Operation Bronze Medal: Partway There!

We’ve had crazy amounts of rain over the last week, and I was kind of glad I wasn’t entered at an event because there was no way we would have run.

But I didn’t really expect the brand new fancy all-weather rings at Morven Park to be unrideable on Saturday.

I’d entered the PVDA Spring Dressage Show, and had planned to do two first level tests on Saturday and two second level tests on Sunday to knock those scores out and start really working on the third level tests for my bronze medal.

By the time my first ride time came around on Saturday afternoon the rain had stopped, but the warm up footing was just horrendous–uneven, deep and sloppy. It’s similar to the footing at Morningside, sort of a wax-coated sand, and if it rains a lot the week before a Morningside CT, I don’t go.

The minute we stepped in the ring Oh So started tripping in walk. I tried a bit of trot and canter, and it wasn’t much better, so I tried trotting on the bluestone outside the rings. He was a bit tense and unhappy at that point, and with no warmup, even for a first level test, I wasn’t feeling good about it either.

I trotted around the outside of the competition ring when it was my time, and it was similar, so I told the judge I was scratching.

I was pretty upset about that. Just more money down the drain, but I have to keep his soundness in mind. Deep is not good for him. It’s just frustrating since the bluestone and rubber ring at the barn was fine, and the indoor at Morven was unavailable. Sometimes fancy footing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Luckily in dressage if you scratch, it doesn’t mean your whole show is over, so I came back the next day cautiously optimistic. It was quite hot and sunny, and the ring was 95% better, so we went for it.

I think he doesn’t love that kind of footing either way because he tripped a couple of times, but it was much more even, and there were no holes.

I think because it was so hot he was a little more willing to work with me, so I felt for both tests that he was fairly rideable and not tense, just anticipating a couple of things.

We’ve always had issues with him wanting to jig after a canter/walk transition, just anticipating the next upwards transition, but I thought his serpentine with simple changes across the centerline were decent. One was a bit abrupt down, but he didn’t anticipate. He did flip his head in the upwards transition at C after a medium walk in the corner, so that wasn’t helpful, but that was the only serious mistake.

The medium trots sitting are difficult for me, and I definitely bounced, so it wasn’t the prettiest picture. I need to continue to school those at home, and the judge commented that I need to flow more with him. Noted!

The second test felt about the same, but I thought the pattern was a bit more difficult. I wasn’t confident in my geometry, so I think my half turns on the haunches were a bit off in particular.

The judge wanted to see more angle in the haunches in as well. We scored a 63% on the first test and a 65% on the second test. We ended up winning the first class and getting second in the other!

Our scores were mostly 6s and 7s. We did get one 8 on our first centerline and one 5.5 on the rider score for my bouncing, which was sad, but not undeserved. I’m hoping we can turn a few of those 6s into 7s and maybe get a few more 8s next time, but now that we have those two second level scores we needed for the bronze, we’re going to leave that level behind for now until we can get through the third level stuff, especially the flying changes.

He’s been offering them when we school the second level counter canter, which is appreciated, but not needed, so hopefully we can cut down on his confusion now. I’m bummed that I have to try to find another show to get those first level scores out of the way though, but I feel a sense of accomplishment to have gotten our scores at a licensed show and won! I wasn’t expecting that.

 

 

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We Made It To A Recognized Event! Loudoun Recap

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GRC Photo

It was looking iffy that we would make it to the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Horse Trials last week with Oh So having time off for his injury and losing some riding time, plus tons of rain the week before, but I’m happy to say we made it!

I walked the course on Saturday evening because Morven Park is literally five minutes from my house! The footing looked a bit deep in spots, especially at crossings, and I thought for sure Lisa would say we shouldn’t run, so I mentally prepared for the disappointment of just doing a combined test. To be honest, having not done a recognized event at any level for nearly two years, even some of the novice tables looked kind of big to me!

He stayed in overnight to keep clean, and I was there bright and early the next morning to braid, which I also haven’t done for awhile!

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Product Review: Majyk Equipe Cross-Country Boots and Dressage Boots

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Sporting our Majyk Equipe X Country Boots.

I’d been peripherally aware of Majyk Equipe’s cross-country boots because Boyd Martin had been the face of the brand when they first came out, but I didn’t really pay attention because they seemed like just another pair of black cross-country boots, and I was happy with my Premier boots.

Then they came out with the Elite X Country Boot in colors, including black and red, and I suddenly paid attention!

My Premier front boots were getting pretty beat up, so I knew it was time to try something new.

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A Quick Update

UPDATED April 21

He’s sound! Hooray! I had the vet come out yesterday, and we flexed him and lunged him, and he looks good. He was just a bit crazy on the lunge. I’ve never actually seen him buck before! And I almost lost my hand jogging him, but we’re crossing our fingers we’ll be set to do the whole event next weekend.

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Well, someone or something in the universe is conspiring against me it seems! The same day I posted my last blog about how wonderful it is to be back out, I went to the barn and saw Oh So got an injury.

It’s a small nick on the outside of his right front, which unfortunately is right over top of his old suspensory.

