February 15, 2011

Dexter's First Show

So I've been talking about it (kinda wish I hadn't made such a big deal about it now), and this weekend we did it.  We went out to our first show, it was just a little schooling show, but still a good learning experience.  It was my first show in 13 years and Dexter and Husband's first show ever, so I wasn't exactly sure of what to expect.

Husband did great.  He helped out where he could and was super supportive despite not knowing a thing about dressage.  I even caught him reading the test I gave him as I rode, trying to follow along.

THE GOOD - Relativly Speaking
Dexter and I didn't do quite as well.  The arena was an indoor with a short wall on one side of the ring where everyone sat.  Dexter wasn't sure about having an audience, especially one that moved. On top of that, due to the snow we have been having, the outdoor wasn't open for warm up so we only had about 15 minutes before our first class to warm up in a small dressage arena with 9 other people also trying to fit everything in in the short time.  Needless to say there was a lot going on and Dexter's last concern was what I was asking him to do.

We cantered about 1/2 a circle in each direction before we had to leave the ring.  He bucked on each depart and felt super rushed when ever I tried to go straight.  I seriously considered just schooling the test and taking the canter work out all together.  But I reminded myself my one goal was to complete the test, so I decided to suck it up and do the whole test as written.  We started with Training Level Test 1.

THE BAD - At least what was caught on camera
He wiggled down the center line, counter bent whenever we went to the right, over bent whenever we went to the left.  He couldn't keep a steady rhythm to save his life and our stretch circle was totally behind the bit.  Its always so disappointing when you know you've practiced the test well (at least better than that) several times at home and in lessons and can't get it together at the show. 

Luckily we were ahead of schedule so instead of another 15 minute warm-up before test 2 we had closer to 30 minutes.  And due to some scratches we only had 4 people in the ring.  Dexter was still full of energy so we decided to push him the whole 30 minutes, I certainly wasn't worried about tiring him out at this point.  And we started to get some good work in.  He was steady, when I remembered to relax he fell into my contact.  And we even got some nice canter circles in.  The one awesome thing was that because he was so full of it he was getting some nice elevation in his trot and canter (in the warm up anyways).  At the end of the warm up he was still bucking at a certain spot on our canter circle and didn't particularly want to canter down the long side... but we were getting there.

THE UGLY - Me not Dexter - Can't you tell I'm having fun.
As we were warming up the judge was watching and she commented as we finished up that he was looking much better and she was looking forward to a better test.  We were the first after the warm up so all the horses left and Dexter wasn't sure about that.  All alone in the scary indoor with just the judges and the husband (even most of the spectators had left).  So we started, wiggling down the center line, backing up during our halt..... at this point I looked at the judge and laughed.  What else can you do?  I knew this test would be just as bad as the first despite our warm-up.  Dexter just wasn't interested in what I had to say.  We did our best and got a slightly better score.  His canter was a wee bit more in control and he didn't buck at the spot he didn't like in warm up.  We still didn't get the best bend and we still couldn't stretch (stretching is for relaxed horses).  But we finished both tests, I didn't fall off, and he didn't take off (although I know he was thinking about it).

The nice thing about this show was you were able to talk to the judge after each test.  She commented on the difference between the warm-up and the last test.  She suggested that I may be getting tense causing him to resist.  I agreed with her, but I think it's him that gets tense first and I follow, either way its something to work on.

The positives:  We started early so hopefully when the real shows come around Dexter will be a pro.  Despite his acting up we got a lot of complements on his movement and how I handled him... maybe they were just being nice.  We did it, we jumped in and got our fist show out of the way.  I now know it's at least possible and am ready for the next.

Overall, because I'm a perfectionist and while we did meet our goals of not dieing, I wouldn't  call this show a success, but I would file it under an excellent learning experience.

Although its a bit embarrassing I promise to post the video of my second test at a later date, once I've come to terms with it.


  1. I too am worried about the stretching on trot circles. On certain horses, that would be fine. However I know Cadence and I are going to have some issues with that. I still can't get her to stretch in the trot for more than two strides, and only when we're coming back from a good long canter. However, on a good day we can get a nice stretch going in the walk. Congratulations on not dying, and look at it this way: you can only improve!
    P.S. Can't wait for the video :D

  2. Good for you guys. It's so hard to take a horse to their first show. I did it for the first time last summer, and felt that getting through it was success - and I just did a walk trot :)
    This is great preparation for future shows and now you know it's doable. Congratulations!