Monday, March 7, 2016

No such thing as a bad show

Friday morning, I woke feeling like maybe my intermittent illness had finally abated (spoiler alert: it came back on Saturday, again.). When 3pm rolled around, I happily headed out the barn and made an attempt to memorize my test.

When Pig was incredibly distracted and nervous as I was tacking up, I knew I'd made he right choice to show in the double. When his mind is gone, he's almost impossible to keep together in the ring. Having the double to help me encourage him to tip his nose out is very helpful in keeping his brain in his head.
Emma and Pig act out Pig's mental state...
In fact, our warm-up went from snorty, spooky, and inverted to quite through and fluid. Guinness's gaits felt quite good, with a lot of jump in the canter and suspension in the trot. He was even very consistent in the bridle, and willing to take some input from me. We did a lot of walking (leg yields and turns on the haunches), some rising trot, some canter (departs to right lead and counter canter only. NO changes schooled.), and finally a little sitting trot. He felt great.

Unfortunately, all of that good preparation was for naught. We ended up walking around or standing waiting for our turn to go, and Pig's brain left the building. He thought he was completely done, and he went so far as to try to exit stage left. Bad. Pig.
Not pictured: Pig's brain leaking out.
By the time our test came around, he was testy. Anything that was hard in the direction of the door, he completely balked at. This resorted in some hilarious tantrums, which mostly made me a laugh hysterically. I would say that his tantrums were disappointing, as they rendered the test nearly unrecognizable, however I was honestly very happy with the test. Why?

First, the double proved to be a useful tool and something I feel comfortable showing in. Pig was just as solid in it as he is in the snaffle, and it helped me ride him a little more aggressively in places where I otherwise wouldn't have been able to do so.

Second, the things that were good in this test were VERY good. And some of those things are pieces we really haven't put back into schooling for that long.

Test Highlights:

  • Half passes were on point. We need more bend through the body to the right, but the half passes left, which have been our more difficult direction, were fantastic. At one point Pig threw a fit before our canter half pass left, and ended up on the opposite side of the arena. I made him half pass from there to the other side of the arena (a much more advanced movement), and he handled it wonderfully. Proud mama moment.
  • Both changes were actually pretty clean. The judge probably thought they were exuberant because Pig was anticipating, but honestly he was exactly on my aids. This is just where we are with these right now, and I am pleased with his performance.
  • His trot work was OUTSTANDINGLY good. He was very suspended and collected. I barely had to ask for that, it's just where he is right now. And that place where he is feels good. At no point in the comments did we receive "needs more uphill balance." I've been a little worried about his collection level, so this feels good.
  • His turns on the haunches sucked in the test, but in the warmup they were amazing. These have really hit a new level.
  • Medium/extended trot were fantastic for us. We kept our rhythm for the most part, and are actually teetering on the real thing. Just gotta work on building them faster, right now it takes too long to hit the maximum extension. For this test, though, I actually had a place to sit while we did the extension, and that's really a first.
Issues:
  • We need more bend through the body when going right. I'm struggling getting Pig to give through his ribcage. I think more renver/traver work will help with this. Now I have control of his shoulders/haunches, I just need to help him stabilize his body bend.
  • I need to keep working on sitting up and correctly through my torso/hips. That makes the biggest difference in whether we have collection or not.
  • Changes. Gotta keep at these.
  • Release of rein at canter. This comes right after a change in 3-2, and that can make it difficult to get Pig's wishy-washy hind end under control of my seat again. It's really obvious in this video that I lose it the moment I release the reins. At least he keeps his self-carriage otherwise? Ha!
Test video:
Note: Things were pretty wonky due to Pig's tantrums. You'll notice I go off course a couple of times due to them. And I almost go off course right at the start (wavy line at far end, and forget to turn up the centerline at C after renver meltdown). There's also a jump in the middle where the judge thinks I went off course, the video stopped in the middle while I hashed that out with the judge (I was actually correct).

Also note: Yes. At Pig's final tantrum, you can hear me say "Oh, F your face!" Giggles.

For for anyone wondering, tantrums like this are not abnormal when my horse is tired/done and at home. I'm actually fine with them, because they are ultra rare or less dramatic at away shows. As this was in our home arena, I would expect them to be worse.

The test -- 58.97%


At the end of the ride, the judge stopped me and said, "That was the hardest thing I've ever had to judge. Either he was a 9-10 or he was a 0, often in the same movement!" She commended me for his work, saying she was very impressed with the work he turned in, calling him "very talented." She went on to describe him as "strange and difficult". which made me laugh.

