After some reflecting, I think there were 2 chief factors which caused our dressage performance to be sub-par:
1) Hemie not being ridden the week before the show, due to the minor soundness concern.
Hemie does better when in regular work, and clearly does not do as well when not.
2) Not immediately addressing his tantrum in the warm-up effectively.
It took far too long for me to get him under control (thanks again, Susan Friend!) and it left both of us rattled and very tense right before the test.
Clearly I'm going to do everything I can to set us up for success in the future, and that means understanding issues and working to prevent them. Without further ado:
My Main Takeaways from this Show
- I need my trainer with me at shows. If she's not available, I need to approach another trainer about day-of coaching BEFORE mounting. Better safe than sorry. Clearly I do need that support, at least at this stage of our career.
- I need to have a plan ready for when shit happens with Hemie refusing to go forward. For now that plan is the strategy Susan Friend had me use (over flex, then 10m circle, then expanding forwards).
- I need long warm ups. At least 45 to 50 minutes before each ride.
- Soundness concerns notwithstanding, Hemie needs our normal amount of rides, or even some extra rides, the week before a show.
For now I am abandoning any immediate aspirations for doing a full on horse trials. I need to be able to compete proficiently at the local shows (for $200 each) before signing up for the bigger shows ($1,000 each). If I'm going to take off work and drop the cash, I want to feel confident about our abilities. And the way to do that is compete in more of these schooling shows. I'm blessed to have 2 local eventing schooling venues, the Meadows of Moorpark and El Sueno Equestrian Center, as well as a bunch of dressage, ETI, and hunter/jumper shows.
So my immediate short term goal is to do more local shows. As many as I can afford and schedule (with my trainer!). As soon as possible. Here are the contenders:
April 7 - ETI show in Simi Valley (http://www.eti118.org/) OR Strad Farms Jumper Show
April 21 - ETI show in Thousand Oaks
April 28 - Meadows of Moorpark Derby
May 18 - ETI Dressage ride-a-test in Simi Valley
May 5 - ETI show in Simi Valley
May 19 - Fiesta del Sueno jumping derby at El Sueno OR ETI show in Thousand Oaks
June 7 - ETI show in Simi Valley
June 15-16 - Dressage at El Sueno
June 23 - Hunter/jumper at El Sueno
July 17 - Jumping derby at El Sueno
On to another topic: mine and Hemie's fashion at the show. Opinions welcome!!
A) Black fly bonnet with silver trim. Thoughts? In my opinion he looked dashing! And he seemed to like its bug prevention.
B) My green show shirt. Is this even appropriate for dressage? Or is this hunter attire? Or neither? Fashion has been my major issue coming to this sport as an adult. I know nothing! My plan for the show was inspired by Karen of Bakersfield Dressage: a white "ventilator" shirt with a (pre-tied) stock tie and pin. I ordered the Ronfh Coolmax pre-tied stock tie, and it arrived just in time a few days before the show. But wouldn't you know it, the stupid button clasp broke the first time I tried it on (tags still on!) so I returned it and wore the green shirt instead. I'm thinking of ordering a regular stock tie, since I bought the stock pin. Thoughts?
C) My helmet cover, black with hot pink polka dots. Too juvenile? Too feminine since I'm riding a gelding? I got this cover when I was riding Spirit and our colors were pink, pink, and more pink. But I never got a chance to wear it due to our issues (and not showing). So I decided to open the package and add some color for this show. Thoughts welcome.
And for those interested in the Point Two air vest, here's a good shot of it. You can see the copper-colored CO2 canister on the right front.