Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Focus on the Positive

1st world problems
First of all, I'm alive and kicking, even though I haven't been great with blogging over the last week and a half.

To be honest I've been struggling with some anxiety and depression, possibly from a recent medication change, possibly from major work drama, possibly from some family drama, most likely everything combined. Intellectually I acknowledge that my life is pretty amazing, but emotionally I've been very up and down. Actually, just down. Its frustrating. But I'm looking into solutions.

But back to what makes me happy: horses!

This past Sunday I participated in a Dr. Christian Schacht clinic, where I met up with fellow blogger Karen of Not So Speedy Dressage who also participated. Even with all her traveling lately she's been great with keeping up blog posts and has even started a recap of the clinic. I'm still digesting my experience but will recap soon.

Love this face!

Meanwhile we've been having good lessons in both dressage and jumping these last 2 weeks. Hemie came away from the horse trials with a little more attitude when jumping, and a little more interest in going faster rather than slower when figuring out a jumping question.

George (my barn-mate's horse who had the trailer incident) is doing much better. The swelling in his knee went down then came back a few times so they had radiographs taken: verdict was no bone issues whatsoever and to go ahead and start back into work while addressing the swelling. Thank you to everyone who sent positive vibes!

Our event schedule is a little up in the air right now, but I'm looking into local dressage shows.  I've also been researching a local hunt club and might give that a shot in the next month or so.

TK on Hemie. Note the "winter" sky.

A major rain storm is expected this week, so I'm glad I haven't body-clipped yet. But as soon as we get a fair-weather weekend I'll be buzzing away since Hemie HATES shedding with a passion.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Training Update

Happy V-Day everyone!
Firstly, a sincere Happy Valentines Day to all my blog readers. May your day and weekend be filled with love and goodies.

I realize I haven't given a training update in quite some time.

My trainer Laurie is all healed up from her shoulder replacement surgery so we are finally back to our 2-lesson-per-week schedule: dressage on a weekday evening and jumping on Saturday morning/mid-day. She isn't quite back to riding yet, but that will be soon.

Unfortunately my fall at the show has turned out out to be a major pain-in-the-ass injury. Literally. My right hip and upper buttock/lower back have really hurt for almost 2 full weeks. It took 6 days for a bruise to show up, and let me tell ya - its a doozy. It's giant and black and now migrating from my side to my back, which is interesting in an alarming sort of way. Riding was painful so I had TK ride Hemie last weekend. I finally rode last night with minimal pain, though based on my strange leg soreness today I must have been compensating somehow.

My lesson last night was the first dressage lesson since the show, and it was very positive. We are working on improved and *consistent* connection and throughness throughout the ride, and most especially when he wants to be a little looky-loo at shadows or whatnot. Without riding a more experienced dressage horse in quite some time, it's hard to know what I'm really asking for in terms of the contact and feel in the reins. Hemie has such a light mouth in general, that Laurie articulated the idea of having him feel slightly like he's pulling on the reins at all times. That was an aha! moment for sure.

In looking over our videos again (links here: dressage, stadium jumping, cross country) I am feeling very good about our jumping overall. While I am very proud of our improvement in dressage (no shenanigans! woot!), our performance is still far below the level of work we get at home. I'm thinking about entering some dressage-only shows to get more dressage show mileage and really see if we can get better work done.

For this V-day weekend I leave you with my horse and his boyfriend:

Phoenix and Hemie sitting in a tree...K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blog Hop: Share Your Barn

Blogger confession: I ADORE blog hops!  They are a great way to discover blogs and learn something new about the blogs you already follow. The Process of Learning and The Sprinkler Bandit teamed up to create the Show Me Your Barn blog hop, which I have really enjoyed exploring!

1. A View of the Barn

My facility is quite large, and there are several different "barns" around the property. I board in this pipe barn. I love that there is a covered aisle, and we have our own cross-ties and tie-rail, bathing area, grain room, and lounge. We are the most conveniently located to the trailer parking (great when packing for outings) and have easy access to a large round pen and the 2 main jumping arenas.

2. Your Horse's Living Space

View from the front, under covered aisle.

View from the back.

Hemie lives in a 12'x24' pipe corral paddock that is half-covered. He gets turned out 3 times per week, 4 hours at a time, in larger pipe corral paddocks that you can see in the view-of-the-barn photo. He gets fed 3x per day (plus a 4th meal when I see him several days per week), and he gets shavings once per week.

