Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SMDA Dressage Show - May 15, 2011

Dreamy and I had our first show of the year this past Sunday, May 15, at the Southern Maine Dressage Association (SMDA) show.  We did three new tests and debuted at First Level!  YAY!  It was pouring rain, so not the best day (or footing) for our debut, but I was still pretty happy with our results overall. 

The first test of the day was Prix Caprilli Training Test 2.  I was pretty nervous to try this test.  I jumped Dreamy for the first time this year the previous Thursday and she was pretty ummm...forward.  And not the kind of forward you want in a dressage test.  LOL!  Just what is Prix Caprilli?  It is a dressage test with jumps!  It is not a hunter or jumper course though.  It is judged just like a dressage test, so fluidity, rhythm, relaxation, connection, gaits and all those things count.  There just happens to be a few jumps in the ring too.  

While I have practiced parts of the test, including riding up center line with jumps directly on the right, it was SO incredibly FUNNY when we entered the ring at the show.  Dreamy halted at X and gave the jumps the hugest hairy eyeball ever!  She peered down in a way that made me giggle.  The test calls for three jumps set at a maximum of 2 feet.  I figured since it was MAY, the management would set one at max height and maybe the other two below, with maybe even a cross rail for jump #1.  

OH NO.  They set ALL THREE of them at max height verticals!  Oh great.  I am not nervous about jumping in general, but I was hoping for a more "gentle" introduction to a Prix Caprilli test.  All I could imagine as I am getting ready to enter is that Dreamy might buck after she landed and we would end up jumping over the little dressage ring fence!  HA HA HA!

They did not set up a jump in the warm up ring, so Dreamy hesitated a bit over the first fence, which is to be expected.  But she went over carefully, if not a little confused (Since when do we do jumps in the dressage show ring, MOM? I swear, I try not to anthropomorphize my animals, but they are so easy to read.)  Overall, I was very pleased.  We had mostly 7s with an 8 on our free walk.  We did get a 5 on our right lead canter (her worst lead) , but a 6 and 7 on the left lead!  WHOO!  In the end, I was surprised and excited to score a 67% on our first Prix Caprilli for first place!  Yay! It was seriously the most fun I have ever had in a dressage ring!  For an event rider who loves dressage like me, it was the perfect marriage of jumping and dressage!  (OK, it did not compare to cross country, but it was still a lot of fun!)

Next we had our Training 3 test.  It is now the top test in Training level (there is no longer a test 4 at any level) and it is brand new this year.  My friend Shelly showed up to call it for me, which was nice.  I was a bit nervous to be riding three brand new to me tests all within two hours.  Even with her as a caller, I screwed up the stretchy trot circle and did it at C instead of at B....whoops.  Leave it to me to go off course with a CALLER!  (I never have had a caller, so this was a new experience...thank you to Shelly for her help!)  We had 5s and 6s on our canters and a bunch of 7s for a 61.600% and a fourth place finish.  I am very happy with that, especially because we had a two point error, which was totally my fault.  Dreamy was very good despite the huge puddles and heavy rain during our test.  We got "Great pair, Would like to see softer topline.  Good luck and have fun!  Thanks for riding in the rain!" as our comments.  LOL!

And then we waited in the rain for our First 1 test.  I almost wanted to scratch because of the weather and footing, but I also REALLY wanted to try First 1!!  It was the perfect place for our debut because I really was not nervous.  Dreamy was being super good and riding at SMDA is very laid back.  We were fairly accurate in our test, with Dreamy only breaking out of the canter at the end after her last canter lengthening.  She was tired and had to work hard in the puddles!  LOL!  For a horse who has to sometimes be convinced to walk through a puddle,  I could not be any more proud of her forging ahead through the sloppy ring and doing exactly what I asked of her.  To me, that was worth more than any score or ribbon!  She is so goodhearted and puts up with so much from me!  We had 5s on our canters this time, but 7s on everything else!  I was very happy with our 62.100% and a third place!  WOW!  :-D  Granted, it is only a schooling show, but to break 60% on all tests was my only goal (besides the long standing goal of "stay on [the horse] and stay in [the ring]."  LOL!) and I definitely exceeded my goal!  Yay Dreamy!  We had the comments, "Very nice job!  Good luck and have fun!" I really like the judge Jerilyn Neider, as I think she is fair and very encouraging.  I highly recommend her as a judge!

