Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bit the Bullet

I bit the bullet and entered the first dressage show of the year and Misty's second dressage show ever!

We are going to be doing three classes over the course of two days. One Intro C for warm-up and then two Training Level Test 1 Maiden classes. I'm really excited, but at the same time wishing I had waited for a later show to debut. But a group of friends are going so I got pressured into it and I think it will be a lot of fun not going by my lonesome for once!

Of course I was just gushing to my mom how awesome Misty has been lately and how much fun she's been and that we are going to show at Training Level... and then we don't have the most encouraging ride. But that's kind of the way things go with horses right? They've always got to keep you humble.

It certainly wasn't the most awful ride ever. I'm still seeing a ton of definite improvement in all sorts of areas. I mean, thinking back to when I first got her, we've improved:
  • Bridling. She now lowers her head and I don't have to pry her mouth open to get the bit in. She still takes a little prompting to open up, but she's accepting. 
  • She's not so one sided. She was super left sided. Holding a right lead canter was hard for her and she almost didn't even bend right. Now, you can barely tell that she is a left-sided horse. She still has a bit of trouble doing spins right and occasionally wants to counterflex when going right, but TONS better. 
  • Upward transitions can be done on the bit! Before, it was much too hard for her to consider transitioning up, using her butt and lifting her back all while staying on the bit! But her transitions are 90% amazing in the upward direction (I say 90% because today was the other 10% lol). 
  • She is more willing to take contact. She's still iffy on it and can get afraid or defensive of contact, but at least after warming up she can take a nice, soft and steady contact.
  • Her canter has always been uphill, but it has gotten even more soft and round and uphill. Just lovely really. 
  • Tempo and rhythm are much more even and appropriate. She has always been a little unsteady in her speed, not wanting to hold one tempo. But I didn't even realize it until today that she's become so even. I didn't even notice!
So in the grand scheme of things, we've come quite a ways. Not to mention that we've also done a lot of improvement in working with cows, and jumping, and trail obstacles, and reining, etc.

Today I lunged her first and she was sassy as per usual. Got on and walked a bit before going to the trot. She absolutely didn't want to take contact at the trot. She ducked, she inverted, she even did a bit of rooting. After a few laps of this nonsense I put her on a smaller circle (somewhere between 10 and 15m) and put my inside leg on and made her sort herself out. About a dozen circles later she finally accepted the contact and we were able to get to work.

We did a lot of work opening up her stride in the trot. Her natural trot is quite spring and pretty, but it's somewhere between a western jog and a dressage trot so she needs a bit of prompting. Lots of figure eights, bending lines and making sure she was appropriately positioned to the inside. She's not the fanciest horse so in order to do well at a dressage show she needs to be very accurate in our movements. I think this definitely tired her out and made our canter work what it was.

Downward transitions-wise she's slowly but surely improving. She's probably at about a 60-40% of bad to good transitions. Either I ask too much with my seat and we get too abrupt of a transition or I use too much hands and she braces. But, we're getting so close to 50-50 and we had a couple NICE transitions today.

She was having nothing to do with leg yields so after a little bickering and finally getting a nice two step crossover, we moved onto the canter. The left wasn't too bad, but that is her good side. For some reason even just cruising along she thought it pertinent to throw a few little half-hearted bucks in. I think she was just telling me she was tired and didn't want to keep moving in a frame, but she knew she wasn't allowed to drop down from a canter.

Gave her a walk break and then moved on to her more difficult side. Transitions to the canter were slightly too "uppity" but not bad. But she did not want anything to do with my leg on her side and after one time of falling out with her shoulder and completely blowing me off when I used my outside leg/rein, I really put my heel into her and got some nice hop-skipping across the arena. After that she at least listened a little better to my outside aids.

We finished off with some nice stretchy trot and then cooled off with a free walk. So overall, not awful, but not very confidence-inspiring for our upcoming show in about 8 days. Lots to work on, I think namely just making sure there's no theatrics in our canter, she moves out in the trot, bends nicely, and transitions downwards politely. So not all that much, right? Only mostly everything ;) Regardless, it will be a fun first outing of the year!


  1. Horses breed humility if nothing else! Don't worry though, y'all are going to rock it at the show.

  2. awesome...I can't wait till show season starts!