Wednesday 27 April 2016

Carrots & Cocktails II - Sunday


Sunday was the big day of the show for me. I had 3 tests - Walk/Trot A, Walk/Trot C, and TOC Training 1.

My ride times for the day were 9:15, 9:37, and 10:26am. The inside ring was open for schooling from 8-8:45am. My plan was to get on around 8:20 and essentially stay in the saddle until after my last ride, so basically 2.5 hours. This plan would absolutely not work for some horses, but it works for Kachina:
A) Kachina loves to go forward and has pretty good endurance and fitness, so tiring her out isn't a concern.
B) She is willing to stand quietly under-saddle, she actually stands better under-saddle than if I'm just holding her from the ground.
C) Lots of time standing around or walking is good for getting her to relax.
D) We need long warm-ups to get our best work.

After our last test

Walk/Trot Warmup

My walk/trot warm-up went fairly well. I again started with lots of lateral work. I then focused on making sure I was using my inside leg, and giving big half-halts when I needed them instead of making half-hearted attempts to stop Kachina from racing.

The show got off to a really quick start and before I knew it we were running 15 minutes ahead of time. I chose to ride when they were ready for me instead of waiting for my assigned time.

Walk/Trot A

In this test, it specifies that trotting must be done posting. That limited how much I was able to regulate Kachina's speed, but we did much better than my Training test on Saturday.

We got 63.8%. Technically I got first out of 1, as the only Adult Amateur Walk/Trot A rider, but when you combine my scores with the Open and Junior categories, I got 1st out of 4. I was also quite happy with our score.

Walk/Trot C

This ride was only a couple rides after Walk/Trot A. They were still running ahead so I didn't do much in between the two tests. However, in Walk/Trot C, you are allowed to sit or post the trot. I elected to sit, and it helped a lot. I was able to be better with my position, and I kept Kachina at a nice even, balanced rhythm. If anything, we didn't have quite enough impulsion, especially at the free walk. We'll find that happy medium at some point.

We got 65.5% for 2nd place out of 3 or 4 riders.

Halt is straight (not square)

Free walk - Kachina shows what she thinks of this showing business

Up centre-line

Training Warm-up

Since I hadn't cantered yet, after my test I moved to the outdoor warm-up ring to do a new warm-up for my Training 1 test.

I started by doing some walk and trot work. Out of the show ring, I got a hold of myself and actually rode. Even though my walk/trot tests had gone well, I had not been using my outside aids correctly. With my last mare, I could easily move her out to the rail by using inside rein and inside leg. With Kachina that doesn't work, it makes her speed up instead of move sideways. To get her to yield to my leg, I really need to think shoulder-in and have a connection on my outside rein to push her into. I started doing some exaggerated shoulder-in to help us both with the idea. We were kind of zigzagging down the long side because I was breaking it down into two clear steps: 1) use outside rein to get her shoulder off the wall, 2) use inside leg to get her ribcage to wrap around my leg and keep her on the wall. As soon as I was actually using inside leg to outside rein, Kachina pushed up into the contact instead of racing, she was balanced and adjustable in speed and steering. We were doing circles and straight lines and getting some of the best trot work we've ever had! In a strange arena on a weekend where she was in a bad mood, we were doing it! At this point I hadn't even heard my walk/trot scores yet but I decided then and there that this show was a personal success, regardless of anything else.

This photo is from WT C, not the warm-up, we felt even better than this!
Btw, this feels like a small trot for us, so excited to one day really push her out!

Then we moved onto canter. And I couldn't get the left lead! As bad as our canter often is, Kachina has always been pretty reliable about getting the correct lead, so when she kept getting the wrong lead, I really didn't know what to do about it. It was terrible timing for a brand new problem to crop up! In hindsight, I think the first transition or two was a simple mistake, but then I started changing my aid to try and make the lead more obvious, when in fact I was making it worse (I was using more outside leg and less inside leg, instead of the other way around). I did at least a dozen transitions and was getting the wrong lead every time! It doesn't help that it takes me at least a few strides to figure out if I'm on the right or wrong lead. Just as I was at my wit's end, my friend K walked by. I got her to stop and help me out for a couple minutes. She could see that the problem was that Kachina was falling in so she got me to relax and use a strong inside leg aid. After a couple tries we got it! I only had time to canter once to the right and then it was time to go in for my final test.

Training TOC Test 1

This test was not our finest moment, but I'm impressed at how we did considering the circumstances.

Unfortunately, the canter issues in warm-up made our beautiful trot from before disappear. Our trot was pretty nice going up centreline, but as soon as we started to circle left, I could feel that Kachina was thinking about our earlier canter left debacle and she got fast and crooked. I somewhat remembered to ride and was able to make a reasonable correction at least.

Next came time for our left canter. Our transition was ugly and Kachina threw her head way into the air, but we got the lead! We also cantered perfectly straight down the long side which made me grin from ear to ear (normally we get crooked).

Kachina stretched down nicely for her free walk but she was happy to do a calm relaxed walk and ignored my attempts to get her to march more forward. Also, from watching the video I see that I should get longer reins - during the free walk I have a loose rein, but even with my hands near the buckle, the reins aren't long enough to get that true loop in them.

No extra rein to droop during stretch
(photo from WT C)

The trot work to the right had some nice moments, but was interspersed with some fast and crooked moments.

The unfortunate part of the test that I have to just laugh at, is that I lost my outside stirrup just as I was trying to ask for the the canter transition to the right. I managed to get the transition but it was late and not pretty. I then managed to get my stirrup back, but my foot fishing around confused Kachina so the rest of our canter was crooked and counter-bent. After the terrible canter, she came right back to me though and we actually had a nice controlled trot up centre-line.

We got several 4s and 5s on the test. However, this time around we did get one 7.0 for medium walk, and one 6.5 for part of the trot work. That tells me that when we do things well, our quality is sufficient for training level, we just really, really, really need to work on consistency.

On this test, we got 54.6% for 3rd place (more than 2% higher than T1 on Saturday at least!).


First ever ribbon photo for either of us!

The show had a mix of good and bad moments, but overall it was a learning experience, and that is exactly what I wanted out of this show series.

Also, it depends on the final show in the series, but it looks like I'm in the running for reserve champion for walk/trot which is kind of cool and totally unexpected (I think it's cool that I'm in the running, even if I don't get it, which is why I'm not worried about jinxing it by posting it on here lol).

All the colours!

Our Training level tests had a lot of room for improvement, but those moments in warm-up give me hope for the future. I have a lot to work on at home before the next show!


  1. It sounds like you had a positive end to your outing. I always feel like I have a million things to work on at home but that is dressage for you. :)

    1. So true, the work of dressage is never finished. Always, always ways to improve.