3. The Tack Room

Our tack rooms are large shipping containers, with generously sized cubbies built inside. They are locked, have lights, and are weatherproof and rodent-proof.

4. View of Where You Ride

We have several arenas at our facility, and I ride mostly in the cross-country arena. It is closest to my barn, and typically its jumps are set at my height. It has excellent lights for evening rides.

5. Your Favorite Feature of Your Facility

There's lots to love about my facility, but my favorite is the personnel. The barn owner, managers, and stablehands are professional, approachable, and take excellent care of all the horses.  I wasn't brave enough to get all paparazzi on them so here's a view of the cute office bungalow. Even though I live and work 40+ minutes away, I don't worry about Hemie - he's in good, trusted hands.

~ ~ ~

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

14 Photo Challenge Roundup

Earlier this year I created the 14 Photo Challenge, and wanted to give a nod to all the bloggers who have participated so far!  If I haven't included you, please comment and I'll be sure to add you. If you haven't done the challenge yet - don't worry, you have 11 months left of 2014.

Thank you so much to everyone who has participated so far!

The challenge was meant as light-hearted inspiration to get out those cameras and add more photos to our blogs, simply because I love pictures and I know I should post more pics myself.

I have really enjoyed seeing everyone's photos. The barn animals have been surprising and darling, and it is really nifty to see so many different styles of barns/boarding facilities across the country!

So here are mine:

1. Your horse's stall.
A 12'x24' half-covered pipe corral.

2. Favorite saddle pad.
Black Tuffrider A/P pad.

3. Barn cat? Barn dog? Barn ______?
Barn bunnies. Fat from hay.
We have barn coyotes too. Also fat. More difficult to take photos of though.

4. Favorite area to ride at your facility.
The cross-country arena.

5. Between-the-ears shot, out on a trail ride.
Hacking up one of the hills at our facility. Not technically a trail ride, but close enough.

6. The bottom of your horse's hoof.
Left front. Halfway between trims.

7. The hay stack at your barn.
Covered in tarps. Because it's winter. 
One stack for each of the 3 types they serve: alfalfa, oat, and grass.
They sweep the ground and put the hay bits into trash cans.

8. Favorite grooming thing.
Healthy HairCare "Hair Moisturizer."

9. Your horse's best friend or significant other.
Phoenix, another OTTB. They have quite the bromance going on!

10. A snapshot from your commute to the barn (be careful).
23 Freeway North, looking at the mountains that separate Moorpark from Fillmore.

11. Between-the-ears shot, at a random location at your facility.
The trail class obstacles corner.

12. The cutest or most attractive part of your barn.
The Heavenly Ponies boarding area.

13. Favorite piece of tack.
Stubben Roxane saddle.

14. Selfie with your horse.

Thanks again to everyone who has participated. It's not too late if you haven't already! =)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Galway XC Video!!

I'm so blessed to have Ride On Video at the shows we attend! They do a great job of videoing and they keep a massive online archive of videos which is great for watching & learning from experienced riders, learning courses at local facilities, figuring out which jumps are what level, and other random research.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Paola's Painting

I've been on an emotional roller coaster this week, following a roller coaster weekend at the show (especially from how it ended). I'm still in pain from the fall and there's been some family drama and work stress. Overall it's been a challenge to maintain my normally cheery attitude.

But there has been a major bright spot - being featured on Paola's Horse Blog in her Stories from Off the Track series. She is a very bright, articulate young woman, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person a few months ago at FCHP. Her plan is to adopt an OTTB of her own one day. Go check out her blog - she has lots of informational posts in addition to tracking her own journey in learning to ride and become a horsewoman.

And it turns out she's an artist too - she made this beautiful painting of Hemie and I:

Thank you so much Paola!   It really cheered me up. =)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Horse Down in the Trailer

Unfortunately, the dressage, stadium, and XC recaps are not the end of the story of our weekend show experience...

For the record, I believe in miracles. And you will too shortly if you don't already.

Leaving the show grounds in Temecula, my barn mate TK (who was trailering us) graciously said that she would unload my horse and I could go home with my husband instead of go back to the barn with her and her boyfriend in the truck. I appreciatively accepted, and stuck around the showgrounds just long enough to ensure they posted my XC scores correctly (quickly learning my lesson from the issue with the stadium penalties).

