Saturday, July 22, 2017

Loch Moy II Recap: The What Was She Smoking Edition

That wild eye of his cracks me up every time.
Day two of Loch Moy promised to be even hotter than the day before. Luckily (luckily?) our ride was even earlier!

In what is becoming a clear pattern, Pig showed up for day two of a show in a rather cranky mood. He had ideas for how his day was gonna go, and riding 4-1 in front of a judge was definitely not on his agenda.
Sorry, bro. Sometimes you just gotta do the job.
Unlike the day before, I was definitely thinking. Maybe overthinking. A thinking Austen tends to have goals and frustrations to deal with, and she's a lot less tolerant of a horse with a wishy-washy back end. Pig does not negotiate with intolerant riders.

I ended up getting after Pig in the warm-up for his lack of a half halt, which may have been a dumb choice. He shut down a bit behind, throwing his haunches against my leg and blowing through my aids from my seat.
No! I said put your butt to the right!
When I would finally get his butt straight and engaged, he'd try to escape with his shoulder. Shutting the door on his shoulder is always quite difficult. I can often get control at the walk and trot, only to lose it at the canter. To try to get it back, we practiced some working pirouettes and haunches in on a 20m circle.
Remember, Austen. The horse is supposed to pirouette. You are not supposed to do it without him. Sigh.
I did manage to get a straighter horse from all of the work, but definitely also revved up the responsive engine of hot horse. We had power, but not a lot of steering.
Va-VOOM goes the Ferrari
When Pig is hot like this, he can often be quite behind the contact. That was absolutely the case for much of Sunday's work. My half halts would result in his head going up, his shoulders dropping, and his hind end quitting. Quite the opposite result of what I wanted.
Though, we did have some really nice moments.
I probably cantered too much in the warm up. I had horse expecting to canter for much of the test, which caused me some significant problems when paired with my false half halt. I knew it was a test I'd need to ride smartly, but still would be lucky to survive with a decent score. We just aren't confirmed enough at the level to have an off-day and still eek out a successful test.

However, the judge awaited. So we entered...
A: Enter collected canter / X: Halt, salute; proceed collected trot
6.0
"Rider sitting to right. Be prompt in trot."
I'm getting a lot more confident in my entrances for this level. Still, halting and moving off in a collected gait is exceptionally hard, and more so when your horse isn't really in your hand. Apprehensively, I turned down the diagonal for the medium trot, trying my best to set Pig up as straight as possible.
C: Track left / H-X-F: Change rein, medium trot / Over X: 6-7 steps collected trot / F: Collected trot
7.0
"Show more clarity in trans"
Not going to lie. I'm kind of flabergasted by that 7. I really don't believe the movement should have scored that well, based on the "collected trot" we presented over X. However, the quality of the medium was actually quite good, and I am very pleased with that!

Unfortunately, I was still dealing with a very hot horse who was behind the hand. I was also still sure he was not listening to my lateral aids. When it came time to ask him to half pass, I jabbed him with my outside leg. Dear sweet soul, he got confused and thought I was asking him to canter (I knew all that warm up canter was a bad idea!). Whoops! We resolved the issue and put together a half pass of sorts. 
K-X: Half pass right
5.0
"Haunches leading"
In the chaos of the canter snafu, I totally lost Pig's haunches. They went careening into the center of the ring, and made it very hard to get the shoulders out in front. I hate screwing up one of our strongest movements like that, but I put it behind me and worked to improve the rest of the right hand trot work.
X: Circle right 10m
5.5
"Lacking suppleness and impulsion"
Halfway through the 10m circle, I felt Pig had forgiven me some for my over-aid of the half pass. That allowed me to actually ride the shoulder-in some.
X-G: Shoulder-in right / C: Track right
7.0
"Well done!"
I'm not sure what the judge is smoking here, as I don't feel this shoulder-in angle is quite right or consistent. Still, it's a nice shoulder-in right for us, and I'll always take a 7!

