The Show
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Saturday, August 30, 2014 08:29 PM
This season me and Santo have been concentrating on training. I have been taking lessons with Sharon every other week. However, one show was on the agenda :) Middle of August was a great time to check on our progress and also have some fun. So I have entered Santo in EC Gold show called Sparkles and Spurs run by our local dressage association. The plan was to do Second level. The minimum goal was to get over 60% in all tests and if I break 65% in one of the tests the mission is accomplished.
With the show list of all the necessities printed from my computer ( already sounds old fashioned - people now have lists on their tablets LOL) I had no problem to get ready and the drive to Amberlea was smooth and uneventful which is a good thing. Chica and baby Arro stayed home with lots of food packed in NAG bag for them to play with. Santo settled into his stall like a seasoned competitor and everything seemed to be just fine.
However, as soon as I took him for a ride in a warm up ring I could feel the electricity running through his whole body. We haven't been in a busy place like that since last September. And going for lessons to Sharon's quiet place wasn't nearly as exciting as this :) It took Santo 40 min to really settle to be able to focus and work as I needed him. I didn't want to ride him hard knowing he has two days with two tests in each to endure. I rode for another 5 min working on canter and transitions, they felt good and we went home.
Next morning I was the first rider out of all the show, 8:30 am was my test! That was brutal! I thought "Oh, Second level, we will be in the middle of the day", no way. Waking up at 5:30 am and feeding, cleaning, braiding, etc. 7:50 am we are off to warm up. I was tense and nervous. I could feel my muscles freezing up and not functioning. It has been too long. I also forgot what it's like and nerves got better of me. Andrey was with me and he was trying to get through to me to shake me up and return me to regular routine of warming up the horse rather than sitting like a statue doing nothing and going around in circles :) First test we scored 64% and I got it on video. It felt really bad, I thought I will not even break 60%. I was surprised that it looked rather smooth on the video.
The next test was at 1 pm so I had time to regroup, prepare myself to ride him like I do at home and work on things rather than let the nerves get better of me. Andrey gave me a very good advice: "You have so much to work on to get your horse ready for the test there is no time to be scared or nervous or think of anything else but your work." It helped a lot and we got 65.9% for our second test during the hottest time of the day with temperatures soaring to +30C
Next day had the schedule I expected to get: tests at 1 pm and 2:18. I do not like such break between tests as it is too long to stay in the saddle and too short to take saddle off. The first test was the same we rode yesterday, Test 2, and the warm up felt good. I was working on getting him ready, focusing him on me and work. When I was going around the ring waiting for the bell to ring I did medium trot, this was a mistake. It unsettled him and our trot work wasn't as regular and smooth as I wanted it too be. He was trying to do medium trots here and there :) By the time we got to turns on the haunches he figured out I am not correcting him with the whip when he is not responding accordingly to my leg aids. The turns were lazy, wide and unbalanced. Canter work felt better than yesterday, we got 7 for medium canters. I was surprised to get only 63%. I guess little mistakes catch up in the total score even if the whole ride felt good. After first test Santo spent 30 min in his stall just in case he wanted to pee, drink, or simply relax. I only wanted 15 min for the second warm up and mostly just to brush up on the movements of the test, it was test 3, most difficult in Second level. I could feel him being tired and I knew we will get in trouble in downward transitions. When he is tired he wants to drop them rather than step through. I was afraid to use the whip and he knew it :) Again, overall feel of the test was good. We got some 7s but the final score was only 62%.
By the end of the show I was ready to do another one :) I had fun, learned a lot and remembered how much I like showing. The things that I understood better this time:
  • Do not change anything in your riding and the way you make your horse ready for work just because you got to a show (it is amazing how knowing this prior to show didn't really help LOL)
  • I should have practiced whole tests at home. Second level tests are more technical than Training/First levels that feel almost like a warm up. I do not have full size ring at home but I have fields. I could have done it in the fields!
  • Use the whip in the test if you have to. Training doesn't stop after the bell. (Sharon's advice)
  • To become good at showing you have to show. There is no other way!
Happy riding...
 
Comment by Jane Perry on Sunday, August 31, 2014 07:21 PM
Another great blog - well done, Irina and Santo! :-)
 
Comment by Irina Yastrebova on Monday, September 1, 2014 08:39 AM
Thanks, Jane! :)
 
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