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wwyd - training changes/ what level to show

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  • wwyd - training changes/ what level to show

    My little horse has been doing really well the last few months and is starting to offer all sorts of cool things as she has gotten a lot stronger. Our original plan was to show first/ second next year, but given the accelerated progress over the last few months, my trainer/coach wants to start training changes and make a goal to show third next year.

    Coach asked today how I would like to approach this - we're schooling second now, but she thinks we'll be ready for third by the spring or summer (we could probably do an attempt at the trot portion of third at this point). She thinks the canter is sufficiently balanced and strong to introduce changes, and we can get good collection for counter canter and simple changes, but those aren't perfect yet with me. If we start training changes now (in November), then show second at the beginning of the year (February/March), she'd want to put aside the changes for a little while so as not to confuse the young mare with all that counter-canter. Then, after a couple of second level shows, if they go well, put second aside and then focus back on the changes in the spring and start trying third late spring/ summer.

    She asked if I'd want to do that, or else wait on the changes and start the year off at second, then start playing with changes in the spring with the goal to try third later in the summer.

    The horse (who is five, turning six next year) does clean changes on her own sometimes when we try more difficult counter-canters, and has a really responsive, jumpy walk-canter transition - I think this is why coach is suddenly ambitious. I'm not sure of the best way to do this - it's been a super long time since I've tried training changes on a young horse and I've never done in much in general (I'm used to doing them on previously trained horses).

    Wondering what approach seems best. I have no idea. Coach also offered we could possibly just skip showing second altogether, which I think is also an option, though I'd like to do a few while we're at that stage, since I want to get little mare more familiar with shows in general (she's only done a couple before).

    Thanks!
    Mr. Sandman
    sand me a man
    make him so sandy
    the sandiest man

  • #2
    I see two distinct issues. #1 - will you and the horse have confident, clean confirmed changes by the time you plan to show and #2 - is your horse ready for Third Level? The changes are just two movements - for the entire test your horse needs to demonstrate the appropriate uphill self carriage, collection, engagement and thrust from behind at Third - a significant jump up from Second which itself is a big leap from First, and it’s all a fairly tall order for a rising 6-year-old ridden by an amateur.

    IMO #2 is the far more important thing to consider.

    The adage about showing at least one level below where you are schooling is a good one. If your horse is truly meeting all the requirements of Third at home, I would start the season off showing Second and perhaps finish the season doing 2-3 and 3-1. However given your horse’s young age, I would probably err on the side of not pushing for too much, too soon and perhaps start with First and work up to Second by the end of the season.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I'd say we could do a 3-1 test today, except for the change. It's funny, because it didn't occur to me to try for third next year until my coach suggested it today - given her ideas about what I should/shouldn't show in the past, I do tend to trust her judgment on what I can handle (and what the horse can handle). I agree we would be pretty bored showing first. Her trot work is definitely in the range to pick up 7s in a third level test, and I think given the trajectory of her attitude and strength-building, the canter could conceivably get there by next summer.

      I know the adage about showing a level below what you're training, but I haven't always adhered to that. I've shown third before training all of fourth with a couple horses in the past, and was happy with the results/scores. I mean, it's nice to show and pick up huge scores, but if I'm spending the money I'd like to be challenged. I'll also be showing my schoolmaster fourth and then PSG next year.

      I appreciate the insight though - I'm used to my coach being conservative with me, but with this horse she's all amped and ambitious. She's been correct in her projections so far, and she's trained a couple horses from babies to successful GP horses, so I'd say her judgment is better than mine. But maybe she just has stars in her eyes and is imagining what she would do with my horse lol.
      Mr. Sandman
      sand me a man
      make him so sandy
      the sandiest man

      Comment


      • #4
        It sounds like the horse doesn’t have a ton of experience showing. I’d start at second since it should be “easy”, see how that goes and then decide on third for the same season or not. I don’t think you can really plan that far ahead. I wouldn’t want to rush the change.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by mlb722 View Post
          It sounds like the horse doesn’t have a ton of experience showing. I’d start at second since it should be “easy”, see how that goes and then decide on third for the same season or not. I don’t think you can really plan that far ahead. I wouldn’t want to rush the change.
          Yeah I think that's valid - I'm not on a particular deadline for competitiveness. I get the idea of approaching changes early, so they are not such a big deal and have a lot time to develop, but also happy to wait another six months.
          Mr. Sandman
          sand me a man
          make him so sandy
          the sandiest man

          Comment


          • #6
            I would trust your trainer, you’re paying her for that.

            Train your mare as much as she’ll allow it, at the speed she’s comfortable. I don’t like when things are rushed but I don’t feel to need to wait for ages.

