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New all time LOW score = Best Show Ever

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  • New all time LOW score = Best Show Ever

    The stars aligned and I made it to a semi-local schooling show today. Around an hour-and-a-half drive, which is CLOSE compared to some...

    As per my previous post 'new level minus-a-movement', I signed up for Three 1 and a re-ride. Our changes are far from consistent, and definitely NON-existant when his back is tight. I knew that going in, but didn't feel like all the effort and $$$ was really worth it for Second.

    In the grand scheme of things, it was the right decision, despite the score. My first inkling that it might be a 'challenging' day was when the forecast called for a hurricane. Huh. But the closer we got, the forecast was hurricane Sat'dy, and beautiful Sunday. Better. Though no ride or bath or anything on Sat'dy, as hurricane did hit--not directly, but sideways rain and COLD.

    Clue #2 probably should've been the fact that I don't think he's EVER been as naughty about a bath as he was this morning. I'll admit, *I* wasn't crazy about the idea either. When I got home from work yest'dy he was shiverring pathetically, so actually got a medium blanket (wick the wet, breath, waterproof...) I was *hoping* he'd stay clean. Didna happen.

    So bath was an uncharacteristic battle. Followed by lighter-weight-but-still-insulated blanket.

    The reward for signing up for Third Level is getting to sleep late. I may never go back to Intro again. Screw it if the horse doesn't canter yet! I woke up the first time, decided there was NO WAY I was going to subject Himself to cold water and shampoo, and went back to sleep for 90 minutes. Thanks to the hurricane the show was also delayed an hour, so the first ride was an eminently reasonable 10:30 EDST.

    Unfortunately due to bath antics I *did* miss one of my student's Intro Tests--which garnered her high-score for the day (! ! ) but even MORE importantly, a LOVELY comment about her soft and correct hands--something that has been a bugaboo I've pretty much *nagged* her about since our first lesson. I was SUPER proud.

    The venue was gorgeous. By the time we got there, around noon:30, it was also clearing. And that golden, magnified light that comes after a storm. Just beautiful. It was relaxed, super well run, and just the perfect outing for our first venture after two... three... four? Years..

    Warmup was... interesting. Himself was as on his toes as he's ever been. His disdain for lower levels was clear in his demonstrations of High School movements. We had at least one capriole (witnessed) several levades, and a few steps here and there of Spanish Walk, which he has not been taught yet, but has always had a tendency too.

    There's a point where you fish or cut bait. A really pretty little redhead Ayerabby mare with lots of chrome was warming up with us... and in FLAMING heat. My stallion is never studdy... rather he acts much younger and greener than his actual age and amount of training. Everyone thinks he's an adolescent... which he is NOT. He got to calling, which I did not really reprimand enough (he KNOWS he's not allowed to 'talk' under saddle. My teacher does allow it, though refocuses him. I was not carrying a whip, so was conservative in my attempts to refocus, due to earlier airs... Lesson #1. ) He was just getting MORE up and MORE tense... so I chose to just walk on the buckle and stand and watch. I probably could have ridden him into submission/exhaustion... nothing is worth that. This was a SCHOOLING show. NOTHING mattered except a positive experience for both of us. I was subliminally aware that several of my students were there... and several people I've judged in baby CTs. To *me* it was more important to be fair, kind and consistent to what I *preach.* Which meant sucking it up and giving rein. I'm not going to override past a horse's condition just to get submission. That's false submission.

    I did NOT loose my brain this time when the whistle blew--Yay! That in itself was a revelation. I think because the level was a stretch, and I *knew* Himself was stressed and tense... I just grinned and laughed. Lesson #2--you can cry, or laugh and revel in the fact that you are DOING it. Maybe far from perfect, but DOING...

