August 26, 2009

Dressage show with a redneck twist

The pony girls from our club at the show, excluding the geriatric, overaged one

My goal for this spring was to start one class higher than last year, which here is called class LA.
(I am sorry but I do not know what the English/American equivalent is called, but the program contains exercises as canter-walk-canter transitions, walk pirouettes, leg yields, medium and extended walk/trot/canter and counter canter.)

My daughter's pony Charlie was diagnosed with a minor tendon problem at Easter time, so he has had free from shows and training since then, just slowly building him up again until he was cleared by the vet beginning of June.
I could not start when my daughter had an injured pony, so I waited with shows until they were fit for fight again.
The D-day was this Saturday, and I was happy to see that Fame's cut on the back had healed nicely so I could put on a saddle again.
I came home on Friday afternoon, only to find new wounds at the same place, right where the back of the saddle should lie *sigh*
My daughter's pony who is as kind as can be to us, is definitely not kind to Fame.

What to do?

I had postponed the start for so long, and this Regional show was at a neighbour stable too, so we could just ride over.
I really wanted to ride that program to get a check that we are on the right track, and Fame needed the training of a show atmosphere - she has only started 3 dressage shows outside our own stable in her whole life.
(Yes, I am a training nerd, not a show nerd!)
The new cuts were also behind my seat if I rode her bareback...
I called the judge and asked for permission to start without a saddle, outside competition.
Which I got!

So comes Saturday morning, I happily start to braid my horse and prepare for show.
When ready I overviewed the result.
It was not that bad? I thought when my daughter came round and commented:
"That wasn't too smart"
"What?" I said.
"Braiding when riding bareback?"
Hadn't thought about that. Nothing to hold on to.
But what the heck, should I ride bareback in the show at least I could do it with style.

A year ago, last time we participated in a show outside the stable, I had a fast and tense giraffe horse in the warm up, totally unconcentrated on me to begin with. I had to ride her a bit tired to get her to settle down and concentrate some. As a consequence she was somewhat pluggy when riding the program.
I was happy to see that this time - even if initially a bit tense and looking around - she concentrated on the work and kept her focus on me. She was a little bit strong, so we worked with leg-yields, transitions and circles to improve things. After a while I could also introduce some supplying work in a longer and deeper frame to loosen her back.
As I had helped my daughter at her warm-up, our time was a bit short, and suddenly it was time for us to enter the arena.

Every time when I am to participate in a show, I curse myself for not starting the show training earlier, as all the flaws become very visible when I two days beforehand try to ride through the program *headdesk*
We did not do well enough on the walk piruettes, halts and rein-backs.
Totally my fault, we should have trained more.
I had to laugh at myself on Sunday as I read Carl Hester's book of dressage where he commented something like "the dressage rider always has to train on square halts, rein-back and walk piruettes."

Look! No saddle!

How it went?
We placed 5th out of 17 riders.
Had the geriatric rider remembered the program we would have placed 3rd...

I was very happy with my horse.
She tensed up a bit when entering the arena and saw some ghosts at two places - but relaxed when I spoke to her and did a good job.

The canter work went well, we got nice marks for the counter canter (which we have been training on).
She got a bit strong and slightly deaf when I tried to get the half halts through (probably due to a bit of tension being on the show), and it is more difficult to use my seat to get her back to me when riding bareback.
Due to this I safed a bit when it came to riding some more engagement into her; I was afraid she would get too strong.
But all in all I was happy that we did not make a total fool of ourselves, my buddy Fame and me.
Hey, I even stayed on the horse!
I must confess that I had dreaded the Very Tense Zigzaging and Jumping Giraffe, but luckily it did not show up today.

My daughter?
She did a very nice round and placed 3rd in the same class.
Rode better than me, as usual.
(But we are catching up... Beware of the evil Bareback-rider sneaking up from behind, Bwa-ha-ha-ha! long as we can remember the program, that is.)

My concentrated daugher on her lovely pony Charlie, who is now out by himself during daytime.
He can munch on hay instead of on Fame, evil thing.
As you can see he doesn't need any extra proteins.


trudi said...

Hey!! Well done you and your daughter; sounds like a perfect day.

jrosey said...

Hi! Just came across your blog & I'm really enjoying it! You have a fun sense of humor! :) I'm just starting training with my 8 yo Arabian gelding, but hope to compete in dressage at some point. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts! I think you look great out there bareback! Very impressive! :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Both you and your daughter look wonderful on Fame and Charlie. So glad both of you did so well too. Congratulations.

Kate said...

You and your daughter both look amazing - and congratulations on your results! Glad the pony can't chew on Fame any more!

Siri said...

Well done all of you! All my respect to you riding bareback on your first LA. What a challenge to keep both you and the horse in balance! Counter canter and all! Congrats!

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your very kind comments all!

Jrosey – welcome, and thanks for joining! I am always happy to get comments or questions. Hope to hear more from you, and good luck with your horse!

I am happy it went well, in particular with my daughter who has been waiting so long to get Charlie well again.
She has a large problem with migraine too, which makes both training and showing difficult. Now they have qualified to national shows, which was what she hoped to be able to achieve.

And I am happy with my training buddy, who went in there and did her job.
It is so rewarding to see that my bought-on-a-whim, inexperienced 3 yo is now developing into an adult horse, who is confident in herself and trusts me.
Like when we had that moose-encounter the other day, I feel like a proud Mum!
Thanks mate, you did well.

Irene said...

Grattia till er båda! Jättebra gjort. Hade aldrig vågat rida utan sadel på tävling... Du måste ha en fantastisk fin balans!

RuckusButt said...

I am so impressed with your work! Not only did you show bareback but so soon after time off and everything! Both Fame and Charlie look amazing. Nice work, both of you!

phaedra96 said...

All I can say is "WOW". I cannot say I have ever seen anyone compete without a saddle and you placed 5th out of 17!! How good is that???

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your kind words, Irene, RuckusButt and phaedra!

Once Upon an Equine said...

Fabulous! Good for you for getting creative and not letting Fame's injuries sideline you. Have you ever seen others ride bareback in a dressage class? Maybe you will start a new trend in bareback dressage competition. I think it is great you did that. Congratulations to you & Fame and your daughter & Charlie.

allhorsestuff said...

I loved seeing you both out there...great! Bareback that is awesome and creative way to keep going! I adore your "Training Nerd" heart!Not bad and actually pretty GREAT placing too!

stilllearning said...

Your story inspired me to climb on bareback for the first time on my rather green, rather large, and definitely high-withered horse this afternoon. I've wanted to for awhile but the "what-if's" had me worried (he CAN really buck and I'm old), but hey, if you can compete bareback I can certainly putz around in my indoor arena.

It was fun--thanks for the inspiration!

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your kind comments!

Once Upon - no, I have never seen anyone else ride bareback in a show, lol! So I thought it was time...we got some extra attention, but it was all great fun. Dressage doesn't have to be so very serious all the time, if you ask me. We need to shake things up a bit and have some fun too!

allhorsestuff - thanks :-)
Creative, nerd or just plain stubborn, I dunno??

Stillearning - nice to hear! But high-withered horses and bare-back riding is a challenge, to put it will for sure get good training to keep your position, lol!