Turkey Trot Schooling Show


I went to the Turkey Trot (a local schooling show) with one objective in mind, schooling in the show ring. Prior to our last show, I went down centerline practically paralyzed with nerves.  My only real goal was to get through the movements; halt at X, don’t go off course, canter when I’m supposed to and pick up the correct lead, and ride reasonably accurate circles.  Savy quickly learned she didn’t have to work hard in the show ring, and I became a passenger.

So for this schooling show, I put no pressure on myself to score well and had no expectations of being high in the ribbons. There were no more than 6 riders in each class so I mentally prepared myself for a pink or green ribbon, and fireworks in the arena.  I am extremely competitive, so this was difficult for me.  Generally anytime I change the status quo with Savy I get lots of bucks and pinned ears.  Surprisingly she didn’t buck at the show, but there was a lot of ear pinning at the canter.

The canter. My nemesis.  I have never been awesome at riding the canter.  It wasn’t so bad in hunters because we just kind of perched there anyway, but I still had trouble with my leads.  Now that I understand bending, I get my lead each time just fine, but I have a tremendously hard time sitting the canter and following the movement.  It doesn’t help that Savy’s canter used to be really difficult to sit at all. Used to being the key phrasing.  Her canter has come a long way and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to ride it.

My problem is I tense. I tense because Savy likes to be behind my leg, especially in the canter, and to get her forward I squeeze.  Unfortunately I squeeze with every muscle in my body.  This, of course, has the exact opposite affect and makes Savy very unhappy.  I am learning to relax my body and move my hips with the movement.  If Savy isn’t forward, she gets a boot with the leg.  She keeps getting boots until she’s forward.  We’ve make tremendous improvement in only one week.

I still had some issues with the canter in the test, but I consciously attempted to relax. And while she wasn’t as forward as I would have liked, I didn’t stop pushing for it.  Luckily I have videos of my ride and I am starting to see glimpses of the horse and rider I want us to become.

Surprisingly we received a First and Second place in Training 2 & 3 respectively.



A Day in the Life – Dressage Shows (Day 1)

I got the idea for this post from this fun blog.  I like her Day in the life too.  She got her inspiration from another blog and so on, so this really isn’t an original idea, but it was fun to write.


4:30 am: Yes you read that right.  Wake up in the middle of the night to very sleepy and cuddly kitties.

4:31 am: Too excited to snooze so instead take a hot bath and cruise facebook during my allocated “there’s no way I’ll be able to wake up at 5 am without snoozing so I better set my alarm for a half hour earlier” time.

5:00 am: Carefully apply eyeliner and mascara.  No blush because my face turns beat red whilst exercising.  Especially while covered head to toe in show clothing.  In August.

5:05 am: Slick hair back into bun. Adorn cute hairnet (well…as cute as a hairnet can be) with rhinestones.

5:10 am: Debate about which earrings to wear with self.  The dangly ones, the plain studs or the gold pearls.  Go with sparkly studs.

5:15 am: Organize show clothes…pet kitties.

5:30 am: Leave.

5:58 am: Stop at UDF for coffee and breakfast. Other people are at UDF.  Notice they are not wearing show clothes…why else  in the world would they up this early??

6:05 am: Arrive at show grounds to find trainer has already fed horses (score!)

6:10 am: Chat excitedly with still half asleep trainer.

6:15 am: Start braiding hair

6:30 am: Braiding

7:00 am: Braiding

7:15 am: Still braiding

7:30 am: Finish braiding

7:31 am: Proudly show trainer braids

7:32 am: Savy shakes her head and 3 braids fall out

7:40 am: Finish re-braiding fallen braids

8:01 am:  Watch trainers awesome ride

8:15 am: Hurriedly saddle and bridle Savy

9:08 am: Horse bolts in warm up ring (not my horse) and dumps rider (not my trainer).  I am reminded of my own bolting experiences and freak out.

9:09 am: Trainer rides Savy in her first ever First level test.  I nervously watch from the sidelines.  Am too shaky from the bolting horse to take good pictures.

9:30 am: Ok…I’m ready for lunch.  How is it only 9:30!

10:00 am: Wait for class

10:30 am: Wait for class and start to get nervous

11:00 am: Wait for class and start sweating

11:30 am: Eat pizza for lunch.  Start peeing every 15 minutes (nervous bladder).

11:45 am: Pee.

12:00 pm: Pee.

12:15 pm: Pee.  Realize mascara has run and wash off all make-up.

12:30 pm: Saddle up for class.

12:45 pm: Run to restroom for one last pee.

12:50 pm: Mount up.

1:00 pm: Rock my warm up and ride the best I’ve ever ridden in my life.

1:32 pm: Enter ring for test.

1:33 pm: Feel like puking.

1:34 pm: Head down centerline.  Blackout.

1:38 pm: Exit arena dripping with sweat.

1:50 pm: Nervously wait for test scores.

2:00 pm: Check for test scores.

2:10 pm: Check for test scores.

2:20 pm: Check for test scores.

2:30 pm: Get second place!!!

6:30 pm: Finally leave the show for home.


Pictures from the horse show will be coming soon!!





Dressage Show Prep

I intended to begin my show prep the Saturday before the show.  The husband was out of town and I was stuck home taking care of a sick kitty.  What better time to clean tack and finally use those clippers I bought.  One thing led to another and before I knew it was drunk off wine with the ladies from the back barn by 3pm.  Nothing cleaned, nothing clipped.  The next morning I drug my hungover bum to the barn to at least clip Savy and attempt to do some chores.  One thing got done.  One. I shouldn’t have worried though, my work week was so stressful that even cleaning tack seemed like a luxury.  Despite my deadline packed work week I managed to get in a little show prep from my office chair.  These are some of my favorites.

This article, The Unwritten Rules of Dressage Test Riding, is less about the technical aspects of riding and more about ring craft.  Something I know nothing about in Dressage.  For my non-horsey friends ring craft is the art of riding a winning test.  Not just riding the movements, but making the test as a whole a step better than the competition.  In dressage the best horse doesn’t always win.  This sounds crazy but there are so many ways the rider can mess things up, through not fault of the horse.  The rider could forget the test and make a wrong turn somewhere (or go the wrong direction and ride half of your test backwards before the judge realizes it…like me).  And it doesn’t even have to be something that big.  Savy has a tendency to swing her butt slightly to the left when she halts.  It’s my job to remember to use the tiniest bit of left leg to keep her straight, but not too much leg because then she’ll swing her butt to the right.  That little detail could cost me an entire point off that movement, if not more.

I also really like this article about riding accurate circles.  I am notoriously bad at riding circles.  And I don’t know how to measure distances in meters.  I know there are 4, 5 meter sections in a circle, but what 5 meters looks like, I don’t know.  At least I think that’s right…either way this article helps me visualize the circles in the arena.

And finally for inspiration I like this video 🙂  Gets me every time!

This one is good too.