    Our score *will* go down in history as my lowest ever. Let's just say we had my first and only ZERO--the second flying change didn't happen, and rather than fuss about getting a correct lead canter for like four strides, I just went forward in trot to the next movement... We *got* a flying change where one wasn't asked for (oops! Hay, we GOT one though! ) and the "3" for the enter, halt, salute, levade... well... so we're a little on the over-achiever side... <shrugs> No one appreciates genius in our own lifetimes... We won't mention the "oops, I forgot the 20m circle (with give rein)" that *I* caught BEFORE the whistle... <sigh> without the error that would've been a high score in the test, an 8.

    I have never, ever in my LIFE apologized to a judge before. I did upon approaching after the final halt. I knew his back was tight--I had to post the medium and the extension because there was no way on the planet to sit them... I knew what we blew. I knew he was never, once, actually THROUGH. I knew it felt like someone sprayed Pledge on the seat of the Ancient Passier... But the judge made a comment that I think I've probably turned on it's head: She said that we would've scored the same (low) at Training Level. And she's ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY right... except, we weren't. We were doing Third.

    Every Single Score would've been two to three points higher if I'd had his brain. I didn't. That was MY fault, not his. In retrospect, on the way home, I asked myself why I did not warm him up in hand, as I've been taught to do. I don't know why I didn't. I guess I thought happy-happy walking on a long rein might be enough to relax him. It used to be. But I've learned the subtle and yet crucial connection between suppleness, obedience and impulsion. None can exist without the other two. And on days when his leetle testosterone brain leaks out his gorgeous curly ears... I've got to go back to the in-hand work to GET HIM. Supple him,then he can concentrate and be obedient. Get him listening, then he can go forward. I had NONE of those three. I knew it, but sort of gave up. I guess I thought he'd settle in the test. I've NO IDEA where that thought came from. It's not ANYTHING I've been taught or teach. And lesson #3 was a horse that is working at this level is way, WAY more fit, and happy-happy long rein doesn't cut it.

    The judge was quite horrified. (Aghasted, prolly! ) She did say 'of course I've no idea what you are doing at home.' Ain't that the truth? But "away" ISN'T home, and this was such, such, SUCH a valuable learning experience.

    And she was right--the score would've been the same (low) at TL. But it wasn't. It was Third. And we DID it. Not prettily, not perfectly... but we DID it. There were moments within almost EVERY movement that I was proud-to-bursting over. The first HP was fabulous--but I got a little overzealous and hauches led for a bit, of course killing the score. The second HI-to-1/2 circle-to HP was really nice, if the pilot hadn't oversteered the center line... (not an excuse, but an explanation--I haven't ridden with LETTERS since last November, and have NEVER ridden a large court with letters on this horse... )

    I scratched the re-ride. Was not going to teach either of us anything. Sure, I could've gotten him more tired, but that wasn't going to give me his back any more than being tense and fresh was. It would've given us mileage in the large court, but I didn't think that was a fair tradeoff. He had TRIED. Today wasn't his day. Wouldn't have been for Intro, not to mention anything higher.

    And absolutely NO sour grapes, because I more than anyone know where we were lacking, but this judge was scoring BTV/behind the bit rather well. We are anything but. He did have many moments of beautiful self carriage... both SI's and HP's let me give the inside rein... because he was tense, when he DID step through for a stride or two, he was 'at liberty on parole'. Now, the moments will take time and mileage to string together to become a whole movement, then a whole test. But like a string of pearls, it TAKES time. And a little irritation here and there...

    I got to dress my beautiful pony up. He smelled of shampoo and hair gel and clean horse in that way that takes me back to the best memories of my life. I got to enjoy a beautiful, very low key, well organized day. He GLEAMED and I *know* he raised a bit of a rukus when he showed up in the warmup--I heard the 'oohs' and 'oh, look at THAT one!' and 'how CUTE!' Beyond anything... I got to TRY.

    I learned many lessons. Most of all, I can't expect miracles when we haven't BEEN anywhere but Teacher's in... how long? He wasn't studdy, he wasn't naughty, if anything, he was anticipating/trying too hard... how can one not be pleased?