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He was pretty lame in trot, so I decided to get the vet out on Saturday morning to ultrasound. Luckily there were no significant issues upon examination, so we’re wrapping, icing and confining to a small paddock this weekend instead of competing.

I think it’s just the actual blow that’s making him lame, so I’m hoping with a few days of rest he’ll be OK.

I know people always say, “Oh, it’s horses,” but I am getting a little sick of my luck. I’ve waited a year to compete and now that we both can, we can’t.

I finally had some sense of balance and happiness where everything was finally going right, and now it’s gone again. And people wonder why I’m a pessimist!

I ‘m hoping against all hope that this is minor and he’ll be feeling better before Loudoun in two weeks. Wish us luck!

Back On Course

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Janet Gallay photo

Yesterday Oh So and I finally got to leave the start box for the first time in nearly a year. I really can’t believe it’s been that long, but with my injury and then the fall and winter weather, the timing was bad, and it just didn’t happen.

I’ve been dying to get out all winter, but we had a very cold and then wet winter, so we haven’t been able to cross-country school much.

We went to Loch May last week before I went down to The Fork and had an easy school just getting us both used to cantering and jumping up and down hills. When you’ve been on a flat surface all winter it takes a little while to get that feel back!

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Winter Doldrums (With A Little Sunshine Mixed In!)

Long time no update! There really hasn’t been much to talk about as far as my riding since my last update, but I did have a really good lesson with Heidi before I left for two COTH trips, and I’ve been hanging on that feeling ever since.

I’ve just gotten back from two back-to-back trips, first to the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival in Del, Mar, California, and then to Wellington for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Two weeks of fancy prancing, and I’m inspired to put on my fun-colored breeches and make Oh So wear his blingy browband, but I’m ready to jump!

Before my whirlwind trips I was finally able to connect with Heidi for a flat lesson. I haven’t been able to see her since late November because of the weather on the weekends, so I’ve felt a little lost working on my own, knowing that I’d really like to get the right to left flying change this year.

We had a very good lesson where we touched base with some shoulder-in and haunches-in on the long side to supple him, then went on to work on the changes.

We started just asking for them on the diagonal, but then we played with keeping the counter canter and making him bend his head and neck left and right, listening to me and not trying to change. Once he was supple that way, I asked for the change on the long side.

We mostly did it in right lead counter canter, and he did a couple of clean but ugly changes left. He still thinks it’s OK to slip in a trot step, so we’ve got a lot of work to do yet. I think a lot of it has to do with me just not being educated enough to have the feel and timing right, so we figure it out together! I’ve been playing around with the changes at home on my own, and found that if I just shift my seat bones and try not to swing my legs too much he’ll often have a quieter response, so we’ll keep working on that too.

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Dirt between the ears!

I was kind of inspired watching Laura Graves and Verdades do their changes this weekend. Rider after rider in the CDI would swing their legs wildly in the changes, and her legs didn’t even move! That’s really what it’s all about, the invisible aids.

Heidi has confidence we can get our scores for our bronze medal this year, so I’m keeping that as a soft goal in my head. He feels better than ever, but I don’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed if we don’t reach a goal. The only thing besides the changes that’s holding us back is my inability to sit the medium trot, so I’m forcing myself to keep working through it and working on some flexibility and strengthening exercises at home.

Oh So is celebrating his 18th birthday today. How time flies! He doesn’t think he’s a day over 5!

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Welcome home Mom!

My trip to California was pretty amazing, and I wish I’d had more time to explore San Diego. I had a couple of hours before the jog on Wednesday when I arrived, so I drove 5 minutes from the airport to Balboa Park and wandered around. There were a ton of museums that seemed fun, but they were all randomly closed on Wednesdays!

The CDI was quite small with only three rings. The international covered ring was lovely, and I spent most of my time there. My hotel and the horse show was very close to the beach, and I had some time in the mornings to go have my bagel and hot chocolate on the beach, which was lovely.

I flew home Sunday and had two days to hack Oh So before heading off to Wellington for the CDI*****. My parents wanted a beach vacation so they came down with my aunt to visit Palm Beach, and they came to the both AGDF and WEF. It was fun to show them what I do, even if I didn’t have a ton of time to hang out.

I flew back Sunday and had enough time to hack Oh So before it got dark. We had tons of rain while I was gone, so everything is a muddy mess, but hey, we’re in mid-February, so we’re almost getting to the start of show season! I’m hoping to get Oh So out this weekend for a jump lesson, but Heidi’s out of town the next two weekends so we’ll continue to go it alone.

 

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2017 In The Rearview

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In the grand scheme of things, 2017 is a year I’d like to forget. I started off the year thinking positively and wanting to get out of my comfort zone. I was ready to embrace the first year of my 30s and make it the best year ever.

Things were going pretty well in the winter and spring. I was pretty busy traveling for work, but I was able to get Oh So out to a couple of shows. We could have won Morven Park in March, but decided it was a bit too wet to run cross-country and withdrew, but we had a good run at the Loch Moy Starter Trial in April.

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