How do I prepare for the first horse show of the season? I go on vacation the weekend before!b Not really, but my mother planned the fiance and I an engagement party in Florida last weekend. Of course, the timing could have been better, but it was a wonderful weekend and the parents met one another and even got along!
While I was away, May got to go on a trail ride with one of the working students. Then on Saturday, a friend of mine,also named Emily, rode her in a lesson. Emily had ridden May at the end of last summer, so I was excited to hear how she felt about the improvements May has made. Emily is also basically the equivalent of Valium for horses (aka – she has the opposite of my electric seat). Emily & May had a great lesson where they wore pink and loped around the ring like Hunters. Fun for all. (With her permission, here are some pictures of Emily & May).
When I showed up for my lesson on Monday, my trainer promptly reminded me of all of this. She also told me to stop worrying about distances and counting strides and to just keep a relaxed, steady rhythm. Also, to keep my behind in the saddle and my legs on my horse. The result? It was 95% almost too slow. Perfect. Oddly enough, May also started landing on the correct leads, so she was landing more balanced. Ok. It’s not that odd. I wasn’t messing with her face as much, so she wasn’t flinging her head around, so we weren’t losing our balance and chucking ourselves over fences. Good to know, let pony mare figure out the jumping thing. I will do the whole right line, right rhythm thing.
Below is a video of this part of our lesson (watch on mute). Sorry for the awful quality. iPhone videos and all that.
Yes, at one point I am yelling something about keeping my large behind in the saddle. It worked, and I sat better. Note to self: talk to yourself during jumping rounds. The next day I went up and rode by myself. The jumps were set small int he 2′ – 2’3″ range, so I just let May lope around. I practices sitting in the saddle, keeping my leg on, and I sang “La dee da dee” on loop the whole time. May stayed nice and relaxed and hunter like, which brings me to my show goals.
Our first show is Friday, and it will be our debut at the BN level. This is a schooling event that has the words “Courses are considered schooling or ‘move-up’ and are not built to the maximum height and width requirements” written on the prizelist. Sounds like my kind of BN. My goals are as follows:
- Finish with a Number not a Letter: Pretty self explanatory. Do not get eliminated or quit.
- Do Not Use Negative Self-Talk: At all. I am not nervous, I am excited. That is not a huge jump, it is a reasonable effort. I did not screw up; I found something we need to work on. My pony is not a Corgi, she is an elegant gazelle (or something I guess).
- Focus on Relaxation and Rhythm: This is true for all three phases. I am ok with our first Dressage test having the dreaded “Needs More Energy” written on it. At our last show, we got a comment about tension that I would like to nip in the bud. For jumping, I might just sing “La Dee Da Dee” to myself the whole way around the courses.
- Enjoy It: Show off my pony and our skills to the best of our ability while actually having fun. I want to cheer on my barn mates and laugh with my fiance.
Things not on the list:
- A Certain Dressage Score: Since our last show, we have made huge improvements to our canter work. However, I have been very careful not to drill any Dressage work lately, so that improvement could be a wash since our trot work likely will not score any 8s again. I want the first show to be a metric that we can use to base further improvements off of.
- Clean Jumping Rounds: If we get rails, we get rails. If I try for one of the bank/ditch/water options and get a refusal, that’s not the end of the world. Like the Dressage score above, this is just a barometer for the rest of the year. I am going to ride like I stole it and come away with issues to work on.
- Make My Trainer Proud: Maybe one day I will write a full post on this one. However, I think a lot of riders put a lot of pressure on themselves to not embarrass their trainer. I know I do. Of course, I managed to eat dirt in front of my trainer’s trainer a couple of months ago, so I am not sure I could embarrass her more. At the end of the day, I take work hard, am nice to the other boarders, pay my bills on time, and care about my horse. That’s all my trainer really wants from me.
- Win: One day, I would like this to be our goal. Our first BN horse trial is not the day for this goal.
Stay tuned for a recap after Friday!