May 21, 2012

Sunday Sunday

I had a lesson yesterday!  My first lesson in almost a year.  It was great.  Dexter was awesome, he is so focused in our lessons and tries so hard.  The best part was we didn't loose as much as I thought over the hiatus.  Dexter's back is still there, his contact is better than ever, and his canter is still relaxed.  I need more work than Dexter at this point.  My trainer seemed super happy with where we were at and I'm so glad.  I've been riding for about 5 months now and was worried we were going down the wrong path.  I thought we felt good but I wasn't sure.  Its great to have a expert set of eyes give me that re-assurance.  The best feedback we got was that Dexter's trot work was at a First & Second Level connection, his canter needs some work to get up to First.  But woohoo Dexter! Way to rock the trot! (Sorry that means more canter work).

Also I recently got a camera that does slow motion video.... I am so going to have fun with that.  Look for some video in the future.

May 2, 2012

Test Calling

When I started showing again last year one thing I noticed was that almost everyone had a test caller.  Even when I went to go see my trainer ride, she had someone calling out the test to her.  When did this become the norm?

When I first started showing (10+) years ago, you almost never saw a reader outside of Training Level, and even then it was for the younger riders. 

For me, I've never shown with a reader.  And its a personal preference to be sure, I find when people are yelling out the next movement its very distracting.  In my head I get disrupted and think "I know I've already planned to turn right at C, thanks."

The way I was trained was that learning your test is part of your preparation and training.  Not necessarily to run the test in the ground, but to practice it in your head, on paper, in your living room, whatever worked.  How can you prepare for a movement if you don't know its coming? 

I get it, there is a lot going on, and with nerves its very easy to forget your next movement.  I know, I have forgotten a test a time or two. And to know you have someone to help you remember the test so you can concentrate on your riding certainly seems like a good compromise, but a compromise none-the-less.

OK.... super honesty time here... I'm trying to be impartial here and see both sides, but to be truly honest, I don't like it.  I think if you are going to show you should know your test.  If you don't know your test, you aren't ready to show.  Show jumpers and eventers have to remember the course, reiners have to remember their pattern and they only learn those moments before they show.  Why are dressage riders different?  We have weeks-months to practice and drill the pattern into our sub-conscious.

Yes, there are nerves.  Yes, its easy to panic and forget the test mid-way.  But its still part of the experience.  Part of learning to show and ride dressage is learning how to focus, tuning out the nerves and just riding your horse.  Having someone yelling at you every 30 seconds doesn't create the serene concentration I associate with dressage. 

I'm not talking about whether or not it's fair that those who remember their test get judged the same as those how didn't.  That's not the issue, that's the same as the sitting vs posting trot in 1st level.  You have the choice of either so you get judged the same, its your choice.  I'm just talking about the professionalism of it.  I guess I'm a perfectionist and unwilling to compromise and I feel that having a test reader compromises the picture I'm trying to create.  And even though it doesn't count against you I can't imagine that it isn't distracting to the judge.

Have I taken hits because I didn't use a reader and forgot my test?  Absolutely.  Is it possible I'll change my mind as the tests I ride get harder? Maybe.  But for now, I just don't get how and why this has become a part of dressage shows.  We strive to be perfect in our movement, training and riding, why muddy the waters because we can't remember 20 movements?

May 1, 2012

Horses and Cars - Same Thing Right?

Let me start by warning you this post actually has nothing to do with horses, but instead it deals with another 4 "legged" member of my family - My 2003 Mini Cooper.  But I'm finding my feelings for my Cooper are just as strong as my bonds to my horses so I deemed it appropriate for the blog.

I bought my Cooper brand new, actually ordered it from the factory.  And I picked it up on my birthday.  It was my first new car, designed exactly how I want it, bought with 100% of my money.... it was MY car.

In the last nine years of owning the Cooper we have lived in 3 states, worked 3 jobs with 2 different companies, bought 2 horses, married one man, moved an entire dining room set and hauled many other things no one would ever think a Mini could handle.  When I get upset, or bored, and I don't have a horse to ride, I often drive.  So during my equestrian hiatuses, me and Mini explored a lot of Missouri and Texas.  We've even made it up the Colorado mountains in the winter for a ski weekend. 

There have been a few bumps in the road, during a particularly nasty storm in Texas I underestimated a puddle and we ended up with a new engine.  And after a long 12 hr shift I unfortunately dazed off and rear-ended a van resulting in a cracked bumper.  The point being we have been through a lot together.

But, sadly, as of yesterday, my Mini is no longer mine....  As much fun as it was to drive and as great as it was on gas, 2-door Compact cars and rear-facing child restraints don't mix.  There is just no room in the back seat, and if there was there would be no way to get Alex in, so as he outgrew his infant seat, we outgrew the Mini.  And I am having a seriously hard time with this. 

I know its just a car, but people say its just a horse too, right?  This car had a lot of personality, it was cute, small, but tough and efficient.  Maybe I'm having a hard time because the only other thing I've ever owned for that long is my cat (lets not even think about what will happen when she leaves me).  Or maybe because I bought the Mini when I was single amdjust moved to a strange city all by myself so it was me and Mini against the world.  Or maybe the act of having to get rid of my "single" car for a "family" car is reminding me once again how much Alex is erasing my old life. 

I'm guessing a combination of all.  And no resentment towards Alex, its not his fault.  But as I try to cling onto the woman I was before I became a mom, getting rid of one of my possessions that I've used to define me for so long was a big blow.  I'm not a Mini owner anymore.... I'm a sedan owner (no hate against sedans). 

I'm not afraid to admit I get a little teary when I think about it.  It really does feel like I sold my horse (maybe not quite as bad, but close).  I've given a dear friend to a relative stranger and can only hope they will treat him as well as I have.  But unlike horses people would think you are crazy to call and check up on your old car.  Plus I traded it in, so who knows who will end up with it.

But, what am I so upset about.... its only a car right?