Friday, August 28, 2009

Edmonton Gold Rush Show and CDI

Here is a link to the website for the Edmonton Gold Rush Show and CDI. There are rider biographies, full results for both the open Gold level show(the same as a National show in the US, riders received full recognition from Equine Canada and Dressage Canada), as well as the CDI.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to watch the first CDI in Alberta. Saturday, my grooming duties thankfully were complete just in time for me to watch the entire entry. I also caught most of it on Friday. In my eyes, the standouts were Travolta, Lymrix, Pfalstaff, Pikardi, and Picasso, Jr. I was also very inspired by Jennifer Parks and Morgen. Oslo and Lyndsey Seidel-Wassaner continue to make headway in the National ranks. I've admired and watched this pair since she first earned the ride on this horse. Thankfully, she was able to buy him.
Travolta, a hot number sired by Jazz, was bought by his rider at one of the warmblood sales in Alberta several years back. He is absolutely beautiful, brilliant, really a dazzling horse to watch. Joni Lynn Peters rides him with a superb mix of bravado and tact. When he focuses, he's nearly unbeatable. He is young yet, so, watch for this pair, a real bright star on the horizon for Canadian dressage, already long-listed to the Team.
Lymrix is owned & ridden by Crystal Kroetch. He's a gorgeous bay horse, powerful and has "the look". Crystal rides him very well, and has already been extremely successful with him both in the US on the California show circuit and in Canada. Expect to see this pair earn a Team Canada listing.
Pfalstaff is a very beautiful creature, dark chestnut in color, with lots of chrome to complete the perfect picture. He's very correct, obedient, and is gifted with a super build and natural gaits. Wendy Cristoff makes no mistakes, and the pair swept their Int. 2 and GP classes.
Pikardi, ridden by Bonny Bonnello, should also be mentioned here. While he did not win his Int. 2 or GP class, bear in mind, he is ridden by a very decorated Canadian rider, is young, and only just began schooling the I-2 and GP this January. They will certainly be a force to be reckoned with once his work is confirmed. He is certainly not lacking in brilliance and talent, and with such a pilot as Bonny, he is well on his way. The pair is already long-listed to Team Canada.
Picasso, Jr, is a beautiful dappled grey horse, with an extremly uphill build, a very forward way of going, has lovely gaits and shows great submission and work ethic. He's a horse anyone would watch and want to ride. I'd own him in a minute! He gave his rider, Diana Ducevik, his absolute attention and heart. He clearly loves her. Diana has hopes of qualifying for the Pan Am Games, and I would love to see such a pair make the team.
Oslo and Lindsey continued their winning ways, and continue to represent Canada as a Young Rider Team. Oslo's training has continued very well and he is looking powerful and brilliant. He works for Lindsey with his every breath, it's a joy to watch them. The two have already earned a long-listing with Team Canada.
While not the winning pair, in fact, the last placed pair in each class, I was very moved and inspired by Jennifer Parks and Morgen. Morgen is, like my own horse, half Holsteiner, half Thoroughbred in blood. Their build and look is very similar. Jennifer is an open rider, but like me, her students consist entirely of Training level riders, and most of them are also Vintage riders. While she does have a longer history than I in dressage, having actually earned a berth on the Canadian YR team at one point, she did serve to inspire me to keep chipping away at this sport. Training horses and riders is not her full time job, in fact she is a school teacher, as is her husband Greg. They are a lovely couple, who work hard, and Greg supports her every step of the way. I relate to this entire team in many ways, also having a husband who thinks we're amazing no matter what scores we bring home. What Morgen and Charisma lack in brilliant movement and ideal conformation, they make up for with a burning desire to please their riders. They are beloved pets first and foremost. The rest is icing. Jennifer did a super job in both the PSG and Int. 1 tests, capitalizing on correct and obedient work. I thanked her for the inspiration. I am now sure we can do it, too. Lest you "pooh-pooh" scores in the high 50s, please realize this pair was being compared to pairs that you will be seeing on Canada's team. Until you do it yourself, you have no idea how hard it is to make a line of 3s & 2s with the whole world watching on a horse that does not have ideal conformation by a rider who seldom gets outside instruction. It ain't easy. Jennifer gets my utmost respect and admiration.
Some "stars" were in attendance as well, including Leslie Reid and Dr. Thomas Ritter, both there in support of riders who train with them. It was great to see Edmonton draw such a luminous dressage crowd. I haven't sat in an audience this full at a dressage show, outside of the FEI World Cup!
Next year, Alberta hopes to host two CDI's, with Amberlea Meadows and Edmonton Area Alberta Dressage Association again hosting one, and with the Calgary Area Alberta Dressage Association also hoping to organize one, to make for a great draw for Team hopeful riders in the entire North American West. Watch the Alberta Dressage Association's website for the latest news!

