Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Final Dressage Morning

Friday, the last day of camp, was "competition" day. Phillip wanted us to put together everything we'd learned over the week to have a bit of a go on all three phases. True Prospect Farm must have had a busy night/morning, because when we arrived Friday morning, the Farm had been transformed into a competition site! The large dressage arena normally set up in the indoor had been changed to a small arena, with paper letters duct taped to the arena edges. The jumping exercise lines had been reset into a short course, with little paper numbers taped to the standards. And there were three different courses marked on the cross country course - Novice, Training and Prelim - each with their own set of numbers duct taped to the fences! It all looked very exciting!

I was to ride my dressage test for our judge, Jennie Brannigan, at 9:18. I chose to do the Training Test B, as that will be my test at Loch Moy next weekend and I hadn't ridden through it yet. I've had so much fun chatting with Jennie this week that it was a bit hard to put on the professional face for a serious dressage test! But, when she told me she'd have to eliminate me for having on polo wraps and bell boots (not to mention Katchi's bright blue vet wrap sock protecting his over-reach) - and I replied that she was the Judge from Hell... well, I think we got off to a great start!
Katchi was a bit fussy Friday morning being back in all his dressage gear. It felt great to me as I spend most of my riding hours in my dressage saddle, but I think he was having way too much fun jumping all week to be thrilled about the return to dressage. Overall, he felt pretty wonderful and I can feel such an improvement in his energy, suppleness, and use of his back. It really has been an amazing week for his training (and mine)! I find it so exciting when jumping work starts improving dressage work - dressage is such an essential building block for good jumping that it's amazing to me when the pendulum starts to swing so that the increased hock flexibilty, use of the back, and energy behind from jumping bigger fences correctly really starts facilitating further development in dressage strength too. Amazing stuff.
As work still carried on for everyone working out of True Prospect, Boyd Martin and Phillip were both in the arena riding horses as I was getting ready to do my dressage test. Of course they pretty much stayed out of the "show arena" portion of the arena, but it as quite funny as I came down my first centerline - I'm looking at "Judge Jennie" and crossing my path about 20 feet in front of me or so, comes Boyd Martin on a lovely big moving horse. When was the last time you came down a centerline to have Boyd Martin cross your path between you and the judge?! Admittedly, we weren't exactly doing a Pas de Deux together, but it's gotta encourage you to push a little harder when you're sharing your show arena with Phillip and Boyd!

Katchi and I ran through our dressage test relatively well and then we received the judge's comments. As I'm sure is true for many others - we don't often have the exact size of a small arena to practice in. At home, I have grass fields and a large dressage arena - neither of which are too helpful in learning to perfect the geometry of the test. So, this was a really great opportunity to run through the test and talk with Jennie about the parts of the test where my patterns were a bit off. It was also good practice to feel how quick some portions of the test come up. Katchi will go for a hack today and have tomorrow off - then 4 days of dressage work before his first Training Level outing on Saturday. So, I have a good list of parts of the test to work on over the next week.

My mom got a few more pictures of the indoor arena which show a little better just how beautiful it is. A girl could seriously get used to riding in a place like that! It doesn't have the crystal chandeliers of the Spanish Riding School, but those just have to be shined and polished anyhow!
And now I'll just make a plug for my new friend Jennie! Check out her blog on the Chronicle of the Horse -
You can also access it from the main page of the Chronicle's web site. And you can read about Jennie on her web site -
Seriously, I wasn't kidding when I said a few posts ago that if you ever have a chance to buy this girl a beer - do it! You won't be disappointed - she is hillarious!
More to come later today on the jumping "competition" portion of the Friday...

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