Unfortunately my cell phone got put in the trailer's tack room (alas, the risk of having people help you put things away rather than doing it yourself) so I had to go the barn in any case and wait for the trailer. And good thing I did.

They pulled in with the truck and trailer. It was dark and raining. TK went to unclip her horse George from the trailer tie to attach her lead rope, when she frantically ran to the back of the trailer while shouting "Quick! Get it open!"

Her horse was down, lying underneath the separator bar of the slant load trailer, with the hind half of his body underneath Hemie - between his front legs and back legs. George's halter was still connected to the trailer tie so his head was up the air.

TK got the back of the trailer door open, Hemie carefully stepped out, and TK grabbed him. I jumped in the trailer to try and get her horse out. George tried getting up but hit the separator bar. I said "Easy boy, just wait" and amazingly, he did.

I got the bar free and opened, and George patiently got up. No thrashing, just got up normally. His halter hook snapped from the trailer tie, and he calmly backed himself out of the trailer. I let go of the bar and grabbed him. He just stood there, alert but quiet.

TK was completely in panic mode, so I took the lead in the situation. George's front right standing wrap had come mostly undone, so I had her take it off while I held him by his broken halter. Then I walked him out for a minute or two. He had a small hitch in his step - front right. I felt up his leg and it definitely had some bumps. We called the vet.

Inside the trailer, the triangle feeder was broken on the right side clip. It looks like maybe George pawed, somehow got the wrap stuck on the feeder, scrambled and slipped and fell down, and of course wasn't able to get back up.

George has some bumps and scrapes and a swollen knee. Its too soon to tell if there is any lasting damage. But the miracle is that he's not so much worse. Lots of horses colic from the stress and shock alone. Furthermore, Hemie was completely unscathed. The vet had us check and re-check Hemie's legs - apparently in situations like that, the down horse scrambles and kicks out in trying to get up, and ends up really hurting the other horse's legs.

I don't wrap Hemie's legs for trailer rides, but I am seriously reconsidering that. I come from the school of thought that bandages getting caught or slipping are some of the more common trailering issues (possibly the cause of this issue, even). But right now the idea of protecting his legs is really resonating. But I'd want to do it with super strong cross-country boots such as the axe-proof Ecogolds. Does anyone else use heavy duty XC boots for trailering? Is that even a good idea?

At the end of the day, George is recovering, but both TK and I keep commenting to each other how lucky we are - how it could have been so much worse than it was. I'm very glad that both George and Hemie have enough sense that they didn't hurt themselves from scrambling and freaking out in that situation, the way that other horses might have.  Give your ponies an extra kiss tonight!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Galway Downs HT Recap - Cross Country

Previous posts: recap through dressage, and recap through stadium jumping.

Saturday night I didn't sleep well, due to the hip and back pain from the fall. But I had all day Sunday to rest and heal and take more pain meds before our XC start time around 2pm.

This show was the first time I used a meter wheel when walking the course. I was interested to see if I could spare the brain-power to think about coming in under time during our ride.  (Taking a tangent here - scroll down to skip ahead to XC recap!)

A meter wheel is a large plastic rolling wheel that measures distance traveled. It is used in conjunction with a watch on cross country, so that a rider can keep track of speed and time during the ride in order to finish under optimum time.

Here's how it works:
  1. You find out your division's posted speed. Mine was 300 meters per minute. (This is considered slow, since most BN divisions use 350 m/min.) You also find out the total course distance (1770 meters), and the optimum time (5 minutes, 54 seconds). The optimum time is calculated by using the posted speed to achieve the total course distance. If your horse is particularly fast or slow, you also check out the speed fault time and time limit.
  2. As you walk your course, you need to make sure to walk it exactly how you'll ride it - not cutting corners or taking shortcuts. (You have to get creative when it comes to water!)
  3. When the wheel hits 300 meters, you stop and look around and make a note that this location is where you should be after 1 minute of riding (since our speed was 300m/min). When the wheel shows 600 meters, that should be at that location after 2 minutes of riding, and so on. These are called minute markers.
  4. Alternatively, some riders prefer just to check-in half-way. In which case, you pay attention to when the meter wheel hits half of the total distance (1770m / 2 = 885 meters), and you take the half-way point to optimum time (5 min 54 sec / 2 = ~3 minutes), and you make mental note about the location to make sure you're on track.
  5. When you complete metering your course, check the total meters you rolled out against the posted course distance. If you are way off, you may need to check that you didn't skip or add an obstacle, or consult with show management about proper course route.
So how does this affect your actual ride? It depends on your watch. 

