Schooling show recap

Gina and I kicked off show season on Saturday at a Green Country Dressage schooling show at Bridle Creek Arena, and I’m happy to report that we’re off to a decent start.

I got to the show grounds around 7 AM to help check people into their stalls; this ended up being kind of a fiasco. The facility hadn’t cleaned the stalls out from a previous event, despite receiving word from GCD that we needed 17 stalls for Saturday. The facility’s owner insisted the stalls were fine. I insisted they weren’t, and she ended up cleaning several out herself in between calling and swearing at her hired barn help who hadn’t done their job. I had zero sympathy for her, since she knew in advance that the stalls would be rented; it’s not my problem if her barn help flaked.

Once StallGate 2016 was resolved, I drove up to the barn to retrieve Moe and Gina. Moe was practically giddy- he started pacing and nickering as I was hooking up the trailer and nearly mowed me down in his excitement to get in the trailer. Gina was more reserved, but loaded fine and off we went. I parked near my barnmates, unloaded the horses, and met up with Moe’s lesson kid. I left her to get him ready while I headed back up to the arena; I ended up running the warm up ring for a while. Eventually, Moe made it into the warm up. He was trailed by a kid leading Gina; apparently, he’d started freaking out when he was led away from her, so someone decided to just bring her, too. Gina looked half-asleep and seemed a little bemused about why she wasn’t eating hay at the trailer.

Moe was absolutely horrible for his poor lesson kid. He was neighing, attempting to gallop instead of canter, and generally acting super, super amped up. I don’t know why- he’s been to lots of shows, he’s been to lots of shows in indoor venues, and he’s never acted buddy-sour before. (Perhaps Moe is embracing a new philosophy- live every day like it’s cross country day!)  I got on him at one point, and he was a little better for me, but his Training 1 test was hideous. I think the judge was actually worried that Moe would jump out of the ring and gallop off into the hills with his kid. His kid opted to not canter at all in Training 2, and Moe put in some lovely, soft trot work for her. I felt terrible that my elderly horse had behaved so badly, but his kid seemed to take it in stride and fed him a couple of donuts after she got off.

I got on Gina about an hour before our first test. She felt relaxed and basically calm and warmed up very well. Our First 1 test was pretty nice; I could feel a noticeable difference in the trot lengthenings, our circles and half-circles were the correct size, and she was soft and pleasant throughout the test. Our only real hiccup was after the first canter- you’re cantering from F to X, then trotting at X before completing the change of rein. Gina left the rail at F, saw she was headed toward the middle of the arena, and immediately attempted a flying change. This doesn’t normally happen at home, but I suppose Gina noticed we were at a show and wasn’t about to let her idiot rider mess everything up by cantering on the wrong lead. (*insert Gina eye roll here*) We ended up splatting into a discombobulated trot somewhere between F and X, but mostly recovered and went on to have a perfectly pleasant test. I ended up scoring a 59.444%, which was enough to beat the other three people entered in First 1.

Tired Gina wants to go home.
Tired Gina wants to go home.

First 2 felt about the same as First 1, although there was a lot of tail-swishing through the leg yields and another ugly across-the-diagonal transition. The judge interpreted the tail swishing as some kind of lack of harmony, so were were dinged on those movements, and, of course, the almost-flying-lead-change did not win us any points. We scored a 55.937% on this test, putting us in third place. (Well, technically, I won first place in both tests, as I was the only open rider entered. If I compare my score to the other scores, I had the highest in First 1 and the third highest in First 2. That’s how I prefer to think of my placings.)

Things we scored well on:

  • Medium walk
  • Free walk
  • Working trot
  • Gaits
  • Impulsion

Things we did not score well on:

  • Downward transitions across the diagonal
  • Canter lengthenings
  • Submission

I agreed with most of the judge’s comments, although I was surprised we didn’t score better on the collective remarks for submission. Gina felt like she was accepting the contact and working on the bit, but the judge wrote more than once that she’d like to see the horse more collected. I didn’t think that was a totally fair criticism, as First Level tests don’t ask for collection- just consistent contact.

Regardless of the judge’s opinion, I was very happy with how Gina went! She was calm, relaxed, and was much better behaved than she was during our disastrous First  Level debut last year. I was happy with our trot lengthenings, happy with our circles and half-circles, happy with our leg yields, and happy with Gina’s attitude.

Our next show is April 2- between now and then you can bet we’re going to work on those downward transitions!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

24 thoughts on “Schooling show recap”

    1. Thanks! I felt awful for Moe’s kid- he’s normally kind of a kick-on dressage ride, but he was SUPER wound up this weekend! Learning experience, I suppose.

  1. Damn Gina, gettin’ that satin! Glad the tests felt like the went well even if the scores didn’t completely match up with how she felt!

    1. Thanks! The judge’s scoring was kind of weird throughout the show- you’d have whole classes where no one scored above a 60 followed by a class where everyone was in the high 60s/low 70s. But it is totally not a huge deal; I am just glad Gina went well!

  2. Yay Gina!

    Sounds like the judging must have been pretty tough for 1st place to be 59%. But if the worst part of the test was Gina trying to do something that she thought was right, then that’s a pretty good place to be attitude-wise 🙂

    1. It was kind of a tough show- for example, last year when we did First 1 & 2, we got a 58% & 57% and those tests had a LOT of flailing, leaping, and tension. While I don’t totally disagree with the judge’s assessment of our rides, I was a little disappointed in the scores.

  3. Yay Gina!! I agree with the comments above, that does sound like tough judging, but it also sounds like a successful day for you and Gina.

  4. I think Moe is worried about your previous mention of retirement. He just wants to make sure you know he has plenty left in the tank 😉 Glad his kid wasn’t too mad and still gave him donuts. That’s a good kid. Keep that one around.
    Yay for Gina! Sounds like a HUGE improvement over the last time you went dressage-ing!

  5. She marked me down for “needs more bend” over and over and over, even though I am in Intro!! R was not happy. 🙂
    Gina looked great and you are a super secretary/rider/cat herder, etc.

  6. wooo congrats – and nice scores!!! those canter trot transitions at X kinda flummoxed us this weekend too… as did judge’s comments looking for a greater degree of engagement and push from the hind end. (oh, and comments about submission that conflicted with my own) le sigh. we’re working on it! seems like Gina’s well on her way!!

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