Ike and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! We hope you have time to spend with friends and family creating memories and laughing until your cheeks ache.
May the year to come be all you hope for and more.
Alison and Ike
Here we are at the end of 2017. Another year behind us. Before we start planning for the season to come, I find it is helpful to take a look back at our work from the past season. So, I took some time to read the judge’s comments from my Third Level tests. Yikes, they are not the comments I am accustomed to seeing. And, after some deliberation, I have declared the following word a dirty word – More.
Ugh, I am certain that I now hate it “more” than any of the other four letter words. But apparently, dressage judges love it. They must get some sort of judge’s award if they use it greater than 10 times in one test. More bend. More engagement. More collection. More thoroughness. More cadence. More extension. More, more, more. I get it, we aren’t quite where we need to be to get the higher scores, but for the love of god, please find another word to use. Perhaps this can be a topic at a judge’s forum. Sadly, Google was not as helpful as I had hoped when I searched “synonyms for more.” I came up with a few options that you can test out at the spring shows: use better half halts to increase engagement of the hind end, bend the horse around your inside leg, have horse sit and close hind leg angles, be less like a plow horse, be less like a fence board, what the *#$% was that supposed to be? Hmm, perhaps some folks would not see the humor in those last three choices…
But, I beg you, have mercy on me. We are doing our best to be more.
After I spent my most recent dressage lesson trying to teach my 18 hand, 86-inch-blanket-wearing pony how to better engage his hind end and collect his canter, I realized that my fitness level of “moderately fit but likes wine and cheese” may not be enough for us to be successful in the upper levels.
So a glance at the calendar today made me realize that exactly three weeks from today I will be headed down centerline for the last time this year at the CBLM USDF Region 1 Finals.
It has been a challenging show year, but not because our work. Mother Nature conspired to make the weather front and center at most of our licensed shows. She has a sick sense of humor…torrential rains right before our first and second shows made footing an issue. And hellish heat invaded the second two shows. So, Mother N, what is in store for October? Snow? Hail? Locusts?
Ike and I have made steady progress in our Second Level work as the season progressed. I finally feel like I have a grasp on the concept of collection…we might not be 100% committed to our collected work, but we are seeing Ike gain more stamina and musculature to hold the collection for longer than the short side of the arena. Today during my lesson, we actually found another gear in his trot work. (I am not sure I am quite as ready for that gear!!)
And while some would be disappointed to end up with three red ribbons (we scratched our last ride because we ran out of gas), I could not be more pleased with the results of our most recent show two weeks ago.
Our scores from the Rose Mount show were our personal best for the tests we rode. Our first class was Second Level test 2 and we managed a 68.834%. Yes, I know, it almost seems like I typed the wrong numbers. I was warming up for test 3 when I heard my score. Pretty sure my mouth was a big fat O. Holy moly!! I had whispered to Ike right before we entered that we should shoot for a 68%, but I didn’t think we’d actually pull it off.
Our two test 3 scores were also our personal best – a 65.8 % and a 65%. Woo hoo! We held both canter serpentines. Another woo hoo! Ike’s attempted potty break almost caused me to giggle during my Saturday ride. He kept trying to stop during our turn on the haunches, then we botched our first canter transition while he finished his business. Oh well. I am still tickled with the overall effort, and we now have both scores we need for the 2017 GAIGS if we chose to attend. (The two days are run as two separate events so competitors can do exactly what we did.)
With those scores, Ike earned the final score necessary to complete his USDF Second Level Horse Performance Certificate. Not sure he is as proud of that as I am. He seemed to be more thrilled with the free treat samples we got in the competitor’s gift bag.
So now we are doing our final preparations for October 14th. Ike’s pedicure is done. His winter coat is coming in fast and furious, so he has hair on his face again. Ms. C will hop on him once or twice for some fine tuning on his lateral work. Our lessons will be intense. I need to keep my eye on our goal: our best ride of the season.
Howdy Horse Peeps!
I need to vent a little about my mother. I think she has lost her mind. Yes, that is right, I am worried about her sanity. Lately, she seems to speak in some sort of numerical and linguistic code. It could be that she just doesn’t want me to know what is going on, but I fear that she has been sipping a little too much of her adult grape juice. I will do my best to decipher her codes for you so you will understand the insanity that is my life and show season.
“Two boards Ike? ” Apparently, pushing the fence boards aside to munch on the green grass on the other side is frowned upon at Ms. C’s farm. I showed my displeasure about the repair by running circles around Mom. Just try to catch me!
“70th percentile for First Level.” At the first show of the year, my performance must have been pretty good. Mom had this cheesy smile on her face. This appears to be the expectation for this weekend as well. We shall see if conditions are favorable.
“Ride times are up.” This has something to do with when I will be expected to work this weekend. It made Dad do a face palm which I assume means that I will have a long couple of days. I just hope that this performance stuff does not interfere with mealtime…And speaking of mealtime,
“You only get half.” Half of my dinner that is. Mom likes to show up for a lesson at dinnertime. Seriously, the woman needs to better plan her days. None of the other horses have to cope with this withholding of meal rations. She even has Ms. C withholding food. They think I don’t know what they are doing, but I am fully aware of the size of my meal. And Mom wonders why I try to bite her sometimes. Payback, Mom, payback.
“60th percentile for Second Level.” Mom has introduced this terminology this spring. I am not sure what is on this so called Second Level. This boy is not getting on any elevator. It apparently involves Mom bouncing in her sit trot and me “engaging my hindend.” Umm, how am I supposed to do that? I can’t marry myself! I will have to pay better attention to figure out what this will mean for my free time. If my hunch is right, Ms. C and Mom are in cahoots to make me work even harder.
“We want 7’s and 8’s.” I want an apple. I am still trying to figure out why this matters.
“We got a 9!” Nine what? I certainly did not get nine apples or carrots. This code is particularly difficult to crack.
“He moves more freely in that saddle.” Mom seems to think that this new saddle she is trying makes me move better. Not sure what is so free about my movement. Mom tells me what to do. She disapproves when I break into a freestyle performance. She couldn’t stay on when I really broke free last year.
If anyone can help with the harder codes, I would greatly appreciate the help. Stop by my stall at the show and slip me a note when Mom isn’t looking. She is easily distracted so just yell “squirrel” and she will look. Trust me.
Until next time my friends!