Monday, April 27, 2015

Sport Horse Extravaganza - 2015 Day 2 - Saturday

Today was Dressage followed by general Sport Horse.  The line up looked like this:
Training Level Test 1
Training Level Test 3
Sport Horse In-Hand
Sport Horse Under Saddle

I headed over to warm up, and the Fancy Pony was feeling ok.  I was as ready as I could be, so when the steward said so, I headed into the ring.
This was the first show where I actually had a reader, and it was actually pretty nice!

Down centerline we went, and we tracked left at C...
Trot circle on the long side felt stable...
Canter circle at A was feeling pretty relaxed...
And the judge blew the whistle.

Oh, dear.  How could we possibly have gone off course already??
She said I should have tracked right.  I pondered this for a second.  My reader read track left...  So I asked the judge, "Training Level Test 1, right?"
No, she had T-2.
But, we rode T-2 yesterday...

Turns out I was the first in my division to go, and they had the wrong test for ALL of us!!

I walked out of the ring to continue warming up until we were ready again...
My reader had her own class to prepare for, so a saint in the warm-up arena agreed to read for me!
Our ride was... average.  Ultimately, we scored a 60.2% and didn't place.

My friend Heather went into her own test on her sometimes-hot-gelding, and as she headed down centerline, a truck arrived *RIGHT NEXT TO THE RING* to remove a dumpster.  The truck beeped and groaned and whined the entire time she was riding her test!
I would consider keeping the horse in the ring under such circumstances a win!!
Is that a winning smile, or what?
Despite Heather's frustration with her ride, they scored really well!  I was so proud of the way she rode through what she saw as a disastrous test!

Later, we went into Training Test 3.  Apparently, the universe had not reached it's quota of entropy.
As soon as I entered the ring, sirens came rushing down the street behind me.  I listened closely to my reader (who was calling at the top of her lungs with great projection, and I could barely catch her voice between emergency vehicles).  At one point, I drew a blank, but there was her voice to save me!
Our free walk was not up to it's usual brilliance, but can you blame the Fancy Pony when there are emergency vehicles flying by all around us??
As soon as I exited after my final salute, the sirens and emergency vehicles ceased.  Thank you universe.
We walked out of there with a 63.6%!!  Our first Nationally qualifying score!
"So much to like!"

Back at the barn, I curried and brushed and hosed and scrubbed.  I made the Fancy Pony shiny.  Well, as shiny as a roan gets, anyway...  She was cool, calm, and together when we entered the ring for Sport Horse In-Hand.  She stood perfectly still.  She walked right with me on the small triangle.  She trotted like she was glued to my shoulder!  She lengthened on the back side of the triangle with me.  She turned at all the corners with me!  She walked again when I walked!
Alas, the judge was not particularly fond of her head.  She said is was "plain".  **shrug**
We'll try again at another show.

Sport Horse Under Saddle was our last class, and the session started around 7.  Everyone was tired.  We played musical horses in the warm-up arena.  Eventually, we settled to warming up proper for the class.
We had a decent go.  We got all of our leads.  Our transitions were timely, but Pony was tossing her head for the walk to canter transition.  We didn't place.  But the experience was still successful, and I learned a little bit more.
Bedtime was a blessing.
Tomorrow, we would be riding in our first Regional Championship classes!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sport Horse Extravaganza - 2015 Day 1 - Friday

The weekend was pretty darn successful for Whisper and I!

We hit up St Louis again for another Arabian Sport Horse Show.
Friday was Day one, and we were looking at:
 - Arabian Working Hunter 14.2 and Under (2'3" - 2'6") Course A and B
 - Arabian Hunter Hack ATR
 - Arabian Green Working Hunter (2'6" - 2'9") Course A
 - Training Level Test 2 Dressage
I put on my game face...

Because the hunter ring was running at the same time as the dressage rings, I was pretty paranoid about missing a class.
I had focused on landing on the lead I intended in my last lesson as preparation for this weekend's hunter courses.

Remember, we have only shown Hunter once before...  At the schooling show in December...

