Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Penny's Dressage Debut

  After attending the hunter show last weekend, Penny and I attended a dressage schooling show the next day.  In an attempt to improve our performance in the ring, Penny and I are taking a break from eventing.  At home our flat work is really coming along.  At the events however, things become tense and thus our scores are not what they could be.  What we both need is more time in the ring with less pressure.  The only time we get to really try our tests at maximum performance effort is at events, and in reality that could be once or twice a month and it just isn't enough.  For now, we are working on schooling dressage and jumper shows, and adding cross country schooling on the side until further notice.

 I entered a First Level Test B and C for the show.  First level is beyond what we need for events but we are capable of everything involved in the test.  I want to challenge her a bit in the ring so when we do go to events the tests seem easy for us.  These tests include lengthen stride trot and canter, leg yields, canter shallow loops, and stretchy circles.

 She warmed up well albeit a little looky.  This is our biggest challenge right now - getting her to focus and listen to me.  She loves to look around and gawk, not spook or misbehave - just gawk and of course that throws her head up and upsets our rhythm and connection.  We need a lot of work on this but I am hoping the more we do the more she will learn to listen to me and not what's happening around her.  There was a massive rain storm the night before so the show was moved indoors.  The indoor is big and beautiful, with many open sides down the ring to let light and air in.  We were riding in the 20x60m ring, a first for us both.

  Our first test went pretty well.  There was a lot of looking out the doors of the arena, and gawking at the judge since we didn't get that first go around the ring as it was in the arena.  Overall I was really pleased with Penny.  The tests have to be ridden in sit trot which of course brings more tension in this horse (could it be my flailing around her back during lenghthens??), but she was fairly obedient and we didn't have any major bobbles.  

  Our second test started off more smoothly with some nice moments.  Our second canter brought on a bit of a meltdown - Penny getting tired and tense with the more advanced movements and she refused to return to a proper canter and trot down the long side.  Lucky for us the trot stretchy circle movement came quickly and she just loves her stretchy circle.  She trotted out nicely and relaxed and we were able to regain our momentum and finish the test in a more positive manner.  I was very pleased with her recovery and that the little moment of tension and stress didn't blow the whole test out of the water.  This is a good sign of things to come.

  We scored a 61.3% on test B and a 62.3% on test C even with our bobble so I was happy.  Of course these are not record breaking scores but they are an improvement from where we have come from and there is a LOT to work with with Penny.  I was happy for our first shot at First Level. Our scores gave us some surprise placings of third place for Test B and second place for Test c!  The placings were unexpected and the ribbons will be greatly cherished as always.

Penny and I and Morgan and Jax with our loot!

 We are doing another dressage show this weekend along with a jumper show and are very much looking forward to it.


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