Sunday, April 28, 2013

Grumpy Cat

The show went pretty well today. I was happy with how Jetta did and thought we improved in some areas a lot compared to our last dressage show. The judge however, did not agree.

I'd never ridden with this judge before and she was TOUGH. She basically didn't like anything we did. Except for our free walk. I don't know how you couldn't like Jetta's free walk so there's that. Here's how I pictured her:

I'm not sure if she was grumpy or not, but her scores sure seemed like it. I saw quite a few scores in the 50% range and not one score over 65%. Which is not usually what you see at a league show...

Here's the breakdown of our tests:

Training Test 3

Jetta was okay for this one but she was definitely a little looky in areas and she stiffened and came above the bit a couple times. It was just kind of a meh ride, though I felt for sure that we'd at least get the same score or better than our last show because her canter transitions were a million times better (save for trying to canter in one corner when I didn't ask) and our little serpentines were much bendier too. We got 7's on both halts (apparently those were both good though she wrote "to left" on both). Except for our free walk (an 8), everything else was 6's and 6.5. Comments were that she canter was stiff, unbalanced, our transitions were unbalanced and fussy, we were counter flexed at C (because Jetta was busy eyeing the judges stand - a table set up in the back of a truck with a canopy overhead) and while I thought we had one of our best stretchy trots to date in a show, we scored a 6 because she was inconsistent in her tempo. Phooey. We got a 7 for gaits, a 6.5 for impulsion, 6 for submission, 6.5 for rider's position and seat (saying that I leaned too far forward. Guilty as charged). A 6 for Rider's aids with no comment (I want to know why!) and 6.5 for Harmony. Our final comment was: "Great walk! Pleasant picture but many balance and positioning errors when executing the figures and performing transitions." Ok, I guess that's not the worst comment I could ever receive, but many?  I thought there were only a few bobbles.

We scored a 64.6% so we didn't improve at all from our last show, actually going down 1.2%. That wasn't a huge deal because I knew we'd had many a few bobbles and it wasn't our best, despite at least feeling improved.

Looking cute

First Level Test 1

For some reason I was SUPER nervous for this test. I think in part because I forgot an element of the test last time and I was worried I'd forget it again. I needn't have worried though, this test went awesome! It felt like we really had it together, all of the movements were just flowing into one another, I knew what was coming up next and Jetta was responsive and well behaved.

The judge didn't agree with my assessment.

Again, 7's on both halts with the same comment of being to the left. Our free walk we also scored an 8 again. Everything else was mostly 5.5 and 6's with a couple 6.5's. Bummer. Our comments were that Jetta's was quikening her stride instead of lengthening, that she didn't show much stretch in our stretchy trot circle, our transitions were "muddy", "stiff" or "lurching". She didn't like our circles or corners and said that her haunches were to the inside or that she was falling in/out. We got a 7 again for gaits, a 5.5 for impulsion with suppleness of the back and engadgement of the hq underlined. A 6 on submission, a 6.5 on rider's position with the same comment as before, a 6 on rider's aids and a 6.5 on harmony.

So that was a bummer to say the least - we got a score of 62.41%, which is the EXACT score from our previous test even though this one went so much better. What really got me though was the comment: "Good energy, but rider over-rides movements. Focus on the task at hand rather than run from one place to another... it's causing your horse to constantly chase his balance."

I have to say that I completely disagree with this comment. Plus, my horse is a her. I know we need to work on balance, that's a given. But I felt like I did very well moving from movement to movement. I was "in the zone" and half way through my test I even started smiling because I was so happy with how it was going. I felt like I rode each figure well and set her up for the next one instead of focusing so much on one movement only to have the next one sneak up on us and not be prepared for it.

We did get it on video, though with my mom's video taping skills that may or may not have been helpful. But it lets you get the gist of things and I can at least compare it to our last video of the same test.

Feedback welcome, as always :)

Overall, I was pleased with Jetta. I felt like we improved a lot (just go back to my post from the last dressage show and watch the video. So much better this time!). And it's not the end of the world not to get the score I wanted, it just means we have all summer to work on it and show to try and get that 65% at first level that I'm aiming for!

Also another note. In my defense for my position, yes I have bad equitation when riding Jetta (just Jetta for some reason...) but I was trying so hard today! My mom was there being my helper and she was helping me out by reminding me to sit back and put my shoulders back. I think I just need some invisible person to sit behind me and poke me between the shoulder blades every couple of seconds. Unfortunately, yesterday I messed up my back and it's killing me now. I must have a pinched nerve in my lower spine because it's sending shooting pains down my legs. It's been miserable. But I'm still functional even though a chiro visit is definitely in order and after watching Rolex riders - with separated shoulders, broken fingers and messed up ankles - ride beautifully and bravely I figured I could do the same :) Just not quite as beautifully obviously...

And speaking of Rolex, Hillary over at Equestrian at Hart is having a contest! And she has some awesome old Rolex Volunteer t-shirts she's giving away! So go enter (or not, because then that'd leave better chances for me to get one!)


  1. Oops, I forgot to put our placings! We got 1st out of 3 in Training and 2nd out of 3 in First Level.

  2. Too bad on the scores but at least you feel good about your rides! When you find that invisible person to poke you, let me know! I want to have my own! :)

  3. As Snarky Rider says, "Tits to the sky!"

    Too bad about the judge, at least you know that there was improvement and that is what really counts.

  4. I watched your first level test and thought it was quite nice! She was much more relaxed and you two made a nice picture.

    At the risk of having my own position critiqued ('cause heaven knows I have lots of issues!) you're right that your shoulders aren't helping you. A trainer once explained to me that at first level, they need to start coming up in front and rocking weight back, and you have to help them do that with your shoulders and upper body. Opening your shoulders and letting your elbows fall straight down from your shoulders (which I cannot do for the life of me) will help you be steadier and in turn help Jetta be steadier with her contact. It will also encourage her to come up to you.

    If it's any consolation, I've ridden for judges who absolutely KILLED people at first level. It's like whole new ballgame - different frame, different expectations for consistency. It sounds like this judge was pretty harsh, which is always disappointing. However, YOU know how much you've improved over your last test, regardless of what the judge says, and that's really the goal of this whole game! Congrads on some very nice tests!

  5. Yay for a good show!! Sometimes it's just not a judge who loves us and that makes it so hard to compare scores from show to show...

    BUT it sounds like you guys made some great improvements! and I thought your FL1 stretchy circle looked lovely (fwiw).

    Yay Jetta!

  6. I know nothing about judging dressage, but I thought you guys looked good!

  7. That's frustrating. I think y'all look good! Judge can at least get her gender right ;)