Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Prepping for Dressage Show

This Saturday, Brego and I will be competing in the Open day of the Arabian Horseshow across the street at the fairgrounds. I can't tell if I am excited because we haven't shown in awhile, or because we will likely be facing off against Arabians (the very mental image makes me squeeeee with delight!). Lest someone read too much into that comment, please realize my beloved childhood horse, Ben, was a purebred Arabian. Regardless, I am excited.

Coupled with a week of sun (unheard of!), our rides have become downright joyous. We've been practicing on the turf of the fairground's parking lot (the best drained field in all the land). Sunday morning we had a nice dressage ride, working on the left canter transition. Yesterday, we just hacked, trotting and cantering around the 50 acre field. Brego was feeling good and strong, and I wanted to let him stretch out between our dressage sessions.

Someone asked in the comments what I did to keep Brego interested and willing in work. I've thought long and hard on this topic, and I think there's a couple of things at play. First, I am lucky enough to have a bright, intelligent, playful horse with no previous abuse history (that I can ascertain, anyway). Brego, himself, is always up to something. While my old TB mare can stand around flatly in a pasture and just enjoy the sun, Brego is always getting into something, exploring or destroying, depending on his whim.

So I take that observation with me under saddle. I try not to do repetitive tasks, but take a little bit of progress and then move on. I keep my rides relatively short, aside from necessarily involved conditioning rides. If he's good and on the aids, we're done in 15 to 20 minutes. Usually, our rides are 45 minutes, but we walk often so I can scope out my SO riding. He gets rewarded for short, dedicated periods of focus. Also, as a ostensible eventer, we also switch up what we work on. Some days we hack and go fast, some days we jump, some days we work on dressage, some days we play, some days we longe, some days we swim, some days we skijore(??). I think this variety keeps things fresh. Personally, as a rider, I like the variety for myself. After a week of nothing but dressage, I start to pick apart Brego and myself, looking too much for that perfect transition or that perfect cadance or what the hell is wrong with my hands?? I need to clear my head. Finally, due to our current farm, I have to hack out to every arena or riding area. Even the neighbor next door requires a short hack through the woods to get there, so there's always a period of down time, on the buckle riding, warming up and cooling off.

Riding is the hardest thing I have ever tried to master, and I will never master it. However, as an adult amateur, riding must, first and foremost, be fun. Brego is a very fun horse to ride, if I give him an opportunity to be himself and enjoy his work with me.


MARGIE said...

Just got my US Eventing magazine in the mail!!! You and Brego ROCK!!! I couldn't believe when I opened it up and there you both were. I told my hubby "these two are my heroes!" I have a clyde/qh mare that we just started in the lower levels of eventing. We are having a wonderful time! It is fun for both of us-and the people at the events are nice and helpful and very encouraging. I'm very proud to be part of this wonderful group of horsepeople. Keep up the great work with Brego-I learn more everytime you post--

Anonymous said...

I'm a a big fan of fun and variety, myself, and so is my mare - that's how you keep a horse happy and willing to work. Like your common sense approach.

sidetracked said...

I totally agree with you on the variety thing. My horse and I are constantly switching it up. We gallop, jump, work on our flat and his favorite, TRAIL RIDES! We go anywhere anytime and have a blast. I too am like you, if I work on my hunter courses too much and that's all I've been focusing on like before a show I get all nit picky. I have to remember that there is no perfect horse and no perfect rider and all we can do is out best. Congrats on the publication.