NDPC: First Level Test 2

My game plan for 1-2 was to use the warmup that's been working at home lately.  That is: develop a forward trot with hands forward and still, reins short and upper body slightly forward.  Throw in a few transitions, but mostly leave him alone until he stops gawking at stuff, starts paying attention to me, and I feel him relax over his topline.  Then start sitting and doing some lateral work.

It took a lot of courage on my part to do that at a show, because it takes a LONG TIME, and he looks awful for most of it.  Plus I look like I don't know what I'm doing just trotting in 20m circles and diagonals for forever.  But I just have to take a deep breath and wait him out, because I know it works, and if I start asking for too much too early the entire ride suffers.

Still waiting...

PC: My momma

The warmup won't always be like this, I know at some point I will figure something out and it will take half as long to get warmed up, but this is where we are right now.  And, it does work:

PC all photos in the rest of this post: Lisa Brezina

Connor's full sister's owner/rider was watching me and someone else who was very handsy warm up at the same time, and she told Connor's breeder "I wish that girl would just take an extra 10 minutes to let the horse relax like Jen did."  She rides I-1, and with as insecure about this warmup as I am, that made me happy.

We seriously took that into the ring too.  This is the most straight this horse has ever been at the canter:

Unnnnnnfortunately halfway through the test I started trying too hard and got tense.  If I had just relaxed and rode inside the ring the way I did outside, my score would have been better.  As it was, we scored a 61.719%, and won a three way tie breaker on our collectives to take 7th out of 14 in the open division.

Ughhhhhhhh GIVE WITH YOUR ELBOWS!  The comment here was "head nodding, relax elbows".  My trainer was giddy with delight that a judge validated what she tells me constantly.

Was I disappointed?  Maybe a tiny bit.  It felt like a mid-60's test to me at first, and we usually score well on 1-2.  But after I thought about it, you know, this was a championship level class, with most of my competitors driving 5-10 hours to get here.  And I say this not to disparage myself, but in total honesty: we are absolutely still mediocre at first level.  So 7th out of 14 is exactly where we should be.

I scored around this last year, but this feels totally different.  I'm riding better than ever, most of the time, except when I try too hard in tests, which I can overcome and have already this year at a different show, and the score reflected it.  I don't feel desperately sad at this score like I did after championships last year: I feel upbeat and awesome about where we are, because we have made miles of progress.

And best of all, the pictures (mostly) show a relaxed pony with an open throatlatch instead of a tense pony being held back by hard hands.  My warmup WORKED, on both his brain and his body, and that's a huge achievement.

It's another stop along the journey, and win or lose, boy is it fun.


NDPC: Schooling Thursday Night

My plan for Thursday was to do my warmup, get him soft, balanced and listening, and quit.  Oh, and walk past everything that could possibly scare him the next day:

Ring familiarization: we do that.

Photo credit for all photos in this post: Lisa Brezina (Connor's breeder)

(If you're wondering why it looks like I dressed in the dark, I was supposed to be wearing a white Smartpak shirt, but it was raining almost all day and I didn't want to turn my ride into a wet t-shirt contest.)

Not that our tests were bad, but Thursday was hands down the best ride of the weekend.  I patiently waited for him to relax, and rode as well as I can right now position-wise.  You can tell we're both relaxed in the photos.  He walked down to the Dressage complex a bit up, but he walked back on the buckle - and if you know the KHP, you know that's no small feat for a nervous pony.


NDPC: Getting Measured

We left for National Dressage Pony Cup on Thursday morning, since Connor had a 4pm pony card measurement scheduled.  NDPC offers official USEF pony measurements for free, and Connor will get his permanent card now.  We had to jog for soundness as part of this as well.

All photos in this post courtesy of my momma.

Connor was last measured in June of 2012, when he was six years and one month old.  At that time he was 14.0hh.  One year before that, at the Welsh show in August of 2011, he was 13.3 and 3/4".

Us, five years ago!

His breeder Lisa and I did bets on what he would measure this time.  She said he'd be 14 and 3/8ths and so I said he'd be 14 and 1/2".  We were both surprised when he measured 14.1hh!

Temp numbers because the airline lost the luggage with the real numbers in it...oops.

A few things could have contributed.  He was a little bit up in the covered arena at the KHP.  Or maybe we measured wrong last time.  And of course, Welsh Cobs, and his line in particular, are known for being very slow to mature.  It's possible he really did grow between age 6 and age 11.


Either way...I'll take it!  He's permanently 14.1hh as far as the USEF is concerned.

Anyone else have a slow grower?


NDPC Contest Results!

We're back from Pony Cup!  But before I launch into my recap, I'm sure you all want to know the results of the contest!

This one could have gone either way.  It could have went high, with a ton of people thinking he was one of the many Haflingers there, or it could have gone low, since most of the people there really know their ponies.

Really, if you look at him, he doesn't look like a Haflinger.  Really.

Photo credit: my momma

In the end, it went...low!  Connor got mistaken for a Haflinger three times.  T, Jess, Carly and Karen all guessed correctly, in that order.  I entered them in the order they guessed into the random list generator at Random.org and...

Carly is the winner!  Carly, you can choose which prize you want, either the Riding Warehouse prize bag or the full set of Gen 2 Majyk Equipe XC boots.  Whichever one you don't choose, Jess gets.  Karen and T, as runners up you guys get a 20% off coupon to RidingWarehouse.com.  Email me at my spam address, jalean 11 at gmail dot com to claim your prizes!

Thanks everyone for playing, that was a lot of fun!  I wish you could have seen my entourage throwing up their hands every time someone called him a Haflinger.  It was a blast!


WW: It's Getting Smaller! And Show Prep

Socks: white.  Feathers. :(


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