April 16, 2018

Heartland Recap: Getting Used To Second

Prefacing this post by reminding everyone of my plans for this season: we're taking a year off of rated shows because I know we're not ready to show rated 2nd, but schooling it like it matters is really helping us.  This is the year of schooling 2nd and accepting that we're going to see the comment "needs more" a lot!

I'm grateful for friends that keep it real, haha.

If you'll remember, last July I took a kamikaze run at 2-1 at a schooling show.  We squeaked out a 60.000%.  It was fine, but it was tough.  See the screenshot above for how that felt!

I FINALLY got stabled in L barn for the first time in two years, and celebrated by parking my trailer 15 feet from my stall.

Even though we weren't going to score a 70% last July, in retrospect doing that test at that time was a great decision.  Knowing what those movements rode like in July helped inform the way I trained over the winter.  And it gave me a great baseline to compare Saturday's test to.  TL;DR: Lots of progress made and lots more to go.

Hey girl, I heard you need me to be clean today.

Connor warmed up very much like he started out at the KPG clinic unfortunately.  I can make some valid excuses for it, but it doesn't matter - gotta ride the horse you've got, and luckily I was able to draw on how KPG had me handle him at the clinic to stay chilled and get his brain on me.

Yeah, so that happened.  This is our area's first show of the year and there were a ton of green beans screaming their heads off the whole day.  Connor thought he needed to reply to them during our test - although he didn't come off my aids and managed to scream while doing his 2nd level work, so, good lung capacity, I guess?

We ended up with a 60.152% on Saturday. Our scores ranged from three 4.0's for every single canter-walk transition in the test with "took trot steps" as comments, to a single 8.0 for the free walk because Connor loves the free walk.  I completely expect the trot steps scores/comments with where we are right now, although they don't tell the whole story.  Saturday was the fewest trot steps he's ever taken in the canter-walk transition, so that's definite progress even if it's still not correct.

The words "needs more engagement" stick out from the comments, which the judge wrote next to 6 different movements and a 7th time in the collectives.  I am hyper aware of our lack of hind end engagement already, but seeing it laid out like that drove home the importance of developing strength and coordination this year.

Connor says "2nd level is exhausting, guys."

I get the impression 2nd level is about a lot more than the sum of its parts.  I can rush it and accept my 60%'s in order to advance more quickly, or I can lay down a foundation of strength, engagement and rideability that I'm going to need for 3rd and beyond.  I can take my time here, or I can spend time filling in holes later.  I choose the first one, even though it's definitely the less exciting option.  Get ready for a lot of transitions and hill work this year, buddy!


  1. I think it's awesome that you're going for solid understanding of 2nd before showing rated. I've kinda been feeling that way about 1-3. I really wanted to show it rated this year, but I'm thinking it might only happen at schooling shows. This shit is hard! ;)

  2. Really insightful conclusion in that final paragraph -- sure, building that correct foundation takes longer, but it'll definitely pay more dividends in the future!

  3. Ugh yes, i also felt like there was a big difference between going out and getting through 2-1, and really OWNING 2-3. Like massive amounts of strength, balance, and impulsion that take time and sooo much effort to develop. It's frustratingly slow going, but it definitely pays off later. Keep on keeping on!

  4. I love the first conversation picture and agree completely that more leg and praying is an important step in the process haha. I still can't quite imagine showing 2-1 so I'm envious that you're working at second level this year :)

  5. Woohoo!!! Great job! Second level is a real bitch but you are right to stay there and build strength and confidence. Then Third will just BE there and moving up won't be such a big deal.

  6. You guys are so cool. I love your methodical approach. :)

  7. omg Connor is the CUTEST THING all braided up. OMG. LOL
    I love that you were so excited your trailer was close by that would thrill me too

    It sounds like a successful time (Even if he was screaming back at the other horses, too funny)....

    and we are the TEAM OF 4's at the canter transitions (Remus and me) We wear that badge with pride. Congrats on the 8 (I wish Remus would learn free walk is fun)