We came into the extended trot. I was resolved to push a bit and try to get Pig more in my rein and in front of my leg. I was actually pretty pleased with the result, though I didn't manage to get him in my rein at all (note how floppy it is?).
M-X-K: Change rein, extended trot / K: Collected trot
4.0
"No extension"
(Transitions M & K)
4.0
"Uncertain beginning"
At this point in reviewing the scoring, I'm beginning to be certain the judge is on drugs. There's no way my medium got a 7, and my extended is a 4. They're basically the same. Plus, the transitions were behind the rein, but I don't think they were worthy of a 4. 

Moving on to the left rein...
F-X: Half pass left
5.0
"Haunches should stay with forehand"
Okay, now I have no idea what she means. I think she's commenting about the moment just before this gif where his haunches get stuck for a step. We resolved it in a moment, however. I'm so confused by the scoring, but really happy with my riding of this movement.
X: 10m circle left
6.0
No comment
No, no, no. I want a comment here. Please and thank you.
X-G: Shoulder-in left / C: Track left
4.0
"Horse not uphill - heavy on R shoulder"
Okay. You have got to be fucking kidding me. That is NOT a shoulder-in worth a 4. In no world. Her comment is correct in that he is heavy on his right shoulder. However, he's been heavy on his right shoulder the whole test, and he's still pushing correctly with his left hind and maintaining angle and bend. Clearly the judge's drugs have gone bad.
H: Collected walk / S-R: Half circle 20m extended walk / R: Collected walk
5.5
"Step forward into walk and more ground cover in extended"
Now I'm just defensive. That score is rather low, but he is tight in his back and not stepping through as nicely as he is capable.
Between G & M: Half pirouette left, proceed collected walk
5.0
"Show collection"
Huh? I literally do not understand this comment. I would have accepted "loss of rhythm" or "slightly wide" or "too much neck bend" or "lost outside shoulder". But "show collection"? Would she rather he have reared? Cause, like, we can do that.

I am beginning to think that maybe this judge was expecting a grand prix ride for her 4-1 class. How disappointing for her to get a green 4th level pair.
Between G & M: Half pirouette right, proceed collected walk
4.0
"Too much lateral effort, no collection"
Okay, in her defense. This pirouette was a hot mess. I mean, my horse is so stuck in his right front that he looks lame. She's right, there's not a lot of collection here. I dunno that it's a 4, but it's not great. 
(Collected walk) HS/RMG(H)G
4.0
"Not engaged"
Really? That's a 4 walk? Really? "Not engaged"? Again. This is 4th level, not Grand Prix. Could he be more engaged, absolutely. Is it "insufficient"? No. Absolutely not. I've literally never had a judge hate on Pig's walk so much. She scored it as if it was horribly off rhythm. I don't understand.

Ah well. I think I rode it pretty well considering Pig's mood and our contact issues. On to the canter.
G: Collected canter, left lead / H: Turn left
6.0
No comment
Wow. Now this I think was maybe worth a 4 or 5. The transition is against the hand, flat, and could be more clear. To be fair, it's not too far off many of our other transitions. However, it's not great. Thanks for the 6, lady.
S-K: Medium canter / K: Collected canter
6.0
"Too conservative"
I talked in my Loch Moy I recap about how hard this movement is to get started. I thought he had quite a bit of polite uphill action from him, despite the waggling head indicating he's not really in my hands.
A: Down centerline / D-E: Half pass left
5.5
"Haunches trailing & head nodding"
That head nodding is going to get her soon, I just know it. Haunches trailed to start, but were corrected. Sloppy riding on my part.