What a great day, despite the terrible weather.  The next SMDA show is in June and I think we signed up for Prix Caprilli, First 1 and First 2.  Might as well go all out and really try First level!  LOL!

The professional pics will be posted here.  Sorry, I did not get any of my own pics of videos as it was way too wet to take out my camera.  Plus, Shelly was busy calling my tests for me anyway!  LOL!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thank You

I have many wonderful horse friends all over the place, from here in my home state, to Florida, New Jersey, and even the west coast.  But I wanted to write up a little something here on the blog for two of my horse friends I am very thankful for.  They both deserve their moment in the blog spotlight!  :-D

First is my friend Tania.  She was a HUGE help to me last year at WEG, doing everything from riding co-pilot in my truck, to actually driving my rig for me after I had driven 10 hours straight, to helping me prep Dreamy for each ride, to taking awesome pics of us all!  :-)  And she was nice enough to volunteer to tag along to the May 8 show, Reva's first show ever, so that I did not have to be alone.  She is officially now my "show mommy".....HA HA HA!  ;-D  I show alone a lot, so it was nice to have someone to help me and keep me sane!  LOL!  She and I also did a beach ride this year and have many more adventures planned!  THANK YOU TANIA!  :-D

Here we are at WEG!  From left to right: Christie, me, Tania, Laura, and Helene
And my other horsey friend who deserves a big THANK YOU is Shelly!  She is my partner-in-crime and favorite show buddy.  We have shown together for four years now and marshaled at many of the tracks around the state.  We both own 20 year old Standardbreds who hate every horse except each other....and we get along quite well, even when we are competing in the same classes!  We have had innumerable fun adventures together and I am sure we will have many more!!  My husband refers to her as "my wife".....ha ha ha.  Shelly came out with me this past Sunday May 15 to a dressage show in the POURING rain to call my tests for me.  It was incredibly nice of her especially because it was so gross outside.  I love her like a sister.  THANK YOU SHELLY! :-D

I love this pic of me and Shelly from last fall at a MHA show...she tried western for the first time!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reva's First Horse Show!

In addition to bringing Dreamy along this year like usual, I decided to see what Reva might be able to accomplish in the show ring as well.  (As you can see from the new header photo, she has started her show career with a bang!! LOL!)  She is just five this year, and truth be told, I have really not put much time into her.  I hemmed and hawed all winter about what I wanted to try with her.  I considered waiting another year before we even tried a show.  I debated on doing dressage, hunters, or a combination of both.  Or maybe saddleseat..... ;-D

By the end of the winter, I knew that in order to really put the time into her, I needed a clear goal.  I enjoy showing for many reasons, but I have also found it helps keep me motivated to ride and train.  I like setting goals and trying to meet them not only at home or in my lessons, but trying to also meet them at horse shows.

Anyway, I decided to start Reva with in-hand and hunter under saddle 2-gait classes this year.  There are a couple of Maine Horse Association (MHA) shows here that offer Standardbred classes with a year end award, so I am starting out really small.  I figured I might as well begin her career just against her own breed, and then eventually we will move into open shows against all breeds.  If she is going well later in the season, I will try a dressage intro level test.  But I might just wait until 2012 to try dressage shows.  It really depends on Reva!

I set the goal to show Reva at the American Saddlebred Association of Maine's (ASAM) Ocean Communities Classic horse show on May 8, 2011.  It is affiliated with MHA as I mentioned above and therefore also counted towards MHA year end points.  It is a double judged show, with two judges, which means that while we only went into six classes, we won 12 ribbons!  WHOOOO!  LOL!  :-D

I was very very lucky to have my friend Tania come along as my "show mommy" for the day.  She is the one who accompanied me to WEG last fall and she is a great horsewoman.  I could have shown on my own without a groom, as I have done it for many years, but it was SO nice to have help.  Since this was Reva's first show, I was unsure of how she might act (she was perfect) and I was nervous.  It was very nice to have someone to encourage me and help me with anything I needed.  And it was really cool to have someone at the in gate with a bucket full of brushes and towels!  LOL!!!  I NEVER have help like that!  And besides professional photos, I never get photos of myself at shows, so having a groom who is also a talented photographer was cool too!


