Show Season

Show Season

Monday, May 14, 2012

A True Schooling Show

First off, I have not posted for awhile...but I still read everyone else's blogs.  Since my last post, I have continued to work on steady contact, forward, and bend.  I have worked canter some and I am becoming much more secure in this gait.  I have had two lessons with my trainer and a few lessons with my daughter.

My last two lessons with my trainer have left me discouraged and with a feeling that dressage is the wrong sport for me.  I had a bit of a breakdown last week while riding and my husband graciously reminded me of a few things that reestablished my self confidence.

On Saturday, Riva and I went to our third schooling show for this year.  I don't think I truly understood the meaning or purpose of a schooling show until this weekend.  My test score was not my highest and I received my first '2' in a movement...but what I took away from this show beats not taking home a ribbon.

I made the choice to attend this particular show because Lex was showing one of her trainers' client's horses.  Several women from her trainer's barn were attending and showing.  Great group of women...and they all obviously think very highly of my daughter.  Always good to hear that your daughter is a hard worker & a gem!

My test time was not until 2:41 pm on Saturday.  We arrived early enough on Friday evening to school in both indoor warm-up arenas and the outdoor test arena.  Lex rode her first and them coached me thru my ride.

On Saturday morning, I took Riva for a hand walk around the property and then got on to school about 9:30 am.  I had a good ride on her in both indoor warm up areas and was walking out back to the barn when my husband suggested taking her in the jump warm up area.  My daughter's trainer, 'J', came over to the fence to talk with my husband.  This was her first time seeing Riva.  I was struggling a bit with Riva in the jump warm up - large open field...fairly tall grass...eventing horses warming up around us, etc.   'J' started giving me some instructions from the fence - which lead to her coming in to the warm up for an impromptu schooling session for Riva & I.

J instructed me on walk, trot, walk, halt circles with contact.  She was very clear and concise with her coaching - I understood what she was telling me and it worked.  I have heard the term 'don't change the question' many times before but never had it explained to me.  She used this term the most at halt - Riva was distracted and fussing...throwing her head, pawing, wanted to move and not stand at halt.  J said just hold - keep holding until she gives - don't change the question because you are not getting the correct answer. 

J also coached me on leg yielding on the circle to get bend.  My trainer has been working on this with me in lesson - but it was not clicking.  With J - I got it and Riva was bending around my leg and moving away from it. 

She then sent me back out around the field on my own - with instructions to trot big with contact, throw in walks without giving away the contact, and halts with contact.  And it was great!  Riva was powering up and down that field with confidence!

I got back on Riva about 40 minutes before my test.  I again schooled her in both indoor arenas briefly before heading out to the grass dressage warm up.  J was out coaching some of her students that were also entered in the same test as me.  She included me in her instructing session - reminding me to keep Riva moving forward with energy and maintain the contact - leg yielding in the corners - to throw in lots of transitions.  I felt very prepared when Lex told me it was time for my test.

Riva trotted right in to the dressage arena.  We had to halt and wait for the previous competitor to finish talking with the judge.  Once she walked off, I went to greet the judge and give my name and number.  We trotted off to wait for the bell to begin.  So...the judge was taking her time finishing  up the previous testers comments and I felt like to waited an eternity for that bell.

Let's just say I wish the warm up was our test.  I turned Riva up the center line to halt at X - and she did not want to stop.  I finally got a semi halt - way off center and forward of X and it did not get better from there.  Although, our free walk was really good and I got a '7' for that move.  Riva just got more sluggish as the test went...she just seemed to run out of steam.

Lex said her trainer, J, commented to her as I was walking out of the test arena, "that one has a time limit, now doesn't she!'  While Riva's endurance, and mine, has increased dramatically this year, I believe it was too much for her.  Throw in that the horses were switched to night turn out a week ago and maybe that takes adjusting to.  Whatever the reason for Riva losing steam, I did not waste much time blaming myself for a less than stellar score.  What I took away from the schooling with J made this show a success in my mind.


Carly said...

Sometimes figuring out the best warm up plan is harder than finding a saddle that fits! Riva looks lovely as always though!

Emme said...

Sounds like a very good experience for you. You Learned a lot, and will go to the next show better prepared. Good for you. <3

Lisa said...

Oh well - you know for next time to save her for the test I guess. It would take a few shows to suss out the right warm up for her anyway. :)

She sure does look pretty though!

Carol said...

Great post. Thanks for the reinforcement of 'not changing the question'. I'm afraid I struggle not to do that :)
Sounds like a really good experience at the show. You both worked hard before you went in, so it's understandable she ran out of steam. I find calculating the right warm up at a show to be very challenging - and it never seems to be the same need.
The picture at the end is gorgeous. What a beautiful horse.
Oh, I also have times when I think I have to quit dressage because it's just too hard / confusing. I think we all do. I had one yesterday :) You're doing great.

Mona Sterling said...

Sometimes it really helps to have new perspective, like your daughter's trainer! Congrats on your schooling show, even if your score wasn't all that great. That's what schooling shows are for, right? To figure out what works (and what doesn't) for you and your horse. Also, what a great picture of the two of you!

Kate said...

This is a timely post for me because I have my first event coming up this weekend, and I'm actually more worried about the warm-up than the actual three phases. Lucy has a time limit, too, and once she thinks she should be done, it is not easy to get her brain back in the game.

I love that last photo - you guys make such a beautiful pair.

Mary said...

What an awesome trainer! It's so nice to see ones willing to help others....even when they aren't their "student". It really shows their love of helping others get better.
I absolutely understand the running out of steam! My trainer always tells me my quarter ran it does with the play horses in front of grocery stores! Sometimes it means they ran out of energy, sometimes it means my horse ran out of patience and focus. It usually leads to a bit of a mess. I've had to learn how long my "quarter" lasts and work on extending that a little bit at a time.

She also always tries to help me find the good, which is always nice. The last schooling show I was at (with my daughter, I didn't show), we were discussing how challenging my boy can be to ride and she was watching one of the FEI trainers lunge one of her horses in training. It was a young horse only doing training level, but is her next Grand Prix prospect. She pointed to the pair and said "well at least you don't have to lunge for 40 minutes and ride for 30 before you get in the ring....there are always challenges, even with the greatest horses." She was right, my boy may be a challenge....but he definitely has his upsides too!

Speedy G said...

That's what I love about showing. What you do at home is one thing, but the show is a whole other animal. Keep going, learn new things, and you'll figure it with this particular horse.

achieve1dream said...

I've never heard the "don't change the question" thing before. That's great. Thank you for sharing it!

That's too bad that she ran out of steam, but I'm so happy it all went so well and you learned so much. :D It sounds like J explains things better for you. My trainer is really, really good about explaining things in a way I can understand. If I don't understand what she's saying she is really good at coming up with different analogies. She doesn't just keep saying the same thing the same way over and over. That's one of my favorite things about her. I have lots of light bulb moments when riding with her. :)

Is there any way you can take lessons with J?

I LOVE that picture of you and Riva. :D