Heartland CT: Dressage

Connor and I had our first show this weekend, the Heartland CT.  We had beautiful weather and it was incredibly well-run (running early for the most part!) which I attribute mostly to Amy's amazing show organizing skills.  Thanks again for all your work!

Dressage was up first, and our warm up consisted of lots of serpentines and small circles, mainly at the trot.  My trainer kept saying "Your outside leg is just as important as the inside leg, both hind legs need to come through, you can use the inside leg all day but you won't get him through without the outside leg too."

While he did his classic one ear on me/one ear on everything else routine, he was pretty responsive and right when I started to get him on my aids I headed for the ring, since I had the luxury of going whenever I wanted since they were like 10 minutes ahead of schedule:

Dressage warmup: one ear on me, one ear on the other guys.

Of course, when we got into the ring, he immediately decided that it was not cool to be separated from his new best friends in the warmup ring, and he got tense, forward, and started whinnying.  I had all the impulsion in the world, but I also knew that I had to be incredibly tactful with my aids to avoid an explosion. Aids that normally would require a leg movement basically turned into me thinking about applying the leg aid, haha.
Killin' it in a black bridle, red saddle and chocolate girth.  We awesome.


Austen taught me how to do less-huntery braids that morning, which I was very grateful for.  I need to refine my technique, but Heartland is a great place to try out something new like that - only maybe 25-50% of competitors braided.  

He was tense, especially in the throatlatch, but he stayed on task.  He actually managed to stay consistent in the bridle while whinnying, I was sort of impressed!  I was thrilled with his canter transitions, and wished for a little more relaxation - with that, we might have caught our division's leaders, but as it was, we got a 31 which I was thrilled with and thought was very fair.


The people that make us what we are: my trainer (telling me I gave what he gave me the best ride I could have, under the circumstances), and Connor's breeder, whose favorite parts were his upward canter transitions.  I loved them too! Also, Austen did the forelock!
Show jumping was a half hour after Dressage, so we went back to the barn to let him drink before heading over.  There, Austen broke out some licorice.  Connor tried puppy dog eyes to get my husband to give him some:


Husband and horse.  Husband said "You don't really realize how small Connor and Jen are until a nine year old rides up on this massive horse right behind them. You guys are miniature eventers."

But I vetoed the licorice plan, not wanting red slobber for show jumping!  Poor pony.


30 comments:

  1. Hahaha so my Uncle always says I'm the 9 year old on the giant horse, so watch out!

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    1. Haha, if/when we get the two of them in the same state we need to take the picture that logically follows this!

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  2. Braiding skillz! ;)

    You guys were certainly winning the adorable awards out there.

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    1. Braiding skillz indeed! Yours mostly.

      The adorableness was all my partner. He'll do anything for the ladies.

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    2. Whatever, you did most of the mane. And it looked awesome. All I did was provide instruction, an example, and a forelock.

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  3. Congrats for riding through the whinnying. My Arab gelding always did that and it is so hard to stay focused.

    He does look super adorable!

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    1. Thanks! It was. I was conscious of trying to be above his shenanigans. It worked!

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  4. Sounds like a test to be proud of! Congrats :)

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  5. Great job! I have to say, I can't wait for his hair to grow back. Bravo on the braids too.

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    1. I don't mind it. The first clip got even a lot faster than the second one due to how late I clipped him. Next year I plan to schedule that better. I am never not clipping again, it made everything - rides, cool outs, shedding, blanketing - better. Plus he just seems to run hot, so he was happier too.

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  6. You guys looked great out there! I'm so glad I was able to watch. What a gorgeous day it was for a show (says the lovely watch tan I now have burned into my wrist...)! Also, the show jumping warm-up arena was pure insanity when you were in there- How on earth do you keep it together?! I was in sensory overload just watching.

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    1. You watched and didn't say hi?! Haha. Come introduce yourself! Um yeah, it was nuts! I was consciously yelling out my fences clearly because I knew I was in there with a bunch of pony clubbers who would follow my lead if I started that trend. It worked!

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    2. What?! and miss this opportunity to sound like creepy big brother?! haha sometimes chaos brings out my introverted side... if you're going to Rolex, we'll have plenty of time to chat :)

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  7. I think you and Connor are perfect for each other! Heartland is a fun but always busy show with so much going on. 31 is a very respectable score!

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    1. Thanks! We make a good team, me putting up with his quirks and he saving my bacon all the time. Haha. Yes, Heartland is exactly that, and such a good warmup for the season. Thanks!

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  8. Love the pictures, love the ride. Haha, I love how the horse in the show arena is never hte same one you rode in warm up. Yay adaptability!

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    1. Thanks and noooo kidding! Haha. If my warmup horse was my show horse we might have caught the leaders!

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  9. Dressage pony needs licorice! He looks really great. Love the very uphill forward canter :)

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    1. Haha, thanks!! Dressage pony did think he needed licorice. His human can't have it because there is wheat in it!

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  10. You two look great!! I really like the white piping on the collar of your jacket. :) Plus he looks adorable in braids.

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    1. Connor's breeder found that jacket for me for $30 on eBay, if you can believe it! Thanks! I always braid him even for little stuff.

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  11. Haha, why is it that they get all tense the MOMENT you go in the arena??? So not fair!

    Looks like a lovely test nonetheless, and a 31 is nothing to sneeze at. Congrads on a great first phase! Can't wait to hear about the rest of it. :)

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    1. I know, what is up with that?! We were like 20 feet from the warmup ring.

      Thanks! I was very pleased with a 31. 27...ridiculous. Haha.

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  12. You two look great, and that is a great score! Good job :)

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  13. Thanks for the shout out :). I am glad things seemed to run smoothly. I did a crazy lady shout and happy dance the moment the last rider went and we went the whole day and nothing fell apart. It is an interesting feeling being responsible for scheduling a show that big yet have NO idea what you are doing. I don't know that I ever actually saw you or Conner. Your trainer must have picked your packet because I remember hearing your name but never seeing you. But you did great and your division had some good scores! Many division only had 1 or 2 scores even in the 30's and the rest in the 40's. If only someone would post the final scores! Oh wait I think that's my job ;)

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    1. You are so welcome! I bet that feeling when they were done was amazing. I picked up my own packet, did we just not recognize each other without breeches and helmets? Haha. My trainer was in there picking up her own stuff at the same time.

      I asked some tiny kid on a giant red chestnut Thoroughbred if that was Steady and she said no. Oops!

      Congratulations again, now if only we could have rescheduled that wedding on the XC course...

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