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Monday, April 6, 2009

Final's debut as an FEI Para Dressage Horse!

I was extremely fortunate this weekend to ride my good friend Eva's horse Final at the Golden State Dressage CDI. This was a large show with many good judges so I was honored to be loaned such a wonderful horse to fill MP"s shoes.

This was an important show not only because of the caliber of judges and horses and riders, but because members of the Canadian Para Dressage team also came to compete. In fact, I ended up showing against one of the Canadian Paralympians.

The first test we rode Saturday was the grade IV team test. Not my favorite. I hate the med canter on the 20 meter circle and this test has two of them. Ick. The test went smoothly, but I got really nervous but Final was a good sport, he tried his hardest at we pulled off a 65% even with a few mistakes. It was good enough for first place, so we'll take it!

The second test was much smoother. No mistakes and I felt like we really clicked in the test. Plus I had two judges and that always creeps me out. Can't get away with much when they can see you from two sides. We were able to secure a 68% on that test and another first place. Luckily Final got to go home, sleep in his own bed and get ready for Sunday and the dreaded freestyle.....

The week prior, I rode Final to MP's freestyle - twice. Now, granted, I had only shown this freestyle once, so riding it with another horse who is good at different things, no easy feat. For either of us. In the warm up, Final was exceptional. Doing everything I willed him to. But he was tired. We had asked a lot of him the past week and he needed a day off. So when we got into the ring, it kind of hit him like a ton of bricks. He got backed off and went into shut down mode. So the freestyle was a little bit of a mess, BUT we managed to pull off all of the required movements without mistakes, but our collective marks suffered because the freestyle was difficult and we didn't quite have it together. So our score ended up being not bad - a 67%. Could have been much worse and I think Both Final and me deserve huge kudos for being ballsy enough to even go in there a wing it. A little practice and he'd be a freestyle fiend. If we could only get a tu tu on him.....

For the second test, I knew he was done so I made a game plan to just monitor his strides and steps, but not push him at all. I would be an active passenger, but I would let him decide how much or how little. The result - a near flawless test. Sure it could have had some pizazz - but if I were at the world cup I would have been beside myself to have a test that nice. And the judges thought so too - they gave him a 69%!!! You can view the test here.

So turns out Final has just been dying to become an FEI Para dressage horse - who knew!! Eva was so generous to let me ride him, and I feel so lucky to be ABLE to show a horse like him. He's a blast to ride, and he is such a go getter. I hope I'll get to show him more often until Eva's back in the saddle!!

Day two - looking good

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