We competed at UNH this past weekend, doing both Training 2 and Training 4 each day. UNH is close enough that I was able to trailer in both days. It was nice to be able to go home and relax, rather than have to stable her there. Plus, after three days away at the Downeast, I did NOT want to have to overnight again so soon.
I am very pleased with our weekend. We scored where we should have. I have no excuses and think the judges were very fair. There were no "technical difficulties" or "naughty" horse moments......unlike some folks who shall remain nameless....GAG. I would say that most dressage folks who see my scores would think they are very low. And you know, they are not spectacular. But based on where my horse is currently in her training, and the fact that she is a STB, I am beyond pleased with our weekend.
No ribbons, as they did not split the divisions like most shows. I thought this was rather cheap, but what the hell. Showing is not about ribbons, but when you shell out $195 it would be kind of nice to bring something home to show for your efforts! LOL! Ah well. And we won our fair share at the Downeast last weekend! Someone asked why I could win so much last weekend and then not place in the top 6 at UNH. Well........trotting and walking around a ring with one change of direction is not hard. We are quite good at that. Doing Training level dressage, especially Training 4, is VERY hard for my mare right now. But we have come so far! That is what really matters to me. Progress....the journey....NOT the ribbons to brag about.
10 out of 12 places
14 out of 19 places
8 out of 10 places
10 out of 13 places
We had to ride Training 2 in a grass ring, and the footing was pretty sticky. Dreamy had a hard time with the footing, so our tests were not as nice as they could have been. There were some really deep places that she had a hard time actually getting through! Her canter was impacted quite a bit, but oh well. Not much I could do about it.
Her Training 4 test on Friday was tense. A cement truck pulled up right outside the ring and parked just as I was about to head in to start my test. She was rather worried and we got "explosive" as the comment on her first canter! LOL! Yeah, well, I am glad I stayed on! Explosive is a good word to describe that test. I was waiting for her to completely lose it and dump me. I am proud that she kept it together and we did manage to get through the test without any major issues. She did pace once on that downward transition from the explosive canter. One step. That was the only time she paced the entire weekend. So I was pretty damn proud. Pacing when nervous will probably never go away. :)
Overall, I knew we had some nice moments and some not-so-nice moments during each ride. We scored 7s and 6s on everything except the canters....we got 5s and 4s. I was not surprised because I KNEW that was happening as I was riding.
What I am most happy with is our IMPROVEMENT each day! We went up 2.5 points on Training 2 and almost FOUR points on Training 4! When I finished my Training 4 test on Saturday, I KNEW it was the best test we could have ridden right now. She was just perfect. Yes, the canter needs work....mostly balance! But she was completely on the aids and her trot work was outstanding. She was totally soft and connected in the bridle all weekend. Dreamy used to warm up nicely and then become a bundle of nerves when we switched over to the competition arena. She never did it at NEDA Spring in May and she did not do it this past weekend at UNH! That is a huge accomplishment and I knew it would just take practice and time. PLUS, I got 6s and 7s on my rider scores! YAY!
The judges were very encouraging. Beth Beukema wrote that I had a fairly accurate test but needed to develop more balance in the canter (Training 2 on Friday). Dorothy Maxfield wrote that our walk was lovely. Our trot was quite nice when relaxed. Keep up the good work and good luck! (Training 4 on Friday). She is also the only one who gave me oral comments at the end...she said I had done a wonderful job with my Standardbred and that she saw a lot of potential! YAY! Ida Anderson judged both tests on Saturday. For Training 2 she wrote: Attractive team. Focus on encouraging this good horse to move with hocks more under. Continue to monitor tempo and keep elastic connection. Good luck! This was in the mucky grass arena, where Dreamy literally could NOT keep her hind end underneath herself. Then on Training 4 she wrote: This horse starting to look good and very correct in trot work. Keep working to improve the canter. Take slight contact and try to balance it if you can. Good job and good luck!
So while we did not get our qualifying scores, nor did we break 60%, I am VERY pleased with our weekend. I know we still have a long ways to go, but I am happy we are just out there doing it! Improvement will come slowly, but it will come. It may be 2010 when we finally qualify for USDF awards, but that is OK with me. For now, I am having fun and working hard! I never even brought my camera....LOL! So no pics right now. The professional photographer was Mystical Photography and will hopefully have proofs up soon. I may buy ONE if it is decent, but honestly I already have so many photos of this mare in competition....LOL! I will post an update when the proofs are up!
ETA: Photos are up! Click here
I am very unimpressed with them though. They are all boring side shots of us trotting....and geez, I already have about 200 pics of us doing THAT! :P I was hoping for something a little more artsy, maybe a nice head shot of Dreamy.....oh well. I will not order any. You can see, however, how awful she did in the grass arena. It was ridiculous footing.