IDS May Schooling Show: We Finally Conquer 1-3, and We Get by with a Little Help from Our Friends

So much to blog about!  And I have so much time in which to do it now that my little buddy is 10 minutes away from me.  I am in love with this place and its people already:


But, first thing's first!  We did 1-3 at the IDS schooling show on Saturday.  If you'll remember from my last post, my goals involved drinking with Karen and Liz and improving my canter scores in 1-3.

Karen literally had a drink in her hand when I rolled up around 11:30am, so I had some catching up to do, but I'm happy to report I caught up with the help of "booze water" as Karen dubbed it:

90 calories, 1g carbs, no sugar, 4.5% alcohol, literally might be the perfect horse show beverage.
Connor started our warmup with some epic headshaking.  Now, this horse shakes his head every ride, but something was different about this, so I got off in the warmup ring and noticed his browband was in a weird spot that was probably putting pressure on his head.  I could have ignored the head shaking and written it off, but I'm glad I didn't, poor dude.

All  of the following photos are by Paul Wood Photography.  Kelly was done with her rides by 11am but stayed until Karen and I were done at 4pm, AND her husband took all of these photos, AND she let me borrow her helmet when I forgot mine.  Plus Liz's son Will offered to clean my tack. Such good people all the way around!

The biggest change I made at this show was to really get him fired up going around the outside of the ring, and then completely drop my reins and give him his head for a few seconds when the judge rang the bell.  When he was younger if I did that, it would have been game over the gerbils have left the building, but as the work has gotten harder I've noticed he responds well to short, frequent total releases of pressure.

A dramatic re-enactment of our warmup from, sigh, our test.  I'm a slow learner when it comes to my rein length.  Homeboy wasn't supposed to canter here, and with my reins this long, there wasn't much I could do about it quickly or tactfully.
PC: Paul Wood Photography
 I am finally (most of the time) aware of two important things in the canter that are even more important at shows: First, he's going to go faster, pull harder and run through my hands if I am holding too much in my elbows and hands.  Literally let go and he slows down and softens.  Sometimes when he's really hauling me around, I have to give myself a pep talk before letting the reins go, because it feels like the opposite of what he needs, but it's always the right decision.

Second, if my reins are too long, I can't do anything about anything in the canter.

PC: Paul Wood Photography

1-3 has been a thorn in my side forever, and all I've ever wanted is a 70% on it and to feel like we owned it instead of it owning us.  The biggest changes this weekend: I had the confidence to control the canter where I needed to thanks to my most recent lesson.  I had "a canter I could do something with", and obvious differences between the lengthen and the working.

Well, I'm sitting up MOST of the time these days...
PC: Paul Wood Photography

I also am SITTING UP in most of the photos!  I'm finally helping him, or if not helping at least not actively hindering him with my position, for the most part.  Obviously a work in progress, but better than the ol' sack of potatoes from the past.

I think my right ankle might have been temporarily broken here.  But look at my shoulders!  Progress!
PC: Paul Wood Photography

The one thing I am disappointed with after seeing the photos is the amount of throatlatch tension he's carrying.  I did actively remember to shorten my reins in the test (progress!), and they are way better than they were a few months ago, but they were still too long.  I'm grateful to Paul for getting these photos, because Connor felt pretty relaxed over his back for the most part, I'm not sure I would have realized how tense he was in the throatlatch without these photos.

PC: Paul Wood Photography

Most than anything else, I was able to be very present in the test, and Paul even caught an example of it.  We were just about to go into the 2nd/left canter shallow loop through X, the one Connor almost always breaks on, and I suddenly remembered discovering in the big Dressage ring at my old barn that it was because something something need more cowbell left hind or left bend or

On autopilot
PC: Paul Wood Photography

"OH SHIT WE NEED MORE LEFT EVERYTHING!"
PC: Paul Wood Photography

Dat hock engagement
PC: Paul Wood Photography
 The other thing I made an effort for: I didn't rush the simple change at X.  I have in the past, and then the whole canter sucked after that.  I decided I would take my time, get him balanced no matter how long it took, and then ask.  And the judge agreed: I got an 8.0 on my simple change ("straight, smooth")
Position so bad, pony so cute.

As we came down the centerline, I knew it was the best 1-3 we'd ever done.  1-3 has always been survival mode for me in the past, but we OWNED that sucker on Saturday.  We've had some truly epically bad 1-3's, including a 56% at a rated show I forgot about until JenJ looked it up on Centerline, probably because my brain blocked it out as one of the more traumatic moments of my life #hyperbole.  But this, this was good.  And I smiled:

PC: Paul Wood Photography

because no matter if the judge agreed with me or not, that was progress and I was happy with it.  And it turns out, the judge did agree!  It was our highest 1-3 score by, I believe, at least 7 percentage points if not more:


And, for the Dressage nerds out there:




I just could not have been happier.  And with that, I loaded up my tired pony and took him to his new home!

16 comments:

  1. So thrilled for you!!! You and Connor were working together fantastically on Saturday.

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    1. And an 8 on Rider Position! Way to go!

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  2. GOOOOOO Jen and Connor! Way to knock 1-3 out of the park, AND accomplish all your show goals! :-D

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  3. Wooooo!!! Those moments when you remember your training and can DO IT in the ring are the best <3 Congratulations!!

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  4. Yay!! I love how happy and confident you sound about this test. Your pictures look great. :-)

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  5. Yay congrats on being present and active in the test! So hard to do but it makes such a big difference (go figure lol)

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  6. Squee! So excited for you and that EPIC score! You've been working so hard for this and it's really starting to pay off. Y'all look great!

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  7. That's amazing!! 2nd level here you come 😁

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  8. Hellz yeah!!! Second level next up!!!! See you guys in June (I'll put you down for stabling)

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  9. Congrats. Also, I totally want that 'Booze Water.'

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  10. Woohoo!! I'm so happy for both of you :)

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  11. Love the submission comments - "good team", and "harmony" is circled. Well done - you and Conner have earned this!! (also that booze water sounds tasty ;D)

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  12. Congrats on OWNING that test!!! Also thank you for sharing that booze water, I'm intrigued!

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