Monday, May 11, 2009

NEDA Spring - "No guts, no glory"

I had the best time at NEDA Spring this past weekend. It was just perfect and we had a FANTASTIC day. I think it was the two best tests we have EVER had. :) To date....of course.

My times were later in the day (Thank you Sue McKeown!) so we left around 8AM. MapQuest told me it was a 3 hour, 11 minute trip, so I planned for 3 and a half hours. There was no way around going down Rte. 93 that I could figure out, so yes folks, we drove through the middle of Boston. Over the Tobin Bridge. I am not that nervous of a driver, nor is S, so we figured "NO GUTS, NO GLORY!" Seeing as I was throwing all caution to the wind, entering a pretty big show with a STB, we figured we might as well live large. So that was the weekend's motto: No guts, no glory. LOL!

The trip down was uneventful, except for a cranky child. We should have left C with his grandparents, but S was like, "Oh he'll be fine...." Ah well. And there was the tunnel in Boston, where I told Shawn he ought to get out of the far right lane, seeing as it seemed like there was an exit coming up soon. He was like, "I'm FINE!" Well........we ended up having to take a random exit in the tunnel. I was literally crapping my pants, thinking we would suddenly emerge with a 20 foot horse trailer in downtown Boston. YEAH GREAT! Luckily, there was a turn off back onto 93 right before the exit (odd, but PERFECT!) so we were able to save the day. I would have been SO PISSED had that turnoff not been there. The tunnel had lots of turns and you have to watch the signs. S let me navigate myself the rest of the way. I told him I knew were we were going....well I knew how to get to Rte. 3, just had never taken the Marshfield exit (#12). So I think he finally realized I MIGHT have a clue. YA THINK???? :p

We arrived with lots of time to spare, as I had planned. Seeing as I had never been to this venue, I wanted to be able to get the lay of the land before I had to worry about riding. I got Dreamy settled and left her with S. There was a nice big area to park in, which was nice. It was sort of an old and rundown fairground, but there was a lot of space. Then I took C with me up to find the secretary's booth and figure out which rings were what. There were four competition rings and two warm ups.

All signed in and ready to roll, we headed back to the trailer parking. Dreamy was calm and ready to go. We walked up to the warm-up with about 45 minutes to go before my test. It was becoming quite hot and humid, so I wanted to limit her warm up. I had no idea what I might get, but I knew I did not want to completely tire her out before the test.

The main warm up ring was full, mostly of FEI riders doing fancy things. LOL! It is cool to be at a show where there are riders doing piaffe and tempis all around you, rather than walktrotters who cannot steer! (Not that FEI riders look where they are going either....come to think of it....LOL) Anyway, I was a little intimidated by the "fancy" horses, so I opted to go to the less crowded side warm up. I just kept thinking....what is the BEST thing that can happen? Don't be nervous, just think positive! (Thanks Judy!)

Dreamy warmed up fine, getting both her canters with no issues. And there was NO PACING on the downward transition! It was clean! She was very good in the contact, not perfect yet, but very good. She was a bit sluggish though. I decided to take off my spurs last week, thinking that her bucking at the canter might have something to do with them. And since she is still spooky with whips, I was a bit worried about not having a backup in case she ignored my leg. Soon we were called for Training Test 2. The entire test went well, except for our right lead canter. I knew it was a good ride though. All I wanted was to score above a 60%.

We went back to the trailer and rested for a little while. I had some time to kill before Training 4. I ended up getting on just 30 minutes out, knowing that she would not need an extensive warm up. Dreamy was still sluggish, but I had put my small spurs on this time. I got her moving out in the trot and thought we might do better.

I decided this time around to enter the "intimadting FEI warmup area". There was no specific FEI warm up, but it did seem that only the lower levels went to the side warmup. This time the main ring was less crowded. Plus I wanted to rub elbows with the "fancy" horses. LOL! I am silly, I know. I got a nice trot and canter, and was walking her around on a loose rein, when I see S and C walking out to the bleachers. S has a RED RIBBON! OMG, OMG, OMG!!!

I follow him and ask what my score was.
We ended up with a 61.429% on Training 2!!!! There were 8 riders and we placed SECOND! They did not split the class between Open and AA. I totally started crying, no lie. S teased me for crying, but I was so proud of her! We got 7s and 6s throughout the test.......two 7s on each canter transition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was awesome!!! Especially since last year we were getting 3s and 4s on our canter transitions!

