Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to work!

I put Monkey and Majek back to work this week after a week off following the big show.
Majek was pretty wild the first day (I wisely decided to lunge him) but also started very tense and fresh the next day as well. He is a very tense horse in general, often reminding me of a thoroughbred (although he is holsteiner). He wanted to be very tight against the leg and short in the neck. I was able to work through it, although it took 15 minutes or so, mostly I have to remember to start with really small steps in the right direction. So I'll bend his neck and try to lengthen it, but it helps if I think to only do really tiny increments and build on those, not expect him to go from really tense to really long and loose. If I find those little improvements, where he gets just a tiny bit longer, then a tiny bit longer, etc, then I have a more solid foundation on which to build. That helps me to stay better connected as well. By the end he was quite good, very drivable and elastic feeling.
I had a lesson on Monkey today, after having ridden him the day before to get him going again. He's been absolutely nutty in turnout, a week off gives him way too much energy! I brought him in a few days ago and he was piaffing sideways down the barn aisle, snorting the entire way. He was good in my lesson, we worked on some very basic suppleness and straightness issues (like controlling the haunches in my turns, I tend to lose his haunches to the outside through corners) and keeping the shoulders in line with the haunches independent of flexions through the neck. Also making those flexions more subtle (so I don't lose the connection) but still effective, so he lets go in his back. We finished with some work on improving the medium trot by riding passage to medium trot to passage transitions. He has finally figured out the passage, it took him a little while to find the beat and push off the ground enough without just flattening and running. Now that he's found it, we try to use that to improve the cadence and engagement of the medium trot. It worked very well today.
Also of note I rode my 3 year old Dutch filly "Jazzy" last weekend when I was in Portland! Every time I go to Portland I work with her a little bit, generally some combination of lunging, basic ground work, desensitization to saddle pads, saddles, etc. I backed her lightly over Christmas (mom led me around), then went off the lunge line for the first time in January. So this February ride (I only did one) was her second ride off the lunge. I have to say, for only being ridden once a month, she was significantly better. She kind of steered this time, and had a much better (albeit very basic) understanding of the rein and leg. She was also much MUCH more relaxed about me influencing her this time, last time she was a more worried and tense. It was a little wierd how relaxed she was. I trotted several times. She has a very nice trot to ride, it has a very smooth, liquid-y feeling to it. You wouldn't think a horse would progress that well given the amount of time between rides, but she did.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CDI Thermal successful!!

Just got back from the CDI Thermal in Southern California...the show went really well for me! This was my first CDI in over 10 years, so it took a bit of adjusting...ended up with a 61% in PSG with some mistakes and a 64.5 in the I-1 with a much better test! I rode the trot a bit too quick in the PSG, to keep Escorial (aka Monkey) in front of the leg (the arena was a small claustraphobic tent and he backed off considerably when I rode him in there before the show), plus I had mistakes in both lines of tempi changes. For the I-1 I slowed the tempo down and rode more cadence. Plus I cleaned up the canter work and got my tempis. I was very happy with the result! Especially O judge Volker Moritz liked the change, he gave me a 59 in the PSG but bumped it up to a 65.5 in the I-1.
The young horse Charismatique did his first outing at Third level (having done first level last year) and earned a 64.5 and 65.5 in two tests (plus a 60 in his last test, when he was tired and had more mistakes!). I was very happy with him too, he was a bit overwhelmed early in the week by the busy show grounds and was crazy when I rode him. He tried to run out of the warmup at one point, and refused to walk at all earlier in the week...I finally just got off and figured I would try again the next day! As is typical of hunter/jumper shows, there were golf carts, motorcycles, people, horses, jumpers, cars, etc, etc going every which way! Luckily he settled by the time the show started, and my tests went very well.
I actually stabled with Megan Jordan, a hunter/jumper trainer from Oregon (until the CDI). The hunter/jumper crowd knows how to have a good time! I also sold Zimbalist NBF at this show as a hunter. I bought ZZ as a yearling, and after backing him myself, went on to win several high point awards at training level on him when he was a 4 year old. He won the High Percentage at Devonwood one year with a 75%. Although he did well in dressage, and was a good dressage horse, he is a fantastically talented hunter, and had some very good placings in the tough hunter division in weeks 1 and 3. Another former horse of mine, Lovely Lola (renamed Lolita), was mid-circuit Level 6 champion in the jumper division. Megan bought Lola from me when she was a 5 year old, and she has turned into a fantastic jumper. She won several (very) large classes in levels 6 and 7, some with 70+ horses in them.
It was also awesome to watch some of our country's top dressage combinations vie for a spot on the WEG team. The GP competition was intense and very, very good. It is very inspiring to watch people like Guenter, Steffen, Adrienne (Lyle) and Sue Blinks ride.
Definitely a show I would love to attend again! Weather was awesome, mid 60s to 70s pretty much everyday, and some awesome competition. I also watched the CSI Grand Prix in the Indoor on Saturday, which was incredible too. All around a great show!

Monday, February 1, 2010

First show in less than 2 weeks!

I will be leaving next Sunday for my first show of the season and my first CDI in many years! I am going to make the 16 hour drive to Thermal, California (outside of Palm Springs) for the Dressage Getaway CDI. This show is being held in conjunction with a big 6 week hunter/jumper show, so it should be a blast! Plus, this being a World Equestrian Games year, I will likely be seeing many of our top west-coast combinations trying to qualify for the selection trials.
Did I mention it is currently 65-70 degrees and sunny down there? Much better than our (recently) snowy weather!
I will be showing Monkey (aka Escorial) in the PSG/I-1 in the CDI. I'm also bringing my mom's horse Majek (aka Charismatique) and he will be showing third level for the first time. Should be fun!