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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.

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