She was flummoxed at his seemingly sensitive overreaction to a quiet aid, but willingness to take a spanking and hard riding to get him back to work. At this I just shrugged. "Eh. We're just an old married couple poking at each other's nerves. We both know exactly how much we can get away with." At that, she laughed.

We walked back home and I put Pig away.
What? You don't put your horse's blanket on while he's still wearing his double?
I think he could tell my overall mood was pleased, despite his iffy behavior in the ring. Overall, it was a solid first ride through 3-2. I see a lot to look forward to this season!
So there were lots of scratches to be had.

33 comments:

  1. The was the most fun I've ever had watching a dressage test. He looks soooooo good when he's being good, but I do kind of love the random tantrums!

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    1. I won't lie. Once I decided not to be mortified, I had a lot of fun riding that test. Sometimes you just gotta embrace the Diva behavior. ;)

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  2. Oh Pig how you can go from lovely to F you in the blink of an eye. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that laughs when my horse has a temper tantrum. You guys look really good when he isn't having a fit and even when he does you still make it look easy.

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    1. The "F.U." is always lingering just below the surface... hahaha

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  3. Pig had so many feelings in that test!! But when he wasn't losing his ever-loving mind, you guys looked amazing!!! If you can get a 58 with that kind of outrageous tantrum-peppered test, you are going to do AWESOME when he's not freaking out!

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    1. To be honest, the test is still just baaaaarely in his strength level. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing what he has to offer as the season progresses.

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  4. so glad i got to be there to watch - it's kinda amazing how easy he makes some of those moves look (shoulder-in, i'm lookin at you)!

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  5. I got a sneak peak of some of the videos...he really is capable to be so amazing and in the next instant leaping sideways ;) Airs above the ground = athletic in my book even if they dont count for actual points!

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  6. He looked so awesome when he was on board with what you wanted!!! I agree, if it's a 58% with the freaking out, when his brain isn't dripping out of his ears, you'll be spot on! And, blankets on before doubles off when it's cold and he's been a good pony :-) (even with meltdowns haha)

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    1. I think he'd prefer his good pony treat NOT be a blanket. #blankethaterzforlyfe

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    2. Haha, I'm still used to Mikey would would visibly snuggle into his!

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  7. Hahaha... his nice moment are SO NICE and his naughty moments are SO NAUGHTY. Hopefully if you can keep his brain from leaking out and you'll have a really respectable score!

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    1. I'm going to look into brain leak putty...

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  8. It's so refreshing to hear your attitude regarding his tantrums! Gosh when he good he's REALLY good! I'm so impressed with your ability to stay calm (I would have been letting the expletive fly!)

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    1. I mean... there was at least one expletive. But if his issues were really going to bring me down that much, he'd have been sold a long time ago.

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  9. Wow, when he's doing well he makes everything look so easy and fancy. It amuses me how he continuously goes from extreme to extreme. He is definitely a talented man!!

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    1. The best at test-tantrums. I should make a compilation video...

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  10. He must be related to Spider! The non-tantrum bits were lovely, though, and 58 isn't bad at all. I've certainly done worse in that test!

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  11. You're much more patient and generous than I would be. He does look great when he's on task.

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  12. Ah yes. There is now no doubt you will get your Bronze this year. A 58 with all those tantrums?! I get 58s with zero tantrums or mistakes! So yeah. Bronze for you!!!!!

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    1. Lol. Well, I don't think she gave me errors where she should've or 2s where I deserved them. ;)

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  13. Pig's tantrums are hilarious! Good for you for having a great show despite Pig's behavior.

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  14. I love that you could just have a casual and amazing and honest conversation with the judge like that. Also you always have the best perspective <3

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  15. Oh, Pig! ....reminds me of that old nursery rhyme about the little girl with a curl on her forehead: "and when she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid" :D

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  16. I won't lie, those tantrums were kind of adorable. Mostly because I wasn't riding them.

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  17. Even with his tantrums he was so freaking fancy. My horse wishes he could tantrum to that epic level

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  18. What a little shit, lol! But a fancy shit!

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  19. I bet Pig was saying back to you in that last tantrum, "NO! F YOUR face!" Good on you being so calm and amused about it all. I need to embody more of that when Q is a shit.

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    1. I'm not *always* calm and amused. But I try to be? I think that counts the same?

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  20. Bahahahaha! Pig is so funny... and man when he is good he is REALLY EFFIN GOOD

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