Reva wearing her pink pajamas!  I know, I know, it looks like I spilled Pepto Bismol on her.  LOL!  Reva is fulfilling all my pink pony little girl fantasies.  Don't judge.  :-D

We competed in three in hand classes: Adult Showmanship, English Horse in Hand, and Standardbred in Hand.
We earned a second place in Adult Showmanship!  And here we are winning fifth place in English Horse in Hand.  I like the pink ribbons the best, as they match my shirt!  ;-D

YAY!  Reva's first 1st place ribbon was in Standardbred in Hand!  Go mare!
I love this we are in our first ever riding class, Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure.  And I had surprise visitors....that is my dad on the far left, my brother, and his wife!  :-)
Good mare!  She was super good!
Yay!  We also won unanimous first place blue ribbons in our first ever riding class, Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure!
Pretty mare!
Reva was so good!  She acted like I had been showing her all her life.  She stood at the trailer like a champ.  She did not get upset or worked up.  She did call out a few times over the course of the day, but it was not out of worry but seemed more out of curiosity.  
Pretty mare.....I look so tiny up there!  LOL!  She is 16.2 hands and I am only five feet tall!
Can you tell she is a trotter....??  :-D
We ended up with a first and second place in Standardbred 2-Gait Equitation. It was my only split class all day; everything else was unanimous placings for us.
Giving her a wither scratch in the lineup.  I was just so impressed with her attitude!
YAY!!!!!  We won the Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure Championship! 
Pretty mare!  She looks good in blue and tricolors!  HA HA HA
All of our ribbons from the day!  It began to sprinkle, hence the weird dots on her body.  LOL!
Awwwwwww!  I love this one as well as the one where I am kissing her (see header photo at top of page).
Here is the full album of all our pics from my friend Tania.  You can see glimpses of how nice Reva will look once she has more miles!! 

We definitely have homework.  Reva was a little more speedy than I would have liked at times in the trot.  She has a big stride and wants to do her big racehorse trot!  Look Mama, I'm fast!  I can't really blame her, since that was how she was trained before I owned her and technically we have not spent that much time under saddle (I believe I had been on her 9-10 times this spring before the show...)  But I will say that during our last class, I was able to get her to relax down into the trot and use her body, instead of just flinging her front end and trailing her hind (she's a bus! LOL!) Also, for whatever reason she decided that coming down into the walk from the trot was not a good plan.  She resisted and set her jaw against my hand....I tried to be as tactful as I could but it was not pretty.  The frustrating part of this is that at home all I have to do for a downward transition (trot to walk or walk to halt) is exhale and give her slight aids with my legs and reins.  So I am not quite sure how to "work on it" since it has never been a problem before until the show.

Overall, it was a great show.  I was only expecting to give Reva a good first experience and I never expected all the ribbons!  :-D  But I admit, being as competitive as I am, I was super pleased to do so well.   Yay Super Filly (Mare)!  LOL!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Riding update

Dreamy has been going quite well lately.  We spent seven weeks conditioning this year, from the middle of March until the end of April.  I was very organized and methodical in my approach this year, more so than normal anyway, and she looks great.  She feels great, too, which is exciting.

Coming back from an Easter Day 2011 trail ride with Dreamy and my faithful dog Lucy.  That is my (white) house and lawn in the upper right hand side...the official road ends at my house (on the other side of the hill here) and we have this old discontinued town road that goes on for over 2 miles. 
Our connection and acceptance of the bit/aids is 100% improved.  Granted, it is something we have been working on for three years now, so I suppose it is ABOUT TIME I got my act together.  LOL!  ;-D  There are times when she will get a little behind the bit, mostly at the stretchy free walk, but I finally have steady and consistent contact at the walk, trot, and canter!  I think spending two full weeks in early March just walking really helped this.   She is also finally accepting the right rein much more than before. 

