Re-assessment heartbreak

 

My club ran a dressage training day today. Our judge was also a level assessor so I decided to get re-assessed (and qualify for Triple T Dressage) while we did so.
Montana was…a nightmare.

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Pictured above, is my first halt in test 4.3. He did not like the fact I halted him and took one hand off the rein to salute. Dancy dancy – let me show you the dance of my peoples.

 

Aaaand that is how it was for most of the test…both tests actually. I was SO disappointed in  him. I was dreaming of level 3; hoping for four and a half. But no. His turd-ness got us re-assessed to the same ability and area of level 4 that we were assessed at FOUR YEARS AGO.

This is a horse that is training medium trot, lateral work, extensions and really coming along in leaps and bounds, so I was a bit upset.

 

But he did show (in snippets) what he can do. The judge did say: “I wish you could see what he looks like, from the ground, when you get him going right. That movement: WHOA. That change of bend you did from E to B was MAGIC but then he gets tense and he takes control off you.” So my control freak razzy-brained horse is not ready for level 3. Damn it.

 

I’ll keep chipping away in boring old level 4 then.
Is there anyone else that finds level 4 tests BORING? There’s too much of a jump from doing absolutely nothing but trot & canter circles in level 4 to serpentines, lengthened trot, lengthened canter, free trots, sitting trot etc in level 3! They need to incorporate some of that stuff in level 4 too. I think it’s half Moo’s problem! He’s tense but keeping him active is the best way to settle him. Hmm. Who knows? If there’s an open pony club dressage test on when I’m not already competing, I may just give level 3 a shot and see how we go.

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Re-assessment heartbreak

Update on all things Montana

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Dressage

Montana and I have certainly come a long way with our flatwork in the past couple of months. My last post was mostly focused on how much we’ve improved, and this is just a simple little add-on to say ‘we’re truckin’ on!’. I’m scheduled in to be re-assessed for HRCAV dressage. I have a feeling we are not too far away from level 3 – can you believe that?! All that is really holding us back is his canter because he still disunites if he’s a bit resistant/tense. But I can hold an all right sitting trot for a bit now – (see the photo above? Yeah, that’s sitting trot!) and he is establishing AWESOME yielding (actual lateral yielding not just move the horse towards the wall yielding) and is developing a medium trot – just with lots of grumpy faces in between haha!

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Jumping

Jumping however, we are still pitifully slugging away at level 4 with no hopes of going up to 3 any time soon. I started to get confident again and I started putting the jumps back up (70+cm)…aaaaand what happened? We had another fall, didn’t we. That’s right. WE. Moo fell during a cross country clinic at a downhill level 3 bank. Whooooops went his legs and down we went. Luckily he was all right. My confidence took yet another blow, though so I am furious with myself yet again, and here we are toddling over level 4 fences like the chicken I am. (Not saying if you do level 4, you are a chicken; I am just mad at myself that I should be doing level 3 by now but I hold myself back.)
I have started doing some trialling of jump saddles though and noticed a massive difference in the stability and balance over fences. I rode in a Trainer’s on Monday and a Pessoa today. The Pessoa got me through one big catleap, one little humpy buck and one big HOLD YOUR BOOBIES MUTHA buck (hahahaha thank you spring grass) which I liked but I have to say, I felt the Trainer’s was better for my lower leg and overall balance, so I think I will eventually get one of them when I get a teaching job next year. (I wish I could have one now!)

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Upcoming competitions

Here’s a list of our entered/planned competitions in the upcoming months:

  • Yarrambat PCAV Open Horse Trials October 15/16
  • Mentone PCAV Open Horse Trials October 23
  • Freshwater Creek HRCAV Horse Trials October 30
  • Ringwood HRCAV Dressage Day November 5
  • Triple T Dressage @Gladysvale November 11/12/13
  • Mornington Peninsula PCAV Open Horse Trials November 26/27 (possibly level 3?)
  • Rosedale HRCAV Horse Trials January 28

Stay tuned!

Update on all things Montana

How I’ve come to love dressage

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I’ve started sounding like a kindergarten teacher when I ride flatwork now instead of a grumpy year 9 English teacher.

I take up my contact and pulse my inside leg on Moo’s side and he suddenly lifts and becomes feather light in my hands, and I can’t help myself from grinning ear to ear. It’s ADDICTIVE, this “lightness”. I feel my body align and all it takes to get my noble steed from lagging working trot to developing medium trot, is I mutter ‘big, go, big, go’ and provide a gentle tickle behind my leg with the dressage whip – I am too much of a softie to hit him with it hahaha. All of a sudden he is FLOATING and I am salivating.

