Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fall Formal Dressage Show


Yesterday, Brego and I (and some of our closest friends) went to the Central Texas Dressage Society Fall Formal show. Overall, it was a lot of fun and we all did very well. As the day wore on, however, it became obvious that Brego was definitely tired of showing. I have decided to scratch Pine Hill in two weeks and so the Fall Formal will be the last show of the season. We both need a well earned vacation.

The day started early, with Alyssa riding at 8:42 am. I did not ride until 1:40 pm so there was a lot of standing around as the day got hotter and hotter. I was worried that Brego would be sapped by the time I got around to riding, and I was not feeling so hot myself so I considered scratching and ending the season early. After longing him to see if he was still stiff through his back and determining that he was actually moving very well I went ahead and rode just to get another "experience" under our belt and hopefully chase the "warm-up demons" away. I was not expecting anything miraculous since both of us were so ambivalent about the show.

I was pretty glad to have low expectations after our Training Test 2. Warmup went relatively uneventfully which is reassuring. It seems that he is getting less rambunctious with all the other horses cantering around him. It also helps that I longed him first, a practice I mean to continue in the Spring. We then sat around for 10 minutes before going into the arena for our test, which is a big mistake. Brego went to sleep. Then when he realized he had to work again he was resistant and sluggish. He even broke from the canter during one of our circles earning our first 4 for a movement! Woohoo! It was a good lesson for me to learn because everything that happened in the test was a direct result of our pre-class preparation.

We got a 30 minute break and then I went in again to warmup for our Training Test 1. This time, I really focused on forward forward forward, instead of "please don't buck and kill me". I also did more leg yielding exercises and basically treated warmup like one of my lessons, where he is always "on" by the end of the hour. I also took him directly from trotting in the warmup right into the ring, with no standing around. When I went in for our second test, he felt more alive. I was really happy with the test. I felt that he had improved greatly in quality, he was more precise in his transitions, and more consistent with contact. We only ended up scoring 1% higher than the earlier test, and I attribute that to the fact that feeling like your horse is moving better doesn't alway look like he's moving better, especially when you've mastered the art of making your horse look easy.

So the net result was favorable. We scored 65% for the first test (Video: Training 2), even with our 4, and placed 2nd out of 10. We scored 66.1% for the second test (Video: Training 1) and placed 2nd out of 4.

In all other ways, the show was a resounding success. Brego behaved in warmup. I successfully got our best show performance (in feel, if not in looks) out of him. He came out of both tests without heavy breathing and no sweating, a testament to his increased level of fitness. He did one stride of the miracle canter in warmup and then I regressed in my riding and he followed me back down. The rest of the competitors and spectators were extremely kind and generous and gave Brego lots of pats for being a good boy (even when I was mad at him). People were genuinely impressed with his ability and I didn't get any Dressage Queen vibes at all, which is really wonderful. Friends came out of the woodwork to read for me, give me tips, and cheer me on. It was a great day.

More Photos

So now we will rest. Brego will get one ride this week with the new KK Ultra bit I found locally in 6" (Wonder of wonders!!) to see if his head explodes from the copper. He has a chiro appointment next Sunday and then I plan on some nice long camping trips to decompress.

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