Legging up for show season

"We're obviously going to win things if you can stop riding so poorly."
“We’re obviously going to win things if you can stop riding so poorly.”

I’ve got just under six weeks until the first dressage schooling show of the season; Gina’s had about a month off due to lameness, but I’m not too worried about it. I had planned to spend most of the winter hunting and very deliberately not doing dressage so that Gina could enjoy a mental break. Hunt season isn’t over, and I’m still planning to get her out a few more times. Our current focus, though, is shifting back to dressage.

Gina’s coming off her break feeling better than ever. She’s moving really, really well and is more forward and less stiff than I expected her to be. (She’s so forward, in fact, that she’s freaking her regular lesson kid out, which is endlessly hilarious to me. Is that mean?) Our connection has also been great; she’s soft and giving in the bridle and all the riding I’ve done on Moe has improved my hands.

We’re tackling First Level again this year. My goal is to win a year end award from GCC; to do so, I’ll need to get 5 scores from 3 different judges and ride First Level test 3 at least once. All the pieces of First Level are there for us: our leg yields are good, I’ve been working on improving geometry, and I’m almost certain we can manage the shallow canter serpentines without flying changes. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what our warm-up routine will be. Since I can haul myself to shows, I can now arrive as early as I’d like, which I think will help us have a less tense test. Plus, since I’m the show secretary for the whole season, I can schedule myself whenever I want. 😉

Since Gina’s coming off a break, I’ve been keeping her rides around 30 minutes. I work on establishing a good connection right away, making sure she’s listening to all my aids, and making sure I’m riding correctly. Are the brakes working? Is she hanging too hard on my inside rein? Is she moving away from my leg? Am I keeping my shoulders even? Am I looking up? Last week, we simply worked on maintaining our connection at all three gaits; this week, we’ve been doing more lateral work. Next week, we’ll get our lengthenings underway again and gradually increase our ride times.

I’ll also be bringing our conditioning hacks back later this week. Not only does Gina seem to enjoy getting out of the arena for trot and canter sets around the hay meadow, she’s got to regain her pre-injury fitness level to go hunting again. Plus, there’s only so much dressage I can do before I need a mental break.

I’m thrilled Gina’s recovered and can’t wait to get the show season underway! And, you know, get back to day drinking and jumping stuff having fun in the hunt field.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

15 thoughts on “Legging up for show season”

  1. awesome that she’s coming back feeling so good!!! i’ll definitely be curious to hear how your warm up plans evolve with her fitness, since i’ll be in a very similar boat (with similar goals!) once we can get back to regular riding too!

    1. I was surprised she feels so good- she just feels powerful and electric. I was chatting with the barn owner/manager/trainer who teaches the lessons this morning and we thought maybe Gina needs to take a week off every month to give her body a break.

      Let’s hope that if breeding and foaling go well that she’ll enjoy THAT break as much as this one!

  2. So exciting! I’m impressed with your ability to plan things. I’m such a let’s get on and see what we have to work with today kind of rider…. Perhaps I’ll borrow some of your training plans if I ever get to ride my horses again! (I’m just being dramatic, it’s actually been a mild winter up here so far.)

    1. I used to very much be “let’s get on and see what we have” and I definitely think that has a place in the training regime. But after the couple of dressage clinics I did last year, I have sort of converted into “let’s have a plan and adjust the plan if necessary”. Both clinicians made me totally re-evaluate how I was warming both horses up!

    1. It’s a good one that was imparted to me by a dressage clinician I rode with last year! She was like, “How do you warm up?” and I was like “Um, I get on and I let Gina walk around on a loose rein until she stops feeling stiff?” and she was like “NO NO, YOU MUST GET ON THE HORSE AND TEST ALL OF YOUR AIDS!”. She’s German, so of course, this was much scarier in person than it sounds in print. 😛

  3. Yay Gina! You can do it!! And only 6 weeks until the first show??! That can’t be right??…..we may have to start in intro at this point!!

    1. One of the western dressage gals pointed out that it was only six weeks a couple of days ago and I about peed myself. I fully expect you and Venus to be at that show!!

  4. Planning ahead…a girl after my own heart! Can’t wait to see how it goes! I’ve thought about doing western dressage…maybe I should reconsider??

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