Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ESDCTA Memorial Day Dressage: Recap

As you know, unless you really just look at the pretty pictures and bypass my inane ramblings when you visit this blog, this past weekend was our first USDF recognized dressage show.  We've done loads of A-circuit hunter shows but never even set foot at a rated dressage show - in fact, we've only done 6 schooling shows up to this point.  4 last year, 2 this year.  Basically this is me:

Things I came away from this show with:

1.  A rockin' farmer's tan.  Tan arms, white legs, can't lose.

2.  Some pretty sweet Amy Howard Dressage swag, hats for me and Ethan, which we promptly donned before trotting off to see Amy and Ultra Light in their fourth level test on Sunday morning (what a gorgeous horse - he is to die for).

3.  Satin!  Tucker and I made a fairly respectable showing, I'd say.  He was first in our first class on Saturday (so proud), fifth in the second class, and sixth for our test on Sunday (out of twelve).  Scores were all in the 60s:  67, 64, and 63.5.  Not record-breaking, but my goal was to have three tests in the 60's, and I was prepared not to be in the ribbons, so overall I'm happy with the results.

Sorry, this photo really could have been better.
4.  A little more experience.  What was freaking me out leading up to this was that I didn't even know all the things I didn't know.  Did you know that the horse has to have its number on the bridle or halter at all times when it's out of its stall?  I didn't.  First faux pas avoided.  At least now I feel like I kind of know the drill for next time.  

5.  A renewed appreciation for Tucker, who is most definitely a Show Horse.  He settled right in to his stall on Friday afternoon.  I tacked right up and he felt even better than he does at home.  On Saturday morning, every scrap of hay was gone, his water buckets were drained, and he was covered in shavings.  Such a good camper!  All weekend I could not have asked for a better attitude from him: he was willing, and relaxed, and a perfect gentleman to work around.  Love that guy.

This face.  So adorbs.
6.  Lots of very helpful training and showing advice from Amy.  I am so, so, so grateful she offered to let us stable with her and coached me for the weekend.  Not only was it great hanging out with her crew (who are all awesome, btw), but I came away knowing some big things I need to do differently in my tests, and lots of little small things I need to work on in general, which I'll delve into more deeply in my next post.

Sadly, I am about to explain how I forgot to walk at A.  Whoops.
7.  Braiding experience.  My hunter braids were always great, especially my tails.  My button braids/dutch braids are a whole different ball game.  This weekend I got some good braiding practice in and I think I'm getting the hang of it and he looked pretty darn snazzy.

8.  More assurance that our ulcer prevention plan is working.  In the past, the away shows seemed to be a big trigger for stomach upset.  This time he did not show any signs of discomfort, no change in behavior, no drop in appetite, so assuming that continues to be the case this coming week, I think I have things under control with the daily double-dose of U-Gard, pre- and probiotics, low NSC grain, alfalfa and beet pulp, and omeprazole paste every time he leaves the property.  

9.  Perspective. I had a (temporary) meltdown featuring that phrase in the Rider's Anthem that we've all said at some point, say it with me now: "I'M RUINING MY HORSE."  Long story short, we got a tougher judge on Sunday, who said some things about my riding that were pretty negative - while also complimenting what a nice horse I have. Which, naturally, I interpreted as, "Your horse would be great if he didn't have to put up with that MONKEY on his back."  I permitted myself a full day of wallowing, lamenting my horrendous riding, resigning myself to trail riding for the rest of our days.  Alone.  So no one has to see my hideous form on horseback.  Now that I've had a couple of days to think on it, I've gained some perspective and resolved to try harder to fix the things I've been working on (and admitted that Tucker is not ruined, nor will he be even if I never learn to sit his canter).

10.  New friends, and old friends!  Amy's group of clients who were there are all super nice, super supportive of each other, lots of fun, and (best of all) really liked Tucker (what's not to like?).  It gave me such a boost to see the whole AHD crowd on the sidelines every time I went in for a test.  We also ran into old friends - both from previous barns.  I'm so used to knowing tons of people at hunter shows, it's weird to go to a show and feel like I don't know anyone.  But I do know some people!  Ishtar was one of Tucker's favorites and I have been missing him and the other horses from our old barn, so it was especially nice to visit with him (and his humans!), scratch his itches and give him some love.
Ishtar thinks cider is delicious.
All in all - great weekend.  I learned a lot, had plenty of fun, saw some beautiful horses, did not embarrass myself, had some good rides, and got some feedback that I probably needed to hear.  More on that feedback tomorrow....


  1. Sounds like a really great outing! That is awesome that Tucker loves being a showhorse and that you have the ulcer situation under control. Looks like some sweet swag, lady!

    And boo-hiss on the mean judge! You are not the hunchback of Notre Dame on horseback! You're learning a new discipline, kicking butt and taking names on your rockstar show horse!

    But if you do want to escape into the jungles of the trails, call me! I'll join you!

  2. Congrats! It sounds like it was a good show overall! I hate it when judges make comments that make it sound like you're awful and ruining your horse; most of them time they don't mean them that way, but still!

  3. wow congrats on the awesome scores and satin! sounds like you walked away with a lot more than you bargained for - but in the best possible way too. can't wait to hear more of the details from Amy's coaching!

    also - fwiw, at an event this weekend i wore my pinny and isabel wore her bridle number for all three phases. later learned that only the bridle number was needed for dressage, and only the pinny for jumping... but hey, at least nobody was confused about who we were? oh, and yea i also still can't sit the canter. boo lol.

  4. Great weekend (minus the judge critical of your riding, boo!). Can't wait to read more about it. I already learned something new and helpful about bridle numbers.

  5. hint from the lazy - keep your old bridle numbers. At the next show, turn the old one over to the blank side, write your current show number, and keep that one on your halter. That way you don't have to remember to switch the number back and forth from the halter to the bridle, nor do you have to remember to put it on at all after the first time.

    1. That is a darn awesome tip, I've shown for 20 years and neverrrrrrr heard to do that. Genius.

  6. Yayyyyyyy first rated dressage show in the books and a first place ribbon too! Awesome job!

  7. Congrats on the satin! SO exciting :)
    Also loved your #1 Things I Came Away With. I can appreciate a good FNL reference when I see it!

  8. Sounds so fun! I am hoping for a similar experience at my first show!

  9. What a great experience! You learned alot, accomplished your goals and got to hang out with a great group of people. That's what I love most about horse shows!


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