            As for showing, just enter whatever you feel like at the moment you’ll need to register. You could always change test, level or scratch once at the show.

            ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

            Originally posted by LauraKY
            I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
            HORSING mobile training app

            Comment


            • #7
              I guess I'm missing why you are questioning your trainer who is so experienced and knowledgeable on this and asking for advice from strangers on the internet who haven't seen you or your horse? From what you posted the answer is obviously listen to your trainer. Is there a part of the story you didn't make clear to us?
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
              -meupatdoes

              Comment


              • #8
                Is there a reason you want to show second? (Need scores for bronze etc.) At this stage, if the horse has solid canter-walk, walk-canter and trainer thinks horse is ready to start changes, might as well put the changes on and wait to show until late spring/early summer.

                I personally wouldn’t put off starting to train something if horse is ready and willing solely for the sake of showing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think the main questions is how competitive do you want to be at Second? If you want to compete and try for regionals/finals, I wouldn't start the changes yet - a helpful horse might try to give you changes during that counter canter, as you noted. Focus on making your Second level test spectacular. If you're just trying to do some showing at second, some at third, and just keep chugging along up the levels, I think your trainer's suggestion is perfect - start changes now, give it a rest for a few weeks before you show Second, then start them back up when you are ready to show third. No need to wait if the horse is ready. But remember, so much of the change is canter prep, prep, and more prep, so there's a lot you can do to strengthen and balance the canter while you're showing second that will make the changes come easily (and, as you noted, your mare already has nice clean changes, so you're ahead of the curve).

                  I was in the same boat as you last year. I wanted to show Second and be competitive, so we did that. When I was done with showing Second (and had done well at regionals), we took the year to really develop third (a lot of life changes meant no showing this year, so I had a lot of time to prepare and teach it slowly). The goal was to show third next year after getting the changes nice and reliable (but now my trainer's talking about fourth, anyway).

                  If you want to be super competitive, it's safest not to risk them throwing in a change when you're trying to show counter canter :-) But, then again, if you're goals are bigger (Third level+), then why wait? :-)
                  Last edited by Feathered_Feet; Nov. 16, 2019, 10:22 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The horse is only five and still gaining strength and maturity. Where does your horse fit into your showing plans?
                    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think your trainer has a fine idea.

                      A judge/clinician I rode with would work on changes with young horses if they had good natural balance and jump and could do a shallow loop counter canter - I watched her work on them with an experienced rider and 4.5 year old horse. So I don't "save" the changes for when everything is perfect - I'll work on them with horses once they have a good understanding of holding the lead in short bits of counter canter and can shift their balance back for a few strides.

                      I say start working on them now. If you get ready to show next spring and the horse is still confused or has tension about the counter canter versus changes, then maybe set the changes aside while you show. Otherwise, just leave the changes for the week before the show.

                      Just know that it may take a long time for your horse to get strong enough to make 2-3 or third level look and feel "easy." All of the second level exercises are really good for building strength, so don't skimp on using them in order to rush to third level. And the walk-canter-walk can be really good for diagnosing issues that might be happening within the changes (straightness, diving down in a shoulder, drifting...).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                        The horse is only five and still gaining strength and maturity. Where does your horse fit into your showing plans?


                        Maybe the OP should stick with walk-trot classes until the horse is 10yrs old?
                        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                        Originally posted by LauraKY
                        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                        HORSING mobile training app

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree with training the level above you show. You don't have to be scoring high 60s in the level above, but you should be working on all the elements easily. I would not show 3rd until my horse was confidently schooling 4th. That being said, my coach has a - you show to do well and show off your trianing - mentality, and I enjoy it. I prefer to wait until I can get high scores to show. Everyone has a different end goal though, sounds like you know yours.
                          Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thanks, all - to clarify in case my question was too embedded in the post, I’m asking because my trainer asked ME what I’d prefer to do/what approach I want for showing. She laid out some possibilities/suggestions and told me to think about it and then we can make plans.

                            I think I’m inclined to go the route she mentioned with trying for changes now, set aside for second, then re-initiate. I’m going to be traveling for a couple weeks and the trainer will be riding her while I’m gone, so I’ll suggest she try them during that time (so there’s one rider at first, who’s more experienced) and if it seems like the horse isn’t ready or it’s too hard, will back off for a while and try again sometime next year.

