Yeah, yeah, I’ve been a bit of a slacker on my blogging in the past few weeks. After reading what Ike had to share with you, and finding out that he placed a sales advertisement for me on HJU, I felt that I needed to get back to my writing before I found myself on a trailer to an unknown destination courtesy of my darling horse.
We are gearing up for our next show. It seemed like it was waaaaayyyyyyy down the road, but the show is only a week away! Eeek! Now I should have some confidence given our luck at the last show, but I know well enough that success at the next show is not guaranteed. Plus, we decided to be bold and signed up for First Level Test 3 otherwise known as “the one with the shallow canter loop” as I have dubbed it. This is uncharted waters for me. Sadly, my dressage career stalled at First Level Test 2 with my Thoroughbred, so riding any test beyond that is like Columbus headed west hoping not to fall off the edge of the earth. I’m quickly learning that the tests only get harder from here on out. No more cruising around a 20 meter circle at the trot and canter.
That shallow canter loop: It sounds so simple. Left lead canter around the short end, at H turn onto the long diagonal towards X, then maintain the canter as you head back to the rail at K. All this after a 15 meter circle and a lengthening. Not.So.Simple. I have no doubt that our problems with maintaining the canter on the loop are all my fault…problems are almost always due to my error(s). We tend to lose it right around X. I probably shift my weight inappropriately, or grab the right rein more than I should, or shove Ike to the right with my left leg and knock him off balance. Then, I repeat my sins on the right side. No wonder he put me up for sale or trade.
We are also having the issue of Ike demonstrating his flying changes while executing the shallow loop. If I can control my urge to shove or yank, I sometimes shift my weight or legs without realizing it and Ta-Da, Ike performs a flawless flying change. I try not to make a big deal about it since we will eventually need to be able to execute the flying change, but it is forcing me to really concentrate on my body position. No more flailing around like at Training Level.
Then there is the matter of the right-to-left leg yield to centerline, to 10 meter circle to the left, 10 meter circle to the right, and (joy of joys) then finish with leg yield left-to-right. Say what!? That is a lot to ask of the spastic girl with her BIG horse. It is not a good time to let your reins get too long. Trust me, I speak from experience. I’m debating smearing Stick-um/rubber cement/Super Glue/Gorilla Glue on my gloves to help. If you lose your steering at any point of this series of movements, you are doomed. Doomed! Did those test writers really think that big man and I can execute all of these movements without drifting from X? Do they not realize what a spastic rider I can be? And just to be extra cruel, the two circles have a coefficient of 2. Great.
Although I know that we are not as strong as I would like to be, I’m still glad that I decided to try it. If you never commit to trying, then you will be less likely to practice and push yourself. It is too easy to get complacent and stick with what you know. It is the same philosophy I used when I signed up for First Level Test 2 at the first show of the season. Just do it. And remember, at most shows there aren’t that many people who are watching that closely.
And while I did commit to the harder test, I did also sign up for Training Level Test 3. I really want to see if we can break the 70% mark in that test. It still haunts me that we had the bobble in the canter at the GAIGs. It also haunts me that when we rode the test a few weeks after the GAIGs that the judge compared our canter to Scooby Do. I know we are better than that now and it would be nice to see the improvement in the scores. Anyone want to take bets on how we will do?