Saturday, April 4, 2009

Feb 2009


After the January show, I set about to work on the things that did not go as well as they needed to in the Second level tests. I needed to improve the overall uphill balance, and, submission. I also needed greater obedience and accuracy. I used video almost daily to be certain that what I felt in the saddle looked like it needed to look to the judge. Perception and reality are often very far apart! By the time the February show rolled around, I felt we could break into the 60s at Second level. I was even bold enough to pay the qualifier fee on the test 4, both days. I had a lesson on Friday, Feb. 20, with Charlotte Nord-Nielson, and then rode Second level tests 3 & 4 on Saturday under Judge Melissa Creswick. It went pretty well, Charisma was obedient and reliable. I was really happy with how much more reliable she has become in the show ring. We earned a 60.930 on test 3, and, 59.524 on test 4. So, PROGRESS, once again. We continued to show improvement. I had my rides video'd, and studied them that night, reading through my tests, to see how best to impress Judge Creswick the next day, and to also analyze myself what areas I wanted to work on. It occurred to me, as I was watching the video, and reading the test comments, that there were actually a lot of "dead zones" where the judge wasn't scoring. I realized I was missing out on lots of great opportunities to really check that Charisma was paying attention to me. I don't know why I've never realized this before. I was leaving way too much on the table! Sunday, I entered the ring bound and determined to use every step to my advantage. It went really well, and by the time I halted and saluted, my thought was "Huh, that went pretty well, but I actually think we can do even better." It was not a thought of ungratefulness, just, very matter of fact: not bad, but better is still possible for us, and frankly it was exciting to feel that way. I've honestly never felt so hopeful about our future. The ride wound up earning us a 64.286! Good enough to earn our first qualifying score to attend the Regional Championships. This show, I feel, was a pivotal show for me as a rider.


Feb 28, I organized a "Ride a Test" fun day at the barn and invited a few friends out to practice their tests. In attendance were Brenda Whitely, Beth Hart, Suzannah Hanson, Sarah Glidden, Jenny Campos, Arly Cunningham, Gail Veley and two of her students, and Laura and Deni Lojko. I rode Charisma through Third Level test 1; and I also rode Dancer(Suzannah), and Daz(Sarah). Dancer had just been in training with me since Feb. 1, so, it was a little early to expect much of him, other than, to introduce him to the idea of there being people sitting around the arena and more excitement in the air in general. He struggled a little bit to stay attentive, but, he lacked enough tools in his toolbox at such an early stage in our work. I am very hopeful for this horse, he's a real tryer, and very neat mover. He's got some physical issues he's had to overcome in life, and yet, he still is willing to give it a try. That's all I ask. Daz and I rode through First level test 3, and overall I was pretty happy with him. That horse has the heart of a lion, a lot of horse in a small package, and I'm so happy to have him in my life. I've been working with him since November. He came to me for training after recovering from a very bad colic, and about half a year off from work. He was so weak at first that holding the lead behind was very difficult. He's really muscling out now. Brenda did really well on her mare, Ruby, and we are hoping to begin showing her at the Las Vegas shows this spring. Here they are practicing Training Level test 3 a week later: I was really excited to get to know Beth's horse, Clu, better. He's super cute. All in all, everyone seemed to have a good time, and, it was good experience for the horses and riders to get out and work under a little bit of pressure, without there being so much on the line.