X, Halt, Salute, Scream; A Loch Moy Schooling Show Story

It is was showtime!
The end of September Loch Moy schooling show was another opportunity to get out and introduce Bast to a show atmosphere. The goal was mostly to give him experience while also starting to get a feel for the kind of warm up and brain I might be able to look forward to at a show.

I had originally signed up to do only one test, Training 1. Why? Probably it's a little advanced for where we actually are in our training. However, I want to practice cantering at a show and Intro C is truly the worst test ever. I was originally supposed to only one test, but Emma encouraged me to add a second after my first test went terribly.
Emma is such an amazing horse show friend!
What's that you say? How did my first test go terribly? Well… settle in kids. (Spoiler alert: The terribleness had nothing to do with Bast, who was a total angel. I'm so proud of him.)

We arrived at the show grounds with just enough time to get settled and into the show ring. Unfortunately, the show office was quite backed up, and we had a misunderstanding about my entry forms. (Namely, I didn't read directions well. Ugh. Go me.) By the time I was checked in, I had 10 minutes to bridle Bast and warm up for my test. I left his bell boots on, knowing he tends to overtrack onto his coronets when tight in the back or tense. This being a schooling show, I was certain I could get away with them.
I also realized I had forgotten my helmet, but luckily Emma was on hand and able to secure a loaner from the lovely group of people in the trailer next to me.
I tried to use the whole 6 minutes we had in the warm up ring to the best of my ability. Bast is a horse I can push early in the warmup (unlike His Royal Majesty, Pig the Un-pushable), so I took advantage of this. Still, my warm up was very truncated, and I had yet to canter him or work transitions at all. By the time my time had arrived, I did not feel confident about our test.
Actually wishing I was on this gray horse instead. He was stunning. And also relaxed.
This is where things started to really go downhill. Just as my time was rolling around, the judge in my ring yelled my name out across the warm up ring. She'd done this for the rider before me as well; that rider was a no show. I was already headed her way, simply trying to squeeze as much warm up in as I could. When I came around the ring to her booth, at my time, I verified I was the rider she wanted. She rang the bell. Bast started spooking at her side of the ring, and I asked if we could walk by the booth once before heading into the ring. She said no, and told me to get in the ring.
Ar least we looked good going into the ring...
I rolled my eyes at her brisk treatment and snarky comments about my "being late" and headed around the ring, purposefully taking the whole 45 seconds to enter the ring. Once in, the test went about as well as I could have imagined. Bast wasn't yet fully committed to bending or lifting his back. Because of this, most of the test he went around on one shoulder or the other, and he was woefully unresponsive to the leg. Still, he was a very good boy and listened to my transition requests and put in a test I wasn't too ashamed claim.
There were a lot of these moments, though.
After our test I went back to the warm up for a few minutes, until I got Bast soft and slow in his temp and connection. Once he felt relaxed and forward, we called it quits and headed back to the trailer. When I saw my score of 58%, I wasn't surprised. I did think the comment about the bell boots was funny, as the judge had managed to yell at me about everything but that in the ring.

During this time, Emma had run to the office to have me added to another test slot in the afternoon to ride the same test. With this in mind, I gave Bast time to chill at the trailer, which he did admirably. In fact, I was thoroughly impressed with his behavior at the show grounds all day.
Totally relaxed and chilled out professional standing at the trailer horse.
Time for my second test rolled around in no time, and I tacked back up and headed to the ring. This time I had left myself 20 minutes to warm up. Everything with Bast at a show is an experiment, so I really have no idea how long he actually needs. After the first test, I was determined to give Bast enough time to relax and really start working well. Unfortunately, he really only needed 10 minutes.
Lovely warm up moment.
At 11 minutes into our warm up, and despite copious walk breaks, Bast decided he was done playing the dressage game. In his mind, it was time to go back to the trailer and rest. Bast shows he's done by unloading his hind legs, barging through his shoulders, and using his short neck for evil. I hate the tight wiggling he does to escape "his box", and the leaping canter departs are the least comfortable and controllable things ever.
Do these photos ever get old? 
Resigned to the fate of riding a mentally tired horse into the ring, I simply waited and walked until our time rolled around. Definitely wasn't late this time.
Trying to walk Bast into a better frame of mind.
Our first direction trot work lacked impulsion and included a few nervous neighs. The canter transition was prompt and stiff, but not overly leaping. In fact, the whole canter circle was quite manageable. Bast popped his haunches left significantly on the long side and through the downward transition. I think the camera angle makes it seem worse than it is, but I remember being annoyed by it in the moment. Additionally, I find myself watching the video and feeling again how much the canter needs to slow down in the tempo.
Mostly civilized canter in the first direction.
In the walk work, Bast was not quite relaxed. His rhythm was off a little, and he wanted to sightsee quite badly. The transition to the walk tried to be a canter for a step, then turned into a raging weasel when I suggested we only trot instead. Another tiny neigh punctuates some otherwise uneventful trot work. The second direction canter depart is certainly more exciting than the first and I get seriously left behind. Speaking of behind, Bast also cross canters the first few steps before figuring out his mistake and swapping back. The rest of the canter work itself goes fine, once I manage to get Bast's shoulders under control.
Pictured: Me getting left behind ... maybe in the next county.
The downward transition to trot is one of my most favorite transitions I've ever ridden in my life. Then we turn up the centerline and wiggle our way gently into the most amazing halt and triumphant trumpeting of glory in history. Giggles abound.
Triumphantly singing the songs of our people in our salute.
While Bast was throwing his toys out of the ring some in the transitions, I overall felt this second test was much more rideable than the first. Throughout the trot work, I had a much straighter horse with a more lifted and relaxed back. The judge, apparently, disagreed. She gave me a 56.7%, which seemed pretty low.
 

