Show Recap: Capital Dressage Classic Day 2

When we left off last week with TC and I’s recognized dressage show debut, we chronicled the ups and downs (as in, downs- falling off a pony at a dressage show, and ups, as in blue satin) that always follows horses.

Day 2 was a little more subtle in general. We were only doing 1 test, Training 3, which was the test I had practiced most before the show. The arena we were to compete in was in a different part of the showgrounds than TC had seen before, so I spent lots of time hanging out near the ring so he could see the busier side of the facility. We decided to stick with our plan of not cantering in the warmup, and instead focused on extreme relaxation and throughness. For myself, I made sure to stay very quiet with my hands and focus on moving him off of my right leg to keep him straight.

Heading down centlerline like ­čÖé

Really truly, we had the best warmup yet. He was attentive, obedient, relaxed- all the things I wanted and more. We went into the dressage court feeling super confident and ready to eek every possible point out of the test.

Overall, I am thrilled to pieces with the test. Sure there are things to fix- him staring off into the distance in our free walk because Oh! vendors! and Oh! Ponies! and Oh! bleachers!. That bogey right lead canter (earned my first ‘2’ for that one!). Some moments where I lost his attention after the last downward canter transition.

But for me, there’s a lot to love. I love how swingy he is through his back and his forward but balanced tempo. I love how despite some blips, he was [mostly] obedient and focused on me throughout the test. I love that he was able to stretch and release tension through the stretchy circle, and how prompt our first canter depart was. And for the first time, I was able to focus on not hollowing my lower back and keeping my elbows from expressing their inner chicken! For me, despite scoring a 62% on the test (4th place in a biggish class- judge was harsh!), I felt like this was a huge breakthrough for TC and I, especially at his/our first show!

We are now discussing taking TC back to the fairgrounds for the show at the end of July. It may be hotter than blazes, but I would love the opportunity to improve upon this first experience!

Recognized Show Recap: Cross Country

After dressage, it was clear that the pressure was not on to win, and my only goal was to get through what looked like a pretty tough course. Keep in mind that this was Foster’s 3rd Novice, and while we’d been schooling Training level stuff, I still felt daunted by the test of putting everything together.

Before I even got to warm up, I asked B to school me over some fences and basically give me a pep talk before going in the start box. B filled in as student coach occasionally on the dressage team, and I trusted her to give me a both words of wisdom and a positive outlook before going on course. I am so glad she was there to see me off (Thanks B!!!)!

There was a bit of a miscommunication/misjudgment of time leading up to my count down, and unfortunately my time had started before I reached the start box. Nonetheless, I hit the start button on my watch and away we went!

XC time!

XC time!

The fences I was most worried about were #7, the brush before water, and #14, another big brushy fence as soon as you popped out of the trees that invited a left hand runout. In particular, I knew he would be tired by 14 since we had literally just run up a small mountain, and he might not have as much ‘game’ left to tackle the question.

Enjoy the helmet cam and the sounds of ABBA (Hi, my name is Britt and I like Oldies)! I would have included the real audio, but all you’re missing are lots and lots of ‘good boys’ and my making a joke about the people scurrying becoming roadkill.

Anyways, it turns out I shouldn’t have been worried. I’m proud of myself for riding every fence, and for Foster tackling every element with confidence. According to my watch and the video, we came in 31 seconds under time, which just thrills me that my occasionally sluggish pony can actually make a Novice time easily, and that we could both walk away with a spring in our step! So, so chuffed with my Fosterpants.

With the warmup time debacle, I officially came in with 7-point-something time faults. But who cares, we survived! Sunday, onto showjumping!


The Weeks Ahead

Where has the time gone? I’d been comfortably thinking of the Recognized event as being way off, and all of the sudden, I’m staring it in the face and trying to come up with a solid plan for our preparation, so as to not repeat the disastrous effects of last-minute-schooling at the Hunter/Jumper show.

Somewhat legit plan in place for next week.

Somewhat legit plan in place for next week.

Between lessons and more traveling for wedding/engagement/photography related stuff, it’s going to be very important that I stick to a schedule and not be left scrambling days before the show. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to manage any hill work or uber conditioning rides, since it seems unfair to do that either right before or after back-to-back lessons, but I believe the intensity and repetition of rides will keep him fit enough to compete. The terrain at FENCE is somewhat rolling, but part of the cross country course is on a giant hill- something new for Foster after having competed mostly in the rather flat lands of Southern Pines.

My last event at FENCE with Merry.. Dear Lord, I'm so thankful I don't dress like that anymore.

My last event at FENCE with Merry.. Dear Lord, I’m so thankful I don’t dress like that anymore.

This show will mark my return to Recognized competition, after 10 years away. To date, Foster has only competed at schooling shows. They’re cheaper, they’re local, and they don’t make me feel bad when we seriously goof. But with my pondering the decision to move up to Training level, it’s time to up the ante and see if Foster can handle a┬ábigger atmosphere and tougher course. Also, prize money! Though I expect the competition to be stiff, I am confident in Foster’s abilities at this level and hope he puts in a pretty good performance.

Another photo from FENCE, Ivan at a dressage show

Another photo from FENCE, Ivan at a dressage show

Because this event is a pretty big investment in time and money, I’ve been somewhat aggressive with our lesson schedule. Last night’s training ride will be followed by a lesson next week, as well as another session with Doug over fences. So expect an unusual amount of lesson recaps in the next couple weeks as I try to keep all of this newfound knowledge and skillz in my brain! Yay busy horsey schedule!