Many riders use the stopwatch/"chrono" feature of their normal sports watch. They start their stopwatch as they leave the startbox (a volunteer counts you down from 10 seconds), and as they come to each of the minute marker locations they determined form the course walk, they glance at their watch to see if they are ahead or behind of time. 
so fancy

Of course, there is a fancy-shmancy "eventers" watch you can purchase for ~$100. I'm not sure if it tells the time (that costs an extra $50, probably), but it DOES do a series of beeps every minute, so that the rider doesn't have to glance down at their minute markers. It has an oversized face and large buttons you can press easily even with gloves on.

I was planning on using my normal sports watch, but my barn mate graciously let me borrow her eventer's watch. It was great.

The point of all this is to be able to adjust your speed to ensure you come in under the optimum time as you get time penalties if you take longer than the optimum time. Technically you want to come in exactly at optimum time; in practical terms this translates into coming in under optimum time but as close to optimum as you can manage. In terms of scoring, optimum time is used to resolve tie-breakers (winner going to whomever came in under, but closest to, optimum time). 

Therefore in terms of strategy during your ride, you generally want to be ahead of the minute markers especially during the first half of the ride. This means that you are going faster than optimum time, and that your watch beeps after you have passed the minute marker location. This is because (a) generally you slow down throughout the course of the ride as you get tired, (b) crossing water typically slows you down, and (c) you want to have some time cushion in case you have a problem somewhere on course. Of course, if you're well ahead of time, it might behoove you to slow down. If you're behind, then you may want to pick it up a bit.

Back to the show recap.

I had a leisurely Sunday morning at the show, watching other riders go and walking my course again. After our issues in stadium I will admit to being a tad nervous. The XC jumps are still small enough to take from a walk/jog, but they are solid and therefore inherently more dangerous.

I had taken Hemie for a walk earlier in the day, but he was quite energetic once I mounted up. I had Rick pony us to and around the warm up just to be safe.  

Hemie felt zoomy around the warm up, and my hip was hurting. Soon our trainer had us heading over fences. Hemie felt a little strong and excited, but I just took hold of the jump strap and let him do his thing.

Warm up

He felt a little over-dramatic jumping over the log in the warm-up. Laurie said "Sarah, you are holding him back too much, which is why he needs to put in such an effort to get over the jump."  Huh. Apparently my "zoomy" to was actually too slow - good thing I have a trainer to tell me how it really is, because show nerves completely muck up my sense of speed.

I tried to have Hemie walk around the warm up but he got too antsy, so we just went ahead and trotted and cantered around the whole time. Finally it was our turn to head to the start box. Wonder of wonders, he walked calmly to the starting area - I could tell he knew we were about to go. Just something in his step and his expression.

Heading to the start box

We got counted down and trotted out of the box, picked up a canter, and Hemie instantly locked on to our first jump. It just so happened to be headed back towards the barn, then there was a U-turn to jump #2. We landed jump 1 and suddenly I found us at a full on gallop. Heading towards the barn.

I tried pulling up into a soft bouncy canter, but no response. All I could do was try to turn towards our jump #2 and hoped that he backed himself off.

We made the turn. He didn't back off. We jumped the log from a dead run.

Hemie immediately realized that was not the best approach, so after jump #2 he respectfully came back to a nice canter. For the rest of the ride he was perfectly adjustable - galloping when I said "ok" and coming back to me when I sat up and half-halted. He's a smart pony.

The rest of our round was completely awesome.  I ordered the video but wont have it for probably 2 weeks. In the meantime here's some photos.

I decided not to school the water before entering at our obstacle flags, since he's never had an issue and we were having a strong ride. We had no issues so I'm feeling good about Hemie's cross-country confidence. I did have him trot the down-bank, but next time I wont bother, as he was perfect about it. Unfortunately our course did not have a ditch, but we did have a brush jump (he loved it!).


As to our time on course, we were way ahead. When my 2nd minute beeper went off as we passed our 3rd minute marker location, I realized we should probably slow it down a tad. But not too much, in case we had an issue, and because we hadn't come to our 2 waters yet. We ended up coming in ~55 seconds under optimum time. 1770 meters / 5 minutes = average speed of 354 meters/minute. So we're right on for typical BN speed.


