Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our First Dressage Competition!

Well we did it. We did our first dressage competition on the weekend!

The weather leading up was terrible, freezing, raining, windy. I was only able to ride Monday night, Wednesday night, Friday I floated out to the local uni who has an indoor arena. That was an interesting ride. There was already 3 riders in the arena, I mounted up expecting Sam to be a little forward and interested. We started walking and after a bit he couldn't hold it anymore, he lept a bit, I was able to bring him back but I thought I would lunge him first. He had a good buck and twist and then settled. I mounted again and put him straight to work. We rode for about 30min and the other riders left. Poor Sam had a minor melt down. I didn't want the argument so I finished up as well.

Saturday was freezing, drizzling, just plain depressing weather. I was going to head out to the uni again but I decided to ride in the back paddock instead. I think Sam preferred this and we did mainly fitness work. So we trotted and cantered around on a loose rein and just worked. I then washed him (the blessing of having a hot/cold wash bay) rugged him up, gave him a warm breaky and let him be.

I headed into town to help set up the arenas for the competition. The ground was terrible and we all wondered if we should let the competition go ahead or not. One of the judges had already flown in and the cakes had been made so we decided to go ahead! Our main man who knows how to measure out the arenas first go wasn't able to help us so instead off taking 1.5hrs we there for about 3!!!!!! Never mind it looked great at the end!

When I got home I got all my gear together and plaited up Sam. He is such a good boy, he fidgets for about the first 10min and then gives up and stands quietly going to sleep. It takes me a while to plait up, generally about an hour and that is only the plaiting part, rosetting I do the next day! I packed the car and float, fed my special boy and headed in for a goods nights sleep.

Sunday came, I was up at 5.30am to finish plaiting, have a milo, get my hair done, load up and we were on our way by 7.10am. It was a pea souper! The fog was so thick!!! The drive was slow as I could only see about 30m ahead. When we arrived (only about a 30m drive) I unloaded, let Sam have a walk around and then gave him his breaky. Sam hadn't been to these grounds before and I was wondering how he would go. He was fine of course. Ate his breaky, happy to stand and watch the other competitors arriving.

I allowed a warm of about 40min. The warm up arena was nearly unrideable. We had about 15m wide and 20m long and that was even pretty boggy. We were both travelling along well so I went to have my gear check and warm up near the competition arenas. We have an area about 40m x 50m that you are able to ride in just before your test. This is where I started to come undone. My nerves really set in and poor Sam fed off that. Luckily it was my friend who was the gear checker and she could see what was starting to happen so she helped me through it. Telling me to ride forward, BREATH, and to trust my horse. Sam became very looky and a little horse shy. At one point I thought he was going to show us his acrobatic abilities but I was able to push him through.

Finally it was our turn. I said hi to the judge and headed on down. Our first test was a prep test so only walk and trot. Sam was a super star! About half way through I finally relaxed slightly and we did a pretty good test. We scored 69% and placed 6th out of 13 competitors. Not to shabby!!!!!

Rest time! We had about an hour which was lovely. Sam had a munch, I learnt my next test and caught up with friends!

Our second test was a Prelim test so this one included canter. I tried to have a canter in the warm up arena but that wasn't going to happen. I waited for the area where the arenas or to clear a bit and to let a crazy leave. One poor girl was having a lot of trouble with her horse. Straight off the track I'd say! I felt a lot more confidant this time. I had waves of nerves but on the whole I felt good. Sam cantered nicely both reins. We headed up to the judge and then we were on. We entered, trotted up the center line and our halt was great, forward into the transition and it was square!!!!! I felt we travelling really well, we were late with our canter but I managed to do an ok transition so I was still happy. We were just about to transition down from our last canter to trot when Sam lost it. I didn't even feel it coming, no swish of the tail, no flick of the ear. He bucked, lept, plunged. I stayed on pulled him up, burst into tears and decided to finish what we had started. Our ending was terrible, wobbly centre line, crooked halt but we finished which meant we would get a score.  If you would like to view our test here it is!  Yes we needed to be forward and to be more active but that is what we can work at for our next one!

We still managed to receive a score of 60% and placed 13th out of 28 competitors. I was very happy with this!

We loaded Sam up, Scott took him home while I stayed to help scribe and to help with the scoring and generally help out for the afternoon.

