Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hidden Brook Farm Dressage Show - Oct. 1, 2011

On Saturday, Oct. 11, 2011, I brought Reva to her second ever dressage show at Hidden Brook Farm in Norway, ME.  The first time she ever did a dressage test was back in August at the National Standardbred Show.  She was such a good mare that I thought it would try one more with her this season.  I had decided that if she showed improvement all year (which she did) that I would try a dressage test or two at least at Nationals.  I really did not expect to even ride a test with her this year, much less four of them!  I am glad we did it and it means that she will be ready to rock the dressage ring in 2012.  ;-)  We did not earn any dressage year end awards this year, since we did not do enough dressage shows to qualify.  But year end awards and ribbons were not my goals, but instead I wanted her to have a positive experience.

In our two dressage shows this year, we did both Intro A and B.  I think that Intro B is easier than A.  I also dislike the walking and no halting on the centerlines, but whatever.  :-P  At least the Intro tests are easier to remember than my First level tests with Dreamy this year!  LOL!

I woke up on Saturday morning with an awful stomach ache and had to run to the bathroom numerous times, which almost made me cancel.  But I really wanted to ride her in a dressage test again, so I sucked it up.  And sucked down numerous Pepto Bismol tablets!  (BTW, it was nothing to do with nerves and everything to do with a pizza I ate the night before!  BLAH!!!)

My friend Amber came along again as my helper and photographer.  I was happy to ride early at 9:18 and then again at 10:12.  We were back home by just after noon time!  Yay for showing at Intro level instead of First level!  ;-D  It was overcast and threatening rain all morning, but did not start to pour until just as we were leaving the show!  Yay again!  I love to show at Hidden Brook Farm as it is very relaxed and laid back.  Plus the judge Yvonn Coleman-Larson is one of my favorite judges ever.


Parking is tight at HBF, and with my big trailer I was a bit worried.  But we were the first ones there!  :-)  It gave me plenty of time to walk Reva around the farm, the warm up, and around the outside of the dressage ring.  After showing Sparky and then Dreamy for so many years, I had forgotten how a young horse needs time to settle before they compete, especially in a new place.  But she settled in beautifully and I set about grooming, tacking, and getting ready for our first ride. 


Reva was excellent for the first few minutes of our warm up.  I had just begun to trot when a young rider entered the warm up area to lunge her horse.  Now, the warm up at HBF is not that big, but it is plenty large enough for numerous horses to ride around safely.  It is NOT big enough for a horse to be lunged as well.  The horse being lunged was all worked up and whinnying at its friend back at the trailer, so I tried my best to stay out of its way.  Reva is pretty laid back for a five year old, but she is still only a five year old!  Of course, the young rider had a difficult time lunging the horse, and soon they were all over the warm up area instead of sticking to one end or corner or what-have-you.  Well great.  I figured I still had about 20 minutes left, so I might as well just wait it out.  We walked as quietly as we could and stayed out of the way.


Oh no.  ANOTHER horse was brought into the warm up to be lunged!  AHHHHH!  Now there was seriously no room to ride even at a walk.  I rode over to the warm up steward to see if she would ask the handlers to go to the indoor to lunge.  She agreed she did not think it was a good idea for them to be in the warm up, but she was hesitant and did not want to speak up (AHHHH!  That is your job!!!).  So I was stuck; I had nowhere to trot, much less walk around.  I could have gone over to the indoor myself, but Reva has never been in an indoor and 10 minutes before the third test of her life did not seem like a good time to try it.  And of course, by now both horses were bucking, farting, and generally being idiots on the lunge lines.  Reva started to get very interested in their misbehavior......


The first rider was finishing up her test.  I was to be the third rider of the day.  The warm up steward asked if I wanted to switch places and go second, as the third rider (she had to be about 8 years old...) had just gotten on her pony.  I really did not want to go in to ride a test without a decent warm up, but it was either go NOW or go back to the warm up with the crazy horses being lunged.  I sighed inwardly, bit my tongue, and said I would ride early.


I truly think Reva would have been fine despite the lack of warm up if there had not been two horses bucking wildly around their handlers in the warm up, just 50 feet away from the dressage ring.  I asked for a trot while waiting for the judge to ring the bell, and HOLY SH!T!!  My horse grew about a foot and a half.  She was so close to explosion I almost scratched.  But I figured I would at least give it a try.  I knew that unless I truly felt unsafe, I had to ride her through it.  She had to learn to deal with distractions (even BIG BUCKING ONES) and still perform.  If I had thought she would have truly had a bad experience, I would have stopped as well.

I willed my body to ride as tactfully and quietly as possible.  Reva wanted to spook and be naughty so badly, but I have to hand it to her.  She kept her head and all four hooves on the ground.  We entered at A and had the most twisted pretzel shaped center line of my life.  She was trying so hard to be a good girl and listen to me, but she twisted her haunches and shoulders all around almost as though she was trying not to buck.  I could feel her underneath me, and all I could think was please don't let me fall off....

