June 26, 2012

IDS Show Wrap-Up

What an awesome show!  I was thrilled with his performance and how he conducted himself.  I was also thrilled to finally get to meet Kelly (of Princess Diva Diaries), Riva and their whole lovely family.  It was like a little row of bloggers over in barn L.  All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, and I’ve been looking forward to writing this writeup for so long, let’s get to it!  (All photos courtesy of Austen and her mom.)

"After circling at E, I...uh..."
A good way to start this is to look at what my goals were heading into the show, and how we did with them.

  • To establish a baseline off which to build
  • To see how he did in a crowded warmup ring, and whether or not I could keep his attention
  • To figure out what kind of a warmup he needed
  • For myself, to get comfortable with the Dressage format and rules
  • To see how he behaved at the show
So how did we do?  

Behaving at the show: A 
I should not have even put this on my initial list.  I’ve shown Connor myself at the HHP twice before I owned him, I know how he is at shows.  All of Lisa’s babies are shown starting between 3-6 months of age, and so things like trailering to strange places and being in a ring more or less alone are old hat to them.  He was a professional, and acted like an old pro show horse.

He gets an A- for two small spooks.  One was stupid, he spooked while I was walking him by a truck with the tailgate down that had a red cooler in the bed.  Another was when we came around the corner of the judge’s booth to announce ourselves before our second test, where he did a cat crouch spook.  I don’t think he expected people to be there.  All in all though, I was very pleased with how he even let people walk up to him while I was mounted – he was better at the show than he is at home.

Myself Getting Comfortable at Dressage Shows: A-
Full disclosure embarrassing story time: I got sent back from the warmup ring just before my first test for wearing Austen’s navy polo with my white breeches and field boots (jackets were waived).  Hey, my trainer wasn’t there and Dressage is new for me, okay?  With my brown Beval and rookie mistake, I couldn't have been more obvious as a hunter convert.  Luckily Austen magically produced a brand new white show shirt still in the packaging and we were fine.  Other than that, I asked a lot of newbie questions of the ring stewards and somehow did everything else correctly.  

Figuring Out His Warmup
I’m sure my trainer would have had me do more, but it was so hot, I decided to keep it short.  I established some contact, bend and roundness at the walk and trot and that was pretty much it.  It worked well, and kept me from over-thinking things. 

Seeing How He Did in a Crowded Warmup: B+
Aside from peeking at the other horses and doing his usual pseudo-spook at the ring steward (more of a curving his body away from her and giving her an ear like he does to my trainer at home), he was very well-behaved.  He was distracted, but as long as I kept up a conversation and kept reminding him to pay attention, I always got him back.  This will get better with time.

Establishing a Baseline
I know, on to the actual tests!  Unfortunately I left my comment cards at the barn and don’t have them in front of me, I’ll leave this mostly for another day.  In Intro A, he scored a 70.625%, which was good enough for 3rd out of 8 and was 0.3% behind 2nd (and 10% behind 1st!).  I thought the judging was generous here, but she had a lot of good things to say, wrote “lovely horse”, and her only criticisms were that he needs to be steadier with his head in the contact.  He scored mostly 7’s with I think one 8 and a 6.5 for…contact I think.

As I found when we were practicing, the centerline did prove to be challenging for contact.

A lot of it looked like this.

Distracted?  Not bent?  Motorcycle turns?  Us?  Never!
I think Intro B was an improvement over our Intro A, but this judge was harsher, and that’s a good thing.  Her comments were spot on, again mostly about contact and his changing head position.  Sometimes, he’s good, sometimes he’s an ostrich, but that’s a good thing to focus on before our next show.  She also said “no bend” through one of our circles, which I think may be because I was focused on bringing that shoulder around and didn’t give him enough inside leg to keep him bent.  I need to watch the video on that one to see. We also got docked because he was ‘distracted’ – shocking for a greenie, I know!  For this judge, doing Intro B, we scored mostly 6’s and a couple 7’s with one 5.5, giving us a 62% which placed us 8th out of I think 12 or 15.  It was a big, tough class (in which Kelly and Riva got 4th with a fantastic ride, congratulations to them!)
Good pony.
Overall, those are very good scores for a first go and the good, honest judging left us with lots to think about and improve on.  I’d like to show these two tests once more this season before starting next year with Intro C and a move-up to Training after a winter of working on our canter.


  1. I'd just like to point out, again, that according to the USEF Rulebook (which this show said it was adhering to): "7. In extreme heat and/or humidity in all classes including FEI classes at National Competitions,
    management can allow competitors to show without jackets. However, competitors must wear
    a regulation hat and solid or nearly solid colored long or short sleeved shirt with collar, without
    neckwear, and without decoration except as described under .14 below. T-shirts are not permitted.
    Members of the Armed Services or police units may wear summer uniforms."
    To me, that sounds like you can wear any color polo shirt and be 100% fine. Am I imagining this? I think the rules did recently change though ...

    Either way, hooray for a good show!

  2. Is it just the eventer in me to "Know Your Rulebook!"?

  3. I about spooked too when I saw that judge's hat! Connor did so well and you looked cool and confident during both your tests. Thank you for the sweet insert about the Diva and I!

  4. That hat WAS ridiculous. At least since she tipped it at you there was no mistaking when she acknowledged your salute.

  5. Sounds like you did great.
    I have to say personally I hate when they harp on contact in an Intro test. At intro a horse should establish tempo, bend and obedieance. I worry that some people will only focus on head positioning and not the whole body. Maybe now that they have Intro C that is when they should harp, since it is the step before Training.
    Okay sorry for the tangent. I am so glad you did well and had fun. I think spooks that happen outside the arena should'nt count on Connor's report card :) Some of mine still spook at the flowers at each letter.
    So when is the next show?

  6. Nicole, I was a little surprised myself. I think it was the inconsistency of the head position more than anything else, the comments said "steady" more than they said "head high", though they did say both. The weight of contact was technically the same no matter where his head was. We do need to improve it one way or another.

    Our next show will probably be the FF home show in the end of August, and the Octoberfest in mid-October (which will be a Dressage/CT and WPCSA show for us). I'd love to do more, but you know, funding...ha!

  7. Yeah, Jen I get what your are saying. Did you ever watch Comrades first dressage test on FB? We ended up having to do Intro C before Intro B with interesting results :)
    Connor was a super star.

    And I completely understand about funding. I would love to get to a dressage show this year. Our next Welsh show is in Sept so I have to work around that date.

  8. This one was a schooling show and not terribly expensive. It's the ones that cost as much as a month of board that give me pause! I try to hit as many Welsh shows as I can (which is pretty much just the one in this area) to benefit Lisa and Dundee. I have not seen Comrade's test, do you have a link?

  9. We have a lot of shows in our area, but so many are the "cost as much as a month of board" shows. It is crazy to pay nearly $100 even before you pay for classes.
    Comrade's test is on my video page on Facebook, 7-31-11. It was taken with my old camera so I do not think I can load it to YouTube. I will try tonight.

  10. Okay Jen, here is the link.

    And if it makes you feel better I forgot that the final halt was supposed to be at "G" so the judge had to tell me. I don't know why this won't show as a link. Let me know if it works.