Well the good news is that Dino was year-end dressage champion again for 2018, showing at 2nd level. The bad news is we seem to be having a few little speed bumps
Dino had a fantastic year right up until October. He was hit hard with allergies. I couldn’t figure it out but thought it would be best to change stables as there were a lot of trees and brush by his stall. The barn was on a preserve, which is a fancy way of saying everything and anything can grow unencumbered. You could literally see pollen floating through the air some days!
The new barn proved to be what Dino needed. Most of his allergy symptoms decreased within weeks of arriving. No meds needed.
I had the allergy tests done anyway and guess what? Dino is allergic to Maple and Sycamore trees….. The very trees that shaded his old stall. The leaves would fall into his pen offering a nice afternoon snack. No wonder he had allergies. He was living right underneath a tree he was allergic to! Well, at least I know now. Poor guy.
Of course life isn’t so simple as just staying at the new barn where Dino doesn’t have to live under his biggest allergy offender. That would be too easy. That barn just announced its closure. We have 2 more weeks to be off the property… And there were about 80 horses on this ranch just 30 days ago. It’s a hard hit for the local horse community. So many horses trying to find homes….
So, we are on the road again. 2019 will be an interesting year. Hopefully with a few less ups and downs… Even if it hasn’t started out that way. Fingers crossed!
If you ride and show horses and have a kid, then you will know what I mean here….but I just hit the holy grail. That’s right…my daughter is now an expert show groom. You just can’t get any better than that!
Dino had his first show of the season today. He did fine, but that isn’t what has me so excited. Kelsey actually offered to braid Dino! And, she did a REALLY good job. Add to that that the fact that she accompanies me to the horse show. She helps groom and tack up. She checks ride times and scores and does everything you would expect from a professional groom. Yep, I couldn’t be happier!
Seriously, this professional grooming service almost beats the fact that Dino made is 2nd level debut today and he won the class! He also pulled a first and second in his first level classes. He beat a couple of trainers (one who trains with an Olympic medalist). So I am pretty happy with Dino’s progression. He is still only 5. We have a long way to go, but we are inching along. Now would be a good time for us to start attending some clinics or work with an upper level coach. If you have ideas/recommendations, send them my way… It’s been years since I have had any coaching. I need to get back in the habit!
Dino won PVRA Reserve Champion Dressage Horse of the Year for his first year out showing. Not bad considering we didn’t even compete at all the shows. Although Dino still has a TON of training left (we are only at first level), he pulled acceptable scores (between 68 and 74). He won every class he went in except 2 where he placed second. My baby dinosaur is growing up!
I’m not sure what 2017 will entail….probably more low key small shows. I plan on keeping him at the small shows until we are at third level, and I have won the lottery so I can pay for it all (time to buy tickets!). Who knows? Maybe this year will be Dino’s year to try a hunter/jumper show with Kelsey…..or maybe she will take him to a xcountry event…. (or, gasp, maybe I will. It’s been a looong time since I have shown jumpers!). It’s all for fun anyway. I don’t take this stuff too seriously. In the end, Dino is just one big, expensive, goofy pet.
PS. I know I have been pretty lazy about blogging. Hopefully there will be more to write about in 2017!
Dino and I had a shot at doing something really spectacular at our dressage show today…..and I totally blew it! We both made mistakes. Only my mistake was MUCH bigger than Dino’s… And my mistake cost us the chance to do something pretty cool.
Our first class was a warm up class for us….Training Level 2. This was a chance to get us in the arena and check things out. The show was running way behind and we ended up standing there waiting for our class for at least 30 minutes. That put Dino straight into siesta mode, which is generally a one way ticket for last place in a dressage test.For the most part though, Dino was decently responsive. Our big mistake in this class came at an upward transition from trot to canter. The transition is directly in front of the judge, so there was no way of hiding it. It went something like this:
Me: Dino it is time to canter now.
Me: We need to canter now! That letter is approaching fast….
Dino: Huh? Did you say something???
Me: Oh %^$#@! Are we really going to pass the letter without cantering???? This is really unheard of for you. CANTER NOW or ELSE!
Dino: Huh? Canter? Geez. You don’t need to yell!
In the end, Dino still pulled a 70 in the class. That put him in first place and gave him the honor of receiving the second highest score of the day from that judge. Not bad. Dino’s mistake still worked out for him. I wasn’t so lucky.
The next two classes were in First Level. The classes were open to professionals and amateurs alike, and we were lucky enough to be competing against a Grand Prix level rider (achieved her Gold Medal) as well as the Judge from our previous show. How cool is that? Maybe if we had a perfect test, we would have some fun bragging rights!
The first test went pretty well. Overall, I thought Dino did a good job. There were a couple of of places where we left points on the table, but we are still learning. In the end, we lost to the Grand Prix rider by less than a half a percent (0.46). So close, but no prize! (We did beat the Judge though, so that counts for something).