We ended up in 11th place out of 14. I had a double-clean XC go and our best dressage to date, so overall I call the outing an improvement in our performance and a success.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Galway Downs HT Recap - Stadium

Click here for the previous recap post which covered through our dressage test.

We had several hours after dressage until our stadium jumping round - plenty of time to walk the course, grab a bite to eat, and find some ibuprofen for my pretty severe right hip/lower back pain from the dumping.

The stadium course was only 9 jumps, including a 2-stride combination. It was on grass footing (mostly dead scrubby grass) and I wasn't very concerned, as I had specifically longed Hemie on the grass at the clinic 2 weeks ago to see if he might have any issues (he didn't). The jumps were beautiful with large colorful standards - no flower boxes or other decorations. The course was very easy to memorize.

Hemie was quite fine with getting out of his stall for now the 3rd time that day. He was a perfect gentleman for mounting up (with mounting block). I had Rick walk nearby us on the way to the warm up arena, ready to pony us if necessary.

On the way to warm up we walked behind/near well-known west coast trainer and competitor Gina Economou, who was on a beautiful but clearly green horse. A large trailer was on the right, and a slowly creeping car came towards us on the left. Gina's horse started feeling a little trapped and began wigging out, bouncing sideways and into us. Hemie completely kept his cool. Gina was apologizing and I just said "no worries, everything is fine." The car figured out to stop, and Gina got her horse to move forward again. Hemie just marched on like nothing happened. I was very proud of him.

He warmed up like a champ - happy and alert but listening very well.

Then it was time for our round:

Our score: 20 jump penalties, zero time penalties. We came in just 1 second within the time.

So Hemie had some hesitation coming to our 1st jump, and then again at the 4th jump. My barn mate thinks it was the grass footing. My gut feeling was that something on the large decorated standards caught his eye. The cause isn't really that important - horses are animals, after all. I just squeezed him forward and asked him to jump it from a walk/jog, all "no big deal, you can do this" rather than circle and re-approach which I thought might give him opportunity to wig out.

He did go ahead and jump, but knocked some rails doing so. Other than those issues I thought our round was great - nice and forward, and he was good even by the scary judge's stand with giant loud speakers. We did have 3 strides inside the 2-stride line, but that's okay.

As to our score, I did hear them announce the 20 penalties but I thought I must have mis-heard. Unfortunately I didn't investigate within the 30 minute time period immediately following the division's scores getting posted - I was just focused on getting Hemie tucked in for the night, finding some more pain pills, and quickly walking my cross-country course before it got too dark!

So here is how I think the 20 points break down:
  • 4 pts - knocking rail at obstacle #1
  • 4 pts - knocking rails at obstacle #4 (interesting note - we knocked down 2 rails at this oxer but the penalty points are per obstacle, not per rail).
  • 4 pts - first "disobedience" (presumably a "resistance" at obstacle #1)
  • 8 pts - second "disobedience" (not sure about this - possibly another "resistance" at either obstacle #1 again, or #4)
Per the rule book, "disobedience" include refusals, run-outs, circles, and resistance.

"It is a resistance when the horse refuses to go forward, makes a halt for any
reason, makes one or several more or less regular or complete half turns, rears
or steps back for whatever reason."  
(EV150.8(a) in the rulebook, for my fellow nerdies)

I've watched that stadium video a few times, and I'd say we for sure have a resistance at obstacle #1. But did we have two resistances there? Because I don't think the hesitation at obstacle #4 would qualify since we didn't halt - we just slowed way down and danced sideways a tad.

So back to the question of whether we had 2 resistances at jump #1 after passing through the start flags (first 11 seconds of the video). Here is where we get to something interesting, and that is the procedures per EV118 Inquiries, Protests and Appeals in the rulebook (which I've touched on before): to protest the 8 penalty points from the 2nd disobedience/resistance, I would need to write a check for $100. And it would only be returned to me if the protest was concluded in my favor. So even though I *think* we technically only had 1 resistance, would I have been $100 confident? The answer is no.

Turns out I ended up being more than 8 points away from the person who came in just ahead of me at the final scoring, so it wouldn't have changed my placing anyway. In hindsight, I should have gone to the organizers with an "inquiry" to see if they could tell me exactly where those 8 points came from (or rather, get their breakdown of my 20 just penalty points).