I figured the test would be completely awful.  She did start to settle in the first half of the first trot circle, only to come around to face the warm up and pretzel her body again with tension.  She would go from a lovely swinging Training level trot to a short little rushing Awful trot.  There were some nice moments, but her tension was such that we could not relax or travel straight.  I knew I would ride the free walk very tactfully, so we would not get as good of a stretch and swing as I wanted to show.  I started to let out the reins carefully and bless her, she went down to accept the contact and sighed loudly.  I was still very cautious, but I was glad she was able to relax in that movement.  We finished the test in a slightly less rushed manner and all I could do at the last halt was laugh.  At least we had made it through.  Maybe we had done it at Mach 10 trotter speed, with a completely pretzel shaped body, but we did it.  The judge was complimentary, reminding me that with better tempo we would have more relaxation and straightness.  I thanked her and told her it was Reva's second dressage show and, with a laugh, that usually our tempo was not quite that fast!  She acted surprised and said I was on the right track, that with more conditioning and experience we would do well.  :-)




Starting the free walk...
And finishing the free walk!
There were eight Intro A riders and they split it into two divisions: junior and senior.  I was in the senior division of course, with four riders.  I was very surprised to place third behind two professional riders on young horses (who both scored in the 70s!) with a 60.6%!!  I did not feel that we had broken 60% at all, but we did earn two 5s, ten 6s, and  three 7s (right trot circle, change of rein, and rider position!)  :-)


Thankfully the horses were no longer being lunged once we were done.  I had planned to allow Reva to relax at the trailer briefly between tests, but since we had not had much of a warm up beforehand, I figured I might as well ride her until our next test.  I let her walk around and chill for a few minutes before I picked her up and asked for the trot.  She wanted to be rushy and tense, but within a few moments of transitions, I had my sensible mare back underneath me.  We had a very very good warm up!  I was pleased that she was not only so well behaved and going along like her old self, but also that she was doing this with five other horses in the warm up.  It was a good experience and totally made up for the defeat I felt after Intro A!  I gave her lots of walk breaks and time to stand around at one point to chill. 


We were both in a much better state of mind for Intro B.  I knew it would be a much better test!  I don't have any pics, but I do have a video!  Yay!

Hidden Brook Farm Dressage Show from Elizabeth Tewksbury on Vimeo.

I was much happier with her overall, despite a few moments of loss of balance and slight changes in her tempo.  It cracked me up with she almost left the ring during our walk.....look at 1:18.  HA HA HA!  I was not expecting it and when I went to correct her with my right leg she just bulged into me.  Oh Reva!  :-P  We ended up with six 6s and nine 7s!  We had all 7s on our collectives except a 6 on gaits (since she has a bit of irregularity in her walk when she gets tense).  But the word "tension" did not appear ONCE (while it appeared three times in Intro A!)!  Yay! Our comments were that we were much more relaxed and "would like to see horse reaching still more over topline into contact."


The photos are stills from the video so they are poor quality.  I will leave them small.  But she looks good for her second show, I think!





 



We ended up placing third again (against the same riders), with the two professionals placing waaaay high above us.  I was very pleased with the 66.3%!  My only goals were to stay on (the horse) and stay in (the ring), have a positive experience for Reva, and maybe break 60%!  After seeing that 60.6% for such a lousy test, I secretly hoped to break 65% on the second one...and we did!  I would say it was a very good outing for the young mare!


"Trotter ears" only a mother could love....LOL!


One of our two ribbons.


I love my girl!  :-)
Big thanks to Amber for her help and her photography skills!  There are more pics here on my Facebook page.  :-)

6 comments:

  1. Hey! I haven't had a chance to read through your show post yet, but congrats on winning pretty shiny ribbons!

    I'd love to share details about Andrea's gift--please email me at aimee.towell at gmail.com. I don't want to post all the details online until Andrea has it in person.

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  2. sounds like you guys did well overall... I'm not sure what people are thinking lunging crazy horses in the warmup...I would feel terrible if I was affecting other people's opportunities, but that is just me! lol

    Ps - I sent you a FB friend request, but I need you to ignore it cuz I sent it from the wrong account! ... in case you were wondering who the weird person is!

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  3. She looks really fantastic in the second test. There are definitely some beautiful moments. She did well in the first one too, specifically in the free walk. Judging by the pictures, that is.

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  4. WTG! By the way - I LOVE big ears (Thoroughbreds generally have big ears as well, and I love Thoroughbred faces :) ) so I think her ears are lovely!

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  5. You are a lovely quiet rider. Reva looks great in the video too!

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