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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Major rain, major meltdow,major breakthrough

Its raining, its pouring.....and its miserable outside! Our road is almost flooded but we were able to squeak in a clinic with Ellen and it was fabulous as usual! I think I actually got the real feeling of riding the horse to your hands. It took me to remove my hands from the equation, but I actually saw the light! It also took a little meltdown on Sat to bring forward some of the major problems with my riding.

The freestyle coordinator (Diane) came for my lesson with Ellen to work out my canter music. But the session was a bit of a disaster as I kept dropping my reins and MP wasn't really through and was behind me, and on and on. I even stopped and yelled at my reins with very bad words at one point - better than yelling at people or the horse - but I was MAD. Needless to say we weren't able to get very far so at the end of the ride I sort of freaked out.

BUT it paid off because I think I finally saw the other side of my position problems. I pull my right shoulder forward, I pull my hands back, stick my elbows out and pull on the reins. On Sunday, I was able to pull my shoulders back put my hands and elbows forward and ride MP up to that contact. And boy did she go up!

Without the freakout I may not have been as receptive with my body to Ellen's lesson on Sunday. I had to give in 100% to finally let go. Hopefully it was the push I needed!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Almost to ulcer stage!

The pressure is finally setting in. So much to do and so little time. I have spent the past two months pining over how to get MP to IL for champs. I think I have finally reached a resolution which requires me to send a binding contract and fat check off to Fast Freddie of Freds Pony Express horse transport. I got Fred's info from our good friend Anke who has assured me he's the best. Knowing Anke, I'm sure he is. While I'm at it I may as well plug Anke's operation too - if you need a nice horse, contact Anke at Royal Oaks Farm. Thanks Anke, and thanks Fred for wheeling and dealing! Just no wheelies with our ponies!

And we have half of a freestyle! Diane of Center State Musical Freestyles came last weekend and worked the kinks out of our trot choreography. Now we just have to iron out the canter and we'll be ready to boogy! The plan is to show the freestyle for the first time on March 8th. I think after I show it once my blood pressure will subside. At least I hope.

And then we have all of the rest of the stuff to get done by May 11th - like qualifying scores and plane tickets and coggins tests and health certificates and Illinois permit entry and hotel rooms and car rentals and so on and so on and so on. And the biggie - I need $3500 pronto. I've raised $6500, but I still need more. STRESSFUL!

At least Ellen's coming this weekend. That always brightens my day!

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 Off to a Good Start!

We had our first show of the season last weekend. First things first - horse show husband (Scott) put in a stellar performance. You can tell all of the training from 2008 paid off. Plus he's really starting to get into the horse show scene. He knows when the horses look good, are going good and are going to get good scores. He also has become a very competitive husband. He sighs on the video when people walk on the bleachers in the middle of my test and make lots of noise. He makes sure MP is gleaming, has plenty of treats and that my boots aren't dirty (or my white gloves). IN FACT he even suggested that I need new boots and white gloves this weekend! Enter white stallion with flowing mane and Scott atop riding shirtless. Good god where did this guy come from? The best husband a horse girl could ask for. In fact, one of the other horse husbands told Scott he's making him look bad!

4th level test 2 video

Now onto the show update. My first fourth level test is officially under my belt! I got a 67.5% and won the class. Not bad for being completely paranoid and only just riding the test for the first time last weekend. MP was HOT to TROT. Like a fire breathing dragon! I was a little worried after my test because I thought maybe she came off to hot and too out of control (thats what she felt like). So I really wasn't sure if I should be happy or not. Actually I was just relieved to have ridden the test without any major bobbles - she got a little carried away in one of the pirouettes so I brought her back too much and she almost broke in the medium trot. Of course, Scott comes trotting out of the stands telling me that it was the best test he's seen us ride, so that gave me some sense of reality. Then he handed me the video to watch while he shoved carrots into MP and tried to get her to stand still. The video eased my worries and gave me a confidence boost for my second class on the day....the dreaded FEI Para Dressage Grade IV Individual Championship test.

FEI Para Dressage Grade IV Ind Ch test

Many people talk about the Para tests as being "easy" or "below their level" or "not compatible with the level of carriage required of the horse." I will blog about that at a later time, but really I find the para tests quite complicated. For my grade, the require a horse of PSG caliber, but they have things like simple changes. One would think, "oh that should be a piece of cake for a PSG horse." Not so my friend. It takes a lot of time and work to train the tempi changes, and there is a lot of preparation that goes into riding them. So going back to simple changes can be a little confusing. For the rider, you have to be very clear about your aides. For the horse, they have to wait and not anticipate. My goal for the year is to learn to ride these tests accurately and without flaw. MP won't be as fancy as the other international horses from Europe, so I'll really need to put in solid tests. This is why I call them the dreaded para tests - because they are a lot more work than you would think.

BUT, although my first para showing of the year had a few flaws, I put in a good test. I got a 65.4% with a bolt, a buck and a break in the canter (anticipation of the simple change). I was happy with it, and I know what I need to work on to get ready for Para National in Wayne IL. AND I got my needed qualifying score for nationals. I just need one more with my freestyle.

Thats all for now - enjoy the videos. Upcoming blogs will include the "ST & MP training plan," the "Goals & Objectives for 2009," the "Needs and desires," column and more. I may even pull off a tour of Somerset farm so you can see where Winters is.