Monday, August 22, 2016

State of Maine Dressage Association Show - August 21, 2016

Coming off last weekend's strong showing at Scarlet Day Farm, Snappy and I headed to another SMDA show at the Hollis Equestrian Park.  We did the May and June shows there, so I knew she would be comfortable at the venue.  Snappy was great yet again, earning two more blues for her growing collection.  

Intro A - 1st place out of 4 with a 67.813%
Intro B - 1st place out of 5 with a 68.438%

The tests were obedient and accurate.  I really want to clean things up enough to move up to Intro C and Training 1 next year, but time will tell.  It is tough to have a time frame in the back of your head because horses progress at their own pace.  And I am certainly no professional trainer, so it takes me double the time to teach my horses anything LOL!

I am still extremely pleased with this mare, but I will honestly say that I just wanted to break 70% again and would have been happy to come in dead last at this show in order to do so LOL! It's not about the ribbons, it's about the scores!  I know, I know, still really strong scores.  But now we have completed four SMDA shows, which is the minimum to qualify for year end awards.  I plan to skip the September and October shows and just do a few 2-phases and maybe a full event before we quit for the winter.  (And the September SMDA show is the same day my husband pulls his cattle at Farmington Fair, so I opted to get my scores early enough so he could attend that pull.) Man, I wanted to have a 70% average in both tests!  We are sooooo close! Our Intro A average is 69.92% and Intro B is 69.84%.  Such first world problems hahahaha!!  

Dressage Show
Intro A
Intro B

SMDA May 22
1st place out of 3
2nd place out of 6
High Point Senior Rider
SMDA June 12
1st place out of 6
2nd place out of 9
High Point Standardbred
SMDA August 14
1st place out of 4
1st place out of 5
Reserve High Point Rider
SMDA August 21
1st place out of 4
1st place out of 5

Overall average

But enough foolish complaining!!!  We had an AWESOME first year of showing dressage.  If you had told me a year ago we would have this much success, I would not have believed you.  Heck, just five months ago I was unsure this horse would be able to do a respectable dressage test, never mind earn great scores and ribbons!  I seem to have a knack for taking unridden Standardbred mares and getting them started at low levels.  :-)  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Scarlet Day Farm SMDA Dressage Show - August 14, 2016

I took Snappy to her third dressage show last weekend, at a farm I have never been to (seems to be a theme with me this year, to try new venues!).  The new owners have done a great job with the older facility, and I really liked the superb footing and easy parking.  All the volunteers were friendly and helpful, which is always a huge plus to me.  And I knew it was a good place when I saw the huge sign in the indoor (their warmup area) that said BE KIND.  Not a common trait for much of the horse world, so it was refreshing to see!!

For years, SMDA only held their shows at the local equestrian park, but recently have been allowing private farms to host affiliated shows, so there are now TONS of opportunities for riders to earn year end awards.  I did not attend Scarlet Day Farm's first affiliated show this summer in July and I cannot attend their September show, but I do hope they will host shows again next year!  

Snappy is such a pain in the ass to prepare for a horse show, but she totally redeems herself in the ring LOL!  She cannot eat her hay or grain the morning of the show, because OMG I AM IN MY STALL AND NOT TURNED OUT SO SOMETHING BAD MUST BE HAPPENING.  She stands there and chews her tongue (her only vice) the entire time.  Once we arrived, I did take her for a walk around the back of the indoor to the outdoor (competition) ring so she could take in the sights.  She did settle into the new environment well, but she still stands there at the trailer with a full hay bag and chews her tongue instead. Sometimes she will paw the ground.  SIGH.  This is just her and it really hasn't gotten any worse or better this year, and I will say this is exactly what she used to do in the paddock before a race.  So whatever, mare.  I do give her a tube of Gastrogard the morning of a show in an effort not to allow her ulcers to completely regenerate LOL.  

As soon as I tacked her up and got on, she was fine.  There was someone lunging a horse at the canter at one end of the indoor (even though the show paperwork said NO LUNGING) and there was a nervous horse on the other end trotting a circle.  So it was not the ideal setting to begin a warm up, but I have to hand it to this mare, she marched around like she knew exactly what was expected of her.  Once the lunging was over and we had space, we had a great warmup.  

Intro A - 1st out of four with a 67.5% (our lowest score so far LOL)
Intro B - 1st out of five with a 70.94%

Right before I left, I ran into the current president of SMDA, there to compete at First Level with her new horse I hadn't met yet.  I haven't seen her in a few years, especially since I haven't shown since 2013, so it was nice to catch up with her!  She took a pic of us with our ribbons and asked if I would do a write up for the "Member Profile" section of the upcoming club newsletter.  Sounds good to me!  :-)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Would You Like the 25 Cent Tour?

In my effort to catch up the poor, neglected blog back in January, I did a catch up post in photos.  I have kept a huge Facebook album (only 349 photos haha) from the beginning to end of our house and barn project.  I finally remembered to get updated photos of the barn the other day (last ones I had were from December 2015 when we moved the animals home), so I figured I might as well share them here, too!  

