More Show Analysis

My horse is a saint!
My last post was more about the scores and the show experience than what I learned. So here's a post about what I've taken away from my last schooling show experience:

1: Always check your test times and which test comes first. I'm going to tape a copy of my show times and tests to the top of my trunk. This seems like the best way to make sure I'm ready. This will probably help me manage my time better. 

2. I need more warm-up for my first test. I worry about over working Guinness and getting him a little sour before the test, but he really needs a solid 20 minutes of work - so I need to be on him 30 min before my tests. No excuses. See point 1 for "time management" issues.

3. Mint flavored water is delicious! I added some mint leaves to a water container that smelled like old plastic. It refreshed the water, and when frozen into the water, was especially refreshing on a day in the 90s!

4. I'm pretty good at braiding! For my first braid job since I was about 10 years old, I think I did a fantastic job. The braids stayed in all day, and looked just as good at 6:00 as they did at 2:00!

5. If your horse will only eat the hay from in front of his stall, don't fight it. Sure, it makes a huge mess, but at least he's happy and eating!

Now, for the things to work on:

1. Position, position, position. Wow. I've been working on trying to keep my heels down and toes in, but that really seemed to fail at this show. Moments were good, other moments were quite bad. After reviewing the videos and photos I think I can see what the problem is: lack of stability in my core when driving forward or asking for a transition. I seem to have no problem sitting up straight as you like when just motoring along, but ask for a transition or for GP to give a little more gas - BOOM - collapse. It's bad, see .... 

Fairly Straight Back
So roached. Do I have scoliosis or something? Wow.
A spectacularly bad example of riding ... I'm embarrassed now.
The solution? Off the horse, I'll be doing my morning runs while holding my abs tight. Focusing on shoving my knees down and keeping my upper body straight. Sometimes at 5:30 am, I tend to slouch through my runs. That's a habit that will transfer! On the horse, I'll be riding without stirrups at both the walk and trot. I'll also be schooling transitions. I have to make sure to set myself up to stay upright through the transition, and learn to absorb his movement through my hips and lower back, not my whole spine. This is elementary, I feel like an idiot.
Once I stop collapsing and get my upper body straight, my heels magically seem to fall into place and my leg gets much longer. It's a process, but at least I have a plan!

2. Transitions, transitions, transitions! I lost points in every test on transitions because GP's head would come up. This is partly due to my position (see #1), but it's also a habit of GP's. I don't know if he's anticipating getting whacked in the mouth or if it's a strength issue, but we'll be tackling both. 

Solutions? Position work in #1 has us schooling transitions with me thinking about position. This should help us break any habit or expectancy of GP's. Part 2 of my solution has us doing even more strength work than we do. More walk-canter transitions and more transitions up hills. You can expect to see us out on the trails more in the next few weeks trying to build topline strength!

3. I'm thinking even more about pushing through for First Level 1. We have a lot of things to iron out for training level, but they aren't impossible. Once I get my position fixed, I think we'll be ready to push (properly, not with the middle of my back!) for slight extensions and more bend. 

What do you guys think? 

So proud of this guy!