Congratulations to Melynnda on Her Silver Medal!

Melynnda, as some of you know got a new horse last fall.  He’s really a good mover.  Expressive and elastic, sensitive but not silly.  Older, had some experience at the Grand Prix.  Half TB, bred from an old stallion of mine, Watson.  Spent his life in California and Germany.

A couple of weeks ago, first show of the season, Melynnda accomplished a personal best at the Prix St Georges, handily upping her past averages by almost five points and got the second score she needed for the USDF Silver Medal award.

Great work–we are all really proud of her!

Isn’t it great getting a new horse that is a better mover?

Well, yes indeed it is, except the horse she got the score on was her 14.2 downhill Mustang mare, Mariah.  The same horse she got her first score on as well–eeking out the sixty last year once  instead of this year nailing it with room to spare.  (It was a really nice test)

I don’t know how many FEI Mustangs there are, but I bet it is not a handful.

How did she do it?  Hard work over the winter, the new horse is teaching Melynnda a lot.

AND we have found a way to make that little horse happier than she has ever been in her tack.  She’s being ridden better, but she’s more comfortable as well.  Five points up, first show, how often does that happen?  Dressage is not so easy for that little Mustang.  We made her happier.  It paid off.

And finally, something if you are interested in we can help you with.  Yes, finally, something you can buy at Dressage Snob!  You know we know what we are doing.  Happy to share:

10 weeks from the first show of the season. Add to List.

For those of us in the North the end of February marks a rehearsal date.  Whatever tests you have planned for the Spring season need to be ridden through.

You say you are not ready?

You probably are, though logically it may not be the best ride you put in over the season.

If you have been doing your homework over the winter you will have been schooling new material and consolidating the old.  The winter (or whatever season you consider to be the “off” non-show season) is the time the homework gets done, new movements are roughed in.  This is how it should be.

If you have taken the winter off, as many in our neck of the woods do, you probably won’t be planning for the first shows of the season.  Your  April will have been our December.  But no matter what working months you choose, there is the “work and rough in” period, and then the “get ready to show it” period.

The two things are different.

Here is how your first imaginary test might ride, ten weeks before show date:

1. Canter down center line to halt at X.  Notice that a correct canter to halt has not occurred.  Steps of trot were present–Add 1 to list.

2. At C, Turn right, cross diagonal medium trot.  Note transitions in and out of medium are weak, though medium itself is strong.  Do you want fives or sevens out of the same medium?  Add 2 to list.

3. At A, canter, F half pass left to X, Flying change, half pass to right M flying change.  The whole thing started late and crept down the arena, making a rushed feel. Last change was late behind.  Add 3 to List

And so the test goes on.  It is clear you know HOW to do everything–the schooling over the winter has made this possible–but it is far from the polished performance you would like.  In fact, each of the twelve movements of your imaginary test has created at least one Add to List.

These added tasks will get better with dedicated practice.  And you now have ten weeks to do this practice.  If you wait until the week before your show to find out that practice is necessary, you will not have time.

Why the resistance?  How come you don’t want to ride the test?  Why all the sour faces and procrastination when I asked for it?

You say it will not be perfect?  No problem.  That is 100% okay.  It is still late February.

You have ten weeks to methodically go through all the elements until they are virtually perfect.

Then there is some hope that they will come out in a similar manner in the arena.  Congratulations!

Ten days prior?  Not so much so.  You’d have to rely on luck–something that is far overrated in the show ring.

So, ride the test, take notes. Have it taped.

You, your horse, your trainer (and your judge!) will all be very glad you did.  The competition?  Not so much so!

Your first schooling show. If things don’t go perfectly, here’s what to do:

Dale Forbes:

Dear Riders,

It’s Saturday night before the big (schooling) show.  I had a moment, and thought of some things you might not know.   I’ve made a “hope for the best, be prepared for the worst” list for you.

Nothing dire, but as mistakes ALWAYS happen, it’s a good idea to know what to do.  We’ll assume it’s a recognized show with all the rules intact; though your schooling show may be a good bit less formal, you might as well practice for the real thing.

1. You’re leading The Beast out and remember you’ve forgotten your number.
What do you do?
Go back and get it. Even if someone is leading the beast on a halter, it must have its number on.

2. You go to the warm up arena and The Beast looks like it’s going to buck you off.
Can you longe?
Yes.  But only with straight side reins, unmounted.  No other artificial aids allowed (no running reins, martingales, V-shaped item) and nothing when you are up. Be careful Your Beast is not upsetting Betty’s Beast.

3. When you are longing The Beast you like to have as many boots as possible on it; is that okay?
Yes, as long as they are not the kind with tacks.  Remember, you can’t have ANYTHING on the legs when you go in the ring.
Have your groom take them off.

4. The Beast still looks too frightening; can you ask your local cowboy to buck her out a bit?
No.  John Wayne is only allowed to ride on long reins (as in your groom getting from place to place). If he is not signed in as your coach or trainer, he can’t school the horse.

5. You’re showing second level but you’d like to warm up in the double, as The Beast has a nasty habit of romping about in a new place.  Can you do this?
Yes, with caution.  (Generally yes, but it is up to the discretion of the TD (Technical Delegate).  Not advised if you are showing training level. . . Double bridles are officially allowed at third level.

6. You’re ready to get on–can you use spurs and whips?
Yes, except no whips in some qualifiers or international competitions.  But be aware there is always a maximum length for each. (Whips are currently allowed up to 120 cm, 47.2 inches, including lash. Shorter is okay if you want.)  You are not allowed to use two whips in the arena. (!!)

7. You go down the center line to salute and The Beast halts crooked or steps back. Do you make a correction?
Not generally.  Get it over fast and go on, remembering to work on it at home.

8. You go down the center line to salute and The Beast gets stage fright and tries to exit. Do you make a correction?
By all means. As long as it is done kindly and without temper.

9. You go left instead of right and remember you have gone off course before the judge realizes it. What do you do?
Turn around, make eye contact, and say, “I’m off course.”  Correct your error and go on.  (-2 points, no big deal.)

10. You think something funny is going on but can’t quite place it and suddenly you hear a whistle/bell. What do you do?
Stop.  The judge has alerted you that you’re off course: you either nod and smile if you remember where to go, or promptly (a quick trot)  go back to him/her and say: “I’m lost.”  He/she will explain your error and new starting point and send you on your way.(-2 points, also no big deal.)

11. The Beast attempts to buck you off. What do you do?
Stay on! (Then smile and navigate.) Get back on course as soon as possible. Judges have ridden Beasts too.  They have sympathy for this kind of thing. (-2 and we’re all glad you stayed on.)

12.  The Beast leaps (or steps) out of the arena. What happens?
You’re eliminated.  You make plans for the Grand Nationals (jumping steeplechase).

13.  Despite your good work and good hopes, The Beast really does not want to play the same game as you today and has shown it at every move.  You fear for your life.  What do you do?
You are allowed to leave early, but will get no score. Turn down the center line, stop in any place you can and salute, uttering the words after doing so,  “Please excuse me.”

Except for the last, I have done every one of these.   And several times in tests that I actually did well in.

Always remember: if one thing does not go perfectly, the next might be better.
Be on time, look your best, RIDE!!!!

I’ll be there.  D