He has moments of three-beat in his canters now, instead of being a flat four-beat. It feels like he is 17 hands and growing.

He has muscles I never knew he could have.

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This is a low-quality photo of Montana on Friday last week. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so fit and healthy. THIS is how I have come to love dressage.

How I’ve come to love dressage

Bacchus Marsh Horse Trials – July 16&17 2016

I could finally appreciate Bacchus Marsh PCAV Horse Trials this year because I wasn’t deathly ill! My GPS did however send me a roundabout backway and had me freaking the heck out because it promptly died and just told me to go in a never-ending circle. I had to call the pony club and ask them for directions, all while trying not to cry haha!

I arrived twenty minutes before my dressage so I high-tailed it to check in and got saddled up in a big hurry. We got to the warm-up ring just as the rider before me started her test.

‘5 minutes to warm up. Okay. We’ve got this, Moo!’ Quick walk, trot, canter, trot, halt, trot, halt, walk, halt, trot, trot, trot, circle…and time to go in! I’ve come to dislike pony club competitions at level 4. Those rings are ridiculously small, and they always seem to be on shoddy surfaces. The 20m circle line was chopped up earth and clumps of slippery mud. As we cantered around it, I could feel Moo sliding. He humped a little on his left canter circle because he was unhappy about the surface. I gave him a pat and whispered, ‘Good effort, mate…good effort.’ We got our test back: resistant. I shook my head. At least every other horse would’ve got that same comment.

Showjumping time was soon after dressage. I warmed up over an xrail, then made for the spread. I absolutely loathe warm-up spreads. They scare the crap out of me. They’re always max height and width and we have to do it after a teeny tiny pole on the ground size xrail? Yuck. We jumped it three times and each time Moo got a little sillier. So I parked him and decided to wait.

My friend Shawnee (winner of Peninsula HT 2 weeks prior) walked up. ‘Hey.’ She, being the amazing person she is, had agreed to come show me how to put up my new portable yard but she also came to keep me sane for the showjumping. I actually felt okay. I didn’t feel as wobbly and panicked as I usually feel.

We went in and trotted a few small circles as we waited for the bell to ring. We cantered to jump 1, a blue and silver oxer. Legs on, hands forward. Moo weaved slightly, pricking his ears in the ‘it’s a monster’ way, not the ‘woohoo’ way. ‘GET UP!’ I shouted. Bum went under him and over he went. He tried charging away but I sat back and directed him to jumps 2 and 3. He jumped 3 quite early and I got slightly left behind but those were the only moments he wasn’t utterly PERFECT. Canter, canter, jump. Canter, canter, jump. He changed his leads over the fences and everything. I was so thrilled with him! He felt completely under control which felt amazing! He also went clear, so that was extra cool!

Shawnee and I set up his yard and we settled in to watch the levels 3-1 showjump. I’ve always said I’d like to get to level 2. Even if we only compete once, and he retires – I’ll call that a goal accomplished. It amazes me that people can canter up to jumps 1.05m+ and commit 100%. I’d be too petrified I’d mess up the striding. My heart. My poor heart!

Our night was very cold. It was not -6 degrees like it was last year (thank heavens). I think it was like 0 or 1. But I was also not in a luxurious tent with a warm body to snuggle up to like I was last year (nor with a raging temperature). I was in the backseat of my car, having Montana lick and snort all over my windows and continuously neighing at me whenever he got bored because he could see me inside! I think I had about 5 hours sleep though which was more than I thought I would get.

Cross country day was finally here! Yay! I walked Moo at sunrise, fed him breakfast and then set off to walk the course, trying not to slide over on the icy grass. Same lines. Some jumps had changed though. Jump 4 was a blue box with painted flowers last year. This year it was the same box but there were red flowers stuck at the base. Moo won’t worry about them, I thought. Jump 11 was not a palisade like last year. It was now 11 A B, stone walls. 13 A B were not tyres, they had become a rolltop and a box/table thingy. Also, the last jump was no longer a small, boring old log – it was a brand new rolltop. I wasn’t worried. Off we go. I watched the levels 1-2 go. I felt like such a dork because tears actually came to my eyes watching the level ones. How lame am I?! But they are so brave and talented. It blows my mind. One day, that will be me. It probably won’t be with Moo, but ONE DAY…that will be me.

Cross country rode really well. Since PCAV don’t penalise for going too fast, I could just leave Moo completely alone and enjoy the ride – which we both did.

