working on our Third Level tests at three dressage shows. We started off at By Chance Farm in July. It was pretty hot, but we got up before dawn to get there and ride before 9am! At least we were done early.

We rode Third 1 and 2. Last year we only ended up getting to one dressage show, and we scored in the low 60s in both tests, so I was hoping to see some improvement this year.

Heidi and I know he’ll never have a clean right to left change at this point, so we accept it will be a 3 or 4, but there’s so many other things he does well.

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At By Chance Farm. InFocus By Bruce photo

I struggle to sit his medium/extended trots, so those are always a weak point, but I was surprised how well we scored on our canter half passes and our good change. We got 8s!

He has a pretty good rein back, but he kind of resisted in the test, so that ended up with a 6. He got a 7 on his gaits, but 6.5s on the other collectives. His poll can get low in trot, so the judge commented on that. It’s not that I’m forcing him down that way, it’s just that he naturally wants to leave his head there, so I constantly have to remind myself to lift him up.

The second test we got a few more 8s, including on our entry and our shoulder-in right and renvers right. We ended up with a 63.81 on test 2 and a 64.45 on test 1! Our highest scores yet. We won one class and were second in the other.

The next weekend we went to Loch Moy and ended up with a 63.78 on test 1 and a 64.07 on test 2. So, consistent! Heidi was able to be there to warm us up, which was nice.

We turned a few 5s into 6s and 6s into 7s, and got another 8 on our left to right change from one judge. Similar comments though–keep him more up and more engaged. I got a 7 on my position and one judge commented that I had good hands. We ended up second in both of our amateur classes and won the TIP award for our level!

Yesterday we did our last show of the summer at Beverly Equestrian. I rode in the indoor for both tests, and he did feel slightly tighter for the first test. We weren’t able to trot around the outside, so we started in the ring. I saw our reflection in the mirror and thought he looked more up in his frame.

We ended up with a 62.36 on test 2 and rode test 3 for the first time and got a 60.87. I was disappointed with the marks because he felt pretty much the same as the last two shows. Unfortunately I didn’t have a video to compare. Maybe the first test felt slightly less polished in the transitions. The judge dinged us for the extended/medium gaits and the transitions. Fair enough when he doesn’t have huge extended gaits to start with. It makes it harder to show a clear transition. She saw some irregular steps in the trot half pass right, which Heidi had actually noticed too during our lesson this week. Not sure what that’s about.

She said his haunches were leading in the canter half passes and while I felt the rein back was smoother in test 3, she said he wasn’t square behind. In test 2, she wanted more flexion and bend in the renvers and more bend but less angle in the shoulder-ins.

We were first and fifth in our classes and won the TIP award for our level. One rider walked by before our test and asked who Oh So’s sire was! That was quite the compliment.

So, not the improvement I’d hoped to see after three shows, but I know what we need to work on. More power in the extended/medium gaits, show more change in the transitions between gaits, and watch the hindquarters and bend/angle on lateral work.

My goal had been to reach 65 percent, and we got close! I think he could get maybe 67 percent if everything went perfectly, but isn’t that what dressage is about? Trying to put everything together on the day. We’ll keep working, but for now, back to running and jumping!

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