    The sad part is there are few photos, if any. I handed out a disposable camera and my digi to friends. Digi has none--the delay is way longer than hers. I won't know what disposable has until I develop the pics--and I've got to finish the roll. The show photographer was two rides ahead of me--on the pretty chetty mare with chrome--(and in heat) and was cooling her out during my ride. (I actually feel worse about HER mare's behaviour because of my guy's presence... ) Perhaps that's fine. Perhaps visual proof of our incompetence would ruin my impression of the day.

    I'm just ridiculously pleased. Maybe I'm in denial. <shrugs> But I had a great day. I am so proud of my boy I could burst. Now if *I* can get my act together, and be a better rider/trainer... then HE'LL get a chance to really show his stuff. He proved to me today that it's a possibility well within reach, rather than just a 'someday dream.'
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

  • #2
    Your post just made me smile!!! I can feel how proud of him you are!!!

    You guys will get there and get those higher scores and it sounds like today was a very productive day!!!


    • #3
      PP.. thanks for sharing. What you taught your students was an invaluable lesson that sometimes just 'doing the ride!' is way more important than the scores! Good job, and great sportsmanship!
      Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
      Witherun Farm


      • #4
        Go YOU!! You did it!

        (in your own special way, of course. )

        I had the humbling experience of earning MY all time low score this year doing a third level test that we've scored very well on regularly.

        I thought I'd be a show-off and ride that day in a plain snaffle (he much prefers his "big boy bridle" though). We schooled at home in a snaffle, why should riding with it at a show be any different, right?


        This horse is an old GP schoolmaster who, while patient and saintly, has a very elevated opinion of himself and figures he knows everything better than I do.

        There are 24 movements in that test... the WonderHorse took that as 24 opportunities to demonstrate that he too can give a one fingered (hoof'd?) salute. He embraced every one.

        Lesson learned.


        • Original Poster

          ooh... forgot to mention...

          The ZERO was a COEFFICIENT...

          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

          Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


          • #6
            Great post!

            I well remember one of my lowest ever test scores. When I got him, Ebony had all sorts of baggage I didn't know about, even beyond being an unbroke 13-year-old. (Didn't occur to me there might be a REASON for that. ) But one of his weirder quirks was that there was NO canter. Seriously, the horse would not canter, not even at liberty, not even in the pasture. Never once in all my years with him saw him play or "be a horse" in the pasture. Like I said, serious baggage.

            After some baggage was with difficulty sorta unpacked, we started work on the canter. Finally got a canter, but then it only came on one lead. Kept working. Meanwhile, I was cleaning up at intro level walk-trot, and everybody loved my big, black show horse and wondered why I was holding him back. Much more canter work, and then came the day when I entered not only Intro but T1 at a schooling show. My goal for that day was to GET the right lead.

            I got all canters and all leads, and I was as happy as a clam. And the judge had some poignant remarks (nobody seeing you on a 13yo horse believes you when you say he's green), and the score was abysmal.

            And I went home smiling.

            Those private albeit low-score victories are delicious, aren't they?


            • Original Poster

              And I went home smiling.

              Those private albeit low-score victories are delicious, aren't they?

              I did just realize, we got a FABULOUS *eventing* score...

              ETA... I haven't had a ton of time on the boards lately... I didn't realize how ironic--in the TRUE sense of the word--my post is in contrast to the high scores posted about...
              InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

              Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


              • #8
                Hey, anyone who hasn't had a "bad" day and their test totally sucked is a liar or living in a fantasy world. After all, some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you. I get tired of the bear chewing on me and it's made me try harder. There's always struggle in the journey and if we don't go through the fire, we'll never get strong (or improve our scores).

                A true horseman thinks of his horse first and you did. Consider your day a success.


