Finally Dino Learns Something Really Useful…

I spend a lot of time training Dino to do dressage, but let’s face it…..dressage moves are only so useful. Honestly, when was the last time you really needed to bust out a passage???? So that’s why I like to train Dino to do something really useful every now and then. Well, that plus the fact that I am kind of lazy sometimes ….

So check out Dino’s new moves. That’s right, he can now hoof it over to the cooler, open it up, grab me a treat, and walk over and hand (or mouth) deliver it. That is something that can really come in handy. Now I can sit back and enjoy ice cold snacks any time. I think that is waaay more useful than passage!

Here is Dino Doing it Right….

 

Here is My Video Fail

While trying to get this trick on video,  I asked Dino  2x to get me some cookies from the cooler. Notice how he shakes his head “No” both times before deciding to get them. This horse is just too smart!

2016 Ends in the Red

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!

 

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4th Show Update: Will Dino Ever Forgive Me???

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.

Dino: ZZZZZZZZ

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…

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Dino warming up for his chance to beat a Grand Prix Rider.Will he ever forgive me??? (Thankfully Jackets were waived, because it was HOT).
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Dino doing a great test. I just blew it for him.

 

To Show or Not To Show….

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.

Sign #1

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!

Sign #2

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….

The Show

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 🙂

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Spontaneous Hug When I Realized that Dino Was Growing Up Nicely!
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Dino being a Good Boy

 

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Kelsey And Akira’s First Show Together. Making a Mom Proud!

Show # 2. The Good. The Bad. And The Lumpy

Dressage Show first level May 2016

Sometimes you just know things aren’t going to go your way. Like when your horse comes out of his stall in the morning, takes one look at the trailer and says, maybe not today. To be honest, Dino loaded just fine when I asked him to. But until I gave him a very firm load command, he gave me lots of hints that this wasn’t a good plan for the day. He walked slowly and dragged his feet. He tried to stop and even gave a little squeal and meager attempt at a spook . That’s when I had to break the news to him….I know you are a bit grumpy and tired because you are teething, but we still are going to the show today. Sorry buddy.

The Bad

At the show grounds he seemed excited and lethargic all at the same time. You know…that perfect combination for pulling an avocado green ribbon in your classes (what place is that anyway…like 15th?). I lunged him. He bolted. It lasted exactly 4 circles before he came right down to his  lethargic self. Getting him to ride forward was going to be fun.

Warm up was not great either. There was an excited horse in the warm up arena calling to its friends and that really scared my little dinosaur. He was noticeably tense. We mostly walked. When the horse left the ring, Dino relaxed and warmed up nicely.  It didn’t last long though.

The Good

When it was our turn to show, 3 horses trotted up on the trail just to other side of the creek next to the arena. Their horses called to Dino and he lost his confidence. The bell rang. It was our turn, and Dino was a tight ball of nerves. I rode him as quietly as I could, and to his credit, he didn’t bolt or spook or anything bad. He just found it hard to relax for the first 1/3 of the test. Just when we were settling into our test, a gooseneck horse trailer drove right past ‘A’ with the horses heads hanging out the windows, and you guessed it, screaming to my horse. I actually started laughing…I mean seriously…This is like cowboy challenge meets dressage. If we can ride through this, we can do anything. And ride we did. Dino pulled a first place in the class. Good boy!

Dressage show May 2016
If we can do this, we can do anything!

The Lumpy

Our second class went better for Dino. He was just fine. However, it was a First Level Test where you sit the trot. Not really a problem under normal circumstances, but something wasn’t right. There was a large lump just in front of my right seat bone. It was grinding into my joint and thigh. It felt like the size of a rock and the consistency of a piece of wood. Did something break off my saddle? I tried to get the thing to move to a less painful spot, but it wans’t budging. That’s when it dawned on me. I had felt this same thing before. It’s a freakin’ carrot chunk! I do a lot of positive reinforcement and had been using carrot pieces for rewards during the warm up. I didn’t have my coat on for warm up and had no pockets for my carrot, so I stuck the entire thing in the waistband of my breaches. A large chunk must have broken off and migrated downward. Needless to say, it was a looooong test! I will never forget it.

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The “carrot chunk” in all its painful glory!

 

 

 

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