Bring on the fireworks... 
E-H: Counter canter / H: Flying change of lead
5.0
"Above bit - swinging head"
Let's also mention a bit like watching a horse dive into a pool, oh, and I lost his haunches right too. Not lovely, but not our worst. He actually wasn't anticipating, and I had to cue him quite hard. (Watch my right leg). Pretty sure he did not forgive me for being so obvious. 
M-F: Extended canter / F: Collected canter
5.5
"Too conservative"
Can we talk about happy I am with this extended canter effort? He's not in my rein, but I'm still able to keep him from totally diving down and galloping. It's a clear canter with some lift and reach in the front end. Holy cow. Miracles do happen. The judging is on point compared to the medium canter, too. Color me impressed.
(Transitions M & F)
6.0
No comment
Awwww yeah! Did not completely biff this transition! Someone pop open the goddamn champagne!
A: Down centerline / D-B: Half pass right
7.0
"Nicely done!"
Oh! Oh, I get it now. She wants me to be literally all over the place. Oh. Okay. We can do that...
B-M: Counter canter / M: Flying change of lead
2.0
"Not correct"
No kidding "not correct." I was almost ejected from the goddamn ring. Come on, Austen. Only a few more movements to survive the test. You gotta hold on!
Note: Pig had definitely not forgiven me for the over-aiding of the last change. Whoops. 
C: Circle left 20m, 5-6 strides of very collected canter between quarterlines
5.5
"Hollow in collection"
Please note my extreme lack of half halt here. I asked, but Pig blew through my requests to sit. Finally I just sat him down. He did not appreciate.
Only the line of changes to go, Piggy. You can do it. Maybe?
H-X-F: Change rein, three single flying changes of lead, near first quarterline, near X, and near last quarterline
1.0
"Not shown"
Yeah. Uh. Deserved. Watch the video below to see what I mean...
See, we got the first one (though super crooked and ugly), then I got no response for the 2nd. Watch carefully and see Pig actually leap up into the air as if he is going to do the change, only to come down on the same lead.

This makes twice in the same weekend we failed to execute this movement at all. Clearly it's super broken and needs work.
A: Down centerline / X: Halt, salute
5.5
Crooked in halt
Sigh. He stepped out in the halt. That hurts, as the centerline was beautiful.
Look, mom! I remembered not to salute with my whip in my hand! 
Honestly, I didn't think the test was all that terrible. I knew it wasn't a 60% by any means, but I wasn't all that unhappy with it. Overall, I left the ring feeling like we were still very green to the level and had just shown exactly how green we were.

Click for full test video

Then I picked up my 50% score sheet.
Too many errors? There was some sloppy riding in places, but the only real errors were in that last line of changes. I wish she'd just come right out and said "You suck, get out of this level." It's clearly what she meant.
More next week on why these comments and this judge's behavior at the show bugged me. Until then, anyone else working at a level where you feel super green? How do you approach showing a horse at a new level? Do you wait until you're sure they're fully confirmed? Or do you jump right in, score be damned, and try to just get the experience while you can? If the later, do judges comments bug you?

23 comments:

  1. Wow. I feel like some of those comments are borderline unprofessional 🙄 not that I ride anywhere near that level, but if got a comment that said "look ma no hand" I would probably come unglued. It's possible to point out problems in a much more constructive manner. At any rate, you and Pig still had some nice moments (the GIF of that last centerline is so straight!), so congrats on going out there and doing the thing!

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    1. <3 that straight centerline. That's probably the hardest thing for us, honestly (besides sane flying changes, haha).

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  2. Wow, I would have been really frustrated with that judge as well. In reading through your comments I think you're really reasonable about how you think you should have scored and she was just all over the place (definitely low) rather than really giving you constructive scores and comments (which is why I enjoy showing).

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    1. I agree, that's why I like showing too! She was weird because there were low scores, but also scores that were too high. I'm super confused...

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  3. Uhhhhh well I got a lot of bad scores last year but mostly because my horse was bolting sideways across every diagonal. So.

    I feel like your judge has maybe read too many "cutesy judge comments" top ten lists and was trying to hit another. Maybe you should honor her request by starting a "most condescending and shitty judge comments" list and letting her dominate that?

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    1. Hahaha! I don't know that I have enough comments to fill a list. Though I think I have one other test that could compare somewhere...

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  4. Damn. I think you should win an award for widest range of scores rec'd in a single test. This also reminds me of the judge who scored my entry where Charlie literally just about face planted as a 7, then gave us a slew of 4s for things like a trot circle (which .... well, we trotted a circle) and a trot around the long side (which we also executed as a trot around the long side). Fucking annoying as all hell. Judges are smoking crack. Bleh. But it's one thing at my unsanctioned lower level event and another thing at recognized 4th level. There's no excuse.

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    1. Omg a totally different thing, though schooling events (and events in general) should have some standards, you know?

