Friday, October 19, 2012

I've been thinking about the direction I want to go with my riding for a while now.  And I've made the decision to make the switch to dressage.  Now don't get me wrong I love to jump.  And I don't plan on giving up jumping entirely.  But I do think it's the right choice for me competitively.  I fine when I'm at home, I can jump anything Bonnie tells me to, might not look pretty the first time, but I can do it.  But at shows, my nerves just get the better of me.  I'm finally able to admit that doing this competitively is just not really doing me or the horses any good.  So I'm sticking to the sandbox.

Really it just makes sense for me to take advantage of the horse I have to ride now.  Yes Bugs is a great jumper.  But he is a phenomenal dressage horse.  So why not try for my bronze medal with him? 

No, not this kind of bronze medal
Through USDF you can earn your bronze, silver and gold medals with qualifying scores at certain levels.  For the bronze medal you have to get two qualifying scores (60% or higher) at first, second and third level.  The scores have to be earned at two different shows and under two different judges.

First level is really not out of reach for me.  Let's look at the tests and what each one introduces

First level test 1
  • 10m half circle at trot-got it, school them often
  • 15m circle at canter-got it, again, we school that often
  • lengthening of stride in trot and canter-Bugsy's got this down pat, in fact he often does them without being asked.  might need to work on the brakes at the end of the lengthening though
First level test 2
  • leg yield-we rock the leg yield
First level test 3
  • 10m circle at trot-done
  • change of lead through trot-done
  • counter canter-done
A little work on lengthening and other than that there's nothing in first level that I don't feel comfortable with.  And I've got all winter to work on it.  So right now the plan is to ride first level at my first show in March.  And since it's a two day show and I can ride three tests each day, why not try second level as well.  Challenge myself over the winter.  And challenge it will be.  Well challenge for me, not for Bugsy though.

Second level test 1
  • collected trot
  • collected canter
  • 10m circle at canter
  • medium gaits
  • shoulder in
  • simple change of lead
  • rein back
Second level test 2
  • travers
  • turn on the haunches
Second level test 3
  • renvers
Well, I can do a decent turn on the haunches, and a good rein back.  I can sometimes get a decent shoulder in.  OK looks like I've got some work this winter.

So in typical Bonnie fashion we got right to work this weekend.  Bugsy has been getting turned out at night with Kaye and even though he had been in Friday night I took a calculated risk and got on without lunging him first.  And he didn't try to dump me, alright this is starting out promising.   Let him warm up long and low, really stretching that neck out.  By the way, so glad the stretchy circle in first level still has a coefficient of 2, Bugs kicks ass on the stretchy circle.  then we started to collect and work on some 10m circles, changing directions every so often and really working on keeping his head and not losing the bend on the transition.  Then she had me try a collected trot.  I've never done a collected trot on any horse.  We didn't quite have it exactly, certainly not show ring ready.  But for my first time it wasn't a half bad attempt.  I could feel him start to bring his hindquarters up underneath himself to get the collection.  So that was pretty cool.  Then Bonnie took pity on my poor out of breath self and allowed me a brief walk break before we started on the canter work.  And this is where she really challenged me.  The 10m trot circle exercise?  Yeah we were to do that.  At the canter.  It was hard, I will admit that, only having like two strides to come down to the trot and then pick up the other canter lead before changing directions.  But after a few times I started to get it.  Again it wasn't perfect, but it was a start.  I'd like to think that Bugsy was enjoying himself as much as I was learning new things.  

All in all I'm really excited to show dressage this year.  I mean who wouldn't be excited to show of this fancy thing?


No I Haven't Died...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Although it might have seemed that way.  I'll be honest this summer has been kinda rough for me in ways.  I'm just very, very burned out working the two jobs and I find myself lacking in motivation to do much of anything.  On my days off I have to force myself to do things, otherwise I would just spend the time in bed.  So my horsey activities have been pretty limited this summer.

I did make it to one schooling show in July.  A hunter/jumper show at that.  Kaye and I did both the jumper division and hunter division at 2'6".  Originally I had planned to do 2'9" or 3' but Kaye wasn't feeling herself the week before the show so we scaled back a little.  Kaye was pumped to be at a show again and it made for an interesting warm up for the jumper division.  She had a little more go than I wanted on the wet grass and so we did have some time penalties.  But we both still had fun. 

After a break for an hour or so we headed over to the hunter ring for the Intermediate Hunter.  Kaye was a rockstar for her first time in the hunter ring, taking home a first and second over fences and a third in the flat class.  Good enough to give us Reserve Champion for the division!

In other news, Bonnie added a new horse to my string a few weeks ago. Bonnie had started riding Bully very lightly, just tack walking really.  But the one week when she had Sarah tack her up, Bully just had a fit about the bridle.  Well she had been going in a rubber eggbutt snaffle, and I think the bit was just too much for her mouth.  She's a pretty delicate horse, and I think that thick of a bit was uncomfortable for her.  So I cleaned up Bonnie's old jumping hack and tacked up Bully with that.  She was an angel in it!  Took a few minutes to get the steering but then she was great. Walked and trotted and even popped over a few crossrails.  First time jumping in maybe five or six years and she just hopped over the fence like she's been doing it everyday.

So the next week I tacked Bully up again with the jumping hack and we had a second jump school. Started with a single vertical at about beginner novice height.  No problem for Bully.  We jumped that a few times and then Bonnie set up a second vertical.  Went through the double with no problems a few times with no problems and Bonnie added a third vertical.  That's when we had a bit of trouble.  My fault entirely.  I didn't get us in right, or with enough impulsion and we took down the first fence and then Bully got her self tangled up in the pole. She tried to keep going but it just wasn't meant to be, she started going down to her knees and I had nowhere to go but over her head.  Luckily she was already on her knees and low to the ground so I didn't have far to fall, but I did manage to get a brush burn above my tank top from her mane on the way.  We both got to our feet and other then a little superficial scrap on her left knee we were both ok.  Bully was her sweet self, no grudges against me for not giving her the best round.  We walked a bit to calm down and then tried again.  Bully never even thought about stopping, which I totally wouldn't have blamed her after the last time, she just jumped through the triple perfectly.  What a great horse!  At that point we decided to call it quits for the day.  We were both getting tired and it was a good point to end on. 

Other than that, Bugs and I have had some good rides this summer.  including a jump school in which he was trying his best to jump me out of the tack.  He didn't succeed in his plan though!  I've got some plans for Bugs this year.  More on that soon.  Gotta talk it over with Bonnie since she has the final say so. 

Can't have a post without a cute Bugsy photo.