On our last test, I soooo wanted to go for it. That’s what make this even worse. It was our first time showing this particular test, and we had never even practiced it in a real dressage arena before, so things can get a little fuzzy. And, of course, they did. Freaking off course right at the start of the test. HUGE mistake and a straight 2 point deduction. If that wasn’t painful enough, without the 2 point penalty, WE WOULD HAVE WON FIRST & BEAT THE GRAND PRIX RIDER! We could have had some fun bragging rights, but instead I have a red ribbon and the”I totally blew it” story. Not my favorite consolation prize. Maybe next time…
Sometimes all the signs are there, but your determined self pushes forward anyway. You have already paid your horse show fees. You have to take your daughter anyway, so you should probably just go, right? Move forward and ignore all the little clews that tell you this isn’t going to be your day.
I got my ride times a few days before the show. They came along with a little surprise…. the facility was not using the regulation dressage court because they were in the middle of replacing the footing. Instead of running the show in 2 arenas, they would host all classes in a single court built in the middle of the jumping arena. This meant 2 things to me:
1. A Very Long Day: Kelsey would be showing in the early am, and Dino and I were showing in the afternoon. Up at 5:30am. Arrive at show grounds by 7am. My first class isn’t until 2pm. Add some 90+ degree heat and the day just seems longer. How would Dino deal with hanging out at the trailer ALL day? He had only traveled with Akira 1 time and he pitched a major fit when she was out of view.
2. A Nervous Horse: The regulation dressage court where we had previously shown is tucked in the quiet back corner of the facility. The jumping arena is up front by the road, by the snack bar, and by the bleachers. This arena would also be stocked with every young dressage horse’s biggest fear…a judge’s tent. Well, you have to school this stuff sometime and that sometime was going to be now!
The days leading up to Dino’s 3rd ever dressage show proved to be the most variable rides ever. We just weren’t in sync. Could it be because I was avoiding BIG turnouts since Dino had pulled his front left shoe 3x in a row? Who knows? So I gave him a turnout with a little encouragement to try and take the edge off….enough to get a few bucks out but not enough to pull a shoe. It’s a fine balance.
Sign #3…and this is the worst
The night before the show, my back went out. It was one of those painful, feel like you are going to be sick kind of events. It hasn’t happened in quite a long time, so I just wasn’t even thinking this was an option. Kelsey finished up the barn chores for me, and we headed for home. I worked on my back and got it to be “serviceably sound,” and by that I mean it didn’t hurt, but I wasn’t engaging my right obliques (stomach muscles) at all. Now dressage is about symmetry and balance. How am I supposed to guide a horse when I can’t use my right “core” muscles? That could have been a contributing factor to our lackluster performance leading up to the show (I was out of balance and hadn’t even noticed, but Dino did!). Add to this that Dino was going to be a bit nervous, and I was starting to have some doubts.
Of course that night I got little sleep. Our house alarm notifies us when the internet connection goes down, and it went down at 2:30 am. Someone’s phone alarm went off at 4am. I was up at 5:30am.
I can’t even make this stuff up. It was like the entire universe was telling me not to go to the show. I even woke up feeling a little sick the next morning (I blamed it on little sleep and continued on). You think I would have backed out, but warning signs are for wimps….
We arrived dreadfully early. It was Akira and Kelsey’s first show together. I wanted to give them ample time to work the kinks out. Both were rock stars and had a great morning of showing. As expected, Dino pitched a fit when Kelsey took Akira out of his sight to go lunge her. Thankfully our trailer parking spot had a clear line of site to the warm up arena and the show arena, so Akira was in Dino’s sight most of the day.
After Kelsey’s classes, I had 3 full hours of nothing to do before I needed to think about tacking up. I had already lunged Dino, so I thought I’d take him on a walk. I ended up sitting on a bench under a shade tree by the arena. Dino was calmer here than at the trailer. He seemed to really enjoy just looking around and hanging out, so that’s what we did….for hours.
I was feeling pretty good when I tacked up. Dino seemed calm enough. I felt OK. Things were going to be fine. But my warm up started with a big spook followed by a little spook. Dino was tense.
When we entered the arena, Dino immediately bristled at the judge’s tent, but I expected that and used my warm up time to show him the tent was not a worry. Worked like a charm, so I headed off toward the entrance of the arena. That’s when I heard a strange screeching sound from a nearby gate. Dino froze and wouldn’t move. The bell rang. It’s officially show time. Lovely. This was going to be fun. I told Dino it was going to be OK, took a deep breath and asked him again.
And, to my surprise, nothing crazy happened during the test at all! No quadrangles. No bolting. No sitting on carrots. Nothing much to report. Dino only flicked an ear at the judge’s tent. He was a bit more forward than usual (a good thing), but less responsive (not great). He was a little hurried and lacked bend. But he was overall fine. No blow ups. No major mistakes. I rode him very conservatively, but he probably would have been fine if I asked for more. My little dinosaur is growing up!
The second class was fine too. Dino rode about the same, he was forward and a bit hurried and a little tense, but he came back to me even after the extended trot and canter without too much fuss. I was so proud of him!!
Dino won both classes and received the second highest score of the day. So happy! Still tons to work on. We aren’t smooth or elegant, but things are coming together. Maybe it is better sometimes when I just ignore all the signs and push through it 🙂