                            I’m not about rushing my horse/ don’t want to fry her brain, but we’re doing things as she’s ready for them so far. The 6 year old classes are basically third - it’s not like these are wild crazy things for a willing, coming six year old to try, every horse is different. I guess I don’t have strong opinions for what I want to show (I don’t need second level scores) and will just tell the trainer her first suggestion sounds fine, and we’ll see how it goes.
                            Mr. Sandman
                            sand me a man
                            make him so sandy
                            the sandiest man

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by theresak View Post
                              I think your trainer has a fine idea.

                              A judge/clinician I rode with would work on changes with young horses if they had good natural balance and jump and could do a shallow loop counter canter - I watched her work on them with an experienced rider and 4.5 year old horse. So I don't "save" the changes for when everything is perfect - I'll work on them with horses once they have a good understanding of holding the lead in short bits of counter canter and can shift their balance back for a few strides.

                              I say start working on them now. If you get ready to show next spring and the horse is still confused or has tension about the counter canter versus changes, then maybe set the changes aside while you show. Otherwise, just leave the changes for the week before the show.

                              Just know that it may take a long time for your horse to get strong enough to make 2-3 or third level look and feel "easy." All of the second level exercises are really good for building strength, so don't skimp on using them in order to rush to third level. And the walk-canter-walk can be really good for diagnosing issues that might be happening within the changes (straightness, diving down in a shoulder, drifting...).
                              this is all basically my trainer’s philosophy too - to work on second movements for the training benefits especially.

                              I guess since she asked me what I want, I wanted to check if there were countervailing considerations I hadn’t thought about. This has been helpful - I’ve had prior trainers who didn’t really know how to train a horse past second especially well, and I have more trust in someone who is ambitious but has literally done this many times before. She has a vested interest in her students doing well at shows, so I don’t think she’d offer an approach that would set us up to fail.
                              Mr. Sandman
                              sand me a man
                              make him so sandy
                              the sandiest man

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I would start your season showing at a level where you are completely competent and confident.. Then , if all goes well, you can always move up.
                                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If you are riding a talented horse with a green change, 3-1 is totally doable. If your trainer thinks you can get a change, I would think the sooner the better to train it. You may not have a great, solid, cued change.... but I see a ton of talented horses with green changes easily scoring over 60. I ride a very average moving horse, we have to nail all of the movements to break 62 at third level. I have a mare that’s questionable in many areas, but my trainer says if I can get a change, she’s close to a third level horse. Since he’s ridden/trained numerous horses to GP, I will take his advice.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would focus on second, paying very close attention to the judges comments,

                                    they will guide you about how confirmed your second really is.

                                    Continue training for sure and aim for third in the Spring. Since you have prior experiences, that will serve you well
                                    _\\]
                                    -- * > hoopoe
                                    Procrastinate NOW
                                    Introverted Since 1957

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      If you're going to put changes on your horse, you're going to want to make sure you get them confirmed 100% before you put them away. You don't want to be mid-way in teaching them or trying to fix a drop change or something and then stop so you can show second level. I would make sure you're ok with delaying showing if you are having problems with the changes so you can fix them if needed. Take that pressure to absolutely show off of your shoulders till you're confident in the training. You don't want to be showing 3rd level with a drop change - yes I've seen people out there doing it because it is only one part of the test, but that won't help you down the road.
                                      You're really going to need a month or two of focused riding to get a good change both directions. Since you're experienced with changes, you'll have an easier time because you get the timing. I retrained a hunter to do clean changes (late in front), and I found that the canter quality is top priority for the change. If the canter wasn't good and active, the change wasn't there or it wasn't clean. It's been drilled into my head because my trainer would say almost every week the canter needs to be better. I focused so much on the canter quality before and after the change that we're prepping for the PSG for next year - we showed 3rd this year.
                                      If your horse has a talent for the changes like one of mine did (did a clean flying change as a 3 year old because taking the right lead canter was too hard lol), there's absolutely no reason to wait. Get them confirmed now. You're challenge will be then to make sure you only get changes when asked and you can show the counter canter as required in the test.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Update - so my trainer is able to do a 3-1 test now, with the left change clean and the right sometimes late behind. We've decided to focus on just firming this up now and skipping second altogether, since I don't need the scores anyway. Trainer offered to debut showing the horse at third if I want, but I'm happier to wait until I'm able to show her myself. She's an amateur (this amateur's!) horse haha. In the meantime, since I'm so busy with work right now anyway, she'll get three training rides and two lesson rides a week, to help firm up the changes and half-pass. Always a fine balance to optimize training on a youngster while still riding the horse myself. It's good timing to let her go more into training just the changes introduction, since I'm low on time now anyway. Thanks for everyone's insight!
                                        Mr. Sandman
                                        sand me a man
                                        make him so sandy
                                        the sandiest man

                                        Comment

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