I love looking at other people's barns and there are many things about my tiny barn that I really like.  I wish it were bigger (of course!) but for what we had to work with for a budget (not large haha), I think we did a heck of a job!  It is easy to still look around our property and think, geez, I wish we could finish this or I wish we could fix that, but it's a work in progress!  

Year End Ribbons I could not bear to cut!  You can see Reva and Sparky's year end ribbons on the wire wreaths (upper right).

Dreamy's year end ribbons on wire wreaths

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Searching for the Elusive Canter...AGAIN!

I spent YEARS and YEARS working on Dreamy's canter, as I was always working against her breeding and race training years.  I wrote an entire post about cantering your Standardbred back in 2009.  I am not saying it wasn't worth it, but I had believed that my next "show horse" after her would be anything but a Standardbred.  Don't get me wrong, I love the breed, but it's really time for me to move on.

Of course, what we think it going to happen in our life and what actually happens it not always the same!!  LOL!  I could write a book about that!  Snap Dancer fell into my lap and I couldn't say no.  Now that I am down to two horses, Dreamy being the other one at age 25 this year, it's not as though I have a lot of choice if I want to show.  It's either don't show or show Snappy.  I didn't show for two summers, both 2014 (deliberately took the year off, save for two little shows, one for each horse) and 2015 (pregnant!).  Obviously, if I wanted to hit the show ring again, it would be with Snappy.

Now, I love this little mare.  She's easy to ride, despite the fact that I have not put THAT much time into her before this year.  We spent the late winter and spring just becoming steady enough to do Intro level tests and that has been fun!  Maybe I should just be happy with that and be done.  But I could realistically have her as my "show horse" for several more years.  I AM NOT EVER becoming one of those riders I see on Standardbreds that stays at walk/trot for the rest of forever.  If this mare cannot handle cantering at shows, then I won't show.  But see, I like to show and well, I guess we might as well try cantering and see what happens.  If I am going to canter in 2017, I've got to work on it now.

2 August 2016
As like it was with Dreamy, once you begin working on the canter, the trot (and sometimes everything else) goes to hell.  Snappy is not confident AT ALL in the canter yet, so it makes anything after the canter just horrible.  We forget how to trot like a normal horse, we forget that we know how to bend, we think we need to chew our metal bit in half (tension in the jaw OMG!), and everything is just AWFUL in her little world.  I have to remind myself this is all normal and that Dreamy was the same way.  Trot pics taken BEFORE we cantered that night, BTW.

2 August 2016
The first time I cantered Snappy was the fall of 2014.  Remember, she sat for the entirety of 2015, as I got pregnant in January, had the baby in September, and I think I toddled around on her five times at the walk for 20 mins before winter hit.  My body wasn't exactly in riding shape, nor was her's!  So I probably cantered her ten times total (MAYBE?  I am being generous) before this year.  Her canter in 2014 was actually kind of frightening.  At the time, our barn was not finished, so I was keeping her at my husband's great grandmother's farm, where our riding area was a large field.  If she had wanted to dump me, it wouldn't have been a good time.  I mean, it was a lovely field and I miss having it to ride in, but it wasn't exactly a confidence building round pen or flat, safe, fenced riding ring LOL!  I would ask her to canter and she would TROT as fast as she could possibly go on unlevel grass.  It was as though I had turned her to go a mile.  I knew this was obviously because of her breeding and race training, and she had NO idea what a canter cue was, so it was just about getting something resembling a canter stride and praising her profusely.  I also used a large hill in the back of the field to encourage her to canter, but it still wasn't great.  It felt as though both her hind legs were pushing off the ground at the same time.  I'm not a huge fan of longing, so I just did this under saddle every few rides or so and called it good.  

This year in 2016, I only focused on what our Intro A and B tests would require, other than basic lateral work and sitting trot kind of stuff.  When I realized she was going to pan out as a low level show horse, I also realized that it meant I should teach her to canter.  It was the end of the June when I finally bit the bullet and asked her to canter.  She wasn't horrible, it wasn't as scary as it was in 2014, but it was still going to be a lot of work.  sigh  

2 August 2016 - not horrible but not great
I sometimes wish she could just be easy, but then I remember that there is no fun in that (right?  right).  Her left lead is actually not horrible, just needs balance and a MUCH better transition.  But she can actually hold the gait well enough to go 2-3 times around our little riding ring area.  Her right lead is much weaker and she can hold it almost once around.  Twenty meter circles still stress her out a bit, as she did fall on the longe line (hate them) cantering to the right and while I know it would be good for her to practice the gait without me on her, I am just not a fan of longing.

2 August 2016
So far, she has been picking up the correct leads (I hate writing that because now I have jinxed myself and she won't haha).  Right now is just a matter of building strength and confidence, and I know I can do this.  I am pretty sure SHE can do this.  Worse case, we stay at Intro B and C next year, as Intro C has just enough canter for us to not feel like total walk/trot losers LOL.  I'd love to do Training level in 2017, but I am keeping it real.  Who knows and maybe I will look back at this and laugh at myself for being so worried (or maybe for being naive haha).  But I like to keep track of my progress and this helps!