Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Great Last Minute Decision!

So I know in my last post I said I was done showing for the season. It felt weird to be done in August and to not be sending in my entry for the September show. I kept reminding myself how stressed I was about the September show in the past because of how busy work gets, and how my riding time dwindles in the fall. Well, an email from the SMDA president stating that due to low entry numbers, they had extended the closing date for the show was all it took to change my mind.

The morning of the show was a beautiful Fall like morning. I got up and fed Otis and went back out a bit later to braid his mane, it was nice to not be sweating my butt off while braiding!

It had warmed up a little bit by the time we got to the show grounds, but I was actually glad to put my dressage coat on for once!

Otis was kind of a brat at first in the warm up, I think the cool weather had him feeling a bit frisky. We warmed up for a bit longer than usual and he calmed down enough to focus on what we needed to do.

He was good for the first half of our Training 2 test, but towards the second half he decided he didn't have quite so much energy as he thought and he started to get a bit lazy. I wasn't feeling so great when we saluted at the end of our test due to some sloppy transitions, Otis was anticipating everything, I feel like he can read my mind sometimes. I am preparing for the next movement in my mind, but my body must convey that to him because he always seems to know before I really ask. We had to transition from canter down to trot between B and F in training two, well we get to B and I start thinking about a downward transition, and he trots just before B.. gahhh... I guess I need to learn to keep my thoughts in my head, unless he really can read my mind.. ha ha. We ended up winning Training 2 with a score of 67.3%
Training 2

There were only two horses in between my Training 2 ride and my Training 3 ride so I stayed on and watched the first Training 3 rider go, just to make sure I had the test memorized. Otis decided to start acting naughty so I took him back in the warm up ring. He was really bad at first, but started to listen a little better after a few minutes. We entered the ring for Training 3 and I was just hoping he would behave himself. Well our ride was awesome! He was such a good boy, he really paid attention and our transitions felt so much better than in Training 3. I just really tried to focus as much as possible on the test and give Otis the best aids I could, and the entire test felt awesome! At that point I didn't care how we placed, it was a solid test for us and felt like a much better way to end the season than our lest show. We won the class with a score of 72.8%! Our highest score in our dressage career! That score also earned us high point senior of the day!

Here is a video of my Training 3 ride. (I think my husband forgot he was taking a video, because Otis and I leave the frame a couple of times.. LOL)

I am so glad I decided to enter this show. I wasn't feeling so great about our August show, and this show gave us a little confidence boost. I am hoping to squeeze a few lessons in this fall, and we will see what Spring brings. (First Level??)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SMDA July and August Dressage Shows

I am going to condense our las two shows into one post because neither was very eventful (good or bad).

Otis was kind of a brat for our July show. He was just very bracey and on the forehand and wasn't really listening very well. He was just sort of "there". He wasn't bring outright bad, he was just kind of doing the minimum, of what I was asking of him. We got a 64% and a second place in Training 2 and a 65% and a fifth place (out of a big class of 7) in Training 3.

He was better behaved for our August show but we actually scored better in our July show. Part of the reason for this is he decided to spook at something just after a canter transition in our Training 2 test, he went back down to a trot, so we had to regroup and pick up the canter again, resulting in only a 4 for that movement, the rest of our test was mostly 7's so if it hadn't been for that stupid spook we would have done much better. We got a 60% and a second place ribbon.

He was more attentive in our Training 3 test but had become very lazy so our tempo was not so good, as I had to keep urging him on to pick up the pace. He has also been very stiff to the left lately, which resulted in some 5.5 on our loops. We did however get an 8 on our free walk, so that was good! We got a 61.8% and a third place ribbon.

I ended the day feeling kind of discouraged, our scores weren't that great and we seem to be regressing this year as compared to last year. I have to remind myself that we are doing more difficult tests this year, and haven't had the funds to take as many lessons this summer. I have a lesson coming up this weekend, so hopefully that will put things back into perspective. This was my last planned dressage show for the year, and I want focus our time and money on taking lessons for the rest of the summer so we can get back to where we need to be so we can hopefully move up to First Level next year. Depending on things go, I'm thinking we will do Training 3 and First 1 next year.

Friday, July 11, 2014


It was a very hot day for the second SMDA dressage show of the season. My friend Lydia came along so that was fun, and she was also able to hand me my coat just before I entered the ring so I didn't have to wear it for very long. She was a HUGE help!

Otis wasn't feeling like being a show pony in this hot weather so he was a bit resistant and not as attentive as usual. He seemed to be paying a bit more attention once we started our Training 2 test, but as we rounded the corner at C he spooked at an umbrella (that we had already walked by multiple times). We were able to recover quickly and finished the rest of our test. He was still a bit resistant through the test but we ended up with a first place ribbon and a score of 65.99% much to my surprise! This was a couple points higher than our score in May so I was feeling better about our ride after that.