Our canter is much improved as well!  We still do not have a traditional "normal" canter, but I think it has become much better.  I am hoping for nothing less than 5s on our canters this year....I HOPE!  Improving the contact and remembering to keep her straight/supporting her outside shoulder has really helped.  I had one of my last USDF tests from 2010 professionally videotaped and watching that has REALLY helped me figure out what I am doing right/wrong.  I feel like I need to videotape myself more often.

And I am also pretty happy with the improvement in our stretchy trot circle.  She is actually stretching correctly INTO the contact, instead of just dropping her head and the reins go slack.  This is big!  Maybe I can score well on this movement this year!  :-)

I think a lot of this is that I am finally starting to put the pieces together....sometimes I think I have a serious mental block when it comes to dressage.  HA HA HA.  And I am starting to be able to RIDE her the way she needs to be ridden.  

I have only been able to take one lesson this month so far...but I am hoping to take at least one more.  Once summer is here, I am hoping to lesson once a week.  Right now with the end of school, my professional life is crazy!

We were originally wait listed for our first show but I just got a phone call tonight that we are in!  We were first on the wait list, which helped!  It is just a local schooling dressage show, but it is a great place to do the new 2011 tests for the first time and MOVE UP!!!!  ;-D  

So although I am not really sure we are ready, we are going to be doing Training 3, First 1, and a Prix Caprilli test!  I was so excited to get in, but then it dawned on me....I have to memorize THREE new tests!  AHHHHHHH!  Ought to get my tests out and make some diagrams.......being on the wait list made me put off studying!  Ahhhhhh!  Wish us luck!  :-)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baby Teeth

Sadly, I have not been motivated to blog lately, not because nothing exciting is happening, but because I am pretty tuckered out after teaching all day, doing horse chores, making dinner, riding two horses, spending time with my son and helping him with his homework, cleaning the house (sometimes), and all that good stuff.  :-)  Most nights, by the time 10PM rolls around and I have just finished folding the third load of laundry and still need to take a shower because I smell like a horse, I am not exactly excited to get online much less write something entertaining.

Anyway, at the beginning of April, the horses had their spring shots.  Everything is routine and it is usually a pretty easy visit.  I have their teeth floated in the fall, so that way not only can I spread out the huge veterinary expen$e$, my vet can also examine everyone every six months. 

Both Dreamy and Sparky have uncomplicated mouths and teeth.  Reva, on the other hand, is a bit more of a challenge. The first time I had her teeth floated was the fall of 2009, about four months after she came to my farm.  She needed one of her molar caps removed and the vet commented that she seemed a bit behind in her tooth development patterns.  Read here to see pics.

Then this past summer I randomly found one of her teeth on the barn floor!  LOL!  Read here...

And luckily this past fall her teeth all seemed fine, just a bit slow developmentally.  Some of her caps were still on pretty tight when they "should have" already fallen off and things like that.  But overall things were good.

I knew I might as well have my vet look at her teeth when he did spring shots.  I had heard her teeth making odd noises when she chewed hay (well, to be more exact, I heard her TMJ 
[ temporomandibular joint] making noise.....uh oh).  He found that her two top outermost incisor caps were hanging on by threads.  So he pulled them both...cha-ching $40!  :-p  (Now I have FOUR of her baby teeth....LOL!) But the lower outermost incisor caps were tight.  I am keeping a close eye on them, as they might not want to come out on their own.  At least these are her LAST two baby teeth!  Phew!  After he pulled the two caps and balanced out the rest of her mouth, the TMJ noise went away.  I, of course, was worried about the TMJ noise and the possibility of her having problems with TMJ disorder, but the vet was not too concerned at this point.  

I jokingly told the vet I might as well make some jewelry with the four baby teeth.....HA HA HA.  I could have the molars on a necklace and the two incisors as earrings!  (Kidding!!!)