                • #9
                  You get to join the clique... I don't know what to call it. Something about naughty horses, persevering riders, and embarrassing scores. (Remember, this is from the woman whose mare behaved *very* badly in a Linda Zang clinic, sees monsters where there are none, and is way smarter than her owner
                  You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                  1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                  • #10
                    This is a great post.

                    Everyone has experienced those moments of "do I scratch?" Many do. But you chose to try anyway and at least get your horse into the ring. You paid for the class after all. Horses, especially stallions, cannot learn how to cope in mixed company until they are actively trying to concentrate in mixed company. And often they do not get to experience this until you take them to a show.

                    A friend who is a FEI - level professional brought a very very nice 4 year old to a show once. The horse was doing very well in her ring at home. At the show she could not rise above the stimuli and the mirrors behind the judge at C. I bet my friends score beat yours for the lowest score and it was a great learning experience for her horse as well. These experiences turned this horse into a very nice 6 year old - more important than an obedient 4 year old in the long term.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by FLeckenAwesome View Post
                      Your post just made me smile!!! I can feel how proud of him you are!!!

                      You guys will get there and get those higher scores and it sounds like today was a very productive day!!!
                      ditto. And this from a self-proclaimed Ribbon 'Ho!!!
                      a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                        I'm just ridiculously pleased. Maybe I'm in denial. <shrugs> But I had a great day. I am so proud of my boy I could burst. Now if *I* can get my act together, and be a better rider/trainer... then HE'LL get a chance to really show his stuff. He proved to me today that it's a possibility well within reach, rather than just a 'someday dream.'
                        Hahaha, I know *exactly* what you mean! Congrats on a fun day!


                        • #13
                          lol....if it helps at all the trainer for whom I groom trains the most wonderful mare....she has been doing 3rd all season and struggling with the changes....sometimes she wouldn't do them when asked or would do them when not asked (she came to associate collection with changes and so would occasionaly just put in a change whenever she got really collected ). She still scored really well...when the trainer could hear the reader (there were some pilot errors caused by the rider not being able to hear her reader). She was still scoring well on most other things though...and really enjoying the horse above all else, so at the last show she decided to move the mare up to 4th test 1. Not only did they do really well on 4th-1, but also they had their best scores of the year on their 3rd level tests (I guess the preperation for the 4th level test really helped the 3rd...) so really most people probably wouldn't have moved the horse up, but in the end it was better for the horse as she learned what she needed to (changes have a cue... and it is not just collection) and the rider enjoyed the ride far more. No, their score was not stellar, but it was good and they both loved it.

                          If you had fun and lerned and know wht to do going forward to be better than I think it was probably worth it imo
                          My blog:



                          • #14
                            What a terrific post!! All I can say is thank you for enlightening educating, and entertaining us.


                            • #15
                              Apparently I'm gunning for BB scrooge, but... I don't get this AT ALL.

                              I love that you are proud of your horse and looking for the learning experience in whatever happened, but it sounds like you missed the biggest lesson of all. At the bottom of all your positive spin, it sounds like you took a horse who you knew wasn't ready for what you were going to ask and put him through it anyways, just for the ego trip of saying "I did Third." (Because, hey, when you get to sleep in and drive a short 1.5 hours to your first show in several years, you "didn't feel like all the effort and $$$ was really worth it for Second" ?!?)

                              Statements like these don't make any sense together, which makes me not understand what lessons you think you learned:

                              Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                              Lesson #1. ) He was just getting MORE up and MORE tense... so I chose to just walk on the buckle and stand and watch. I probably could have ridden him into submission/exhaustion... nothing is worth that. This was a SCHOOLING show. NOTHING mattered except a positive experience for both of us.

                              Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                              I think because the level was a stretch, and I *knew* Himself was stressed and tense... I just grinned and laughed. Lesson #2--you can cry, or laugh and revel in the fact that you are DOING it. Maybe far from perfect, but DOING...
                              From all the leaping around in the warmup, the brain not there, the tension that didn't improve during the test but him (bless him) trying anyway -- all this sounds like his first show in several years and his first experience at Third Level was horrible for him, even if you are able to laugh at it.