Otis was much better for Training 3. Both of our halts were pretty crooked, but I know we need to work on those. The rest of the test was pretty good and we ended up with a second place ribbon and a score of 69.8%! I was SO HAPPY with that score, such huge improvement over our 64.4% score from May.

Even though it was a super hot day, we still had fun, and I am just so happy with our progress!

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 First Show of the Season

We had our first show of the season on May 18th, an SMDA show at the Hollis Equestrian Park. Since we did so well in Intro C and Training 1 last year, it was time to move up to Training 2 and Training 3 this year.

I was very nervous that I was going to forget the new tests even though I spent weeks memorizing them. New tests always make me nervous, so my main goal for the day was to just remember my tests.

I got Otis ready and hopped on to warm up for Training 2. He was pretty good in the warm up and for the test. He has started to do the "head wag" thing again and when I collected the reins to transition from free walk to medium walk he tried to pull the reins out of my hands. These are both things he has been doing at home, and we have been working on them. Besides the resitence to the bit he did pretty well, nice transitions, and best of all, I didn't forget the test! I defintely didn't feel like it was our best ride, but considering I was probably focused more on the test than I was on my aids, I didn't feel too terrible about it. We ended up placing first with a score of 63.8%. Not the best score but not bad considering it was our first time doing that test.

We had a more solid Training 3 test, I felt more conifdent in my memory of this test so I was more helpful to Otis this time. He was still doing the head wag thing but didn't pull on the reins when I collected them to transition from free walk to medium walk. Our canter transitions felt great and he had a nice forward marching free walk. We ended up with a first place ribbon and a score of 64.4%.

It was a great first show with beautiful weather. I plan to work on getting Otis more accepting of the bit and getting my hands steadier so the head wag will stop. Hopefully I can fit in a couple of lessons with Judy before the next show so we can improve our scores.

Showing off his winnings

Waiting our turn for Training 2
 Some beautiful photos of our Training 2 ride by Elena Raymond Phtography

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An end to an amazing show season

Sunday September 15th was the last SMDA dressage show of the season as well as Otis and I's last show of the season. I was hoping to do the Pipestave event in October, but work just gets too busy this time of year, and I don't get to ride enough.

Otis had been having some left lead canter issues the last couple of times I had ridden him so I was thinking our last show of the season might be a bust. He just didn't want to canter in that direction at all, and when he finally would it was horrible. I even squeezed in a lesson the day before the show and he wasn't any better. He is usally a perfect angel at our lessons, so I started to worry that there might be something physical causing him to not want to pick up the canter. I figured I had already paid my money, so there was no point in scratchinig, I would go to the show and see how it went. We had done SO WELL all Summer, it would be okay if we had a bad show.

Otis was on his best behavior at the show, and was a really good boy in the warm up. He picked up the canter much better than the last few times I rode him, so I figured we might actaully do okay in our tests. He was great for Intro C, not the greatest canter transitions we have done, but not horrible either. We ended up winning Intro C!

He was just as good in Training 1 with the same okay canter transitions. There were quite a few people in Training 1 so after I got Otis untacked and everything packed away, I went to the ring to watch some tests. I saw a girl put in a flawless (to my eyes) Training 1 test on a beautiful buckskin horse and I knew she would win it. I was right, she placed first, and I placed third. I'm not sure who placed second, I didn't see her go so she must have gone while I was warming up, or while I was untacking.

Overall I we did MUCH better than I thought we were going to. We actually finished the year the same way we started, with a first and a third. I am hoping the canter issues were just Otis' typical fall naughtiness and that he doesn't have a physicall problem. I haven't had much time to ride him lately but when I do he seems fine and he has no problems running and bucking in his pasture. I want to start taking lessons ASAP next Spring so if the problem resurfaces we can get it taken care of right away.

Otis and I are really having fun learning about dressage and competing. I am very happy with what we accomplished this Summer!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Yee Haw!

After competing in five two phases since we started eventing in 2011, I finally felt ready to try another three phase horse trial. Our first horse trial in 2011 didn't go so well. Otis and I both got VERY nervous in the cross country phase and ended up getting eliminated due to too many refusals. Competing in the two phases and practicing at home, our confidence level has really gotten better.

The horse trial was August 18th at Hilltop Equestrian Center. This is the same place we did our first horse trial, and have competed in a two phase there as well. It is a really nice venue, and I always enjoy showing here.

I arrived at the show a couple of hours before my dressage time becasue I wanted to be able to walk the cross country course before they started the cross country rounds for the day. There were 14 jumps on the course, 7 of them were in the field, 5 of them were in the woods, and the last two were out in another field. There were a couple that looked a little scary. Fence 5 we had to come at from up a hill, so it looked bigger than it was, and fence 11 looked much higher than the 18" max of the pre-elemenary division, but I told myself we woud be fine. When I jumped the course though, I was surprised to see that they had taken the top log out of the fence and it was MUCH smaller than when I walked the course. I recorded the course on my new CourseWalk app so it can be seen here. The course itself was easy to remember, but it was nice to be able to look at pictures of the jumps in the order that I would be jumping them. I think this app would be even handier for the higher levels with more complicated courses.