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Erin Loxley Photography

I had a blast. We were also told (again) at vet check (we had this told to us at Peninsula too) that he is extremely fit. He doesn’t break a sweat on cross country, which really shows me that we are so close to being ready for level 3. He has the level 3 speed, fitness, scope and brain for the extra technical parts. I just need to get my showjumping confidence up!

Walking out of Bacchus Marsh, we came 2nd overall – missing out on =1st by 1 penalty. We got a pretty pink ribbon (spewing a little because people will think it’s 5th, not 2nd!) and a cute little white rosette for coming 3rd after dressage. Next year, we’ll be back and we’ll definitely be doing the level 3 – mark my word.

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Pretty cool that the ribbon and rosette matched my cross country shirt and jods!

 

 

Here are the links to my blogs about Bacchus Marsh Horse Trials 2015:

Bacchus Marsh 2015 Saturday part 1 (https://montanalovescarrots.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/bacchus-marsh-horse-trials-saturday-part-1/)

Bacchus Marsh 2015 Saturday part 2 (https://montanalovescarrots.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/bacchus-marsh-horse-trials-saturday-part-2/)

Bacchus Marsh 2015 Sunday (https://montanalovescarrots.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/bacchus-marsh-horse-trials-sunday/)

Bacchus Marsh Horse Trials – July 16&17 2016

Peninsula Horse Trials – July 2&3 2016

I’d waited close to a year for this event to finally happen. It kept changing dates and I hung onto it like a barnacle to a piece of ply lost at sea! It finally came around and I couldn’t help but be a little sad about it. This was supposed to be Timmy’s first level 5 horse trials. Truth be told, when he was diagnosed with stringhalt back in February, part of me knew he wouldn’t be doing it. But as I rode Montana through the paddock with the stringhalt yards – now empty and ghoulish – my gaze fell down to my hands and I concentrated on the even rhythm of Moo’s walk. 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4…not a single stick, jam or hop or fall. Thank heavens Moo is fine…

Anyway!

Dressage and showjumping for Peninsula Horse Trials was held at Langwarrin Equestrian Reserve, twenty-minutes away. I’ve competed there many times. It’s either a do well ground (like 1st place) or Montana shies at grass up the centreline and we score dismally kind of place!

We warmed up. My fiancé came and my parents came to cheer me on for the dressage. We’ve been working mercilessly hard on our dressage. It’s kind of why I haven’t blogged very much, actually. There’s not much to say in dressage progress except ooooh, that’s getting better. I will try harder, I promise, to post more often.

I entered the ring straight and determined to get better than 69.57%. We had the same judge as the CT day there in September and that is what she scored us for our test that day. I wanted to do better. I wanted the work I’ve put into Moo the last 2 months to really be apparent. Round up. He shook his head, but offered a little submission. Not bad for his first comp out since April! I walked out of the ring with mixed feelings. It was great in parts, but could be so much better. I gave him a good pat and gave him some lunch while I waited anxiously for showjumping.

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Our showjumping training has really taken a backseat for our dressage training. With showjumping, I’ve mostly been concentrating on lines. I have my confidence back for level 4 height though which is a massive improvement.

I legged Montana up to the judge. Trudge, trudge, trudge, trudge, went his walk. A big sigh and a snort. Mummy, I’m bored…Then the bell tingled, and I kind of lost him. He cantered off and I had to quickly get it back before we crossed the start line. Oops. Bad start. He ran to the first jump. WOOHOO I’M JUMPING WOOHOO! I sat back and hauled terribly at my outside rein. ‘Wait, Moo! Wait! Listen!’ Did he? No. He jumped the spread but flattened out and the rail fell unluckily. ‘Damn it!’ But it woke him up. He came back to me and listened to me. I lost him a little bit after 6B because I stuffed up 5. I got him too deep so he ran a little, knowing I didn’t really have the knowledge. 6A & B were three strides from 5 so I just sat and went with him, letting him go. So after 6B, he thought he was in control and sped up again. ‘Wait, come back, noooo, whoa.’ Quick turn to 7 & 8, U turn to the right to 9. 4 faults. Bugger. I walked out so disappointed. Why? Because we were =1st after dressage. Yes, folks. You read it correctly. EQUAL 1ST.

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I took Moo home and spent a weird-night-sleep thinking about where we would’ve dropped to in the final results. Would I be out of the top 10? How frustrating that I let him run from me and knock that rail. I was so disappointed with myself.