This show was run very considerately!  In order to accomodate all the horses cross-entered in Dressage and Hunter, they opened all the class cards for whatever height was set.  For example, we ran our course for our Green Working Hunter class, then I went to ride my dressage test.  After my dressage test, I came back with my stripped horse for the jog for the Green Working Hunter class.

I can't remeber all of the details of my rounds for this jam-packed weekend, but we took 2nd and 1st respectively for Course A and Course B in the Working Hunter 14.2 and Under, which qualified us for the Regional Championships!

Hunter Hack proved to be a bit fussy. The Princess was stiff and I struggled to keep her stretched into the bridle.  She tossed her head in the air for both canter transitions.  We came out with 4th place.  I think she gets bored with the rail portion of our classes...

Green working Hunter felt fantastic!  We only rode Course A for the experience, but she jumped confidently over fences set 2'6"-2'9".  She landed her leads!

We took 6th place in out Training Level Test 2 with a score of 60.1%
That's passing, right?
We were in the middle of the pack.  I felt good about that.

Back in for our jog, and we took 1st place in the Green Working Hunter Course A!!!
I was ready to ride in 3 Regional Championship Classes on Sunday!!

Saturday, we would be switching gears for dressage and Sport Horse classes...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jump Lesson!

It's been a while since I've had to opportunity to get together with Coach *and* the Fancy Pony.
I was stoked for my lesson!

I knew what I wanted to work on.  So, when Coach asked me, I didn't have to think about it!

I wanted to land on a particular lead ON PURPOSE.

So, Coach set up the most adorable mini hunter course, and we started with the basics.
"Count the last 3 strides to the fence out load.  See the distance."

Oh, yeah.  I knew about that!  I'm going to get good at this!!

Once, I mis-counted really bad.  I mean, I was saying "one" as she taking off over the fence...  Oops!
At least I wasn't jumping ahead of her, right?

It turned out that as I was counting and riding all the way to the fence, we pretty much landed on the lead I wanted as if by magic!
Coach and I talked about what I was already doing with my body to help the outcome and what I could do if I find myself in a situation where she needs a little extra help...  Along with typical mistakes I should try to avoid!

One of the things I really like about Coach is how she starts out with something like:
"This course is set at 2'3", except for that fence, which I set at 2'6"."
Then, as you're working, or taking a walk break, you don't even notice that she is raising the jumps.
And while you talk about wanting to do the entire course at 2'6" because your Fancy Pony isn't even thinking about it, she puts several of them up to 2'9" just because.

That Fancy Pony just ate up those 2'9" jumps like they were anything else.
I just wanted to explode with glee when Coach told me that the Fancy Pony looked 100 times more confident over fences and how wonderful her condition looked!

Bonus for the ride...
As the fences got bigger, Whisper's jump got bigger.  We got a touch more hang time.  And I would sometimes fall on her neck a little.  I'm sure part of that is me trying to give my hands enough to give her plenty of room to use her head.  I'm sure the rest of it is my continually developing core and not riding still enough.

So, Coach said, "Try to sit up more as you land to keep from falling on her neck!"
In my mind, I didn't think about the plumb line pulling out of the top of my head, or even straightening my back...
I imagined that I lifted my inside arm straight up as my own body crossed over the rail.
Apparently that visual puts exactly the right amount of "uprightness" into my landing, because it felt incredible and balanced!

I'm looking forward to this weekend's Sport Horse show!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Not much exciting going on since the show.  Just conditioning for the next show!

The pasture is situated on a gentle slope, and it is finally dry (enough) that it's not a mud pit out there!
So, we have started conditioning sets in the pasture.
Trot laps.
Walk laps.
Trot laps.
Canter laps.
Trot laps...

You get the idea.
The slope makes us both use out tiny stabilization muscles that we don't get to test in the arena.
The traffic on the road keeps things interesting.
The other horses in the pasture keep things entertaining!

To keep our laps from getting too boring, we are now incorporating leg yields and shoulder-in into the work, as well.
The best view is between my horse's ears...

Man, do these rides feel great!!


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