I'll admit to being a little emotionally disappointed in our stadium round. I was hoping finish the competition on our dressage score, like our last outing. But intellectually I know that Hemie is still building his confidence at shows so hesitations are part of life. And I do think that I rode through it the best way possible.

Okay, again a super long post. Next time the fun part - XC!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Galway Downs HT Recap - Dressage

One day I will come back from a show and say that the whole outing was relaxed and nothing went haywire, and maybe we'll have brought home a ribbon too.

Today is not that day though.

My goal for this show was to have improvement over our performance at our last horse trial, especially in regards to the "shenanigans" issue (which stems from Hemie's nervousness when there's a high-energy atmosphere which turns him into a bunny rabbit).

I'm happy to report that we met the goal. In fact, we had our best dressage test to date, followed by a mixed but overall positive stadium jumping, and a truly fabulous cross country go. We placed 11th out of 14 total competitors in the Senior Beginner Novice division, and overall the weekend was very fun.

Unfortunately, we did have some problems learning experiences too.

We hit the road Friday afternoon, unfortunately not early enough to miss LA-suburb traffic. We got there and unloaded as the sun was setting, so Hemie did not get the longe I was planning on. But he settled in great: ate, drank, peed, pooped, and had a happy expression on his face.

"Happy" came out more "ghostly" in this pic.

My husband Rick was my show groom (he'd given me a coupon for Christmas) and he drove down after work to spend the weekend with me. He was a very good sport and it was wonderful to have him at the show.

Saturday my division had both dressage and stadium. I decided to longe in the morning, to let Hemie take a good look around and get some bucks out. He was a tad hot at first but then settled down, and even was willing to go to work for a bit doing a few exercises on the longe (circle in and out, etc). I watched my barn mate compete and that was really awesome - they did well.

Why did the chickens cross the road? To watch stadium. I'm sure of it.

I decided to do another quick longe with a bit-up before my warm-up for dressage, to give Hemie a final opportunity to get some bucks out and then put Hemie in a working mindset before mounting. He longed okay but was getting amped up from the busy warm-up area atmosphere. (They had 4 dressage arenas running at the same time, and also had stadium jumping going on nearby, not to mention loud speakers, food vendors, the whole 9-yards, all right in the central location where we were longing.)
like this

I looked around for a mounting block, and all I could find was a folding chair. I had Rick head Hemie but he would not stand still next to the chair. I was running behind so I decided to just mount from the ground.

Bad move.

Hemie immediately started humping so I sent him forward and told Rick to let go and get out of the way. Hemie took off sideways bouncing like a bronc horse. We turned toward a tree. I remember thinking "Branch! Branch!" right before it knocked me right in the helmet. I don't remember the buck but according to Rick I got launched. Of course I did not land in the soft ground of the longing area but instead on the hard packed walkway. On my right hip/lower back.

And then my husband did what probably any horse-husband-who-has-never-groomed-before-and-is-totally-freaked-out did: shouted AMBULANCE!

Ay, yi, yi. Suffice to say that I called off the ambulance (though my husband and I got into a bit of a tiff over it). I took a few moments to breathe and slowly get up.

I *almost* remounted from the ground, then thought better of it. We headed back to the barn and I mounted from a nice, high mounting block. Hemie had calmed down but was still a little tense (probably from *me*) so I had Rick pony us to the warm-up and once around.

We had a good warm-up, albeit a bit forward for my taste, though that seemed to be the best way to channel Hemie's energy. We just focused on straightness (no falling out, no falling in) and then some bending.

We went to our dressage test and wouldn't you know it, Hemie was all business. It's still not nearly as good as our work at home, but we had zero shenanigans and kept our right lead canter without issue. I call that success.

And my score sheet:

We got all 6s with one 5 and one 7 (on our right lead canter, no less!). I'll take it!  Overall, I'm quite pleased with this test.

And while I did get dumped trying to mount near the warm-up, I've learned my lesson and decided that next time:

  • I will only mount from a mounting block unless there truly is no other option.
  • Instead of longing/bit-up right before riding, I will do a full longe workout earlier in the day. 
  • If Hemie develops a tense, nervous energy, I'll try to calm him down (perhaps by moving to a less hectic area) before mounting or continuing work. 
  • Then have someone pony me to or through the hectic area if needed. Build his confidence with baby steps.

Alright, that's enough for one post. Next update will have stadium jumping!