Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dressage Show Video

Schooling Show Video: First Level Test 3 
Many thanks to my husband for this lovely video!  Even if Harley and I are not professional, my husband sure does a nice job filming our ride.  He immortalized all of our successes and our mistakes.  ;)
I hope you like it! 
(P.S. This is the same show referred to in the October 2011 posts.)

A Humorous Look At Our Humble Performance
My favorite parts of the ride are our canter lengthenings and the counter canter.  I lost my seat in counter canter left, but that is because I was repeating a silent mantra with hyper-concentration.  If you look really closely, I think that you can see the "thought bubble" floating over my head.  It reads "stay in left canter, stay here, stay here, stay here..."  The brain does not understand the word "no", so I avoided repeating "do not change, do not change, do not...DOH", because that is what would have happened!  Counter canter right was a good example of how easy it is for him.  He actually stretches into the movement.  Good Boy!

I always like the little 10m figure eights in the First Level tests.  Back in the day, test 1 had two 10 m half circles followed by a short diagonal.  We called them "teardrops", and I still enjoy using them as warm up figures.  As for test 3, leg yield left out of the corner is deceptively difficult.  We can leg yield towards the track until the cows come home, but there was very little time to swap the aids in the corner and leg yield away from my left leg.  I was very happy that he pulled through for me, although I felt the need to switch to rising trot because we were seriously losing rpm's.

Warning: I am about to complain about the footing.  I promise that I am not a dressage diva.  Remember, my love is classical dressage, but I ride a quarter horse, I rarely show, and I am not accustomed to fancy footing, by any stretch of the imagination.  We have sand, rocks, and more smaller rocks at home.

Speaking Of Cows...
The footing was. too. deep.  Especially down by the judge.  I did not post the test 1 ride, because Harley tripped badly at C during a trot to walk transition and almost got swallowed up in the corner when starting a canter lengthening leaving M.  I might have to make a "blooper" reel sometime.  Those two moments would certainly qualify.  We also broke gait in the canter (this almost happened in test 3), which I was very disappointed about.  I made a special effort all summer to teach Harley to be responsible for forwardness.  Part of my motivation was the May dressage show.  Harley broke gait more than once during the canter marathon.  At home, he can complete both tests, back to back with a tiny walk break, and not even think about breaking gait at the canter.  With a whip, without a whip, it makes no difference.  In our warm up, I was very pleased, because he felt excellently forward, on the aids, and smooth in the transitions.  His relaxation was not at its best, probably because he is not used to showing, but he was definitely attentive and listening.  There was a 20 minute delay between our test and the warm up, so he felt like his normal self by the time we entered at A.  As soon as we entered the show ring, my horse's momentum died.  It felt like we were riding in sludge and my horse's feet were being held down with each step.  Even trotting around the outside of the arena was not that bad.  He was motoring along with a gorgeous forward trot before we entered at A and then, quite suddenly, I was driving with the brake was on.  I learned that the footing was donated by a traveling rodeo and I heard other riders talking (read: complaining) about the depth.  Oh dear.  Now that I have ridden in it, I am not sure that rodeo arenas and dressage arenas have very much in common.  Also, I did not notice any cattle hanging around R for rope 'em.

Get your dressage improvements, right here!
There are many, of course.  It would not be dressage without the need for improvements, but I figured that I would mention a few that I noticed outside of the advice given by the judge.

Figure geometry: My 15 meter circles looked like 20 meter circles.  Sigh.  Like I have said in an earlier post, we usually score reliable 7's for circles.  In May, I believe that we scored almost all 7's for the trot and canter circles, 10 m and 15 m respectively.  Not riding in a 20m by 60 m dressage arena is catching up with me.  I have not had the luxury for ten years.  I have a wonderful, large riding space, but any sort of lettered ring is always estimated and temporary.  Since we basically score straight sixes, we need all the 7's we can get!

Tempo Consistency: We are always working on this one.  The lengthenings are getting better.  His trot lengthenings are not terribly impressive in this test.  He makes a more exciting surge in test 1, but our balance was much more preserved after we adopted the judge's suggestions.  She gave us a 7, probably to encourage our attempts at improvement.  Harley also really got quick after counter canter left, which was not helped by my dislodged seat.  Did you like how I kept him in the ring?  Hello outside aids and some serious tail action.  This rendered the next important canter-trot-canter transition inadequate.  Shame.  We totally own canter-trot-canter these days.  He gave me an absolutely steady practice change in the warm up.  Unfortunately, we lost our preparation in the actual test.  Oh well.  More half halts and a rider position check are in order.  That is part of competition.

Survey Says....61%
The judge gave us almost all 6's, two 5's (Medium walk and the last halt.  Bummer, because he earned 7's for both halts in test 1.), and four 7's (stretchy trot circle, left canter lengthening, counter canter right, and the last trot lengthening).  If we had been able to earn 7's for both halts and one canter transition, like we did in test 1, we would have had a very respectable score, even with all 6's for the collective marks.  If we had been able to earn our usual 7's for the circles, we would have been pushing past the mid 60's!  Wow!  Theoretical horse showing is so much fun!

Nothing But Love For Harley
Just in case there are any worries, I am very proud of Harley and I am pleased with our score.  Considering how little we show, how little we practice tests, and our lack of professional tutelage, I am more than happy with our humble performance!  Since this show also turned into a wonderful learning experience, I am faithfully practicing our homework, seeing and feeling the results, and repeating the judges words in my mind "You are on the right path" and "You have so much potential".  Thank you Madam Judge, for making my day! 
And, I love my horse!


  1. You two just look so lovely together! Your husband did a fantastic job of filming, no easy task. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Good for you, Val! So far (and I hope it stays that way), I have only ridden in dressage courts that were far superior to my own working space. What a bummer to ride somewhere less than your own space. Deep footing make the job so much more difficult. Harley looks as though he overcame, conquered, and then kicked some butt. :0)

  3. Great oics. You guys look great!!
    Too bad about the footing.

  4. Thanks, Mary!

    Hi Karen- A lot of my focus went into fighting the footing. I felt like it was not really fair to Harley.

    Ruffles- Thanks!


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