Monday, April 14, 2014

MVHC Combined Test Results

Show season has officially begun and we started it off fantastically!

Ben was great the entire day. He stepped off the trailer completely calm and happily stood tied to the trailer munching his hay, something that he has never been able to do for any decent length of time before. I got on him to warm up for dressage and he walked all the way there calmly on the buckle. He got into the busy warm up ring and just went right to work. He felt exactly like he does at home, another thing that has never happened at a show before.

He warmed up great, was round, soft, using his hind end, and being generally agreeable. We did some leg yields and walk/canter/walk transitions which I think helped a lot with his engagement. We even got a few really decent steps of trot lengthening.

This good work carried right over into the dressage ring and he put in what was probably his best test at Training level to date. We rode Training A, which I really don't like very much. We also ended up riding in a large dressage ring which meant he had to hold things like trot and canter lengthenings for longer periods of time which wasn't the best thing ever but it worked out fine.

The only parts of our test where we had a little hiccup was at the trot transition at A where Ben was positive I was actually asking him to canter and then at the canter diagonal, trot at X movement that I cannot stand. The latter was 100% my fault, it was the only part of the test where I just stopped riding. I gave a lot more effort to my canter lengthening than I ever have and I just never really got him back and we ended up careening down the diagonal and he was unbalanced so he broke gait. 

Other than that, it was a really solid test and I was very pleased with Ben. The judge was scoring very harshly and some of her comments didn't make sense at all. For example, our left lead canter transition at C, which I thought was quite good, received a score of 5 and a comment of "accelerates at X" which I am still scratching my head over. I am pretty confident that the judge is not rated and so I took her comments with a grain of salt. In addition, she judged everyone else the same way, so as long as I fit into the pack where I would have if somebody else was judging, I can't complain too much.We scored a 40 and were in 5th out of 10 after dressage.

Here is our test:

A little while later we headed over to the stadium ring where he got a bit more excited to be jumping, but was still remarkably well behaved. He jumped fantastically and I believe we only jumped four or five fences because there was no need to do any more than that.

He went in the ring and put in a really great round. He built a little bit as we went and I lost some of my brakes after the in and out, but he was jumping so great and felt so confident that I don't mind that so much. With his clear round, we maintained out fifth place position and earned ourselves a pretty pink ribbon!

Here is our round:

In a slightly annoying development, there was another competitor who wanted to ride both the dressage and jumping twice on the same horse. I assumed they would count her first round and then have her count as HC for the second round, but they instead scored her twice which I thought was a bit unfair, especially considering she placed first and second. Nothing I could do about it though and at the end of the day it really wasn't a big deal and certainly didn't affect how pleased I was with my horse.

I feel really great about the 2014 season after this weekend. Ben was fantastic the entire day and I really feel like he is finding his brain and growing up. He now knows that he needs to go to work when he's away from home too. Next up is the Course Brook Farm Combined Test at Training on Saturday, the 19th. As long as the weather allows, we'll be getting a xc school in there as well!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Show Season Has Arrived!

Show season is finally here! Ben and I will be attending a combined test at Mystic Valley Hunt Club tomorrow and I am rushing around doing a million things because it actually crept up on me a lot more quickly than I expected it would!

However, before I talk more about the combined test I should mention that we attended the last show of the jumper schooling series at Westbrook Hunt Club at the end of March and Ben placed first, first, and third, earning him Champion of the division and Grand Champion of the series!

He won a very nice cooler and a very fancy ribbon. Hopefully his good behavior at the jumper shows translates to our eventing season.

Here are a couple videos from the jumper show:

We'll be doing Training level at the 2-phase tomorrow and we've been really working hard on our dressage so I am optimistic that we can put in a decent test. Being the first show of the season my only goals are to put in a calm, accurate dressage test and jump a nice, rhythmical stadium round. 

Something I've been recently working on with my dressage trainer is really riding the test. For so long dressage was just about surviving for me because Ben was hot and spooky and would occasionally just start bucking so I didn't dare ask him for any more than he was giving me when he was having a rare sane moment.

Now he is much more well behaved in the ring and I think I can start to ask him for a little more. I need to have the courage to change what is happening if it is not correct. If he's not bending enough, I need to make him bend more. If he needs to go more forward, I need to make that happen. I can't just accept what he gives me anymore and excuse it with, "Oh well, at least he's not bucking!"

There is a little video of him schooling on the flat a few weeks ago here.

I have a dressage lesson this afternoon and then I'll be washing socks, trimming whiskers, and braiding. Unfortunately, it's not warm enough yet for a full bath so he'll definitely be a little dusty! 

My times are pretty early which means I should be home by afternoon time and I will hopefully be able to write you guys a same-day report!