So now full steam ahead for the next comp in August. We have a training day in July which will be good practice.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Great Lesson!

Just got home from a great lesson!

I travelled into Wagga, we haven't had a lesson there this year I think, or if we have it would have been very early in the year. Sam is generally a little spooked at this venue and today he held it together really well. Yesterday's ride he was very forward outside of the arena and played up a few times on our trail ride so I was expecting Sam to be quite spooky today.

I mounted and walker him straight up to the arena end that normal gives us grief. He was looking but listened to me and stayed forward and moved off my leg when asked. We walked around and then moved into trot and worked on keeping him focused and forward. He was lovely and round with out much asking and Jodie our instructor was very pleased with how he was travelling so early.

This lesson  I felt very balanced and in control of my body and it obviously showed as at the end of the lesson we were complimented by Jodie as she remarked she could see improvement in both horse and rider!. I think Sam appreciated it as well!

Sam and I have figured out shoulder in as well it looks like. We have been practising for a few months now and I have been having a lot of trouble. Getting the wobbles mainly. Today we were able to keep it a lot smoother and straighter and I was even able to ask for some roundness as well and was given it!

After a walk break Sam came back upset. Not sure what was wrong so we kept him on a circle in trot and asked him to relax and reach down. We went large and coming across the diagonal he decided enough was enough and decided to have his say. It was a jump and a leap and shake of the head. We turned him on to a smaller circle and really asked him to work. He decided it was easier to work.

Our canter is improving all the time. Sometimes I don't feel the improvement at home so I guess that is why it is so good to have regular lessons, too improve of course but to know that you are on the track at home!

Next weekend is a big one. Sam and I are competing for the first time in 2 dressage tests. A Prep and a Prelim. Jodie is very happy that I decided to do a Prelim as well. She did say not to expect too much in that test but it will be good for my nerves to have a go. I just have to remember FORWARD!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And we are spoilt rotten!!!!!!!!!

And we have a new saddle! We now are the proud owners of a Keiffer Ulla. Very exciting! It is off having the gullet widened ever so slightly so I have to wait until next week to get it back and I can't wait!!!!!

It really helps put you in a good position, my legs are under me and where they should be and it is hard to lean forward. I felt very centered and balanced and canter is to die for!!!!!!

I think Sam liked it as well!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

To Clip or Not To Clip! and a very clever pony

Now that it is cold again in my part of the world I have to decide if I want to clip Sam or not. I have never looked after a clipped horse in the real cold. We get to about -2 degrees (about 28 fahrenheit) at night and up to about 20 degrees (about 68 fahrenheit) during the day.  I know it will make life easier after I ride but do you think it could possibly make Sam a little 'fresh' as well? He lives out but does have access to his stable and if during the night if it is raining and really cold then I can stable him and keep him dry. I definately will keep his legs and face on. These are some what I am considering -

I am leaning more towards the middle look I think.
So the Pros: Easier to keep Sam clean and dry after I ride. Just a sponge over with warm water after I ride at nnight and he will cry in next to no time.

Cons: Am I able to keep him warm enough with rugs?
His shoulders will really rub
Will he get a little 'fresh'?

Your thoughts? Do you clip your horse through winter? Are there things you don't like about it?

I have a clever little pony I think. I normally let Poppy out in the house yard while I ride so she can have a pick and gallop around if she feels the need. Usually she makes a nusance of herself by galloping onto the arena and off again while I am trying to work Sam. (It is very cute though - she gallops on kicking up her heels, squeals, spins and gallops off again or trots in front of us right under Sam's nose!!!) Sometimes I close the gate so she can't annoy us or I have a small little paddock next to the arena where I put her as well at times. This afternoon I just closed the gate so she couldn't come onto the arena. After I rode I tried to catch her as Sam and I made our way back to the wash bay but she refused to be caught. She still followed us around and just grazed near by while I prepared Sam for bed, made up dinners and did all my evening chores. I finished everything and went to catch little Poppy to put her in her stable for the night, once again she wouldn't let me catch her but she trotted straight into her stable, turned around looked at me and waited for me to come and rug her! She normally doesn't get her dinner till I do the final check/feed at about 10pm. She is such a good little girl sometimes!