Friday, April 8, 2022

Rocking Horse Part 2: Dressage and Stadium

After my somewhat harrowing trip there, it was really nice to get in the saddle and have LH warm up like the pro that he is. We're finding out he really only needs about 10-15 minutes of warm up and then he's ready to rock and roll. We got ready to head in because they were running ahead of schedule, but then the rider in front of me ended up wanting their full warm up time. So we took a break and then got ready again. 

The test was novice test B, which reads unlike any dressage test I have ridden before. There is an interesting amount of walk work, including "Centered over A transition to medium walk 4-6 steps then proceed working trot" and a medium walk turn down centerline before picking up working trot at D to halt and salute at G. It actually rides pretty well though. The test writers have done a decent job making the novice tests slightly more interesting and challenging than the beginner novice tests. Novice test A includes two loop serpentines at the trot and a stretchy trot circle. B has change of rein across short diagonals instead of the two loops and the short medium walk work in lieu of a stretchy trot circle. 

We picked back up and headed into the ring right after the rider in front of us finished. I hadn't practiced the medium walk much, so LH definitely had a moment of disbelief that I was asking him to trot again. He's a very good boy and I think doesn't want to jig during his walk work, so it took some poking with spurs to tell him I truly did mean trot. 

LH has a habit of sticking his tongue out. It happens ALL the time whereas Yoshi's was a clue I was tense/pulling or he disliked some part of his bit/bridle set up. LH's owner and trainer told JT and me that they just let him do whatever he wants at home and then put a flash on at shows. This had worked well for all of warm up as well as for the Majestic show, but I looked down in the middle of our left lead canter circle and saw his tongue waving about. I promptly forgot where I was in the test and also how to ride. Fortunately this only lasted about two strides before I got my shit together and realized we'd have to do even better if they were going to ding us for the tongue. We moved on with a nice trot transition and left trot circle. Our right canter circle included a nice trip in a mud puddle, probably created by me tensing and stiffening about the possibility of tripping in the mud. The rest of the test was really lovely though and the judge agreed, giving us a 25.8. 

I am very appreciative he said nothing about the tongue. LH is an OTTB and is also SO through and honest in the connection that while I can understand why a judge would knock scores or comment on it, I would be fairly frustrated by it. The only place I think it might have shown up is in our collectives. I'm not at all upset by a 7, but given the rest of the test and the lack of comments, I don't know if it reflected the tongue a bit. 

Good boy!!

After we put him up on the trailer to eat some alfalfa and hang out for a bit while we walked the courses. Stadium had been moved out of the arena with footing into the grass nearby because pouring rain Thursday day and overnight had completely waterlogged the arena. Fortunately LH is not Yoshi and is much more aware of where his feet are, so I was not as concerned about wiping out in the grass or in the deeper sand areas. The course was pretty straight forward, so we moved on to cross country, which I'll post pictures of in that recap post. JT snuck off to eat some lunch and I walked cross country once more on my own before tacking LH up for stadium. 

We popped over the warm up jumps just a couple of times before getting out of the chaos that is a jumping warm up arena. Overall our round went well. Honestly by waiting this long to write it, I've forgotten a few of the details. I got him tight to the first few but he carefully popped up and over them without knocking the rails. 

Tight to 1, but what a good, careful pony

Right hand rollback to 2, also tight, I'm jumping ahead as well


The impending storm made the sky look very dramatic

Tight AND crooked meant he pulled this rail with a hind leg

But I managed to sit up and ride the 5 strides to #10 well enough to end with this jump! Not sure what the tilt left is that's happening though...

Overall we made some major improvements from our first round together at Majestic. Even though they were both 4 fault rounds, this one he and I were much more together and it felt less frantic. JT and I were both happy with it, but obviously still have tons to work on. 

JT helped me hose him off and then we tossed him in the trailer and I started the drive home. The sky was SUPER ominous and at one point I stopped for gas and considered trying to wait out the worst of the storm. 

But my phone told me there was 100% chance of rain until 7 PM and since it was only 1:30, waiting didn't seem realistic. Ms. GY had texted it was hailing at her barn, but fortunately that didn't make it as far south as JT's and Rocking Horse. There was some pretty darn heavy rain, but the truck and trailer handled well, and it had tapered off to a drizzle by the time I was unloading LH. He got a liniment rub down and then cozied up in his stall with more alfalfa to wait out the storm. 

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