So the show this past weekend was good in a number of ways.
First, Kaswyn was super excited and decided to be fabulous during Debbie's Intro C test. He did his extended trot down the long side and was basically a boob. She ended up trying to half halt him the entire test. She did a good job with it, but of course it wasn't exactly pretty. She got a 53%, but amazingly got second place out of four horses with that. He settled down for his second test, Training 1, and was much better. Sure, there were times he could have been rounder or had more bend, but she did everything she was supposed to do and didn't go off course. He was much better behaved and they got a 63%, but were 4th out of five horses in that one. Not bad for her first time cantering in dressage!
As for Phil, he was really tense and nervous again, so I did what I'd been doing at home, which was really using my leg and seat to push him to my hand. It worked fine in the warm-up, but when we were in the ring he just wanted to blow through my hand. He was very very tense, and we got a 56%. The judge said I needed to allow him to go forward, and that I was stopping him, but if I hadn't stopped him he would have blown out of there! Of course she can only judge what she sees and doesn't know anything about his past, so I agree with the score. It wasn't a pretty test.
I only had 30 minutes between my rides, so I just stayed on him for ten minutes and hung out in the shade. Then I went back in the warm-up and worked on just hacking around. I thought of what my trainer said during one of my lessons - that I should be able to have a cocktail and ride this horse; in other words he should be easy enough to ride that I can just chill out. So I stopped trying to drive him so hard into my hand and just let him be. His connection has been much more solid lately and I found that I could just relax and let him go forward and he'd actually go into my hand, with the occasional hug from my leg. We went in the ring and we had a much more relaxed test. Nice connection, and he really listened to me, and didn't seem overly stressed out. His gaits weren't as impressive, but I was going for calm and relaxed, so I was happy with what he gave me. We got a 63% and second place out of 5 horses. I think during the first test I just drove him way too hard into my hand and it stressed him out rather than made him feel secure in the connection. So that was totally my fault. But at least I learned something. Oh, and I think I was sitting up much better and wasn't getting so far forward. So that's an improvement!
I think at this point what I need to do now is get him straighter and get better bend. I've been working so hard on the connection, which I think has improved a bunch, but now I need to fix the crookedness. There were times in the second test that I knew he was crooked but I didn't want to try and fix it too much for fear that I'd ruin the good vibe that we had going. I think I now have a solid plan for how I need to ride him at shows vs. how I ride him at home. So that's good.
I'm still downloading/uploading videos. So stay tuned!
The next set of Weekly posts are going to be about my butt, in one way or another. Sorry, but it just seems really relevant right now. Let’s start!
#1 – How my breeches helped my seat
For the first three years or so that I rode dressage, I didn’t wear full seat breeches unless I was showing. Not because I was against them, I just was too cheap to spend the money on them. Then my trainer went away for USDF Regionals and, as a thank you to me for taking care of a few of her horses that didn’t go to the show, she gave me a pair of full seat breeches for schooling.
This completely changed how I ride. I hadn’t realized just how much my seat was sliding in the saddle on a regular basis, especially at the canter. Kaswyn’s canter is not the best, and it’s difficult to keep him round and balanced. Without the full seats I was all over the place. It was like my butt was the silver ball in a pinball machine, and that silver ball was ping pinging all over the place. With the full seats I actually got some stability in my seat, and my seat became stronger and more stable.
Just a few months ago I realized I had two pairs of breeches that helped my seat on Phil. Phil often gets me leaning too far forward. I know I need to stop this, but it’s a combination of #1) wanting to give him rein but not wanting to let the reins slide through my fingers in case I suddenly need them and #2) protecting myself and leaning forward when I get a little nervous. I’m working on this REALLY hard.
Anyhow, I have two pairs of full seats that I didn’t wear very much because, well, they hit me right in the lady parts. And not in a good way. You know how the full seats have that part right in the center of the crotch where two seams actually come together… well that little “nubbin” of fabric got me right in the lady parts and it did NOT feel good. I had delegated them to the bottom of the stack of breeches and avoided them as much as possible. However, one day I was forced to wear them because I didn’t have any other clean breeches (and really none that I could recycle for just one more ride).
And wow, did they poke and prod my delicate lady bits! I was squirming around, trying to shift the fabric, when I realized that if I just SAT UP CORRECTLY that the nub didn’t bother me anymore.
So now I wear those breeches regularly, and the nubbin poke in the lady parts reminds me to SIT UP and not lean forward. It’s not very subtle either. But it works.
So go get yourself an uncomfortable pair of full seats. You never know, they could help you!