Monday, May 27, 2013

Fix-a-Test Clinic: USDF Intro Test A

A week late, but oh well. I know my adoring fans were on the edge of their seats.

In between scoring, scribing, and riding, I had a great day overall at the clinic, though initially I was disappointed in my test. I knew I could ride it much better, but once I actually got down to the ring, I was a bit nervous and Midnight was in lalaland looking at the bits of grass...if it was lookable, he looked at it. So he was very distracted, jiggy and not giving me that relaxed energy I know he has because I was tense myself. It felt like the test went too fast for me to even really focus, though when I practiced it, I felt like I had all the time in the world.

And he has an AMAZING free walk which we didn't show at all because of that tension.

Here is a video of our first time around, which the judge scored a 58 (a lot of sixes and a five for that first circle):
A lot of her written comments on the test were about having insufficient bend, him getting a bit quick, and of course that wonky first circle (more like an egg shape). So after I finished the test, she gave me a sort of mini-lesson on how to get his body (and mind) more engaged when he gets distracted. Practicing shoulder-fore was the theme of the day for many of the people riding, including me. First we attempted it on the circle to get a better bend, without much success since he wasn't listening to my leg and I was a bit confused about what shoulder-fore was supposed to feel like. Then we tried turn on the forehand to get those hindquarters engaged, which clicked much better for me, though it wasn't as easy on the right side.

I felt better about the second test, which scored a 60 (moved up to a six on the first circle and a seven on the second, plus a few other sevens):

Collective marks for both tests were pretty similar. Freedom and regularity of gaits got rated seven on both, which I was happy about since that means his very pleasant way of going shone through. Impulsion and submission, not so much--respectively, a six and a five on both tests.

So although I was in a bit of a mental snit for not doing as well as I thought I could, everyone at the farm (including his owner--who was also nice enough to take video of our warmup and tests!) was really positive and said I should be happy with it since it was my first dressage test ever. I did have fun throughout the day, and by the end of the day I got out of my snit. The wine and cheese afterparty outside the clinician's trailer helped! That is my kind of party, and it was a great way to finally connect names to faces and hang out with other boarders. I even exchanged numbers with an eventer my age so we can go trail riding (the list of people I want to go trail riding with at that farm seems to grow by the day).

So overall, it was an educational and successful day! I'm planning on entering a combined trial the farm is hosting in July (definitely doing the dressage classes, and maaaaybe showjumping if I feel ready), and volunteering at another one.

Deepest condolences go out to L, a pillar of the equestrian blogging community, as she grieves for Carlos, a horse we have all come to love from her thoughtful writings about her adventures with him. Viva Carlos indeed.

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