Our work wasn't perfect by any means, of course. Bast needed a lot more hind end engagement and push. He's still pulling too much with his shoulders, rather than pushing from the hind end. His back was much looser and more relaxed than in the first test, but still needed to be lengthened and more elastic overall for the level. In addition, the connection was quite unsteady. Still, I am proud of the amount he tried and stayed with me.

After watching the videos, I've realized the connection looks much more stable in the higher-scoring first test, mostly because Bast was stiff and pulling. In the second test, his balance is improved but he's not yet strong enough to hold that and the connection. We have some bad habits in the mouth and in my hand that will make things much better. Bast was still behind the vertical for much of this, partially due to his strength level and partially because it is becoming a comfortable habit for him. We are working on addressing this.
Staying with me and looking fabulous.
Overall I was very pleased with his second test. A lot of the mistakes were actually mine, not due to him being green. His rideability was very close to what he has at home. The final warm up felt just like riding at home, and that gives me hope that Future Bast will be the same horse at a show as at home. That's a truly exciting thing!

Hopefully next year we'll have the basics down and be ready to come out and actually show off, rather than just tried to rack up some experience points. Onward toward a winter of training!
And also giggles...

Comments

  1. I am angry at that judge. That is uncalled for and boorish behavior sucks no matter who you are. I have heard other people have similar things happen and I Have to say WTF DRESSAGE JUDGES get your head out of your ass and do what you are supposed to do. EGADS PEOPLE ANNOY THE FUCK OUT OF ME. Okay besides that LOL Bast looks good.....and is def getting better at his carriage. It is getting there. And he was good at the trailer etc even better :) I love his face he has the cutest expressions. And you being left in the previous county HA HA HA HA. Great job!! Even if the judge was a jerk. :)

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    1. I mean, most judges are awesome. And I love scribing and talking with them. This lady just had the idea she was judging for an ultra-serious recognized style show, which is definitely not what this show was. That's all. Nothing she said was inherently wrong, though the attitude was a bit much.

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    2. i will still take your side :) I just hate when judges don't give you a bit of leeway it is not like you were riding Grand Prix LOLLOL

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  2. He is developing so well!!! Ahhh! I love his enthusiastic canter departs lol! he is like "OK!!!! OK!!! GOING!" .. also that judge is a cow. fuck her.

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    1. Omg those canter departs will be the freaking death of me, I swear!!

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  3. Omg THE SQUEAKS!!! Bwahahaha he is too funny! The tests both had some super nice moments in them, he is really coming along so well! I'm sorry you had a poor experience with the judge though, that just sucks.

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    1. I can't help but giggle when he "EEEEEE"s all the way around the ring. As long as he doesn't go super rigid in his neck and tune me out, I am fine with them. Eventually they'll stop all together.

      And, judge problems happen. I was hoping I could just "go high" and avoid succumbing to her needling.

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  4. aw i love this <3 so so so glad i was able to make it out! every time i see Bast he's like this whole new more mature more confident version of himself. he's going to be so nice the more you work with him!!!

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    1. Little guy is growing up so fast! (Finally, hahaha)

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  5. The second test was so much better. Clearly the judge needed a glass of wine.

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    1. It FELT better. Much more rideable and civilized. I don't get why it was a lower score, especially since we didn't have so many glaring mistakes.

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  6. Oh, he is coming along so well! He is going to be amazing.

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  7. Don’t you love how inconsistent the scoring can be at schooling shows? Bast is awesome though and you’re so good with him. I think it’s hard to figure out your warmup time at shows with any green horse, but especially OTTBs. I bet that he becomes a real show-off (in a good way) in the arena once he figures out what this whole dressage show business is all about.

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    1. Ugh. This is why I HATE schooling shows. They definitely have their place, but reliable judging is not one of the things you can count on. That's why I stopped showing them for a really long time with Pig, it just wasn't worth it. And yeah, Bast is turning into such a big trier. As long as I don't spend all his quarters, he's really invested in being a "good boy." Hoping to use that to my advantage!

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  8. I thought the neighing was my favorite part, but then I heard Eddie congratulate you and quickly changed my mind. <3

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  9. OMG, I have a friend who had the exact same thing happen at Radnor... the judge was SO rude, screaming from three rings away and then dinged her super hard during her test (maybe it was the same judge!) You are such an elegant, quiet rider and you guys are going to be such a competitive pair. There's some gorgeous moments in there and man, I LOVE his walk!

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    1. Oh wow. Screaming is just uncalled for, IMO. At a recognized the judge should just quietly eliminate you for being late or let you go on. Making a scene is just so ridiculous. And a schooling show like this exists solely to ENCOURAGE riders and horses, so being rude seems very against the whole concept. You know?

      His walk is really nice. I need to be better about encouraging it forward without pushing him past his natural rhythm. It's not as big and swinging as Pig's, and that really throws me off sometimes so I push too hard. Ugh. My bad.

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  10. Sometimes the judge loves you and sometimes not. I'm glad you did a second test and that it was an improvement over the first! Bast really is improving by leaps and bounds :D (literally, into the canter LOL, jk. I just couldn't resist)

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    1. I'm so glad we did the second one, too. It was a good mental lesson for both of us. :)

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  11. I love your giggling down the centreline....done that a few times this year with my moms wiggly baby! Hes looking great.

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    1. Sometimes you've just gotta laugh at their antics!

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