Otis was very good for the dressage warm up and our test, so I was feeling pretty good about the day. Once we were done with dressage I changed my clothes and changed Otis' tack so we could get warmed up for cross country. While I was getting changed they announced that the dressage scores for my division were being posted, I resisted the urge to go look at them so that I could get ready in plenty of time for cross country and not have to hurry.

Otis was really good in the warm up for cross country. No crazy deer hoping over the jumps! He did look down at the practice log when we jumped it the first time, but went over it fine after that. I felt really confident and ready to go when it was our turn. We were counted down and off we went! Otis was a little nervous/excited as we headed down into the field, but he jumped fences one through four no problem. He tried to refuse fence five, which is the one I thought looked a bit scary, so I guess he agreed. It was a small enough fence, so I just kicked him over it. This worked him up a bit so he jumped fence six a bit bigger than he needed to. By the time we reached fence seven, he was okay and jumping great again. He got a bit worked up as we heaeded into the woods for the rest of the course, but we just cantered along like we would on the trails at home. He got a bit squrimy as we approached the fences in the woods, but I kept him between my legs and he sailed over them no problem! We finished the rest of the course no problem and we galloped through the finish cones up the hill to head back to the trailer. It was SO MUCH FUN!! I had goose bumps when we finished! I was so proud that we not only finished the course clean, but we did it well, and improved SO MUCH from the first time we tried cross country.

We had a couple of hours before our stadium phase, so I untacked Otis, hosed him down and let him have some hay and water. I walked up to look at the dressage scores and we were in the lead!

It was finally time to tack up for stadium and Otis was still feeling nice and relaxed when I got on. I jumped him over a few of the warm up jumps and he was still being awesome. I decided to give him a break and just walk around the grounds while I waited for it to be time to jump the course. Stadium was running a bit behind so we had to wait a lot longer than I had planned. When it got closer to our turn I jumped Otis over the warm up fences a few more times just to wake him up. He jumped the course great. We were both feeling sleepy from standing around in the sun so we could have done better, but we went clean with no refuslas and no knock downs. This meant that we kept our first place stanidng and got to take home a blue ribbon!

My main goal for the day was to be successful in cross country with no major mishaps. Not only did we accomplish that goal, but we went clean in both cross country and stadium, and received an excellent dressage score. Otis and I were both pooped by the time it was time to go home, but what a fun day! If I thought I was hooked on eventing before, I deinitely am now!
A sleepy Otis proudly displaying his ribbon!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Southern Maine Dressage Association August Show

What a beautiful day for a show! Sunday August 4th was the third Southern Maine Dressage Association show that Otis and I have attended this season. It was an absolutely gorgeous Summer day with sunshine and very little humidity.

After I had gotten Otis and I ready, I got on and started to walk around the grounds before we went into the warm up arena. Not a few steps past the trailer, and we run into our awesome instructor Judy! I was excited to see her since a flat tire ruined my plans to take a lesson with her the Friday before the show. She had trailered a horse in for somebody, and was going to be there long enough to see my Intro C test. I had a fleeting moment of feeling the extra pressure to do well for Judy, but that quickly went away. I thought it would be great to see all of our hard work put to use, and also give us some things to work on when we finally can make it back to her farm for a lesson.

Otis was great for Intro C. Our trot to walk transition wasn't the greatest partly because I didn't properly prepare him, and the other part is Otis is lazy and can't wait to walk, so he is very abrupt in is transitions. He has also started doing his "nose wag" thing again, which Judy said we could work on in our lessons. Overall he was very good, with great canter transions, and a very willing attitutde. We ended up placing first with a score of 68.75%!

We had almost two hours in between Intro C and Training 1 so I tied Otis back to the trailer and loosend his girth so he could have some hay and water.

I was hoping Otis would still be nice and calm after his long break, and when I got on him to warm up for Training 1, I was happy to find that he was. He was just as good for Training 1 as he was for Intro C. He got a bit strong in one of our transitions from canter down to trot, but his trot to walk transition was much better this time. We were the last to go in the Training 1 division before lunch break, so we didn't have to wait long to find out that we had won with a score of 67.71%.

We ended up improving on our scores in both tests as compared to the June show, and that is always my main goal, to improve my scores. Otis and I are really getting into a partnership at shows and it feels really good to have all of our hard work, sweat, and tears pay off! We only have two more shows in our calendar for this year, a horse trial in a couple of weeks, and the last SMDA of the season on September 15th. I am kind of sad about that... I may have to find more ;-)