More Lesson Gleanings!

Yesterday I had another lesson with Shelley, and Irene also double-teamed us, so it was a very intense hour. We did not work on any movements, we can do them, Charisma knows them. I asked them to help me with the "qualities". We need to show greater impulsion, submission, uphill balance, self-carriage, and greater carrying behind. So they spent the hour helping me develop a very cadenced, lovely trot, and then we worked on the canter. Charisma's trot work has come so far that I can truly ride with the weight of the reins now, and we just needed to coax that little something extra out of her, that really says "we belong here". Her canter work has also improved, but is not her best gait. They helped me ride her into a very round, rolling, jumping canter. I must be more brave! I've made some notes, that actually mostly reiterate what they've already been teaching me, but more in depth, and, with a deeper understanding for the requirements of the level. I've decided to enter the Alberta Provincial Championships being held at the Parkland Dressage Festival in September. I don't care how we place or score, my goal is for the tests to flow, and the movements to literally "be there", so that I can concentrate on riding each step and coaxing the best qualities out of my horse. We have been schooling all the Fourth level work now for the last month, so I am looking forward to being able to ride Third level with my head, and not my brawn. Of course in dressage, it is always recommended to show a level or two below what you are schooling at home. But when you only have one horse, and you have learned everything on that one horse, and you don't have access to daily training, you wind up riding beyond your level most of the time. I am happy that this year, I reached a point where I've been able to show Charisma at Second level, and not have to struggle. I've been able to enjoy it. I am now looking forward to having that same luxury at Third level.
Here are my notes from yesterday's lesson:

  • Charisma avoids the difficulty of loading the inside hind in transitions by straightening her body and losing the line of the circle. Practice all transitions with the feeling of travers, and use the outside aids actively, to keep the bend. By keeping the bend in the transitions, this increases the strength of the inside hind, developing power, which results in greater cadence. Also, if she is not allowed to straighten during the transition, she cannot use her neck against me to press up. The horse's neck muscles are very strong when they are straight. Keep her bent. Her neck is beautiful when it's correctly working for me, so seek to make her look as lovely as possible, by riding very precisely. Make that judge WANT to ride my horse.
  • When all is well in the trot work and I want to look for more cadence & expression, I need to engage my outside aids again, connect that inside hind with a bouncing lower leg to that outside rein, and ask for more honest work behind. The difference between Charisma’s trot when she is just going, and when I engage her hind legs, is night & day, from a very plain but correct trot, to a brilliant, bouncy trot that really says “we belong in the medium levels”. This will build power & expression over time. Seek to coax every ounce of movement out of her at every step.
  • In the canter work, don’t ever ride in auto-pilot. Yes there must be self carriage, but in order to coax the best three beat collected canter out of Charisma, I must keep my lower legs very loose, and literally ask for more jump every single stride. Use the seat & weight to keep her straight, and let the bouncing lower legs encourage her to jump uphill at every step. Improve the activity with every stride.
  • Continue to watch turns, lower and open the outside rein even, to keep her bending through turns and not escaping behind by straightening.
  • Keep the hands up over the wither, out in front, light and active, so as not to allow her to lean down, or worse, that I don’t pull her down. If I need to lower my hands, lower my outside hand, but keep my inside hand higher, so she can’t lean in on it.

My next post will be about the CDI in Edmonton! Stay tuned!