As promised, our show recap. Overall, I was very pleased with how it went. The parts that didn't go perfectly are mostly things that I know we are still working on, so I feel like the tests were for the most part a very accurate representation of where we're at in our training (which, I think, is sort of the whole point of dressage).
|The WORST part of this sport is the head-to-toe white spandex.|
But look how cute that pony is.
There were some comments that stood out to me, which left me beaming with pride. Forgive the small brag, but I have to share some of them:
- All four halts: "Straight and square." And about our first halt in the second test: "Good move off" (we got an 8.0 - good first impression!). In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit here that we don't always go from trot to halt/halt to trot like you're supposed to at First level. But sometimes we do! And for those times, I am thankful.
- Regarding our medium walk in the first test: "active and willing." Did you read that? Active and willing! About the horse who formerly refused to move forward into contact at the walk! I'm still beaming.
- On our lengthening at the trot in first test: "well balanced," and in the second test, "good power and coming back."
- All canter lengthenings got "good energy." How's that for consistency?
- Left lead canter transition in the first test: "nicely on the aids," and in the second test: "prompt off the aids into canter." Given that this was one of the main focuses of our lesson last week, I'm super psyched about this one.
- For the diagonal canter-trot transition in the first test: "nicely forward, very good connection." Good connection! I am starting to get it people! I felt it too, this was a fun moment for me.
- On the right lead canter 15m circle in the second test: "balanced and active." This one was an 8.0. Awesome!
- The left-to-right leg yield in the second test got a "good alignment and tempo."
We also got a bunch of constructive criticism. I totally felt what the judge was seeing and I know that these are all things we are still working on.
- The right lead canter transition was a bit of a weak spot in both tests. In the first test, we got a "head slightly up" and in the second test, "not well balanced." (Frowning face.) Obviously, this transition still needs a bit of work. But, he did school several lovely right lead transitions in our warm-up, so now it's just a matter of executing that transition all the time.
- The right-to-left leg yield is still a little tricky for me, he has to be set up just right for it, and since he was a little distracted watching a tractor go by as we turned up the center line (so focused, he's like a zen master), he turned a little stiff and then I couldn't quite get his haunches where they were supposed to go, so we got a "too much bend in neck" which was a kind way of saying "you are twisting your horse like a pretzel, don't do that."
- The stretchy circle in the first test is to the left (our harder direction) and right at the beginning of the test after two reverse turns. I find it really hard to make him stretch here (why can't they always be at the end of the test? this feels like a trap), and we got a "good energy but need more downward stretch." Totally agree, not entirely sure how to create downward stretch on demand (yet). Can I throw carrots on the ground when I come down the center line?
- Basically, same thing with both free walks. Needs more push and downward stretch. These are getting 6.5 or 7's, which is an improvement over last year, but they can be much better. I just have to convince a certain big brown horse that this movement is not an intermission in the test when he's given an opportunity to sight-see at his leisure.
- The right lead canter lengthening in the first test got a "haunches slightly in." Ugh. Kind of annoyed with myself on letting that happen, since I know he does this all the time and should have ridden it better.
In better news, this Judge did not ask me if I was "new to dressage." Thank you Jesus. After the second test, she asked, "have you ridden this test many times?" And I thought it was coming. But then when I told her it was our first time showing that test she said "Oh! Well nice job!" She seemed surprised. You know, like she actually thought I was a dressage rider who had shown this test before, and not like she totally knew I was a hunter princess wannabe and this was my sixth dressage show ever. (She probably knew. Humor me.)