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Keeping All the Pieces Together

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  • Keeping All the Pieces Together

    My pony (who is usually a basket case at shows) was a sane and good citizen yesterday. Sadly I didn't ride so well, breaking out of the canter, not enough bend, circle too big. I was so happy at the end of the test that she did not offer any bucks, did not try to run away and didn't call to any horses. Once I got home I realized that I could have rode much better. I can feel when she is going to break, I know the size of a 20 meter circle, I know how to bend her around my inside leg. Did I think I was on a trail ride? I had all the pieces for a great test and I didn't use them. Oh well yet another learning lesson and their will be more shows.

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

  • #2
    It's such a tough feat isn't it, getting everything to fall into place in the context of a test! It's challenging enough to just get through the tests when dealing with horse nerves and rider nerves, add to that the type-A tendencies of many of us have and it's a recipe for some serious self-criticism! Every test is a learning experience that award us with new tools to store in our tool belt though. As long as you have an attitude like yours that takes away those lessons you have nowhere to go but up! I find that with every test I ride it gets easier to keep all of the pieces in mind in front of a judge and ride more and more effectively even under show pressure.


    • #3
      I think you are being very hard on yourself. If your horse went better than she normally does, you weren't just sitting up there watching TV!

      Although I am still relatively new to dressage, I can already see that it is going to be a never ending quest to improve. There will always be things that can be better, and to me that is the joy of riding and testing my skills in the ring.

      Be pleased that your horse is clearly progressing and remember there is always another show where you can decide to focus on whatever you want to improve, be it geometry or maintaining each gait or improving the connection or the bend or whatever. It's all part of the journey!
      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


      • #4
        Dear OP. I have to laugh at your post, I'm sorry! What you are describing is the age-old bane of the amateur rider. MOST horses go better at home because MOST amateur riders ride better at home. Unless you are in the ring frequently enough that you've learned to conquer nerves and develop test-riding strategies, nerves take over! Did you video tape your ride? If so, like amateurs everywhere, you can watch your ride at home and yell at yourself over and over on your TV screen. You will get to a point in the ring when you get to "damn it, this sucks! I can do this a lot better" and you will *ride* the test. It's a rite-of-passage and sometimes it takes multiple steps. Welcome to the world of showing!
        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


        • #5
          Years ago I remember someone cautioning me. "Your're going to be too busy riding the horse to ride the test". Many horses later that test was a no problem, as was riding that horse.

          Riders need time in the ring at the show too. Lots of time. More than the horse. They just need to get used to being there. We have to remember those tests. Oops! Is this Test 2 or 3?
          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.


          • #6
            I'm with you, OP! I swear that little space in the fence at A is like my kryptonite. Outside the ring? Fine. 'Enter at A' and I ride like a ninny. For me, I know it is lack of experience and I find myself riding the test like an old equitation pattern rather than really RIDING the test. At home, it seems like I have all the time in the world to prepare for transitions or 20m circles and I know that if I screw up, well, I can just try it again. Not so much in a test.
            We're getting there though! Don't loose faith!
            The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.


            • #7
              Congratulations for you're girl! Bravo for a good citizen.

              You? meh...easy to fix with a few more tractable rides! I remember a rail class I had when I could hear the announcer just fine, I just didn't seem to care. When he said walk, I just kept jogging along.

              It happens. More people should ride in the ring like they're on a trail ride.

              My daughter a.k.a. coach calls it "class-trophobia". As soon as they close the ingate I panic. No going back now, gotta do what they say, no "didn't like that transition, let's do it again".
              Ride like you mean it.


              • #8
                Ride the horse, not the plan. The key is being fully present every ride, every stride, every time.
                chaque pas est fait ensemble


                • #9
                  If it makes you feel better, it comes back every time you go up a level, too. Wait, that might not make you feel better... I was pretty proud of myself at PSG/I-1 because I could lay down a decent test and get pretty good scores. Bumped myself up to GP, and I forgot how to ride after I hit the centerline.

                  Funny how that happens.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cnm161 View Post
                    If it makes you feel better, it comes back every time you go up a level, too. Wait, that might not make you feel better... I was pretty proud of myself at PSG/I-1 because I could lay down a decent test and get pretty good scores. Bumped myself up to GP, and I forgot how to ride after I hit the centerline.

                    Funny how that happens.
                    I recently trailered out to my trainer's place with its regulation size arena to practice tests for a show, and the second I hit centerline I COULD NOT execute first level for the life of me. The wheels came off the bus big time.

                    Trainer stood there suppressing a look of dismay and made encouraging sounds, chief among which were, "No really, this happens to everyone. It will be ok." She said that second bit with slightly less conviction than the first bit after our "performance," but she was right in the end.

                    Meanwhile the NUMBER of people who go in the ring knowing their test backwards and forwards and then go off course (sometimes even with a reader, I say from personal experience!) is legion. Last weekend I watched someone recite his test to his trainer, go in the ring, and promptly go off course. Somebody else did circles at A for several laps around because they had moved the letter back from the short side so people could enter and she forgot where A was. I forgot what the heck I was doing several times WITH a reader and resorted to "just vaguely bend in and wait til she says the next thing", and then nearly finished by zipping off unnecessarily down the diagonal for a spontaneous extended trot that was in my heart's desire but not in the test. Thankfully the reader yelled "R! Turn RIGHT!" just in time, and the horse and I sort of vaguely swooped back out the rail and then turned in the appropriate place. Everyone who has done it understands where you are coming from because it is hard for everyone. Just remembering WHERE TO GO takes up 85% of the brainpower, trying to actually ride with what's left is nearly impossible.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                    • #11
                      It's all about mileage-- mine, not my horse's! I left some 7s and 8s and (maybe) 9s out in the warmup and only brought the 5.5-6.5 range into the show arena with me.

                      OP-- it gets better, and then you move up a level and then you have to relearn how to show again. And then it gets better, and then you move up another level. Gotta love this sport!


                      • #12
                        OP at least your pony didn't act up enjoy that major breakthrough. Miss Mare did her first small show in 3 years 2 weeks ago. She totally thought all the trot work should be done at the canter. So it was me asking for trot and she canter almost the whole time. By the time we should canter we kicked out hopped skipped and looked horrible . No way to get round circles with that act.
                        It just gave my coach more things to work on in our lessons. She has given me a few tools to use if this starts they work at home. We will see in 2 weeks if they work at a show