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  5. Wow that was quite the range of scores. I know it's very wrong of me but part of me was relieved to hear that when Pig gets shut down and throws his haunch against the leg because Carmen does that same thing! I was all 'phew, it can happen to really good horses and riders too'. It's such a difficult sport and then you add in the judging that sometimes doesn't seem to make sense and it seems impossible.

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    1. Man, I hate it when he tunes me out like that. Means his mind is too busy, usually. Sigh.

      Scoring should follow guidelines, for the most part. I think that makes it less intimidating.

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  6. What do you use to make all of your GIFs?

    I rarely fully understand all of the scores judges manage to give... liked getting to see your test broken out this way though!

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    1. I use giphy's gif creator. You can pull from any YouTube video, and it's super easy!

      Thanks for the feedback! I think it makes it easier for me to compare the quality of movements when I go back and review my tests. I'm loving it!

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  7. I'm pretty sure I would have ripped up my test if I saw 'look ma no hand' written on it.

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    1. I mean. She's not wrong. There's basically zero contact happening in that test. Only issue is, when he's that light the double is the only way to communicate with him. The snaffle is meaningless because he won't touch it. If he wasn't 19 and struggled with this his whole life, I'd work harder to fix it. It's a HUGE training hole, though it only crops up sometimes.

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  8. Going to to have to agree with here that this judge is ON DRUGS. I do not understand her scoring at all. Especially the walk scores. WAY WAY out of line. He actually has a nice walk, and while she doesn't have to give you a 10 I would have expected him to score nothing less than a 6.5 even when tense. I dunno. Also forgive me but I did laugh out loud at the gif of the flying change that got a 2 ans almost ejected you. Like, Pig does this clean change but then (^&$*$&($&$$*%)^*%( goes brain or something. hahahahahaha. Oh Pig.

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    1. Hahaha that change was ridiculous! When he does that it's like an ejector, and his right side just disappears. So I literally had nowhere to go! Oh Pig... <3

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  9. "look ma no hands" the actual f**k??! SUCH an unprofessional comment! Goodness me, I hope she starts working on her attitude and goes to a judge training seminar. I try not to bash judges, but then when you see stuff like this it makes me so angry! Keep going out and getting experience, it's the best way to improve competing at that level! I hope you never meet this judge again.

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  10. i think you need a honorary bingo from emma just for this test. Jeez what a wide range of scores. I think you rode it wonderfully and except for that one thing that Pig did where he almost jumped out of the ring i dont think it was TOO bad at all. There was some brilliance in there for sure. I think you are getting there....And i would almost repor that judge for her use of drugs at a show :) LOL wtf. I cant believe she wrote that too. WTF. UGH...keep on trucking. Just think how boring it would be for us if Pig was perfect every time :)

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  11. "look ma no hand" Seriously? By adding that the tone of everything comes across as unprofessional. With the omission of that line alone, while not easy to read, the comments could still be seen as professional. Smokin' the devil's lettuce in that judge's booth...

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  12. woof. that is a brutal test. some dressage judges are really rough. good on you for managing the end of that test. totally saw him 'fake' a lead change down the diagonal. he was like maybe if i do the little hop she just wont notice. PSYCH.

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  13. Definitely agree with Liz. "Look ma no hands" adds a level of sarcasm that just makes me read the rest of the test with a bad attitude. It's one thing to be really tough as a judge but it's another to be tough without really giving good reasons or constructive criticism.

    I read an article recently how most shows in Europe (even at the local/schooling level) have judge panels of at least two judges. This helps with a crazy judge in two ways: One is to hopefully get some better scores/comments from the other judge. Second (and I think long-term more helpful) is to give the judge someone to compare to. We're all human, and sometimes it's good for us to be able to 'check' our work against what others are thinking. U.S. judges often don't EVER get this experience if they don't make it to the FEI levels. One of the biggest complaints from most riders are inconsistent scores and not knowing what is actually "right" and I feel like this would help some.

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  14. That judge needs to get laid me thinks...

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  15. I'm more of a frying pan/fire person, and I will go ride the green horse at the level I want anyways. If there are schooling shows that are cheaper I might go work on shit there.

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