And our left lead canter circle was a 6 and our right lead was a 5. I am SO PROUD OF HER! I got a 6 on rider position, which was great. It was literally the best test we have ever done. The judge loved her. She said we really need to get the connection in the canter more established, but that she was a "lovely horse." And this is no "L" judge. We had Sarah Geikie, an FEI "C" judge. So I knew this woman was not giving away scores.

Suddenly, I was even more pumped for Training 4. I think I was a little TOO pumped, and I pushed her too hard. For some reason, perhaps from riding hot Morgans all my life, I always get Dreamy into a tempo that is too fast. The only reason our tempo was good the entire T2 test was because she was sluggish and I had no spurs!!! LOL! I think I was chasing her a little. Our canters were 5s this time on the circles BUT the transitions were 6s. We got a 4 on our low and long trot circle at the end. YUCK! She was just so pooped out and falling on her forehand. I thought it was OK enough for at least a 5, but the judge said we never actually stretched. Have to work on that. :( S never got a pic of it, so I cannot even evaluate it.

But again no pacing! The judge had no idea what breed she was. Usually because her gaits have never been "pure" until this show, and she always throws in a pace stride here or there, the judge has ALWAYS said something. Sometimes they wonder if she is lame (UM, no....) and sometimes they figure out she is a STB. The only person who did say something was the ring steward. She remarked that she was a nice TB. Nope, guess again. The look on her face was priceless when I said she was a STB. (After T2, I had said to S we needed to work on that right lead canter. I smiled at the steward when I said it, so she said something like, "She looks great, but still thought she was on the track for that canter." I said "No kidding!", smiled, and we went back to the trailer. When we were back for T4, I checked in with her and that is when she remarked about her being a nice TB. LOL!!!!) As much as I love promoting her breed, I also love when we are "so good" we "fit in" as a dressage horse. :)

Training 4 was not as nice of a test as T2, so we ended up scoring a 56% and came in 7 out of 8. There were 22 riders, but they did split the class this time. Technically I came in 13 out of everyone, but they split it up into Open and AA/JR/YR. While we did not get the 60% to qualify for USDF awards, it was the BEST test we could have ridden right now. The judge said we showed a lot of promise, but that we have to work on our connection to really get ready for First level. (Not that I am thinking that far ahead right now, but I realize that at T4 that is what they expect to see...a horse ready to move up). A year ago, we would have scored a 40% on this test, not even kidding. Heck, even last fall we would not have even hit 50% on T4!!! It is truly a hard test for us and really challenges us both. So while I was bummed out for not getting the qualifying 60% we need, I was very pleased with the ride in general. She was just so well behaved and so fabulous to ride. :) And hey, she was high point Standardbred after all........seeing as she was the ONLY STB there!

So we did it. :) We did well at our first "for real" dressage show. As we were walking back to the trailer after my last test, I realized that this was my first recognized dressage show. I have done recognized breed shows, hunter shows, and CDEs. But I have never actually done anything but a schooling dressage show. So WOW! For our first time at a BIG dressage show, I was really really happy. I said something to S about this, and he was like, "Is this really a big show?" Well, there were 192 horses here and four rings......and he goes, "OH wow, I guess you are right!" This ain't SMDA anymore there buddy! LOL! I think it is funny that it never dawned on him that this was a "big deal." He looked over my tests at the end and was like, "Geez you sure got a lot of 7s. That's good right?" LOL! He is learning.....

4 comments:

Standardbreds can Canter said...

You and Dreamy did an EXCELLENT JOB. Congratulations.

OnTheBit said...

I am really proud of you! And Dreamy! I would NEVER have driven through Bean Town with a trailer. Just reading you saying you were going to made me nervous!!! I am so thrilled that you broke a 60% at T-2!! I don't blame you for crying! You have worked so hard! And I think your perspective about T-4 is true. Don't forget just 3 short months ago you didn't even have a place to ride your horse to start your training for the year. I am so happy for you and congrats!!!!

Samantha said...

elizabeth, i LOVE reading your blogs and yes I am cyber stalking you and dreamy, congrats on your NEDA tests...sounds like you two are on a terrific track!!!!!! Take care and happy riding!!!!

STB Eventer said...

Thanks guys! And Sam I love having a cyber stalker! LOL! It is all good. :)