                              I completely understand that winning isn't everything, but unfairly asking a horse to do something you know you haven't prepared him for and hoping for the best on a whim and a prayer? In jumping that's called "overfacing." I'm not sure what it's called in dressage.

                              Don't know you from Adam, but by your own account of the day, I do agree with this:
                              Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                              Maybe I'm in denial. <shrugs>
                              I evented just for the Halibut.


                              • #16
                                Hey, I've had rides where the only nice thing the judge could bring herself to write was "nice braids."


                                • #17
                                  God YES Never Time

                                  I will join you as BB Scrooge.

                                  This just sounds like a nightmare. All the signs were there that this would be a monumental failure, and you just kept smiling and laughing, right past your horse's numerous signals to you that he was stressed and unhappy.

                                  That's great horsemanship.

                                  We all have tests that don't go as planned. And yes, sometimes you have to laugh. But there is a huge difference between showing up prepared and having a bad day, and showing up unprepared, seeing several glaring signs that it wasn't going to be a good experience for your horse, and just plowing ahead.


                                  • #18
                                    Wow, it must be great to never make a mistake.

                                    You know, a person can have a bad ride at home too, but have one at a SHOW, make a mistake at a SHOW and the world will end.

                                    It's ok to say you think she made a mistake and that she wasn't ready. The attitude that seems to be coming across is a little much though.

                                    OP said she made mistakes, and she learned something from them. Maybe it was important to her mentally to just force herself to go out and do this. Maybe it wasn't really about the horse, and maybe it wasn't his best experience, but I guess I don't think it's going to ruin him for life.

                                    I think it's just one day, one show, and one drop in the bucket.

                                    I just appreciate the OP for being honest.


                                    • #19
                                      I apologize if I was snarky. And God yes I have had some terrible days and I do make mistakes. Its fine to support each other when we make mistakes, we all make them. But I was bothered by a lot of the responses because, in my mind, there is a lesson to be learned here that I don't think the OP learned, and no one was bothering to point out. This was not just a "bad day". This was a bad day of the OP's own making, and no matter how tolerant her horse is, she owes him more than that.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Absolutely not everyone would agree that I should have ridden the test. And I scratched the reride.

                                        But I guess you missed the part where there were moments in EACH MOVEMENT that were very good. And the part where an Intro test would've gotten the same scores...

                                        I'm the first to admit this is the first horse I"ve brought up through the levels from scratch. I guess I'm just not sure how you get mileage without... DOING it. Just warming up and never going into the ring doesn't get you mileage. *I* used to loose it when the bell rang.

                                        He was not stressed as in scared, he was stressed because he is an active breeding stallion, who behaves impeccably in public, faced with a challenging situation. He internalizes it and gets quite tense in the poll and jaw, and gets tight in the back. I admit I worked through it wrong. Not sure why I did. Hindsight is much clearer than faced with the moment.

                                        No, I guess if we failed in even getting the movements,(other than the changes) or weren't able to put them together... had a naughty horse or such... then I'd say I should've scratched altogether.

                                        I'd love to hear how folks get mileage without doing it, because that is what we're lacking. What I have at home is not at all what I have at shows. I don't see how I get around that without going to shows and doing it. And yet I don't see how dropping down levels would solve anything... at least if we show at the level we are working, we can USE THE MOVEMENTS... that's the only reason he *had* lovely moments. It's a matter of *keeping* him soft, focused and relaxed so those moments can come consecutively.

                                        But I'm quite happy to debate it. If there's a better way, another way, I'd love it if folks would share. I've been banging my head on the 2nd level ceiling for about a decade now one way or another. There are a lot of folks who tell you you can't/shouldn't but not so many who tell you how you can and should.
                                        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                                        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)