Cross country the next day was held at home (Tooradin Estate). I saddled Moo up and walked him out the back, passing Timmy’s empty yard on the yard. I walked lap after lap of the warm-up before popping him over twice. We circled around the start box. The steward said jealously, ‘You look way too relaxed to be doing cross country!’

I smiled and said, ‘We love our cross country.’ Plus, this was his home! He knew every speck of dirt and every jump as well as I do!

Off we went, galloping slowly through the first bit of the course.

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I left him alone to pick his own speed. He never felt very fast. But we were held up at jump 8 because the horse before had decided to go gallop rider-free around the open area. I paused my stopwatch and circled Moo around. I glanced at our time so far. Oh yikes. 1:25…and we only had 4 jumps to go…and a minimum time of 3:50. Hmm. I’ve been told this before but it’s never actually registered completely HOW fast he actually goes on XC. Oopsies. HRCAV give you time penalties for any less than 30 seconds under time. I’d have to seriously apply some brakes if I wanted a “clear”.

So once we got started again, I was half-halting every 2 strides. ‘Waaaaii…Waaaiiii…’ He listened for jumps 9, 10, 11 and 12…then he knew he was going home and he went through the narrow sandy tracks like the clappers. Jump 13. I was practically lying on his rump I was leaning back so much trying to stop him! ‘Moo, please, slow down!’ I said. Over the last jump, and we were home. 4:00. Phew! No time penalties.

But after I took him back to his paddock and looked after him, the scores were up and I had a few time penalties. So I went and contested it. The jump judge that held me up had left early, hadn’t followed protocol and I had my stopwatch – plus I protested in time, so the club president gave way to my protest. So I walked out with 4th place and 1 point on my performance card.

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I really hope they have it again next year!

 

P.S the girl I was equal with after dressage (my friend whom I am always equal with after dressage? Haha it’s a running theme)? She won. So yes, I am REALLY kicking myself about that dang rail! Haha

Peninsula Horse Trials – July 2&3 2016

Dressage update

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I’m actually really getting into this dressage thing! Dressage used to mean “try to get a tense horse to relax but go forward to look fancy” but usually resulted in a “pigheaded, stubborn, confused horse, snatching the reins and running away”! Moo is really beginning to understand the subtleties and nuances of hand & leg and his work ethic has improved drastically. By having high expectations of my horse instead of just labelling him as “anti-dressage” or “not a dressage horse”, he’s actually really starting to try for me and give me what I am asking for. I am also riding better than I ever have and have more discipline with my riding than ever before!
Dressage update

Stable? Salon? Same thing!

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Montana has decided he would like to be a stabled event pony from now on. He cooked up a diabolically cheeky plan to get to hang out in the stable for a day and was happy as Larry out of the weather!

What was his plan, you ask? Here it goes:

I have three synthetic combos in his wardrobe. A no-fill “light”, a medium fill and heavy. His medium rug has a lovely patch missing over the rump from where somebody chewed a hole in it. I’ve patched it up enough to endure rain, but not heavy rain. The weather forecast called for an overnight low of 11 degrees, with a lot of heavy rain. I decided to put his medium rug on, then put the light rug over the top. There. Problem solved. (His heavy is not usually taken out of storage until June 1st.)

I got to the paddock at 8:30am the next morning. I look out through the relentless rain and howling wind; why is my horse in dark blue, not light blue? On the side of the paddock, there lay his light blue light rug…soaked. Every clasp, every buckle was still done up. I scratched my head and uttered how in the world did you get that off, Moo?!

So off we went to the barn, but it was full. The ESB horses were all getting clipped (all 6 of them). There was no room whatsoever to put Moo. So I took him out into the rain and started to peel off his wet rugs. Sophia said, ‘You can put Moo in Zone’s stable if you like; I just cleaned it.’ Zone is our resident super-star two-star eventer. He is stabled at night, along with one of the ESB horses that is very anxious and needs the strict routine that stabling demands.

So I put Moo in the stable. He hasn’t been in a stable since he was a young breaker – and he hated it. But this time, he loved it. He picked at Zone’s hay and rested a leg. He even had a snooze while I dried him off and saddled him up. He was comically happy in there.

After our ride, I borrowed one of Sally’s “share” rugs (she has about 20 in every size; it’s really quite amazing) and put Moo back out in his paddock, to which he gave me a filthy expression. I think he would quite like the stabled life so I think it was his plan all along. 1. Dump top rug. 2. Get wet. 3. Be put in the stable to dry off out of the weather. 4. Ahhh heaven!

Stable? Salon? Same thing!