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?