On our way to warm up...

On our way to warm up…

Yuck, I still can not get used to that number 4-0.  Or as one of my friends told me to call it Thirty Ten, because that comes after Thirty Nine.  Ok, that is better …. kinda …. not.

With the Big Birthday looming, I can honestly say I did not have the best of show seasons this year.   Perhaps it is because I felt the cloud of 4-0 coming, or maybe not?!  Here is a recap my show season in point form, since, perhaps, you have read some of my previous blogs during the season and who needs to read it all again, right?!

Go back if you want a more in depth idea of what went on these last few months.

Feb & March 2011 – The season started with getting rocket launched and eating dirt at a schooling show at Thunderbird Show Park.   Vinny went to slam on the breaks at the final halt and I gave him a double barreled kick – only to be catapulted over his head.  What kind of sign was this?  Since I did post scores in the mid 60% range for PSG in the Feb and March shows, I thought I would head south to California for 2 CDI competitions in LA and Sacramento.

April 2011 – off to the sunny and warm California sunshine.  Disaster strikes and the 2 shows do NOT go as planned and everything falls apart.  I start drinking heavily to keep my cheery outlook.  I am seriously contemplating changing careers, and am still keeping some other options on the back burner, just in case my midlife crisis continues.  I am sure I will blog about this later, but I digress…. back to the show season.

May 2011 – I skip the Spring Dressage Show at Southlands Riding Club, because we haven’t put it all back together yet.  So, I attend the judges clinic with Cara Whitham, FEI-O Judge.  I realize, I really don’t want to be a judge, and still want to ride and compete. 🙁

June 2011 – I skip the Thunderbird Touch of Class Show at Thunderbird Show Park, and opt for a smaller one day  Bronze show to test the waters at Fourth Level, and see how Vinny is feeling post-California Disaster.  Not bad, things are coming together and working on the right track.  Vinny is still a bit resentful, but I feel he is more rideable. 🙂

July 2011 – Stay home to school, basics, basics and more basics.  Vinny is feeling good and strong after a 2nd one day Bronze show.  So at the last minute, I put my entry in to the Canada Cup show at Maple Ridge Equestrian Centre.  I decide to skip my FAV show at Devonwood, in Portland Oregon, due to this “re=build” stage. 🙁

Aug 2011 – Long BC Day weekend, off to Maple Ridge and 30+ C temps. Ahh, I am warm, love it hot like that.   I enter Vinny in a class Sat and Sun in order not to over tax him, stress him out or cause him to regress.  My number one goal for that show, was to get Vinny in the river – so off we go for a romp in the river (he hates it). The next day, we go in the water jump on the Maple Ridge cross country course, and the last day, the arenas are filled with water and puddles.

I was glad to have done a little “water” training the previous days!   Warm-ups and tests go quite well.  I rode very conservatively on purpose to conserve Vinny’s good attitude.  I am learning that the old Freight Train Vinny really doesn’t like to be ridden like that, so opting for softer with less pressure.   Good idea, and Vinny gets his Groove Back! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Sept 2011 – Labour Day Long weekend, BC Dressage Championships at Southlands Riding Club.  I wimp out and enter Fourth Level again.  I was feeling stressed about showing PSG – even though Vinny is schooling all the PSG and Int I at home, I just couldn’t write it down on the entry form.  Again, I feel this was a good idea.  I had 3 super days at the show – not a perfect Freestyle on Friday, but good.  Saturday a super test even tho I was a bit queezy with butterflies in my stomach and Sunday, again not perfect, spooky but rideable. 🙂

Oct 2011– Pacific Regional Championships at Thunderbird Show Park.  Again, I wimp out when push came to shove when filling out the entry form.  I go with Fourth again – promising myself that is THE LAST TIME.   No more hiding from the PSG test.  Vinny is absolutely fantastic at the show grounds Friday – what a fun ride in the big outdoor arena at Thunderbird, and I mean BIG arena.

Saturday tests, not perfect – in fact, I was not pleased at all with how I rode.  But Vinny did not get mad at me and make me “pay” for it. Sunday, my warm-up was not that great – I felt a bit off in my timing and not sitting “in”.  But I went in and around the arena, and I just “got” it before the bell went and had a good ride.  Oh, and the best part of the show was that I celebrated my Big Birthday there – cake and singing and everything. 🙂

2011 Show Season Wrap up – I have gone from the lowest of the lows, to slowly and steadily climbing out of that low.  It was hard psychologically to get back in the show ring and get the job done.  It was even harder to “downgrade” after trying PSG because I felt embarrassed.  But in the end this was the best decision for both of us (Vinny and I) to get our confidence back in the show ring.

20112-2012 Winter Game Plan – remember what Sport Psychologist Sommer Christie says in her blogs on Horse Junkies? You need to review your competitions, figure out what worked and what did not, make a plan for next time, and execute the plan.

Again I digress…. ok, my plan for the winter.  The plan for Vinny, is to get stronger and more confident in the Int I work.  The plan for trot, is to get more engagement and strength for medium/extended trot.  The plan for the canter, is for the strength in the very collected canter for the full canter pirouettes, confidence in the zig zag, and expression in the 4’s, 3’s and 2 time changes.

I will continue to ride him primarily in the snaffle and ride in the double 1-2 times a week.  Amanda, my right hand gal, will have to make me ride in the double now, since I prefer the snaffle these days.  If you told me that 6 months ago, I would have laughed that it was not likely!

What I have learned (or was reminded about) this year – Well, I learned I really do want to ride and go to horse shows.

  • I learned, again,  that going back a step can make going forward that much easier.
  • I learned that Vinny has a definite opinion on how he would like to be ridden, and I need to listen.
  • I learned, again, if your horse is happy he will be more confident, comfortable and will try harder and you will get more in the end.
  • I enjoy the training and the process, as much as the achievement of getting to a level.
  • I learned, again, that it is not about winning the ‘prize’ it is about competing with yourself and your own goals.
  • Being ambitious can backfire and you can overdo it. Going back to basics is always a good answer.
  •  I learned, again, that you must stand behind what you believe to be true in your heart.

Enjoy the Journey and ride with your heart (thank you Catherine Haddad).

Make a Plan and Execute the Plan, making changes and alterations along the way.

Off to the next goal and remember, learning never stops.

Alison 🙂